and joe, i contend that thoughts are indeed nothing more than nuerochemicals diffusing across neurons. i offer up as evidence that there is absolutely no indication of any other source from which to explain our thoughts. and as a staunt believer in the scientific process, i believe that facing no evidence to the contrary, no other possible explanation, we have no choice but to acknowledge that neurons (acting out of basic biological reactions influenced by external stimuli) are the likely source of our thoughts.
I will, without hesitation, concede that thoughts are, in some sense, dependent upon biochemical processes. There can be no thought, then, without some kind of neurological function (the specifics of which I am neither qualified to describe nor particularly interested in learning). But to say that neurological function is
thought is to confuse two entirely different things, in much the same way that Berkeley confused the act of perception with the thing perceived. But just as a house is not the same thing as seeing
that house, a sparking neuron is not the same thing as thinking
Look at it this way: a house is made up of a large number of building materials. But simply because houses consist of materials doesn't mean that there are no such things as houses. The existence of two-by-fours, in other words, does not vitiate the notion of architecture. In the same way, the existence of neuron-sparkings is, in no way, a refutation of the existence of thoughts.
But perhaps you're suggesting, Centroles
, that, while thoughts exist, they consist of a set pattern of neuron-sparkings. Consequently, in much the same way we could duplicate a house by using the same types of materials arranged in the same pattern, we could, theoretically, duplicate the same pattern of neuron-sparkings and arrive at the exact same thought. In other words, if I "think" to raise my arm in a certain manner, the same sequence of neuron-sparkings that make up that "thought" could presumably be duplicated to produce the same result.
Well, that's fine, I'll even concede that
point (at least for the sake of argument). But that still gets us no closer to eliminating the possibility of free will. After all, in order to equate the presence of biochemical processes with the absence of "thoughts," one would have to contend that the processes, in some sense, caused
the thoughts. For if the reverse were true, if the thoughts caused the biochemical processes, then there is nothing left of your notion that we are naught but an amalgam of genetic information and external "inputs."
And despite your "staunch belief" in science, there is not much evidence there that you can point to as proof that biochemical processes cause
thoughts. Indeed, I think there is abundant scientific evidence that suggests the exact opposite. And in those cases where we can say, with some confidence, that the process causes the thought, as where biochemical imbalances lead to hallucinations, we typically describe such a sequence as abnormal
In other words, if the thought of raising my arm leads to a biochemical sequence that results in the raising of my arm, then the thought caused
the sequence, not the other way around. As such, "thought" is something different from "biochemical process" or "genetic traits."
perception, your statement that this means that prisoners should be released is both faulty and in no way disproves the argument. you can't reject a theory simply because it being true has poor implications for society as a whole. if that were true, no one should claim that there probably isn't a heaven since there is no evidence of one because it would mean that people would be worse off if heaven didn't exist.
Well, you're right, Centroles
: although perception
is, I believe, correct in noting that the absence of free will is incompatible with our notions of morality, this is merely an implication of your position, not a refutation of it.
and your statement is also false in assuming that just because people aren't responsible for their actions doesn't mean that people shouldn't protect themselves from those that might hurt them. that is afterall the purpose of life as established by evolution, act by the maxim which maximally ensures our survival and ability to reproduce.
That is complete and utter nonsense. We do not punish those who are not responsible for their actions. For instance, we do not punish those who are suffering from a delusion, or who are incapable of forming intent, or who are acting under compulsion. That's because we believe that there's more to culpability than the act itself.
If, on the other hand, we merely punished those who acted in a manner not "conducive to evolution," as you suggest, we would first kill off the physically imperfect, the feeble, and the mentally deficient: in short, we would carry out a eugenics campaign of monstrous proportions. And, moreover, we would be justified
in doing so, according to you, Centroles
. That's not just wrong-headed, it's repellent.