Oct 012014
 

I’ve been seeing the confusion between two different “no free will” positions crop up a lot recently – Determinism and Fatalism. Needless to say these aren’t the same thing. I created this InfoGraphic as a helpful tool to help crystallize the crux of the differences between these two lines of thought.  If you find it helpful please share, spread around, or add it to your own site with a link back. Thanks – ‘Trick Slattery

DETERMINISM-VS-FATALISM-infographic If you liked this InfoGraphic and found it useful, please download and share it on your website (please link back to the original), on social media, email, etc. There is also a Dutch version here: Determinisme vs. Fatalisme InfoGraphic (DUTCH)

Determinism is dependent on causality. In fact the understanding of the nature of causal events is entirely what determinism is all about. Such an understanding can and most often does through a secular means of describing events and their restrictions. Our conscious thoughts, desires, decisions, and actions are all a causal part of how events will play out. They are a requirement of an eventual outcome, and therefore important to such. Fatalism, on the other hand, means that a person is “fated” to an outcome regardless of what precedes the outcome. If a person is fated to X, X will happen regardless of the thoughts, decisions, and actions a person makes. It may be that a persons actions were fated as well, but that is besides the point.

To look at the “futility compared” examples in the Infographic, one might say that consulting the doctor was fated as well, and that the fate of recovery is co-linked with the fate of calling the doctor.  But if calling the doctor is fated, it is futile to decide to do so – as such will happen whether you decide to or not…and so on In other words, if your recovery depends on a number of other fated events, what you decide on is irrelevant as all of those events simply must happen regardless. You could theoretically decide to stand still and do nothing – and such events will happen.

On the other hand, for determinism, what you think, say, and do is part of the process that will lead to a specific event, and therefore is important to how everything plays out. And though what you think, say, and do is causal, there is no logical reason to do “nothing” that follows from such. Understanding the nature of causality and the importance of one event to another event is a causal understanding that will lead you to a more cohesive and coherent path and an output that would be better than the causality that would lead to a futile / defeatist attitude to stay in bed all day. For example, the belief in fatalism over determinism could causally lead to an attitude of futility which would have a different output than if you had the belief in determinism over fatalism.

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'Trick Slattery

'Trick Slattery is the author of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. He's an author, philosopher, artist, content creator, and entrepreneur. He has loved and immersed himself in philosophy since he was teenager. It is his first and strongest passion. Throughout the years he has built a philosophy based on analytic logic and critical thinking. Some of the topics he is most interested in are of a controversial variety, but his passion for the topics and their importance drives him to want to express these ideas to others. His other passions include pen and ink line art and digital artwork.

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  82 Responses to “Determinism vs. Fatalism – InfoGraphic (a comparison)”

  1. This was helpful to me because I used to confused Determinism with Fatalism. The primary difference is that my actions make a difference with Determinism. Fatalism is closer to the Christian idea of Calvinism.

  2. Awesome post, Trick.

    It’s interesting, because the typical public conception of determinism is much, much closer to fatalism than anything else. People seem to equate the two for lack of an in depth understanding of determinism, and this attitude needs to change.

    Love your website, by the way.

    • Thanks Seth. Yes, we need to educate people on the important distinctions between these two types of thought. Appreciate you stoppin’ by.

  3. “Fatalism” in

    Wiktionary:
    “1.The doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable necessity, or determined in advance in such a way that human beings cannot change them.”

    Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:
    “1 Belief in fatality; the doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate.”
    “2 Submission to or compliance with this doctrine.”

    The only distinction between determinism and fatalism is the ability of people to determine their own fate by their own choices. Fatalism suggests that our choices are inconsequential, so we may as well resign ourselves to the inevitable. Determinism allows that our choices have consequences, therefore our freedom to choose what we do next determines what becomes inevitable.

    Determinism without such freedom reverts to fatalism.

    • Wikipedia: “Determinists generally agree that human actions affect the future but that human action is itself determined by a causal chain of prior events. Their view does not accentuate a “submission” to fate or destiny, whereas fatalists stress an acceptance of future events as inevitable.”

      This does not mean that someone can “determine their own fate”, only that for determinism, our thoughts and actions are an important part of the causal process. This means that futility is NOT the same as with fatalism in which our thoughts and actions are irrelevant to our fated future.

      See “FUTILITY COMPARED” in the above infographic.

      Fatalism suggests that our choices are inconsequential, so we may as well resign ourselves to the inevitable.

      Agreed, that is what this infographic says.

      Determinism allows that our choices have consequences, therefore our freedom to choose what we do next determines what becomes inevitable.

      I agree with the first part of the sentence: “Determinism allows that our choices have consequences”
      but the “therefore” is a nonsequitur (it doesn’t follow logically from such). There is no need for freedom in our “choosing” in order for the choice to have consequences, and our conscious choices are only one small part of the causal chain (if inevitable).

      Determinism without such freedom reverts to fatalism.

      Another non-sequitur. Such freedom is not needed to avoid fatalism, as fatalism is not the same as causal determinism. These are two distinct concepts that share some similarities. One does not revert to the other.

      • Future events are inevitable, of course. And as you say, “our thoughts and actions are an important part of the causal process”. In fact, for every event that is a direct effect of our thoughts and actions the event could not have been “inevitable” without us.

        We are the final responsible cause of those direct effects. By “final” I mean last in sequence. By “responsible” I mean that it is (at least) our own behavior that will be praised or blamed for those effects. Other relevant contributing causes may also be held responsible, like how our parents raised us, and likewise praised or blamed according to their contribution.

        Our main problem seems to be in the use of the concept of “freedom”. If freedom must include “freedom from causation”, then there is no such thing as “freedom”.

        Since we commonly use the term “free” in everyday speech, it would seem that we seldom if ever mean “free from reliable cause and effect (determinism)”.

        And since no one can possibly demonstrate for us how they escape causation when making a choice of their own free will, we can show them that “of their own free will” actually refers to a deterministic process that takes place in their mind, producing one inevitable choice.

        I suspect that it would be sufficient to ask them to write down their reasons for choosing option A and discarding option B. When they’ve made their choice and hand you their list of reasons, hand it back and say these reasons are why their choice was inevitable.

        The only sense in which their choice was free was that it was authentically their own choice, for their own reasons.

        And to demonstrate what a “lack of free will” is, hand them a list of reasons that they disagree with and require them to choose the other option. :-)

        Waging war upon free will, telling people their choices are not their own choices, but rather choices that were forced upon them against their will, and that they have no power to control anything that they do, because it is all controlled by things external to them, is entraining fatalism.

        The fact that people are not constantly aware of the inevitability of their actions is actually a good thing. Dwelling upon that inevitability undermines self-confidence and autonomy. There’s nothing anyone can actually do about it. And there’s nothing anyone should do about it. It’s just there. It’s a fact, but not a helpful fact.

        The more important fact is that we are free to change ourselves by education, counseling, participating, meditating, exercising, et cetera. Once we know this fact it becomes even truer than it already was.

        • Marvin,

          Since a whole lot of our conversations are about semantic disagreements (disagreements about the definitions of words such as “free will”, “fatalism”, “blame”, “responsibility”, and so on, for this specific topic)…I think we are doing a whole lot of talking past each other. Rather than focus on semantics, I think we should rather focus on those things that we might actually agree and disagree on other than the use of words. For this reason, I’d like to revert this discussion to a more Socratic question and answer method.

          Let’s keep answers as brief as possible (preferably under a few sentences)and we can elaborate further as more questions are delved into. Each time we can ask a one sentence question (with some further elaboration if needed), and respond to the others question with a fairly concise and brief response. No time limit on responding, we are both very busy I’m sure (or at least I know I am).

          Here are the rules:

          • Only one question at a time
          • Keep responses short and concise (a few sentences)
          • We can answer questions by asking for elaborations about part of the question if unsure
          • Do not use words such as “freedom”, “free”, “free will”, “blame”, “fatalism”, “responsibility”, or any other word that we have a disagreement about the definition. Rather, just refer to the semantic you are talking about. For example, rather than your version of blame you can just say “the closest cause” or something like that, and rather than my version of blame I can say the person is “deserving” of the consequences of his/her actions. You get the picture. We want concise meanings here.

          I’ll start out with an easy “yes/no” question:

          Do you agree that someone “could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise”?

          Elaboration: This question is not asking what a person “knows” or “thinks” at the time of decision (epistemic), but rather if they in actuality could have (ontic).Also note that this is yes or no, so a yes or no should be in there somewhere.

          • I’m sure we agree as to the facts. But we disagree as to “What do people really mean when they say … ?” As a pragmatist, I’m more interested in the practical utility of concepts rather than the abstract technicalities of their expression. I can show you what I mean by answering the question you just posed:

            TS: “Do you agree that someone “could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise”?”

            We both agree as to the fact that anything that has happened was technically inevitable. But when a person says, “I could have done otherwise”, I don’t believe they intend to make a metaphysical statement or to claim supernatural powers.

            It is something more like this: “Ooops! That didn’t work out like I thought it would. If I had known this would happen I could have chosen the other option instead. Next time I’ll know better.”

            The idea of “I could have done otherwise” is about evaluating past decision, learning from them, and making better future decisions.

            It is these practical real life scenarios that give “I could have done otherwise” its actual relevant meaning.

          • See, this is the problem. You want to “debate” the topic, but then you don’t play fair. Diverting the question to something I didn’t ask is not practical or “pragmatic”. It is evasion. It was a yes/no question with a very clear “elaboration” after it (purposely so you wouldn’t go where you just did). The most efficient (and pragmatic) answer would have either “yes” or “no” (or even maybe) somewhere in there.

            I’m sorry, but the “technicalities” are actually the “practicalities” as well. For example, when people confuse their intuitions about “I could have done otherwise” with the (technical) actuality of “I could have done otherwise”, this causes a number of real-world (practical) problems. But this is a digression. Rather than responding to this, I want to direct the conversation back to the original method, which I think fair.

            I didn’t ask you what you believe “people think” when they hear “I could have done otherwise”, I simply asked if, in reality, they could have done otherwise (regardless of what you think some people think when they hear such).

            We will get absolutely no-where if we don’t get into the “technicalities” of the topic. We are either willing to go where reason leads us, or we will simply continue talking past each other. I’m not so sure that we “agree as to (all of) the facts”, so I’d like to explore that.

            Shall we continue, or is such a conversation not your cup-of-tea? If you care to continue, then please ONLY answer the original question. Keep in mind that we are trying to use a Soctratic method here to get to the crux of where we might actually disagree. I don’t want to have to infer something from your diverted wording, I’d like direct answers. If you ask a question I’ll do the same. So here we go, 2nd try:

            vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
            Do you agree that someone “could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise”?

            Elaboration: This question is not asking what a person “knows” or “thinks” at the time of decision (epistemic), but rather if they in actuality could have (ontic).Also note that this is yes or no, so a yes or no should be in there somewhere.

          • TS: “Do you agree that someone “could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise”

            (a) Technically, yes. Because given identical circumstances you get identical results.

            (b) Practically, no. Because given slightly different circumstances you may get different results.

            If I may return a simple question: which scenario happens most often in the real world: (a) we return to the past and repeat the process with identical circumstances, or (b) we try to learn from our experiences how to make a better choice next time.

            The answer to my question determines the meaning of yours.

          • Great, but to avoid “time travel” thinking, which the “couldn’t have done otherwise” notion doesn’t at all suggest, let me re-frame the question into my present tense version:

            * Do you agree that (given causal determinism) someone doesn’t have the ‘ability to choose between more than one VIABLE option’?

            Clarification if needed: In other words, do you agree that they can’t (rather than couldn’t have) choose both chocolate icecream (and not vanilla ice cream), and vanilla ice cream (and not chocolate icecream)? That both options (if causal) are not real (meaning ontic) possibilities (only one is)?

            Note that my question is another “yes/no” question.

            Now on to your question, my answer is (b), as (a) doesn’t ever happen (as backward time travel doesn’t happen).

          • TS:” Do you agree that (given causal determinism) someone doesn’t have the ‘ability to choose between more than one VIABLE option’? ”

            No one can agree with that question. “To choose” always requires “more than one VIABLE option”. If one of two possible options is known at the outset to be “not viable” then there is no “choosing” going on.

            “Choosing” is a deterministic process by which we reduce multiple possible choices to a single choice. Whether a choice is viable or not, or whether it is better than the others or not, is only knowable by discovery during the process. At the outset we can never be certain as to the result.

            If you rephrase the question as, “Do you agree that only one of the options in a choice can be inevitable”, then I could easily say “yes”. But that fact of inevitability is useless since it tells us nothing about WHICH option it will be. Knowing that one of the options will be inevitable tells us nothing useful.

            Sorry if that answer is too long. But some questions, by their nature, cannot be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No”. The classic example is “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Either answer would confirm the built-in presumption that you had in fact been beating your wife.

          • Again, you are diverting my question into something I did not ask, as if you are simply not reading or ignoring the “clarification” part of my question. I am asking you if both options are ONTIC possibilities? This isn’t a malformed question like the classic “Have you stopped beating your wife?” that makes an initial assumption about something.

            Perhaps you aren’t familiar with terms such as ontic or epistemic. Ontic simply means we are addressing what is or what exists. Epistemic means we are addressing what one can “know” about what is or exists. It’s important not to conflate these two things. I’m not talking about the epistemic for my question. So I will ask again:

            Do you agree that (given causal determinism) someone doesn’t have the ‘ability to choose between more than one VIABLE (in the ontic sense) option’?

            Clarification again: In other words, do you agree that they can’t (rather than couldn’t have) choose both chocolate icecream (and not vanilla ice cream), and vanilla ice cream (and not chocolate icecream)? That both options (if causal) are not real (meaning ontic) possibilities (only one is)?

          • 1) Determinism, that is, reliable cause and effect, is perfect. ALL events unfold in a single, inevitable way.
            ** 2) All human concepts that actually work must already work within that ontological context. **
            3) Our interpretation of any concept must presume 1 and 2.

            For example: “Do you agree that (given causal determinism) someone doesn’t have the ‘ability to choose between more than one VIABLE (in the ontic sense) option’?”

            “given causal determinism” is ALWAYS a given.

            “someone” implies a biological organism operating deterministically.

            “ability” implies the possibility of a biological organism operating in a specific way.

            “choose” is one of those operations, specifically a deterministic process of reducing multiple options into a single choice.

            “viable option” implies ALL of the options under consideration at the beginning of the choosing process, and ALL of the options at the end which are still worthy of consideration in the future should the current choice not pan out.

            The statement “a person has the ability to choose between more than one VIABLE option” is technically CORRECT.

            The statement “a person has the ability to choose between more than one INEVITABLE option” is technically INCORRECT.

            I don’t think you can technically replace “inevitable” with “viable”. In the phrase “viable option”, viable means “workable” or “practicable” (SOED).

            You are trying to say that there is only one inevitable choice, therefore only one choice is “actually” possible. But the concept of “possibility” is not about that one choice. It is about the many workable options that still appear to be viable, whether they were that one choice or not.

          • Whether determinism is true or not is shifting the discussion. For the sake of our discussion I am assuming (only because you are) that causal determinism is true and there is no chance of indeterminism (an acausal event). So under this assumption, lets go back to the question at hand…

            Viable in this context means “feasible” or “possible” – the clarification I gave should make this obvious: “that both options (if causal) are not real (meaning ontic) possibilities (only one is)?”

            Is it feasible that I could choose chocolate icecream instead of vanilla at 7PM this Saturday? And is it equally as feasible that I could choose vanilla icecream instead of chocolate at 7PM this Saturday? Are both options equally feasible/possible/viable (in the ontic- not epistemic sense)?

            I’m not asking about the inevitability of the options, I’m asking if both options possibly could be chosen?

            Again, you are shifting to the conflation of the epistemic with the ontic. So now that we’ve clarified the meaning of “viable” in this context, and we’ve clarified that I’m not addressing the epistemic, let’s ask the question again:

            Do you agree that someone doesn’t have the ‘ability to choose between more than one VIABLE (ontic possibility – ontically feasible) option’?

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            * BTW – sorry if this convo seems too pedantic, but I find to get anywhere in our discussion we really need to get extremely pedantic as there is way too much mixing of terms and talking past one another due to that. I’m glad you are looking to clarify what you think is being said by certain words. This convo could take a while before it gets productive but I think it could be worth it. :-)

          • Only one thing can happen. But two things are possible. (At least until 7:01PM tomorrow night)

            The meaning of “possible” is only ontologically relevant to the degree that the idea of a given “possibility” within the human mind deterministically alters the person’s actions such that the person then deterministically brings the event into being (ontology of the event).

            Semantically, “possible” sits in a context of epistemological “uncertainty”, where the mind is imagining its options for its next actions and considering which will be most feasible.

            (Gee, I hope I used all those words right!)

            All human concepts evolved in the context of a deterministic universe. There is an underlying presumption of reliable cause and effect that should be taken as universally implied. Because the presumption is universal, it is seldom stated, but can be taken for granted. The true meaning of our words can be discerned by examining how the language is actually used operationally in the real world.

          • No, “possibility”, at least in logic, doesn’t fall under the context of epistemic uncertainty, it falls into the context of ontic reality (what can or cannot happen). Epistemic uncertainty only relates to the lack of knowledge over what is, in actuality, possible. If I could (literally) never choose chocolate at 7PM, then choosing chocolate was never a “possibility”, even if I didn’t at the time know I could never choose it (and thought it was a possibility due to a lack of knowledge).

            You want to skew the conversation to epistemic uncertainty, but I’m not going to let that happen. Epistemic uncertainty is irrelevant to my question. I’m also not asking if “only one thing can happen”, I’m asking if both options are “possible” to BE that one thing. You obviously do not want to directly answer my question, so lets keep with the icecream:

            At 6:55PM can it be the case that I will be eating chocolate ice cream and not vanilla at 7:05:01 PM?
            And if it can be the case, can it equally be the case that I will be eating vanilla ice cream and not chocolate at 7:05:01 PM?
            Are both of those happenings possible?

            * I’m not asking about what I’m thinking here at 6:55PM, I’m asking about future ontological happenings.

            So one more time: Are both of those happenings (ontologically) possible? Yes or No.

            p.s. I know you know the answer to this, you just need to actually say it. 😉

          • TS: “You obviously do not want to directly answer my question …”

            I’m pretty sure that I’ve confirmed many times now that determinism results in a single inevitable outcome. The problem is that you want that to mean something extraordinary. And it doesn’t.

            Inevitability interferes in no way whatsoever with what is actually going on. And it requires no special accommodation in our use of language. After all, our language evolved through natural selection within a deterministic universe.

            What is a “possibility” remains a possibility. What is “free” remains free.

            TS: “So one more time: Are both of those happenings (ontologically) possible? Yes or No.”

            It is impossible for two mutually exclusive things to exist. For example, we can’t have both determinism and “indeterminism”. And we can’t have both freedom to cause and “freedom from causation”.

            So it is impossible for you to chose both chocolate and not chocolate (vanilla).

            Nevertheless, prior to your decision, for all practical purposes, you were free to choose either one, and either choice was possible.

            The fact that your decision was inevitable since the Big Bang changes nothing.

          • I’m pretty sure that I’ve confirmed many times now that determinism results in a single inevitable outcome. The problem is that you want that to mean something extraordinary. And it doesn’t.

            There is nothing extraordinary by saying that only one (very specific) decision was possible even before the decision took place. You are simply avoiding saying this.

            “It is impossible for two mutually exclusive things to exist.”

            This is not what I asked. I don’t care if two mutually exclusive things cannot simultaneously exist. I’m asking if both could happen (e.g. it could be the case that X happens OR it could be the case that Y happens instead).

            “Nevertheless, prior to your decision, for all practical purposes, you were free to choose either one, and either choice was possible.”

            If “determinism results in “a single inevitable outcome” and only one of those options, prior to the decision, can be the inevitable outcome, how can the other choice be at all “possible” (in the ontic sense)?

            You aren’t moving back to conflating the ontic with the epistemic (with your “for all practical purposes”) are you? This is no different than saying “most people think god exists, so for all practical purposes god exists”.

            The fact that your decision was inevitable since the Big Bang changes nothing.

            Again, if such decision is inevitable, how could the other (non-inevitable) decision EVER be a “real” possibility? As Spock says, that is illogical Marvin. :-)

            Anyway Marvin, I think we are at an impasse, as you are skirting around every clear and direct question I ask you. I’m also beginning to feel it’s too unproductive when you can say that “your decision was inevitable since the Big Bang” and at the same time “either choice was possible” without cognitive dissonance (since I clarified that we were addressing ontological possibility).

            Either you are refusing to address the type of possibility (or viability) I’m referring to which means the event can “actually happen”, or you seriously have a contradictory position here. If it’s the former, it’s unproductive,… if it’s the latter, it’s less unproductive if I can get you to see why such is contradictory.

            Either way, it’s not your fault – no free will after-all. So my next question:

            Are you taking the position that either choice is ontologically possible (CAN ACTUALLY HAPPEN) even though one is “inevitable” even before it happens?

          • TS: “Are you taking the position that either choice is ontologically possible (CAN ACTUALLY HAPPEN) even though one is “inevitable” even before it happens?”

            I’ll repeat: One and only one choice is inevitable. That is what reliable cause and effect (determinism) logically implies. And I hold that determinism is true.

            However, “possible” means that something “might” or “might not” happen.

            And your substitute “can” also actually means “might” or “might not”. It’s basically a synonym for “possible”. Adding “actually” doesn’t help because you end up with “might actually” or “might not actually”.

            What you are trying to do is find another way to say “Is it true that the inevitable choice is the inevitable choice”? In which case I would readily agree!

            But when people speak of “possibilities” they are specifically talking about alternative future outcomes as they IMAGINE them in their minds. And a person can easily imagine different outcomes resulting from different options they might choose.

            That is where “possibilities” exist, in the mind.

            Now, based on our choices, ONE of those possibilities may become REAL, as an inevitable result of our choices and our actions.

            TS: “Anyway Marvin, I think we are at an impasse, as you are skirting around every clear and direct question I ask you.”

            I see. Do you think it might be a “defense mechanism”? I mean, perhaps I am afraid that if I actually hear what you’re saying, then I will have to radically change what I have been saying and thinking.

            If that’s the case, then it’s a darn good thing I haven’t written a book! Right? :-)

          • You do understand what you are doing here, right? When you say “However, “possible” means that something “might” or “might not” happen” you are simply ignoring that I have defined the usage of the word for the context I’m referring. You do this way too often. And NO, “can actually” means it can be actualized “in reality”. And there is no getting past the fact that I have repeatedly said “ontologically possible”, which has nothing to do with your epistemic semantics. I’m trying to avoid your use of “inevitable” for a reason, because I want you to understand what it actually means that something is “inevitable” so you can’t just revert back to your mantra that “inevitable is useless”. This is what you are evading by changing up semantics to your own liking.

            BTW – I do think you are using a defense mechanism. You’ve also written a lot of words in your blog (so don’t go there about writing a book). What is more obvious is that you are stuck in “epistemic” thinking, to avoid making (important) “ontic” assessments:
            Existence Conflated with Knowledge and the Free Will Debate

            But I’ll tell you what, let’s start again using all new fresh words – maybe we’ll hit words you can’t simply change the semantic for (even when explicitly defined for you):

            Can one avoid a situation (such as choosing chocolate icecream and not vanilla) that is certain to happen (inevitable)? Yes or No.

          • TS: “Can one avoid a situation (such as choosing chocolate icecream and not vanilla) that is certain to happen (inevitable)? Yes or No. ”

            There is nothing that anyone can do about inevitability. If I’m choosing between chocolate and vanilla, and I’m pretty certain that vanilla will be inevitable, can I then choose chocolate to spite inevitability? No. Because that would only mean that chocolate was the actual inevitable choice.

            One cannot take inevitability into account within a decision, because that too would have been inevitable. The only rational thing one can do about inevitability is acknowledge it (which I’ve done REPEATEDLY) and then ignore it.

            The knowledge of specific causes and their effects is very useful. That’s how we get tools like physics, chemistry, and medicine that give us more control of our environment.

            But the fact of inevitability itself has no useful implications. Trying to draw implications from inevitability usually leads to mental errors.

            For example, what does the word “possible” mean in the context of inevitability, where there is never more than one “possibility”?

            And if there is never more than one possibility, then where does “choosing” go?

            And if all of the “choosing” is due to external factors, then where did “we” go?

            Back to your question. The answer is “no”, there is (by definition) no way to avoid what is “certain” to happen. What’s next?

          • Yaye, I got a direct answer, even if it came along with a bunch of unnecessary stuff that doesn’t have to do with the question itself. My next question:

            If someone commits a crime, was commiting that crime EVER avoidable? Yes or No.

            ***

            Since you are also asking me 3 questions (I assume they are being asked) we can follow that line as well, but remember, in the future (please) one question at a time.

            “what does the word “possible” mean in the context of inevitability, where there is never more than one “possibility”?”

            It means the only things that are in actuality “possible” are the only things that are in actuality “inevitable”. The other epistemic options were never an actual possibility.

            “And if there is never more than one possibility, then where does “choosing” go?”

            Choosing is just a consious causal process that doesn’t imply that the other options were ever “possible”

            “And if all of the “choosing” is due to external factors, then where did “we” go?”

            Most people’s conception about the “self” (I, you, we) are wrong-headed.

            ***

            If we can stick to more of a back and forth (only one question each and only a few sentences at a time) conversational type of flow, that would prevent too many tangents from cropping up and allow us to really narrow down to addressing a single point at a time. I think we are somewhat back on track to a productive conversation. :-)

          • TS: “If someone commits a crime, was commiting that crime EVER avoidable? Yes or No.”

            (a) Yes. If he had chosen not to commit the crime then he could have avoided committing the crime.
            (b) No. Everything that happens is inevitable.

            Both (a) and (b) are true. One of them (a) is important and relevant. The other (b) is irrelevant and normally ignored. Agree?

            TS: “Choosing is just a conscious causal process that doesn’t imply that the other options were ever “possible” ”

            Can the chooser hold that position at the beginning of his deliberations? Yes or No. (Feel free to explain, though).

          • Let’s talk more about (a), so new question:

            If someone commits a crime, was them “choosing” to commit that crime EVER avoidable? Yes or No?

            “Can the chooser hold that position at the beginning of his deliberations? Yes or No. (Feel free to explain, though).”

            Yes, I can know ahead of time that any option in which I do not select I could have never selected. I don’t have to think that all options before me are, in actuality, possible. This is all regardless of my lack of knowledge over which one I will select.

          • TS: “If someone commits a crime, was them “choosing” to commit that crime avoidable?”

            Unless he commits the crime in his sleep, I would have to say that his choosing between committing the crime and not committing the crime was unavoidable. If it was his first crime, then he probably thought a lot about it. If it was his 50th shoplift, then he may have done it automatically, by habit rather than conscious choice.

            TS: “Yes, I can know ahead of time that any option in which I do not select I could have never selected.”

            You can quote the theory, but it is impossible to actually implement it in practice. You would have to know at the outset which possibility was impossible. And if you knew that, then you would never begin your deliberations to discover the answer, because you already had the answer.

            Unless there are at least two possibilities at the outset, there is no choosing to be done. Again, “possibilities” do not exist in the real world, but only in one’s imagination.

            Only one possibility is inevitable (or maybe none since the actual results might not match any of the imagined results). But multiple possibilities must exist in the mind if any choosing is to take place.

          • I’m going to have to insist that you answer the actual question. I didn’t ask if his choosing between committing the crime and not committing the crime was unavoidable. I’ll restate the question:

            If someone consciously chooses to commit a crime, was them consciously “choosing” to commit that crime avoidable?

            “You would have to know at the outset which possibility was impossible.”

            You are confusing epistemic uncertainty with actual possibility. If I know that a rabid dog is behind one of three doors, but I don’t know which door, it doesn’t imply that I think it “possible” that the dog is behind each door. I know the dog is only behind one very specific door (even before I open them and find out) and the other two doors were never a possibility for the dog to be behind – and I truly can know this even if I don’t know which of the doors is the only possible one with the dog behind it.

          • TS: “If someone consciously chooses to commit a crime, was them consciously “choosing” to commit that crime avoidable?”

            Sorry. I misread the question. I thought you were asking about the consciousness of the process. But you are actually asking again whether the event was avoidable. In that case my answer remains the same, even if you do not understand it:

            (a) The choice was inevitable, of course.
            (b) The choice was also avoidable had he considered other things beyond those which led inevitably to his bad choice.

            “Avoidable” presumes alternate possibilities (just like “can” and “possible”).

            Inevitability does not mean that “all things are unavoidable”. It only means that both the things we avoided and those we did not avoid were inevitable.

            For example, “Had the teenager not been texting while driving, the pedestrian would be alive today”. The accident was avoidable if the teenager had not been distracted.

            That is what William James would call the “cash value” of a concept. We have to ask ourselves, “What difference does the concept make in the real world?” And the idea of avoidability is used to learn from past experience how to “avoid” future hazards.

            Listen carefully: (1) The direct, relevant causes of the harm are useful information. If we can understand the factors that contributed directly to the bad choices (committing a crime or texting while driving) then we can address those causes and attempt to correct them. By doing so we reduce the risk of future harm to others. (2) The single fact of inevitability (which is also true in ALL cases) tells us nothing useful. If you think it does, then please explain.

          • I find your (a) and (b) in contradiction, but that’s okay. We’ll just continue with another question to get to that:

            Do you agree that anything that IS inevitable (defined as “certain to happen”) IS ALSO unavoidable? Yes or No?

            (keep in mind that we are once again talking about what “IS”, not what we can or cannot “KNOW” about what is)

            In regards to your (2), yes, I think it tells us something very “useful” in regards to how we should behave given our understanding of such, and that is where this conversation will eventually get pointed to if you would answer my questions (and, if possible, do so without making contradictory assessments that need to be corrected for each time). I’ve explained it’s use many times and you simply, afterward, assert that “it’s not useful”…this is why we are using this new process of the Socratic method to narrow down on our disagreements slowly and pedantically. :-)

          • TS: “Do you agree that anything that IS inevitable (defined as “certain to happen”) IS ALSO unavoidable? Yes or No?”

            Yes, but only when speaking of them at the same level of causality.

            No, when speaking of them at different levels of causality. For example, we may avoid hitting the pedestrian by noticing him stepping into the street, or we may not avoid the pedestrian because we were texting. Whichever occurs would have been inevitable, even though we may also say that the accident was avoidable had we not been texting.

            It’s like (inevitability (avoidability)). One concept exists within the context of the other. Everything exists within the context of universal inevitability because reliable cause and effect (determinism) is “everywhere and at all times”.

            And you wish to use “unavoidability” in place of “inevitability” in the outer layer, we can even say that the accident with the pedestrian was either “unavoidably avoided” or “unavoidably not avoided”.

            TS: “I’ve explianed it’s use many times and you simply, afterward, assert that “it’s not useful”…”

            We could have started there if you liked. But this exercise has been helpful to me to sort out what I’m trying to say a little better, so take all the time you need.

          • Next question:

            Do you agree that, if someone avoids doing what is legal (and commits a crime), that such avoidance was (since the big bang) unavoidable? Yes or No.

            We could have started there if you liked.

            I don’t believe we could have, because we still haven’t even gotten close to the underlying facts needed to assess that part yet. We need to focus on the minutia first, for example, you thinking that inevitability and unavoidability (or evitability and avoidability) aren’t the same thing. So back to the question above.

            But this exercise has been helpful to me to sort out what I’m trying to say a little better, so take all the time you need.

            Great, I’m glad you are appreciating the process, even if slow. 😀

          • TS: “Great, I’m glad you are appreciating the process, even if slow. :-D”

            You should checkout Jonathan Miller as Bertrand Russell on YouTube:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JPfVGotIQI

            TS: “Do you agree that, if someone avoids doing what is legal (and commits a crime), that such avoidance was (since the big bang) unavoidable? ”

            Absolutely. That is clearly deterministic inevitability.

          • “You should checkout Jonathan Miller as Bertrand Russell on YouTube”

            NICE! I liked it.

            “Absolutely. That is clearly deterministic inevitability.”

            Great! Next question:

            Do you agree that such legal avoidance (the EXACT avoidance in my last question for the EXACT person in my last question) was unavoidable EVEN BEFORE the person committed the crime? Yes or No?

          • TS: “Do you agree that, such legal avoidance (the avoidance in my last question) for the exact person in my last question was unavoidable even before the person committed the crime?”

            In the context of deterministic inevitability the act was causally unavoidable from any point prior to the act going back through eternity. For example, it was deterministically inevitable 1 minute prior, 1 Big Bang prior, and 1 eternity prior.

            And my question is: “So what? How does that change anything?”

          • “So what? How does that change anything?”

            All knowledge causally “changes” something. This particular knowledge allows people to become compassionate about another person’s variables that they couldn’t have changed. It also makes the notion of being more or less deserving than another irrational, which leads to greater equality (a more egalitarian society if everyone understood it). But we havent gotten to this point yet, we are jumping the gun here. Let’s keep things slow, point by point.

            Next question:

            “Do you also agree that, if a person becomes a billionaire (avoids poverty and obtains great wealth), and if another person is unable to gain any real wealth and remains poor (avoids wealth gain), that such (avoidance and obtainment), even before either person was even born, was unavoidable?”

          • TS: “This particular knowledge allows people to become compassionate about another person’s variables that they couldn’t have changed.”

            Or, the idea of inevitability could allow someone an excuse for their own lack of compassion. If it justifies one, then it equally justifies the other. Causal inevitability is a constant on both sides of every equation. It literally makes (deterministically causes) no difference.

            TS: “It also makes the notion of being more or less deserving than another irrational, which leads to greater equality (a more egalitarian society if everyone understood it).”

            Or, the idea of inevitability can be used to shortcut the judgment of what someone deserves. For example, if it was inevitable that you killed someone, then it also is inevitable that you should be killed. It works quite nicely into the idea of retributive justice. After all, if those are the rules then the result of breaking the rules is inevitable.

            You seem to think that the concept of inevitability is something new, and that you can assign it whatever meaning you wish. ‘Fraid not.

            TS: “Do you also agree that, if a person becomes a billionaire (avoids poverty and obtains great wealth), and if another person is unable to gain any real wealth and remains poor (avoids wealth gain), that such (avoidance and obtainment), even before either person was even born, was unavoidable?”

            “Indeed. And, since it was inevitable, there was nothing anyone could do about it. Some people are just lucky I guess. And the lucky deserve what they get due to their luckiness. And the unlucky deserve what they get due to their unluckiness. After all, such was their fate since the Big Bang! So we just should let things be as they are. If things were meant to be different, then they would be different.” Said the fatalist.

          • Someone “could conclude” anything at all about you based on your haircut. The fact of the matter, however, is that some conclusions logically follow from the facts and others (in particular, the illogical account for excusing future action based on inevitability, or the non-sequitur that someone “should be killed” based on inevitability) DO NOT follow from the facts. I’m not simply addressing “conclusions” here, but rather “rational conclusions” (conclusions that actually follow logically from the understanding). You, however, are just making up non-sense.

            “and that you can assign it whatever meaning you wish.”

            No, I’m not “assigning” anything, I’m making rational conclusions. This is why we need to keep going from the very pedantic basics rather than jump way ahead like you are here. 80% of your comments so far are evasions. It’s all good though, because such evasion was unavoidable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t causally learn from such for your next comment – I guess we will find out. 😉

            For example, I like how you answered my question: in quotes as some mixed up fatalist (not even a fatalist would say what you said) and not yourself. So I question if that is truly your answer, or if you are being sarcastic. Also note that fatalism does not imply that someone “should let things be as they are”, it only implies that they cannot change anything. Also, this idea that “the lucky deserve what they get due to their luckiness” is a nonsequitur (and that is the point). Just the opposite applies to luckiness – that the lucky aren’t really “more deserving” than the unlucky (and vice versa). You also know that my position isn’t fatalistic, and we were not supposed to be using such words – remember?

            So I’ll ask my next question:

            Were you serious when you said “Indeed” in quotes to my question (we’ll remove the other unnecessary garbage), or were you just avoiding the question with really poor sarcasm?

          • TS: “The fact of the matter, however, is that some conclusions logically follow from the facts and others … DO NOT follow from the facts.”

            Agreed. Some people even conclude that if everything is inevitable we no longer have the freedom to choose anything for ourselves. Silly, I know, but some people draw such irrational conclusions from deterministic inevitability. Even supposedly great physicists like Einstein and philosophers like Spinoza have gone down that rabbit hole. (I kinda wish they were here too, so I could explain it to them).

            TS: “Also note that fatalism does not imply that someone “should let things be as they are”, it only implies that they cannot change anything.”

            If it is actually true that “you cannot change anything” then it logically follows that “you should let things be as they are”.

            TS: “Also, this idea that “the lucky deserve what they get due to their luckiness” is a nonsequitur (and that is the point). ”

            Luck is “good fortune”. To be “fortunate” is to be lucky. That’s what those words mean. One’s fortune is literally one’s fate. Back in ancient times they would have said he was “smiled upon by the gods”. And I just checked Wiki, the Roman goddess Fortuna also controlled your fate.

            And that old Greek/Roman mythology is the root of religious “fatalism”.

            The essential concept of fatalism is that one is not in control of one’s own fate. Either gods or abstract concepts like luck or fate controlled your destiny.

            And that is why so much of the wordplay around deterministic inevitability sounds like fatalism.

            TS: “Were you serious when you said “Indeed” in quotes to my question (we’ll remove the other unnecessary garbage), or were you just avoiding the question with really poor sarcasm? ”

            I was demonstrating how fatalism arises in some minds from the idea of deterministic inevitability. Attempting to draw meaningful implication from inevitability leads to mental errors. Fatalism is one of those mental errors.

            My question: Everyone is familiar with the fact that we are shaped in part by genetics and in part by our environment and culture. For example, you often hear people claiming that violent scenes in movies and video games may be adversely affecting our children’s behavior. Since the idea of external influences is already well established, what do you expect to change by insisting upon inevitability rather than simple cause and effect?

          • “If it is actually true that “you cannot change anything” then it logically follows that “you should let things be as they are”.”

            No, this does not logically follow, as someone who cannot change anything doesn’t NEED to do anything at all (including letting things be) and the same result will ensue. They have no choice in the matter of what happens. They can let things be, or not let thing be, and per fatalism what they were destined will come to be.

            “Luck is “good fortune”. To be “fortunate” is to be lucky. That’s what those words mean.”

            This does not mean that one is “more deserving” of their “good fortune” than another person. In fact just the opposite. No one is more deserving of winning the lottery than another, just because they happen to win. That’s silly.

            Let’s not talk about words such as “fatalism”. If you need to, go back to the rules of this discourse. I want to avoid semantic games.

            “I was demonstrating how fatalism arises in some minds from the idea of deterministic inevitability. Attempting to draw meaningful implication from inevitability leads to mental errors. Fatalism is one of those mental errors.”

            You didn’t answer the question. I know what you were TRYING to demonstrate (unsuccessfully), but such did not answer the question – it evaded it.

            So I will ask you the question once again, and please answer without using something tantamount to a religious parable. SO back to the original “yes/no” question:

            Do you agree that, if a person becomes a billionaire (avoids poverty and obtains great wealth), and if another person is unable to gain any real wealth and remains poor (avoids wealth gain), that such (avoidance and obtainment), even before either person was even born, was unavoidable? YES OR NO??

            “My question: Everyone is familiar with the fact that we are shaped in part by genetics and in part by our environment and culture. For example, you often hear people claiming that violent scenes in movies and video games may be adversely affecting our children’s behavior. Since the idea of external influences is already well established, what do you expect to change by insisting upon inevitability rather than simple cause and effect?”

            This is a malformed question (similar to that “have you stopped beating your wife? question) since, for this discussion, the only thing I’m insisting on is “simple cause and effect” and what such “cause and effect” means. Inevitability doesn’t only tie into cause and effect … a religious account of pre-destination would also be “inevitable” and not entail a need for cause and effect, etc. So I assure you that it is YOU that first brought up the word “inevitable” as I never use the word unless someone else does first. We can simply address what cause and effect means for our decisions.

            I need to stop us at this point. Once again we have gone off on tangents and away from the Socratic method. I don’t want to have to fix every incorrect thing that you assert….rather, it’s best if we do one question at a time, and then answer that and ONLY that question. Can you keep within the constraints of this procedure? Here are the rules again if needed:

            Here are the rules again:

            • Only one question at a time
            • Keep responses short and concise (a few sentences)
            • We can answer questions by asking for elaborations about part of the question if unsure
            • Do not use words such as “freedom”, “free”, “free will”, “blame”, “fatalism”, “responsibility”, or any other word that we have a disagreement about the definition. Rather, just refer to the semantic you are talking about. For example, rather than your version of blame you can just say “the closest cause” or something like that, and rather than my version of blame I can say the person is “deserving” of the consequences of his/her actions. You get the picture. We want concise meanings here.

            Later good sir. :-)

          • TS: “Do you agree that, if a person becomes a billionaire (avoids poverty and obtains great wealth), and if another person is unable to gain any real wealth and remains poor (avoids wealth gain), that such (avoidance and obtainment), even before either person was even born, was unavoidable? YES OR NO??”

            Again, so long as we’re speaking of deterministic inevitability, all events are “unavoidable”. You may pick any event you like, and the answer is the same.

            However, it also remains also true that, for any event in which an autonomous person is the final responsible cause, that event is within the control of that person, such as he is at that time.

            Choose the answer according to how you would like to proceed.

          • Now we are talkin’. :-)

            Next question:

            Is it true that an autonomous person (such as Charles Whitman), who throughout the years develops a brain tumor that presses on his amygdala causing his brain to be configured in such a way that he actually desires and is compelled by such desire to go on a shooting spree, – that because they were the “final responsible cause”, the event of the shooting spree was “within the control of that person” (such as he is at that time)? Yes or No?

          • TS: “Is it true that an autonomous person (such as Charles Whitman), who throughout the years develops a brain tumor that presses on his amygdala causing his brain to be configured in such a way that he actually desires and is compelled by such desire to go on a shooting spree, – that because they were the “final responsible cause”, the event of the shooting spree was “within the control of that person” (such as he is at that time)? Yes or No?”

            I need to describe how this works rather than just give a Yes or No.

            The problem is the harm done by the shooting and how to deterministically prevent future harms by the same causes. First, Whitman, the person would be the final responsible cause, which justifies our incursion upon Whitman’s rights. He can be restrained either in prison or a secure mental facility against his will in order to prevent further shootings. Next, we have the diagnosis of a brain tumor. If the brain tumor compromises his judgment, then the corrective operation may also take place against his will. Finally, after the tumor is removed, it may be that additional corrective actions are required, because it may turn out that other people with a similar tumor did not go on a shooting spree. (see http://www.wellssanto.com/neurodeterminism.pdf )

            So, back to your question. Whitman’s behavior was the final responsible cause of the shooting, but Whitman’s tumor (as you presented it) was the final responsible cause of Whitman’s mental illness. And, assuming Whitman was a good and ethical person prior to the growth of the tumor, then the tumor is the most relevant cause of the shooting.

            I think it is true that “criminal responsibility” is usually judged absent in the cases where judgment (specifically between right and wrong) is compromised by mental illness. And it is commonly said that the mentally ill are “not responsible” for their actions. However, it is the same bad acts, whether sane or not, that justify corrective actions to protect society. It is just the mode of correction that differs (prison or mental facility).

          • You are getting way ahead of yourself again, this question is not addressing how the person should be treated after the event at all, it asks specifically about the event itself. I need to, once again, bring you back on track. Leaping ahead is not productive – remember – we need to move slowly here.

            So, back to your question. Whitman’s behavior was the final responsible cause of the shooting, but Whitman’s tumor (as you presented it) was the final responsible cause of Whitman’s mental illness. And, assuming Whitman was a good and ethical person prior to the growth of the tumor, then the tumor is the most relevant cause of the shooting.

            No, the tumor pressed on a part of the brain, changing the brain configuration (which is Charles Whitman’s brain configuration regardless of what is causing it), and the neuronal activity of the brain state (not the tumor), was the last cause of the “desire”, and the “desire” was the cause of the action. In other words, Whitman’s brain activity was the last cause of the desire and action, the tumor just has an effect on the brain state.

            So again, given the fact that it’s Charles Whitman’s specific brain state that is the “final responsible cause”, was the event of the shooting spree “within the control of that person” (such as he is at that time)? Yes or No?

            Clarification: My question is asking about the “control” word you used, and the sense of how being the “final responsible cause” leads to being “within the control that person”. So was the event of the shooting spree “within the control of Whitman” if his prior brain state dictated entirely the desire and action? Yes or No.

          • TS: “My question is asking about the “control” word you used, and the sense of how being the “final responsible cause” leads to being “within the control that person”. So was the event of the shooting spree “within the control of Whitman” if his prior brain state dictated entirely the desire and action? Yes or No.”

            Whitman, as he was at the time, was in control of the shooting. His brain tumor was part of who he was. His feelings of compulsion were also part of who he was. Even his insanity was part of who he was at the time of the shooting. His own hands loaded the gun and pulled the trigger. In the absence of Whitman, the shootings would never have occurred. The final cause of the deaths was obviously Whitman pulling the trigger.

          • Great! So in your assessment of the words “in control” the person with the brain tumor pressing on their brain, changing their brain state, was “in control”. Super – I’m starting to get a feel for the way you use words (even if I think it odd).

            Next question:

            If someone is holding a gun to another person’s head telling them to do something or they will shoot them, and they do that something, were they also “in control” of that decision if they weighed the two options (do it and don’t get shot, not do it and get shot)? Yes or No (no further elaboration needed).

            Note: I’m just trying to narrow down the things we can assign this “in control” ability to and the things, if any, we cannot – so bear with me on these questions.

          • TS: “I’m starting to get a feel for the way you use words (even if I think it odd).”

            Context is everything. A word may carry different meanings in different contexts.

            And how would you answer the question, “Who was in control?” You have Whitney and you have his victims. There’s the tumor, of course, but it has no direct control of Whitney’s behavior, only how he feels at the moment. What Whitney does about those feelings is still in Whitney’s hands.

            But, back to the script.

            TS: “If someone is holding a gun to another person’s head telling them to do something or they will shoot them, and they do that something, were they also “in control” of that decision if they weighed the two options (do it and don’t get shot, not do it and get shot)? Yes or No (no further elaboration needed).”

            I would say No.

            However, William James just tapped me on the should and wants to ask: What practical difference does it make to be “in control”?

          • So just to sum up so far on the “in control” idea that you initially brought up, the guy with the brain tumor configuring his brain in a way that compelled him was “in control” of his decision, but the guy with no brain tumor but a gun to his head was “not in control” of his decision to do what the gunman said. This get’s more and more interesting.

            However, William James just tapped me on the should and wants to ask: What practical difference does it make to be “in control”?

            Keep in mind that “in control” was your words that I’m looking to clarify – so I figured you thought such words were in some way important. So perhaps this should be my next question:

            Do you think being “in control” make any practical difference? yes or no? (no need to elaborate here, yes or no will suffice)

          • TS: “Do you think being “in control” make any practical difference? yes or no? ”

            Yes.

          • Wow best answer yet (meaning direct and non-evading)! :-)

            Next question then:

            Imagine a guy with a brain tumor that pushed on his brain in a way that compelled him to not do what the gunman (the man pointing the gun to his head) demanded. Since he went against the gunman’s dictation AND he did what his brain desired to do, was he more “in control” than the person without the brain tumor who did what the gunman said? (YES OR NO)

          • TS: “Imagine a guy with a brain tumor that pushed on his brain in a way that compelled him to not do what the gunman (the man pointing the gun to his head) demanded. Since he went against the gunman’s dictation AND he did what his brain desired to do, was he more “in control” than the person without the brain tumor who did what the gunman said?”

            Hmmm. Interesting question. Why do you ask?

          • Because I find some potential conflicts with many of your assessments and am looking to examine if such is the case or if I’m just missing something. :-)

            Imagine a guy with a brain tumor that pushed on his brain in a way that compelled him to not do what the gunman (the man pointing the gun to his head) demanded. Since he went against the gunman’s dictation AND he did what his brain desired to do, was he more “in control” than the person without the brain tumor who did what the gunman said? (YES OR NO)

          • TS: “Because I find some potential conflicts with many of your assessments and am looking to examine if such is the case or if I’m just missing something. :-)

            Well, context is everything. For example, suppose we have two scenarios. (A) In one scenario the guy with the gun to your head hijacks you and your car, requiring you to assist his escape. (B) In the other scenario, the guy with the gun to your head puts a gun in your hand and tells you to blow the brains out of a third person. It may be reasonable to allow him to force you to assist in his escape but not reasonable for you to kill an innocent person to save your own life.

            But, you’re right, I digress.

            TS: “Imagine a guy with a brain tumor that pushed on his brain in a way that compelled him to not do what the gunman (the man pointing the gun to his head) demanded.”

            Unless the tumor has a brain of its own, the tumor cannot compel him to do any specific act.

            TS: “Since he went against the gunman’s dictation AND he did what his brain desired to do, was he more “in control” than the person without the brain tumor who did what the gunman said? (YES OR NO)”

            Yes. If the person did what he himself (his brain) desired to do, with or without the tumor, then he was more “in control” than the gunman.

            Generally, the person deciding for himself what he will do is “in control” of his own behavior.

            Next. (Or do you need a follow-up?)

          • The tumor presses on a part of the brain creating the drive (compulsion).

            “Yes. If the person did what he himself (his brain) desired to do, with or without the tumor, then he was more “in control” than the gunman. Generally, the person deciding for himself what he will do is “in control” of his own behavior.”

            If the person desires not to get shot (his brain is configured in such a way), and decides for himself that he will do what the gunman says so that does not happen, is that then “in control” of his own behavior? Yes or No

          • TS: “The tumor presses on a part of the brain creating the drive (compulsion). ”

            Again, I’m pretty sure it would have to be a generalized compulsion to “do something” but not a compulsion to do a specific thing. Like you say, “the tumor presses on a part of the brain”. So, what part of the brain is programmed to carry out a mass shooting when pressed? It’s not a matter of any expertise on my part, but just common sense.

            I imagine it would be like hunger, where you sense the need to eat something, but the rest of the mind has to concoct the specific plan to make a sandwich.

            Back on topic:

            TS: “If the person … decides for himself that he will do what the gunman says … is that then “in control” of his own behavior? Yes or No”

            Both the gunman and the victim are physically in control of their own actions. However the threat of being shot coerces the victim to act against his will. The gunman, in this case, is in control of the victim, who must do the gunman’s will rather than his own.

            I hope that is sufficient to satisfy your “Yes” or “No”. It depends on how the presumptions of your question line up with the presumptions of my answer. (I hope my answer clarifies my presumptions for you).

          • It was sort of insufficient, but lets go to another question instead:

            If the person decides for himself that he will NOT do what the gunman dictates (even though he knows he will probably get shot in the process – which he doesn’t want), is that then “in control” of his own behavior? Yes or No

          • TS: “If the person decides for himself that he will NOT do what the gunman dictates (even though he knows he will probably get shot in the process – which he doesn’t want), is that then “in control” of his own behavior? Yes or No ”

            Yes.

          • You always suggest that you are a pragmatist.

            Scenario: The gunman tells you to cluck like a chicken, but you don’t want to cluck like a chicken and would never do so without a gun pointing to your head.

            Which one of these options is the more practical / pragmatic option:

            A) Deciding to do what the gunman says in order to not be shot.
            B) Deciding not to do what the gunman says with the chance of being shot.

            You only need to answer with A or B here if one applies (is more pragmatic than the other).

          • Context: Pragmatism is about what is useful or helpful to reach a goal or objective. The goal of morality is to achieve the best good and least harm for everyone.

            If following the gunman’s orders produces less harm than my death, then following his orders would be more practical.
            If following the gunman’s orders produces greater harm than my death, then following his orders would not be morally pragmatic.

            Can you guess my answer to your scenario?

          • And you were doing so well on direct responses too. Oh well. :-)

            Next question:

            Is it then true that the “in control” (per your usage of such only – which we will address further) person doesn’t necessarily take the more pragmatic approach? That, given a specific circumstance, the “not in control” person would take the more practical approach than the “in control” person (and vice versa given a different circumstance)? Yes or No

          • TS: “And you were doing so well on direct responses too. Oh well. :-)

            Perhaps you should send me the script so I know what my part is. Didn’t Plato write the script for Socrates? And I don’t recall Socrates insisting on “Yes or No” answers.

            TS: “Is it then true that the “in control” (per your usage of such only – which we will address further) person doesn’t necessarily take the more pragmatic approach? That, given a specific circumstance, the “not in control” person would take the more practical approach than the “in control” person (and vice versa given a different circumstance)? Yes or No”

            Could I have that again, in English?

          • Socrates (in Plato’s writings) didn’t have to work with someone that did not give direct responses or someone who spoke in parables or riddles. The reason I am asking “yes/no” questions is to move away from any unnecessary responses that purposely detract from the conversation through the creation of tangents. I don’t mind you elaborating, but please also include the yes or no along with the elaboration. If, on the other hand, you think the question cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” – please explain why so I can adjust the question accordingly (I think most of my questions are specific enough that they can be answered in such a way).

            Here is a re-phrase of the question, in English this time:

            Is it true that, under some circumstances, it could be the case that the “not in control” response turns out to be more practical/pragmatic than the “in control” response? YES or NO?

          • TS: “Socrates (in Plato’s writings) didn’t have to work with someone that did not give direct responses or someone who spoke in parables or riddles. ”

            And that is because Plato wrote the script for both sides of the dialogue. I’m sure that in real life Socrates would have run into plenty of defense mechanisms.

            TS: “The reason I am asking “yes/no” questions is to move away from any unnecessary responses that purposely detract from the conversation through the creation of tangents. ”

            I’m okay with that objective. I’m just concerned about misinterpretation of my answer if I fail to explain the context that I’m presuming.

            TS: “Is it true that, under some circumstances, it could be the case that the “not in control” response turns out to be more practical/pragmatic than the “in control” response? YES or NO?”

            Yes. We can never assume that any individual is going to come up with the best answer. In your scenario, for example, the gunman takes control from the victim by placing a gun to the victim’s head. A policeman may intervene with a gun to the gunman’s head saying “Drop the gun!”

          • “I’m okay with that objective. I’m just concerned about misinterpretation of my answer if I fail to explain the context that I’m presuming.”

            If a misinterpretation should arise, it can be pointed to at that time (in which case we can analyze if it truly was a misinterpretation or if a detraction of something is required on either end). Also, if there are any questions that later on you want to detract and go the other way with (because of an initial language confusion or any other reason) – please do say so. I’m truly not trying to trap you in this friendly discourse, even though it may seem that way if my questions happen to point out inconsistencies.

            Yes.

            So just to clarify, you agree that being “practical/pragmatic” does not depend on one being “in control”…correct? (Y/N)

            *** Just an FYI, I’m going to be a little busy for a while so my responses might be more delayed than normal – perhaps a lot delayed.

          • TS: “So just to clarify, you agree that being “practical/pragmatic” does not depend on one being “in control”…correct? (Y/N) ”

            For example?

          • I gave already you the “gun” example, and I thought you were agreeing to this with the last “yes”, so I will clarify the question even more:

            Do you agree that one does not NEED to be “in control” in order to act in the most “practical/pragmatic” way? (Y/N)

          • TS: “Do you agree that one does not NEED to be “in control” in order to act in the most “practical/pragmatic” way? (Y/N) ”

            Yes! I do.

          • Great, right now I want to talk about the differences between the “in control” and “not in control” states. Per your assessment:

            • The person who does not have a gun to their head is “in control”.
            • The person who has a gun to their head and does what the gunman wants is “not in control”
            • The person who has a gun to their head but does not do what the gunman wants is “in control”

            Do you agree with the above sentences? (Y/N) and if no why not?

  4. If I might quote myself,

    “The false belief that inevitability is in control of our destiny is called “fatalism”. It preaches that we have no control, that all of our choices are already made for us, and that our will is only a rider on the bus being driven by inevitability. Fatalism encourages apathy, destroys morale, discourages autonomy, and undermines moral responsibility. Fatalism is morally corrupting.”

    (from my website)

    • “It preaches that we have no control”

      Both determinism and fatalism explain that ultimately we don’t have control.

      that all of our choices are already made for us, and that our will is only a rider on the bus being driven by inevitability.

      This part is correct. More importantly, fatalism implies that it doesn’t matter what we think, say, or do – as the “fated” event will happen regardless of such. For determinism, it happens due to such. I agree with you that this is an important distinction, and I’m fully with you that fatalism is problematic, leads to defeatism (and perhaps moral corruption as you say), and is just factually incorrect.

      The point, however, is that free will is not a requirement to avoid fatalism. Both determinism and fatalism are equally as incompatible with free will. Determinism, however, should not lead to defeatism (futility of conscious action), as it can be understood that conscious thoughts and actions are important cogs in the machine.

      • Tell me more. In what sense are conscious thoughts and actions “important cogs in the machine”?

        • In the sense that the thoughts and actions lead to consequentialist events.

          Note: Let’s pick up any further convo on this in the above thread using the Socratic method and rules listed (if you don’t mind). Trying to avoid semantic disagreements for now.

          • TS: “In the sense that the thoughts and actions lead to consequentialist events.”

            I’m going to assume that (a) the relevant thoughts take place within the brain/mind of a specific person, (b) the person may do this while sitting alone (external social influences now exist only within that person’s mind), (c) it is this mental process that produces the person’s own decision for the person’s own reasons, (d) it is the person’s own mind that directs his actions to implement the decision, (e) by making changes in the real world. The whole process is, of course, deterministic and the result is inevitable.

            Finally, there may be two scenarios: (1) the person may be free to do all of that autonomously for himself or (2) someone may override this process and force him to make a different choice and take a different action against his will (authority: parent, teacher, cop, wife, guy with a gun, et cetera).

            In all practical, real world scenarios the phase “free will” is associated with scenario (1) and is lacking in scenario (2). Agree?

          • Disagree. The person in (1) has no more “free will” as the person in (2), and I suppose someone in a mental institution or someone who has a tumor that is driving them to want, desire, or need to do something (internally) is just as willful as a person with what we would deem as “normal” brain functioning. It’s just a different brain configuration.

            But please, let’s move back to the other chain above and work with that one using the Socratic method. More than one conversation at a time is just confusing. I want to have focused questions and answers on the other thread.

            And remember the rules. 😉

  5. People generally know that their actions make a difference. Determinists are simply saying that we act on our desires to bring about the change we want to see in the world. We may succeed or fail in our efforts, but we did not choose to exist or have the desires we do.

  6. Couldn’t calling a doctor be part of a causality in which I am caused not to recover?

  7. The first line of the contrast is misleading/incorrect, as is the final (graphical) one. There is a cause to a fated event; just one that overrides all other causes (whether this is an overpowering/preprogrammed natural cause, or a supernatural/divine one). So yes, many other events are irrelevant; but you need an arrow from the true, simple cause going around/bypassing them.

    • Sure, I guess you can say that if “X is fated by a god” that “X is caused by a god to happen at that time”, but this is entirely outside of a need for any causal lines that lead up to specific thoughts and actions (and certainly the causality of the more natural universe is not a requirement for the event). That is not to say causality cannot work along side fatalism, it is just that causality in the sense of cause and effect leading up to a point in a causal chain is not a requirement of fatalism.

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