We all want to live in a deterministic world where we know how to boil water, where things fall down instead of up and where if a bullet kills someone, we can count on striations on the bullet to determine the murder weapon and where we can establish through powder burns and a timeline who the likely murderer was.
We need determinism for a world that isn't totally chaotic.
The price we pay is that we ourselves are part of that world and can't claim to be exceptional, unless we want to invoke a soul. As atheists, we probably don't want to invoke spiritual entitities in order to rescue determinism.
The soul makes things happen in the physical world by occupying a physical body. Maybe. =^)
There is a deterministic model of prediction for human behavior. My entire career is based off this model. It is well researched in animals that you can create "histories," in controlled environments and then predict behavior. This has also been researched with human behavior in applied settings, and big surprise the same principles are holding to be true. Granted it is not on the large scale of being able to predict an individual's behavior in any given circumstance, but given the body of research thus far this is certainly plausible. That aside, once accurate data is collected, you can, with precision, predict the conditions under which an individual will engage in a behavior and manipulate the consequences to change this behavior.
I was focusing on the falsifiability of determinism in general. I agree that it is highly likely that most things in the universe, including myself and other people are governed by strict laws that direct our actions. However, not all things observed behave in a deterministic fashion and are better modeled using probability (at least as a tool of simplifying complexity), such as the movement of electrons through various orbital shells. This is not to say there isn't a specific underlining direct cause, just that it's difficult(impossible?) to observe one.
However random quantum events appear to be, they seem to follow certain probabilities, and the averaging of the large quantity of events manifests in emergent predictable events, resulting in laws and models.
.. I was about to go on a tirade about emergent properties, but that is probably better left to another day.
So, out the window goes the moral condemnation of "bad" people, for they can't really behave any other way. Even though I believe in determinism at all macro levels (not on subatomic levels), this means that each person is simply acting out their own personal nature, which they did not create. This takes a lot of the glow off saintly people as well. They can't help but be saintly. It's depressing, but the only real reason we can give for punishing "bad" people is that we can't do otherwise.
Another good reason to punish "bad" behavior and reward "good" behavior is that these consequences are what change the future frequency of that behavior. The only problem with blanket consequences based on the form of the behavior is that not everyone does everything for the same reason. I'm not necessarily arguing for individualized consequences on a societal level. My head starts to explode when I think of how to manage this, but certainly on a smaller scale and for those who seem to not work well within the confines of society.
Another good reason to punish "bad" behavior and reward "good" behavior is that these consequences are what change the future frequency of that behavior.
Stop bothering yourself. There's nothing to do. You see when you start talking about reasons you are talking as if there is free will, but if determinism applies, there is no freedom involved in what you decide. You will decide what is in your nature to decide. We all do what it is in our nature to do.
It is in people's nature to not want to be punished. (most anyways) Surely you don't think that being aware of the lack of free will exempt you from being punished for committing a crime?
Everything is a part of the deterministic system. Even thoughts about the system are a part of the system and they affect the system. There is nothing that is outside of the system or that is unable to influence the system.
By the way, reason is synonymous for cause. As in cause and effect, aka determinism.
"It is in people's nature to not want to be punished..." Well, what about masochists? What about people feeling guilty and wanting to be released from their guilt through punishment?
"Surely you don't think that being aware of the lack of free will exempt you from being punished for committing a crime?"
Whether I'm punished for "bad" deeds or praised for "good" deeds (or praised for "bad" deeds or punished for "good" ones) depends on the nature of others.
People whose nature is reasonability (in the sense of being logical) will normally be determined by their perception of what is most logical, because that is their nature. Some people resent the power of logic and do their best to be illogical, but that is because that is their nature.
Nobody can escape who they are.
Are you even reading the whole post before you reply to it?
I believe I did. Either way, I did what was in my nature to do, as do you.
I think it is worth considering what is meant by determinism. This may seem outrageous, but is anyone suggesting that every rain drop and gust of wind and every word I am typing now was encoded in the singularity prior to the Big Bang? Personally, if that is what anyone believes, I totally do not. I think reality is in a sense inventing itself as it goes, including in the fluctuations of our thoughts and feelings and decisions and actions. There are tendencies, just like with weather, but as with weather nothing really seems to be simple predictable causality. I believe that everything is in flux and that everything is shifting as it goes along and that nothing is set or fixed. As for chaos theory, there is a lot there to learn about. Anyway to each their own. I think I will exercise my free will and ponder whether this is worth pursuing indefinitely. =P