View Poll Results: Do people ever deserve punishment.???

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Thread: Punishment.

  1. #151
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    P Timmy

    Would the act of murder of a complete stranger be an exercise of free will?
    problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back (Piet Hein)
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  2. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    Understanding that no one deserves punishment could lead to a less hateful... more compassionate society... but I think the initial resistance from those who feel saddened by the idea of free will being an illusion... are not only frightened that their world view might be wrong... I think some of their strong emotion comes from the realization of how much time an energy they have wasted on unnecessary hate anger and vengeance... etc.
    First, if people have no free will, then "understanding" something can not lead one to change how "hateful" they are.

    Second, if people have no free will, then a "realization" can not cause a "strong emotion."

    You claim you don't believe in free will, yet you speak as if you expect people to exercise it.

  3. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister View Post
    So you think wrongdoers should be punished even though you don't think they deserve it?
    Good question... and hopefully... to be more clear than I might have been in the past... I think that at our current point in evolution... the use of punishment/incarceration is necessary for the betterment of society... but I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.

    Since you've been such a stickler for defining terms, how about stating your definition of deserve
    "Deserve" requires that behavior is freely chosen.

    because I see it defined as a value assessment and judgment determined by circumstances, not as an absolute declaration predicated upon a concept like free will.
    I don't see evidence that any behavior is freely chosen... so punishment is never deserved.

    I do recognize that severity of punishment can be mitigated by the extent of choice the wrongdoer was able to exercise. That issue is addressed in courts frequently,
    That the extent of choice a wrongdoer exercised could be recognized... is the height of arrogance that only a God could rightly take credit for... and just like free will... I also don't have beliefs in Gods.

    ...but the blanket statement that no punishment is deserved because there is no absolute free will makes no sense to me in any practical manner.
    See if this extreme example helps to put it into perspective:::
    Would a car deserve punishment if it didn't start when you turned the key? Of course not... and as annoying as it might be... a newborn baby wouldn't deserve punishment for crying loudly... neither have absolute free will and neither can deserve punishment.

  4. #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanF View Post
    First, if people have no free will, then "understanding" something can not lead one to change how "hateful" they are.
    Second, if people have no free will, then a "realization" can not cause a "strong emotion."
    You claim you don't believe in free will, yet you speak as if you expect people to exercise it.
    I don't know why you think that but I'm sure there's a reason for it ... and the fact is... the way one behaves is because of influence... not in spite of influence... and speaking for myself... I haven't thought I've had free-will for over 40 years... but since I don't know what the future holds any more than believers in free will... that's what allows me to live my life as if I do have free will... and always realizing that free will is an illusion allows me to be more tolerant of other peoples actions--which has worked out well for me... it's like having my cake and eating it too... and whether the behavior is good or bad... the only thing I expect from other people is that they behave the only way they can... like the biological machines they are.

  5. #155
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    What are the parameters of punishment? What are the responsibilities of the accused?

    About 90% of the time, my children have no idea they are outside the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. I give them a reason once and the next time, the "punishment comes".

    If it is something really complex, then sometimes I have to give the reason several times before they get the concept of what is wrong and why, all of that explaining is actually the punishment. Once they understand, then there can be punishment for "real". Very often I don't have to work up to "real" punishment because an arched eye brow, finger pointing or a "why don't we do that" speech are all that is needed. Embarrassment and boredom works wonders on children.

    I just don't see how the world could be functional without measured responses.

    The main thing to understand about punishment is that the punished must understand why and the response must be measured. Sometimes the punishment isn't really required at all, sometime a reminder is necessary... with children anyway.

    With criminality on the other hand, we sort of assume that everyone "gets it" as far as right or wrong goes. You can skip right to the punishment when the situation warrants it. I generally disagree with most forms of punishment that are more painful or restrictive than humiliating. Pain and restrictiveness are too easily shrugged off, but humiliation drives us all.

    Think about it. Why don't you speed? Because an officer will pull you over, slow you down, waste your time, with with bells, whistles and sirens that say "See? This is a BAD person here." Having to go to court is even more humiliating because its a cattle call of dumb people (who you now count yourself as member) who all seem to be intent on wasting even more of your time. Paying the ticket or getting off scott free is just one further humiliating insult no matter what happens.

    And it works. Rigging up a mine or a flamethrower to a radar gun is paradoxically, much less effective even though those both are easier to do. Avoidance is good, perfect avoidance causes traffic jams. It is easier to accept that most of the time it is desirable to have poorly thinking people at the controls of cars than horribly frightened people.

    On the other hand, if they hung up a sign that said "each # mph over the limit is X dollars" I would speed all the time. It would be come a valid option, because I would only go as fast as I had money to sped and as a bonus, I only have to pay on the times I was caught. Speeding would be thrill, a privilege or duty to fund the state.

    (Yes, I am aware that I am Neutral Evil at best.)
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  6. #156
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    See if this extreme example helps to put it into perspective:::
    Would a car deserve punishment if it didn't start when you turned the key? Of course not... and as annoying as it might be... a newborn baby wouldn't deserve punishment for crying loudly... neither have absolute free will and neither can deserve punishment.
    Yeah, that's an extreme example -- too extreme to be useful in this discussion.

    The choices we make are the product of genetic predisposition, memory and current environment through our physical senses. They may seem out of our hands to you but to me they are not. Our predisposition of choices can be strong but also can be overridden through contemplation or immediate needs.

    Yes, we make some choices based on influence from other people but we have the ability to weigh the importance of those influences. Even the mood we're in on a given day can heavily influence our decisions and behavior.

    Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?
    Of course we're a biological machine -- so what? We're a very complicated one and part of the complication is the variety of choices we can make on a variety of inputs.

    You have attempted to simplify human behavior to a concept that I feel has no applicability.
    "There are powers in this universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe. I will leave you now, in peace." --Galaxy Being

  7. #157
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    Since I believe in free will and individual responsibility, I think that punishment can be justified, but not always. That "always" bit is where the trouble lies, as, there are people who are incapable of being fully responsible for their behavior: children, people with mental illness, etc., and these people should not be punished* in the same way as fully competent adults. There are also punishments which are unacceptable: I don't believe in capital punishment, so I do not believe "punishing" somebody by killing them can be deserved. There are also some rather blatant cases of selective enforcement, which, in my opinion, makes any enforcement immoral.

    On a much more personal level, certain behaviors deserve punishment: violations of primary or secondary school rules** can be punished by detentions or moderately more severe sanctions, violations of work place rules can be violated by discharge, violations of my household rules can be punished by speaking sternly, etc. Going much farther than that starts crossing the line into vigilantism which is, of course, a crime.


    -------------

    * Occasionally (too often, in my opinion) children in the US are tried and convicted in adult court, frequently on murder charges, and some even sentenced to life in prison. I vaguely remember this being done to a child of about 12. If this happened, the punishment was a crime.

    ** I've recently begun teaching in Connecticut public and private schools. While most schools are rational about rules such as dress codes applying outside of school (which includes school-sponsored events), some aren't, and will claim the right to enforce all school rules at any time and any place, not just at school, while school is in session. In other words, they could, if they wanted, punish a student who is wearing a bathing suit at the beach for a dress code violation.
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  8. 2012-Apr-14, 12:50 PM
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  9. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    Since I believe in free will and individual responsibility, I think that punishment can be justified, but not always. That "always" bit is where the trouble lies, as, there are people who are incapable of being fully responsible for their behavior: children, people with mental illness, etc., and these people should not be punished...
    I totally agree with the first part. "Always" is far too strong and sort of destroys the purpose of juries, judges and self re-cognisance.

    On the other hand, I disagree not punishing children and the mentally ill. They can be punished to the degree or extent that they understand -- and this may look like no punishment it all to Joe Average. Recrimination, investigation and intervention to child or a mentally ill person may be a horrible punishment all on its own.

    I think that punishing children and the mentally ill should look nothing at all like punishment given to average adults. I would rather take the risk that someone is not able to be rehabilitated than assume that they can't. Intervention is no picnic, it is a form of punishment in my book. It certainly isn't enjoyable.

    I also think that many times people jump to the extremes too quickly. Maximum sentences should be reserved for the extrodinary cases. Too many people are chucked into prison for durations that are far too long. I am not saying that some people don't deserve to be locked up forever, I just think that people jump to those extremes far too fast.
    Solfe

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  10. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I totally agree with the first part. "Always" is far too strong and sort of destroys the purpose of juries, judges and self re-cognisance.

    On the other hand, I disagree not punishing children and the mentally ill. They can be punished to the degree or extent that they understand -- and this may look like no punishment it all to Joe Average. Recrimination, investigation and intervention to child or a mentally ill person may be a horrible punishment all on its own.

    I think that punishing children and the mentally ill should look nothing at all like punishment given to average adults. I would rather take the risk that someone is not able to be rehabilitated than assume that they can't. Intervention is no picnic, it is a form of punishment in my book. It certainly isn't enjoyable.

    I also think that many times people jump to the extremes too quickly. Maximum sentences should be reserved for the extrodinary cases. Too many people are chucked into prison for durations that are far too long. I am not saying that some people don't deserve to be locked up forever, I just think that people jump to those extremes far too fast.
    I've been listening to what passes for a debate about penal policy in the US, where "punishment" absolutely precludes any idea of rehabilitation for too long. Mentally ill people need medical treatment; they may consider it punishment while they are ill. Children who commit crimes may be mentally ill, in which case they should be treated, even if their parents think they shouldn't be; a recent trial in Connecticut shows what stupid (and I think criminally negligent and morally culpable) parents can permit to happen. (Google "Petit home invasion")
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  11. #160
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    P Timmy
    Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?
    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister View Post
    Of course we're a biological machine -- so what? We're a very complicated one and part of the complication is the variety of choices we can make on a variety of inputs.
    Do you think a very complicated non-biological machine could have free will?

  12. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
    Perhaps for this to be well-defined i should add the specific definition of free will i'm using.

    Given a complete description in terms of physical variables of the present state of some region of the universe centered on some agent, this agent has free will in the following case.

    There is more than one possible complete description in terms of physical variables of the state of this region some infinitesimal time later, where "possible" means that it is allowed by the laws of physics, and this agent can change the probability distribution over the set of possible later states before it has materialized.
    What would determine whether or not the agent changed the probability distribution?

  13. #162
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    Do you think a very complicated non-biological machine could have free will?
    Since your OP is about human choices and punishment, which I have stated my views on, I consider that question off-topic and don't care to get into it. I'm done with this thread.
    "There are powers in this universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe. I will leave you now, in peace." --Galaxy Being

  14. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister
    The choices we make are the product of genetic predisposition, memory and current environment through our physical senses.
    Those things you mentioned all lead up to the "choice"... they were part of an unbroken chain of cause and effect that stretches back before we were even born.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister
    They may seem out of our hands to you but to me they are not. Our predisposition of choices can be strong but also can be overridden through contemplation or immediate needs.
    I think the mistake is in thinking that the contemplation and immediate needs you speak of are somehow separate from the chain of cause and effect.

    Yes, we make some choices based on influence from other people but we have the ability to weigh the importance of those influences. Even the mood we're in on a given day can heavily influence our decisions and behavior.
    There's nothing free about the result which came from weighing those influences... the stronger influences always win out... directly leading to actions which are just more links in the chain of cause and effect.

    Originally Posted by P Timmy
    Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?
    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister
    Of course we're a biological machine -- so what? We're a very complicated one and part of the complication is the variety of choices we can make on a variety of inputs.
    All those inputs are the effects of previous causes... one leading to the other much like a row of dominoes where one is falling into the next... and so on and so on.

    Originally Posted by P Timmy
    Do you think a very complicated non-biological machine could have free will?
    Quote Originally Posted by Luckmeister
    Since your OP is about human choices and punishment, which I have stated my views on, I consider that question off-topic and don't care to get into it. I'm done with this thread.
    Thank you for your participation... but for any others who might agree that considering the possibility of a non-biological machine having free-will helps to put the point of this thread (Punishment can't be deserved without free will) into perspective... then I propose the questions below:::

    If very complicated biological machines (humans) can have free will.... then why not a non-biological machine that's equally complicated... and if so... couldn't non-biological machines also deserve punishment?
    Have you ever "abused/punished" a machine that didn't operate the way you wanted it to However... do non-biological machines have a choice in the way they operate... or are they bound by laws of physics?

    What would be the difference in equally complicated biological and non-biological machines which would allow one to have free will and not the other?
    Is there something about a human machine (pixie dust perhaps) which allows it to operate outside the physics of cause and effect... or does it operate by the same laws of physics that non-biological machines are bound by?

    Until there's scientific evidence which supports the existence of pixie dust... I find it the logical position that free will is merely an illusion.
    Last edited by P Timmy; 2012-Apr-16 at 12:45 AM.

  15. #164
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    I would have to say, no machine that currently exists is remotely near the level of complexity so as to experience "punishment". However, I believe it may be possible to devise such a machine some day. If that machine has feedback form its environment, then punishment would a valid experience for it.

    Most of my experience leans towards the idea that you would have software with the ability to use feedback and therefore could experience punishment long before you had a machine that could do the same.

    As far as "proving free will" vs. "proving determinism", I don't see the strong connection. In fact, why couldn't you a strange world where everything indicates that freewill is ABSOLUTELY 100% not just probable but REQUIRED for existence in a world... and this world you live is actually 100% pre-determined so that you merely believe that you are free. You could of course have the exact opposite happen, too.

    It simply boils down to a matter of perspective. Which world would you rather live in, free or not free? If you aren't free, then it doesn't matter what you believe. If you are free, assume you are and you will be; if you assume your not, then you will never be free.
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  16. #165
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I would have to say, no machine that currently exists is remotely near the level of complexity so as to experience "punishment". However, I believe it may be possible to devise such a machine some day. If that machine has feedback form its environment, then punishment would a valid experience for it.
    I think machines could one day be indistinguishable from humans... and just like humans... they also couldn't deserve punishment due to the nonexistence of free will... however... in dark corners throughout the universe some backward-thinking entities might still be beating their human-machines

    As far as "proving free will" vs. "proving determinism", I don't see the strong connection.
    To be clear... determinism... strict or otherwise... is not necessary for free will to be nothing more than an illusion.

    In fact, why couldn't you a strange world where everything indicates that freewill is ABSOLUTELY 100% not just probable but REQUIRED for existence in a world... and this world you live is actually 100% pre-determined so that you merely believe that you are free. You could of course have the exact opposite happen, too.
    That wouldn't be a problem for all knowing all powerful "God" to create.

    It simply boils down to a matter of perspective. Which world would you rather live in, free or not free? If you aren't free, then it doesn't matter what you believe. If you are free, assume you are and you will be; if you assume your not, then you will never be free.
    I'm wired to follow the evidence where ever it leads... not create or follow someone Else's feel-good beliefs where facts are of secondary importance.

  17. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    To be clear... determinism... strict or otherwise... is not necessary for free will to be nothing more than an illusion.

    That wouldn't be a problem for all knowing all powerful "God" to create.

    I'm wired to follow the evidence where ever it leads... not create or follow someone Else's feel-good beliefs where facts are of secondary importance.
    I was waiting for that penny to drop.

    The last line, "...wired to follow..." would be non-existent in a deterministic world. The universe would be "wire to" convince a mass of matter and energy to behave in such a way that <insert action or belief here>. No-free will is equal to no intelligence, no sapience, no feeling, no proofs, no observation, etc., etc., etc.

    Unless some mice are about to show up and say that Earth is vast supercomputer, I am not sure why you would want to perceive yourself as being a "participant" in a full deterministic world.
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    Hi, Maybe Tim feels like the earth is just one big antfarm. But the problem is that there is a strong denial of the existance of the soul.
    That is a concept that a computer can never understand, but people can..... and do.

    Best regards,
    Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I was waiting for that penny to drop.
    And since you picked it up... some superstitious people think you're guaranteed good luck all day... eh

    ...I am not sure why you would want to perceive yourself as being a "participant" in a full deterministic world.
    I'm not sure that the world/universe is "full deterministic"... but in any case... how could one perceive things other than the way they do?

    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    ...the problem is that there is a strong denial of the existance of the soul.
    Ah yes... the "soul"... and I don't... but most people believe they have one.
    Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?

  20. #169
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    I'm not sure that the world/universe is "full deterministic"... but in any case... how could one perceive things other than the way they do?
    I am a joker not a philosopher, I would simply appeal to Occam's razor. "It seems that way therefore it is" is much simpler than contriving a way to not have something that appears self evident. That would be a step away from "invisible elves" being responsible for everything. (yeah, that's right, I stole it Van Rijn.)

    I can give you an imaginative example of free will on multiple levels: I used to have a weekly meeting with my boss. To try and get out of it, I set up a phone in the next office to automatically dial his phone in the middle of the meeting. He would freak out and scream lovely things into the phone. One of the more amusing lines was "I can hear you!"; he could, of course, it was simply his own muffled voice. Some days our telephony system didn't work correctly and he would spend the meeting glancing nervously at the phone for the call that never came. Some days, this shouting was such a disruption that HIS boss would enter our meeting and ask him to "calm it down". My boss's boss was actually fully aware of what I was doing but never blew me in. It is kind of hard to imagine a deterministic world where I would have that much creativity or chutzpah to act "correctly" so as not to give myself away over a period of TWO YEARS. I would think deterministic universe would have no need for such antics nor would it need so many people to be aware and play along with my silliness.

    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    Ah yes... the "soul"... and I don't... but most people believe they have one.
    Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?
    Soul? Of course... Spirit, drive, mind, intelligence, motivation, would all equally qualify as "soul" if you like. I wouldn't say only humans have free will; that would mean lions would think that gun toting humans are just as yummy as sleeping humans.
    Solfe

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  21. #170
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    P Timmy:

    Are you going to answer any of the questions that I have asked in this thread?
    problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back (Piet Hein)
    I cook with wine, and sometime I even add it to the food. (W.C. Fields)
    I don't ask stupid questions. I just make stupid statements!!!
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  22. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    What would determine whether or not the agent changed the probability distribution?
    Good question to which i don't know the answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I am a joker not a philosopher, I would simply appeal to Occam's razor. "It seems that way therefore it is" is much simpler than contriving a way to not have something that appears self evident.
    I appreciate your appealing to Occam's razor. With that in mind, evolution has resulted in widespread punishment among mammals. Among felidae and canidae, for example, it usually involves parents gently (sometimes not so gently) biting wayward offspring. I'm pretty sure that tendency extends to humans, as I and other parents have noticed a tendency to gently bite our kids while rolling around with them on the floor if they get too rough, as in biting or pinching us.

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    Solfe
    ...I would simply appeal to Occam's razor. "It seems that way therefore it is" is much simpler than contriving a way to not have something that appears self evident.
    Except that... Occam's razor isn't about a simpler solution most likely being the correct solution... and the contriving is being done by the ones claiming that there is such a thing as free will... with zero verifiable evidence to support that claim.

    Originally Posted by P Timmy
    Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?
    Soul? Of course...
    To be clear... is this a "God-given" soul you're referring to?

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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    Except that... Occam's razor isn't about a simpler solution most likely being the correct solution... and the contriving is being done by the ones claiming that there is such a thing as free will... with zero verifiable evidence to support that claim.
    What is your definition of "free will" and how would you test it? What would you consider to be evidence supporting it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Hi, Maybe Tim feels like the earth is just one big antfarm. But the problem is that there is a strong denial of the existance of the soul.
    That is a concept that a computer can never understand, but people can..... and do.

    Best regards,
    Dan
    What is this "soul" you're talking about?
    Please define, preferably using sources less than 1000 years old.
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  27. #176
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    Soul = motive force, distinct from the body. Also know as intelligence, will and drive.
    Known examples of persons in possession of: Mojo Nixon, HenrikOlsen, Micheal j Fox (Present) and Elvis.
    Known Counter examples: Justin Bieber, Michael J Fox circa 1991.

    Source --- Some Joker on the "Internet: the source of all Google and grammar."
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Timmy View Post
    To be clear... is this a "God-given" soul you're referring to?
    Why do you need "God" in the context of "soul"? Solfe's definition shows that there is no religious aspects in the concept of "soul".
    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Soul = motive force, distinct from the body. Also know as intelligence, will and drive.
    Known examples of persons in possession of: Mojo Nixon, HenrikOlsen, Micheal j Fox (Present) and Elvis.
    Known Counter examples: Justin Bieber, Michael J Fox circa 1991.
    I'm not sure what MJF did in '91, but it could have been because that's when he got his diagnosis which could have messed with his soul.


    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    What is your definition of "free will" and how would you test it? What would you consider to be evidence supporting it?
    Ditto.

  29. #178
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    What is your definition of "free will" and how would you test it? What would you consider to be evidence supporting it?
    Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).

    Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence... and a test to demonstrate this would be up to the one making the claim that there is such a thing as free will.

  30. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Soul = motive force, distinct from the body. Also know as intelligence, will and drive.
    Known examples of persons in possession of: Mojo Nixon, HenrikOlsen, Micheal j Fox (Present) and Elvis.
    Known Counter examples: Justin Bieber, Michael J Fox circa 1991.

    Source --- Some Joker on the "Internet: the source of all Google and grammar."
    Do you have anything to substantiate the claim that "souls" are distinct from the body?
    Apart from defining them to be, in which case the question becomes "do you have anything to substantiate their existence?"
    __________________________________________________
    Reductionist and proud of it.

    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. Benjamin Franklin
    Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails. Clarence Darrow
    A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. Mark Twain

  31. #180
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    Originally Posted by P Timmy
    Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?
    Solfe
    Soul? Of course...
    P Timmy
    To be clear... is this a "God-given" soul you're referring to?
    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Soul = motive force, distinct from the body.
    Is this "soul" (motive force, distinct from the body) influenced by things which are separate from it?
    Is this "soul" the only influence which causes the body to behave the way it does?

    NEOWatcher
    Why do you need "God" in the context of "soul"? Solfe's definition shows that there is no religious aspects in the concept of "soul".
    I don't... and I don't know what you claim to know about Solfe's definition of "soul"... I only need to understand "soul" in the context Solfe's talking about... from her.

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