Thursday, July 16, 2009

Laughing with him...or at him?

Robert said...

I find the card player analogy of the emotional necessatarian [sic] to be laughable. While it is true that the card player has no control of the card sequence (unless he is a cardsharp manipulating the cards, which don't forget is exactly the view that this necessatarian zealot has of God's character). But that does not mean much in respect to whether or not the card player has choices.

It is like the weather: we don't have any control over the weather that presents itself to us, it is out of our control, we have no choice in the matter. On the other hand, we have choices in response to the given weather (take an umbrella, not take an umbrella, dress warmly or dress for hot weather, etc. etc. etc.), just as the card player has choices in response to the cards being dealt to him and others.

What is the famous Kenny Rodgers song again about "the Gambler": "Now every gambler knows that the secret to survivin, Is knowin what to throw away and knowin what to keep . . . . You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away and know when to run".

That is a very clear and unequivocal statement of the choices that the "gambler" has(he can choose to stay with the cards he has, choose to draw more cards, choose to quit the particular hand and fold um, choose to walk away or choose to run! Whichever choice he makes he most certainly had a choice.

To argue from the fixity of the sequence of cards in a particular card game against the reality of free will in that same card game, is like arguing from the fixity of the weather against the reality of free will, it is just stupid on the part of the one who does so. We may not have control over certain things like the sequence of cards or the weather, but we have choices in response to these given circumstances. Unless of course you are a necessatarian [sic] and in serious denial of reality, then perhaps you might foolishly argue that we never have a choice.

If that’s a laughing matter, then the laugh is on Robert. The illustration wasn’t meant to address the question of whether card-player ever has choices. It wasn’t meant to address the question of whether a card-player has libertarian freedom. Robert isn’t paying attention to what I was responding to.

Rather, the example targets the issue of whether you can make choices even when you don’t have them. It dealt with the issue, raised by Dan, of whether you can deliberate about various hypothetical alternatives and make a choice even though only one of those hypothetical alternatives is a live possibility.

In terms of the illustration, the hypothetical alternatives have reference, not to whether the gambler can fold or bet or draw, &c. Rather, the hypothetical alternatives have reference to what cards remain in the deck, in what sequence. Depending on the state of the game, several hypothetical alternatives are mathematically possible. But only one of these abstract possibilities is a live possibility. Only one represents the actual sequence. Yet the players are deliberating as if more than one possibility is a live possibility. That’s the point. Robert’s little tangent does nothing to rebut the scope of the illustration.

Moving along:

This is why I say people like Hays are dishonest and not forthright about what they really believe. If he was consistent with his espoused exhaustive determinism, then he never would have made that statement, he never would have said that you ****can do either one****, that you can both choose to give the combination or choose to refuse to give the combination. The fact is Hays cannot live with his false theology and philosophy in the real world that God designed where we do sometimes have choices. He like everybody else believes we sometimes have choices and ***talks about*** our ***having choices***. But talk of having choices is both false and incoherent if his view were true. Just another example from many of the falsity of calvinistic determinism. This one from the “horse’s mouth.”

This criticism is inept on several grounds:

i) The point at issue was whether a “forced choice” is a real choice. But even a libertarian can view a “forced choice” as a real choice since, on libertarian grounds, if someone puts a gun to your head, you can do what he says or refrain from doing what he says. Here I’m merely answering Dan on his own terms.

ii) Moreover, we can cast a “forced choice” in hypothetical terms: If X obeyed at gunpoint, that would be a choice. But if X disobeyed at gunpoint, that would also be a choice.

The hypothetical formulation is perfectly consonant with determinism. It doesn’t commit one to PAP. Rather, it merely states, in conditional terms, that in case X obeyed at gunpoint, that would be a choice. But in case X disobeyed at gunpoint, that would also be a choice. Each case needn’t be in play for either case to count as choosing.

iii) Furthermore, Robert brags from time to time about corresponding with John Martin Fischer. I wonder if he ever told Fischer that Fischer was intellectually dishonest. Perhaps I should email Fischer and ask him about Robert’s views on the intellectual dishonesty of determinists.

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