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Post-Mortem: A Discussion on the Afterlife

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If you don't want every thread to become an argument then perhaps you should stop bringing up offtopic idiocy, mm?

But I have better things to do than deal with you. I direct you instead to this thread, where Dragoon and I are enjoying something of a renaissance. Especially the last, oh, 35 posts or so.

Now, on to something resembling civilised discussion.

...is that this country was founded on the idea that people need to take responsibility for their own mistakes and problems. My question, of course, is what exactly is responsibility? Operationally define that for me, why don't you? And, of course, why should someone behave responsibly when they are taught by the current system to do anything but?
My question would be whether a country's founding values should be held as sacred, but I feel that would be getting off topic. Regarding responsibility, I suppose it's a less accusatory form of blame. A state where, if it weren't for someone's in/action, X would not have happened. The question wouldn't be what responsibility is, but on whose authority is it granted or acknowledged?

Ideally, someone should acknowledge responsibility for their actions in order to ensure smooth running of society's little dynamos (justice, corporate espionage). If the system encourages otherwise then that suggests an error in the system. Assuming you want people to accept responsibility for their actions.

As to the idea of making a different choice when setting is similar; one way to address that is just to appeal to the somewhat random nature of initial behavior. If there are two buttons there, I will likely press both over the course of time, even if pressing the first one results in food/money/etc. In other words, we have an inborn proclivity for novelty. Secondly, it depends on the outcome of the choice the first time you made it; i.e., was the behavior punished in some way? Unless there is some clear way for you to have made two choices at the same time in the same circumstances (which I don't think is the question here) then it is always possible that the outcome of one choice is dependent upon the outcome of the previous choice.

The question is more philosophical than psychological. To be presented with a similar choice will always be influenced by the result of the last time the choice was faced, not to mention all sorts of incidental factors (mood, the weather, last night's TV...). But of course one can never face the same choice more than once ("should I take the cake or the orange at 4:37pm on Wednesday the 18th of April in the cafe off the main road into Barcelona on the east side after a bad night's sleep having driven the rented car from the coast where I caught a bad case of sunburn through the straw hat that developed a hole after I lent it to my best friend..."), only similar situations. But that's not good enough. It's not a test of free will.

And I think that, if the choice was exactly the same, then the decision would be too. I think that our decisions are causal, however much we may want to believe otherwise. And if that is the case, then we can't truly be said to have free will, the ability to make decisions by will alone.

But that isn't the same thing as self-determination.

Now, granted, some of this is an over explanation, and I'm not certain that self-control or discipline is what you're talking about in terms of self-determination. I think partly it may be the fact that you're not following any specific set of precepts because they are set down in some religious text (which, neither am I) but you do what seems right, good, and just according to the situation. You're almost certainly not a criminal, Dante, so you at least are sensitive to the fact that we live in a social world based upon respect for the property and health of others. Well, this is, again, a class of concepts that is learned in some way, either because your parents taught you some level of propriety, or because you're an intelligent person who interacted with the world at large and learned by personal experience.
When I say self-determination I don't mean discipline so much as the freedom to make decisions without coersion, direct or otherwise. The ability to say "I will choose the cake, because I want cake today!" Instead of "I shall choose the cake, because my mother says I should" or "I shall choose the orange, because I have been told that cake is sinful."

Now one can get drawn into a debate on what exactly is coersion and what is not. The difference between indoctrination and learned behaviour. Where the line lies between law and whim. For example, one could argue that someone who wishes to murder people is having that freedom of choice removed, they are coerced by the law into not doing what they want.

Self-determination, then, is not the be-all and end-all. Freedom is nice, but there has to be a measure of security. People who don't feel safe will act irrationally, they need to be reassured that the freedom to rape and pillage is curtailed.

But the ability to determine one's own course in life, at the very least to the degree where there is no negative effect to others, is paramount to living free from tyranny. And that, by a rather circuitous route, is my point. Without self-determination there is only slavery to the arbitrary laws of others.

That's another interesting point, the difference between what we are and what we do. From a Watsonian point of view, they are not meaningfully different, but they feel quite different to us. I'm fairly certain I could kill people, be good at it, and a certain part of me thinks I would enjoy it. That said, I have never killed anyone, and considering that I am not likely to be considered for police or military employment, it is not likely that I ever will kill anyone. Now granted, this isn't quite the same as being gay, or being all of those other things that we "are", but I really think that the reason I believe I could be a killer is because I have seen/read/heard about enough violence and killers to see a correlation between the critical feelings/ideations associated with systematic killing and my own feelings and ideations. Not that I did this comparison in any logical, well-thought-out manner, its just something I rose to. See, this goes back to the idea of the "mind" as being merely a process whereby we compare events in terms of causality and correlation, but not necessarily as a place where independent behavior arises.

Is someone who has killed a killer? Is that what they become with a single act?

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Thanks Dante, I had lost the majority of my interest in this thread.

The founding of my home nation as sacred; only in so much as the idea of using religion as a form of control over behavior, which, I would argue, the Tea Partiers are doing/experiencing. They honestly believe that the Constitution is a perfect, divine document, although 90% (I estimate) have no actual idea what it says. This is a system of learning/reasoning whereby ones' opinions are informed by celebrity. I'm not saying the Constitution should be abandoned, but that it is... insufficient regarding the needs of the individuals it is used to control. But as you said, this is off-topic.

Now, as to self-determination, or our ability to plan prior to the occurrence of a choice, to state, "I will do X because Y" with "Y" in this circumstance being, "I want to." Well, the simplest approach to this example is to ask, why do you want to? Judging from your response, I would guess that "because I want to" is the scope of your approach.

I just realized something-- Are you saying that self-determined behavior is that which occurs outside of social cues (i.e., because your mom, uncle, holy text, god(s, ess), etc. told you to)? Because I would argue that the contingency within which behavior occurs is much larger than socially-mediated stimuli. I agree that behavior occurs without social mediation, and sometimes in the opposite direction from the teacher's intention, but that doesn't mean that the behavior in question is not determined by non-social factors.

By making a statement, i.e., "I will do X..." you are engaging in (probably private, cognitive) behavior. Well, I would argue that that behavior occurs in a context of deprivation, perhaps you're hungry, and access, you can, I assume, access both cakes and oranges. You have a history of making verbal observations, you learned to speak and the meaning of words because of the influence of your parents and society at large, in other words, you learn to verbally describe events. And you've seen your own behavior in previous situations, i.e., when you've been hungry and had access to cake and oranges. You know what happens when you eat cake and when you eat oranges. Why do you assume that you are using some form of willpower to make a statement instead of just predicting (with some degree of accuracy) what will happen?

Of course, it feels very different to say, "I will" versus "that will" or "he will". Is it possible to create your day through a completely cognitive system of planning? I don't know. In other words, everytime you face a choice, will you be able to react with the plan, or determination, you had already made? Again, it becomes a question of discipline and self-control; even if you determine that you will have the orange, when lunch comes around do you take the cake?

Regarding the "killer" question: there are people who would vehemently say yes. Just as if someone cheats on a significant other once, that person is automatically a "cheater" and if you tell one lie, you are a "liar". I disagree with this concept because I would posit that people are more complex than an individual behavior. Hmmm... it's interesting to me to think about this from the "what you are" versus "what you do" perspective. I need to think about that for a while.

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