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.
I admit I was speaking with irony and sarcasm, two of my cousins that I often try to avoid.
I'll answer a question with a question (credit goes to Sam Harris):
Who gets to decide the definition of "healthy"? What is the criteria? How can we decide if a person is healthy, or if a given practice is healthy for us? Is there an "ultimate health standard", such as some perfectly healthy being, against which we judge our own health, and without which it would be impossible to call anything "healthy" or "sick" because it would just lead us down a path of "health relativism"?
Morality is no different than health. "Good" and "bad" might not be material terms, but they are adjectives that describe material things, just like "healthy" or "green" or "stupid". Such descriptions are not really "relative" because they are always judged against the weight of what everyone else thinks: our friends, our society/culture, human history, science, etc. None of this requires the existence of a divine being in order to function. It's just common sense.
What are the criteria? What is the criterion?
Re "Good" and "bad" might not be material terms, but they are adjectives that describe material things, ....
Those two adjectives and "stupid" describe humans' responses to (or views of) material things. Adjectives such as "helpful" or "harmful" describe material things or their effects.
I agree with your morality and health analogy and your "None of this requires...."
RE: "If you became conscious of an intent to mow the lawn, that intent was actually formed in your brain in the preconscious mind a few seconds before that intention entered your mind."
Even considering it's source, I can't fault that reasoning, but what has that to do with free will? I can't accept - assuming that's what you're saying - that I'm instinctively hardwired to decide to mow the lawn, because in actuality, I'm instinctively hardwired to park my butt in front of the bigscreen with a bag of chips and a cold Bud and rent a sheep to take care of
If only I were saying that you are hard-wired to decide to mow the lawn or eat chips while watching TV, etc., I'm not. There are no specific "hard wires" anywhere in your mind or brain, but it does conform to physical laws governing all of its processes.
Let me turn it around: how can you imagine you escape all those processes without positing a very dubious spirit world where souls exist which actually control the actions of the body instead of a brain?
The science indicates a couple or a few seconds before we act, the action and the conscious awareness of it are set into motion, the awareness coming after the action is set. So, no, it would seem that whatever you do, the alternatives were sorted out preconsciously. I don't see where any meaningful sense of free will can fit in there.
Well of COURSE we're subject to the same effects of quantum mechanics as the rest of the universe, but since much of quantum mechanics involves uncertainty (see Heisenberg - "Traffic cop to Heisenberg: 'Do you have any idea how fast you were going?' Heisenberg: 'No, but I know where I am --'" pa-dum-pump!), how can we ever be certain which of our behaviors are due to those, and which are not?
Scientific revision of the "Flip Wilson" defense: quantum fluctuations made me do it.
Since once a quantum event happens, from then on determinism reigns, I don't understand how you think this salvages free will. Whether my actions are the result of an unbroken deterministic chain of events or whether a quantum occurrence or two entered in, how does that salvage free will? You seem to be saying that you'd have free will if a random atomic particle shattered a nitrogen atom. How does that happening make your action free? or does it simply set up a new deterministic chain?
To salvage free will, it seems to me, you need to believe in something like a soul or spirit or ghost that isn't bound by the laws, gross or subatomic, governing everything we know.
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.