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The redefinition of folk concepts or archaic philosophical coinages so that they denote things that are real (per our current understanding) is a fun game. 'God exists' is true, for example, if God is (say) the whole of reality. 'We have free will' is true, for example, if free will is reasons-responsiveness. 'The mind exists' is true, for example, if minds are what brains do.

I'm sure 'intentionality' exists too. In some sense.

That was me at July 25, 2008 at 02:15 PM.

I lived in Regensburg, Germany for awhile, in which there is a hunk of stone wall that dates back to just after the time of Christ. If I recall, it wasn't far from a McDonald's.

If life is great and then you die, there's no existential problem: nothing needs to be redeemed.

On the other hand, if life sucks and then you die, the prospect of an omni-delightful life after death might be the only thing to take the edge off. In that case, rationality is a real downer.

Kip Werking says: "[T]here seems to be no principled reason for regarding one [type of moral precept], and not the other, as non-arbitrary. In both cases, the moral content is discovered, and not chosen, one just happens to be discovered in our DNA, and not in a tablet."

Though there's a question whether moral dispositions exist encoded in our DNA that can ground some properly moral norm or set of norms, such dispositions would be far less arbitrary than a norm inscribed on a tablet. These dispositions might be "arbitrary" in the sense that evolution might have gone differently. But given it went the way it went, our genetic dispositions have a de facto, if not de moralitas (hope that Latin's right), claim on us that a tablet doesn't: I can't abjure my own operating system.

My bête noire in the fictional mistreatment of rationalism is that fictional rationalists refuse to update. The f*ing poltergeist (or whatever) will be wreaking all sorts of plainly observable havock -- objects floating in the air, demons materializing and vanishing before our eyes, people's faces melting off, etc., etc. -- and the "rationalist" will inevitably be standing there with a dumb look on his face, saying something like, "Well, there has to be some natural explanation..." Before he gets killed, of course.

Stupid, stupid minds!

Eliezer, on your construal of free will, what content is added to "I chose to phi" by the qualification "of my own free will"?

If "moral responsibility" is just moral response-ability, then sure, no problem. But I'd be careful to distinguish that sense of the term from the more common notion of moral responsibility as being morally praise- or blameworthy.

"Having established that there is no such thing as a free will, the practical thing to do is to go on and pretend there was."

The thing to do is go on and ignore the question altogether. When I deliberate, I'm not wracked with anxiety about whether I have Free Will. I just go about deliberating. "I deliberate" means I deliberate -- whatever else that means; thinking about the else won't make me a more effective deliberator.

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