Maybe I can't be held be held responsible for my actions in a court of law (or at least Dennett says as much)

ckosarek's picture

 According to Dennett, our actions are all results of outside forces, and, as we discussed in class today, that takes agency away from us. I don't buy into this. Yes, I think outside forces determine our emotional responses, but I don't think they determine our behavioral responses. There is a degree of randomness in our behavioral actions in that they are not direct results of contingencies set up by our environments. For example, say that one kid pushes another down on the playground. Obviously, the kid who got pushed over has an emotional response - probably one of anger - but then he has the choice of whether to allow the push to direct his actions (resulting in pushing the kid back) or whether he might instead choose to take the societal "high road" and walk away or get a teacher (these options are not exhausted, of course - he might also run to his mommy and cry - but for the sake of the example, I'm keeping it to two outside influences). Our agency comes in where we decide which outside force will determine how we act. (Of course, maybe I'm saying all of this because I like to believe that we have some control in our lives. And since we can't prove or disprove agency, I don't find much wrong in choosing to believe that I can choose to push the kid back or cry to my mom.)

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KT's picture

The "Choice" Algorithm

I like your idea. The fact that we observe different responses suggests that we choose our behavioral response.  The only thing I struggle with is whether there's an algorithm to determine choice. The different inputs to the algorithm could be the reason that we "choose" to respond differently. Why are our "choices" not subject to an algorithm?

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randomness