Often, when (most typically) defending criminal youth, their advocates will say something like, "This one mistake shouldn't affect the entire rest of his/her life."
What was the "mistake"? Often, it's something like one of these:

Armed robbery of a convenience store.
Assaulting a homeless person.
Driving way too fast and causing an accident.
Killing someone.
Stealing from his employer's inventory.

My problem is that none of these things are actual mistakes. A mistake is, literally, a missed take. A misunderstanding. Understood that way, none of the above crimes are mistakes.

One characteristic of a true mistake is that it involves, in part, a lack of intentionality. Consider some real mistakes:

I go around the house looking for my glasses until I realize to my chagrin that I'm already wearing them.
I ask someone how his father is doing, forgetting that his father had died.
I add 286+37,206 and come up with 37,493.
I show up at Josh's party in street clothes. It turns out to be a costume party.
I am wondering why my key isn't opening my car's door until I realize that it's not my car; it just looks like my car.

Have you ever thought about this? Do you agree with me?

Tags: mistakes

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@Rocky john - Unseen- So forget false appearances and tell me if in reality  these two children could have done anything other than kill that infant? Did they have any choice in the matter at all or were they merely unwilling hostages to their genetics and environment?

Determinism doesn't deny that we have choices. It just says that whatever choice we make is the result of antecedent circumstances both in the world in in our brain.

Is there any other possibility?

Unseen- I am not saying there are any other possibilities. I am not arguing free will exists. I am not even asking for the definition of determinism,  all I am  asking is if you believe these children had any ability to make any other choice than the one they did giving their genetics and environment?

Are they responsible for what they did or are they merely the unlucky children who drew the short straw at birth that would inevitably end in them  being sacrificed as scapegoats for the sins of their society?

Started this side thread with a question about determinism. I didn't steer it in that direction.

What do you mean by "ability"? If you mean an ability to miraculously act contrary to their brain activity, I don't really know what that would mean or how that could be accomplished. 

"Responsibility" is an ambiguous term. They are certainly responsible in the sense of being causal agents. 

So  that is a no then? You don't believe these children could have chosen to do any different giving their genetics and environment?


Unseen, Sam Harris and the other Determinists are waaaayyy ahead of the Science.

Much like Dark Matter and Dark Energy, Conscious Self-Awareness is an observable phenomenon without a scientific explanation.

I'll wait for the Science, the determinist can have his faith in his limited knowledge being the answer, just like the believers in the bibil.

You don't know we're ahead of the science. To know that, you'd have to know future science, which of course you can't. 

If you're argument against determinism is that maybe, just maybe, science will find a way around determinism, well that is a quasi-religious belief.

Anyway, if we're ahead of the science, that implies that science needs to catch up.

Hahahaha...you meant that to be funny, correct?

If not then please post your source where the Hypothesis of Human Consciousness has met all the requirements to be considered a Theory.

Neuroscience can make a good argument that the Self-Aware Conscious Mind of Man requires a living brain to exist.

Neuroscience has not yet been able to provide a testable hypothesis for the relationship between the brain and the mind, until that happens all claims by determinists of knowledge without evidence are dismissible out of hand (ie. 'ahead of the science').

I and everyone else wake up every morning to a self-aware conscious mind, we all take into our minds new information, analyze it, make new decisions which result in physical actions, this is direct anecdotal evidence of Free Thought and Free Will.  What is the mechanism that allows for all of this, I like everyone else on the planet don't know.  I'm happy to say I don't know and will wait for the scientific explanation.  In the meantime I will continue to be responsible for the actions I take while exercising my Free Will.

What is a real choice? 

I look in the fridge for an alcoholic beverage and I see beer and white wine. Of course I will choose one or the other. Which one I choose is determined by processes going on in my brain. 

Now, apply that to your question.

I don't understand how there can be a "real choice" if there is no free will.

I think you are missing my point. When we speak of choice, it isn't an unambiguous situation. It exists on levels. 

Presented with beer or wine, of course on that level i have a choice, but the choice evaporates when you look deeper. The choice is done rather mechanically in the brain even before the solution becomes apparent to the conscious mind.

It doesn't seem like there is any room for free will in this deeper explanation.

It doesn't seem like there is any room for free will in this deeper explanation.

There is. Unseen just doesn't like it. We don't have free will, but we have de facto free will.

Steven Hawking: The ultimate objective test of free will would seem to be: Can one predict the behavior of the organism? If one can, then it clearly doesn't have free will but is predetermined. On the other hand, if one cannot predict the behavior, one could take that as an operational definition that the organism has free will.

By the laws of nature there is no free will, but in practice, essentially there is. That is the meaning of de facto: in practice, not in law.

Consider the concept behind electronic encryption. A 256-bit AES 'key' of random values is used to hide a message. We figure out all of the variables of how to decrypt the message; the number of letters and words in English and that only 1 key out of trillions will work. We set 50 supercomputers to work, each checking a billion billion keys per second.

Can we discover the correct key? Yes and no. Yes, in that there is a 100% chance of success using this method. No, in that we have to wait 3×10^51 years (older than the age of the universe) to try every key. The encryption is de facto unbreakable.

Likewise, do we have free will? No and yes. No, in that scientific evidence suggests we're biological meat robots behaving according to the laws of nature. Yes, in that the same laws of nature limit our ability to manage the vast complexities involved in predicting meat robot behavior. We have de facto free will.

We could know we've identified every possible variable with 100% certainty, know how to calculate them with 100% accuracy, and know we are 100% assured of success. But still we would never be able to reach the solution: there isn't enough time or processing power in the universe.



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