I read posts here that call different things, "harmful to humanity."  Others call something, "good" or "bad" or "evil."

A very simple question, who gets to decide the definition of  "harmful to humanity" and what is there critieria? The same for "good," "bad," and "evil?" These are not material terms. If everything is material isn't there just "is" and not these moral declarations if one is being thoroughly atheist?

Help me understand your position so I am fair and honest about the views. Thanks.

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does that not mean we are completely unaccountable for our actions?

Well, perhaps in the heat of the moment, or passion, but those circumstances are already considered in the process of justice, right?

Meanwhile, no, people are expected to be accountable for their actions, so at the very least, they usually have plenty of time to consider the consequences before acting.

Hey you have to help me out here. I need to read up more. But I think what Unseen has said is that the deliberation between two or competing actions takes place before we are aware. Wouldn't that mean the weighing of consequences, or some similar process, takes places in the subconscious, it is predetermined? I may be missing something, but if our actions (including the illusion that we are weighing consequences) are just chemical reactions in our brain, how can we be accountable?

I've come to accept that people will follow their nature. Bad people are judged according to what we believe to be bad, likewise with good people who are praised according to our concept of the good.

People do what is in their nature. We hold them accountable, if we do, according to our own nature, because we feel they are accountable and that feeling is NOT a matter of choice on our part. It has to do with who we are.

So what you seem to be saying is that people are accountable for their actions in the sense they get judged (by people who have no choice but to judge, it is in their nature) but the action could not be prevented.

I think what you are saying is that a rock falling on a man's head and killing him is no more or no less accountable or responsible for the action than a man who shoots another man and kills him. Each acts according to physical laws, gravity in the former case, and brain chemistry in the latter?

To try to prove free will by invoking the need for accountability is quite exactly the same, logically, as proving God exists because if he didn't the bad wouldn't be punished.

Why do you accept the logic of one and irrationally reject the logic of the other?

Wait, I am keeping an open mind on the subject and trying to understand you. I am not necessarily rejecting anything but trying to learn something.

Going back to my example, why should the rock be treated any differently to the person. Both obeyed natural laws.

Please don't say because it is in our nature to hold the man accountable and not the rock.

John - don't neglect to account for all of those quantum fluctuations --

Arch I'm trying to get me head around what Unseen is saying. If you can help my friend, jump in. What am I missing?

John, frankly I don't think you're missing anything - Unseen, however, despite his touted degree in Philosophy - could well be missing a marble or two.

determinism |diˈtərməˌnizəm|
noun Philosophy
the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.

So on that basis, I'd have to say that your rock and your man are on equal footing, equally guilty or equally innocent - give or take a few quantum fluctuations, of course.

Consciousness is what is called an epiphenomenon of a physical state of affairs.

An epiphenomenon is "a secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process."

Another familiar epiphenomenon would be a rainbow, an epiphenomenon of the of the refraction of light in water mist. A rainbow doesn't really exist in space, though it appears to.

If you want to call consciousness the soul, fine, but it doesn't control the body. If it does, what is the physical mechanism? You see, it's not a cause, it's an effect. It's passive.

Seems sensible to call it an effect but must that debar it from being a cause once in existence? If so, why?

You may have to rephrase that question. I'm having a hard time parsing it.

Just let me say that effects become causes. That is how you get causal chains.


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