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21: APR 7


  • Dennett, Daniel. Chapter 10: "The Future of Human Freedom" Freedom Evolves. (300) (289-311) (22)

Dennett, Daniel. Chapter 10: "The Future of Human Freedom" Freedom Evolves

  • How do we negotiate between freeriders and scapegoats?
  • "universal exculpation" (making the person really small and externalizing everthing) and blame in the face of real exculpatory evidence. D. suggests this is a "rolling equilibrium" as knowledge changes and as we change.
  • Might use a "threshold" approach. "Smith didn't know as much as Jones about the crime, but enough." Adjustable: we can remove categories of offenders from those "responsible" without changing the idea of responsibility.
  • "People want to be held accountable" -- Core argument here (292): Moral responsiblity is a good deal. Exchange for benefits of cooperation. [This could be developed as a "negative social contract". Think about Rawls, "Not knowing is I will be a criminal in the society, what would a rational set of principles be for holding criminals responsible?"
  • Example: Pedophiles often choose to have their libidos suppressed. We often seek medications to solve problems in our lives, even to fix temptations.
  • Two more times on possibility and determinism Or, stop saying "Yes, but..."
  • 1. (296): Thinking about possibility using the definition of determinism obscures the actual growth of possibilities that has occurred through our evolution. [Diagram on board for my interpretation of this. You actually do get metaphysically real possibilities in his theory.]
  • 2. "Ought implies can." Again, if you use the definition of determinism, it looks like ought shrinks to zero. No alternative possibilities. But on the morally relevant sense of "can" we clearly have more possibilities than our ancestors. (In a sense, our current freedom is their making.) "The expanding can"
  • Thanks, I needed that!
  • Theory (White) that punishment can be justified in the eyes of the person punished.
  • Considers various cases of match /mismatch between offender's understanding and acceptance of the deal.
  • Imagines a kind of 3-way social process here: the state, the offender, and society's idea of a "normally competent person."
  • Anticipating failures of responsibility
  • We don't think about being convicted of "likelihood to commit a crime, but you wouldn't want to think of that as a "right to a first blow".
  • 301: imagines someone going before a judge and wanting to be exonerated for an act resulting from a condition they knew about, could have treated, but didn't. (Examples.)
  • Returns to the negligent father in Chapter One. He has a choice to make himself really small or not.
  • Seem to endorse a "public health" view going forward. "The field of public health expanded to include cultural health will be the greatest challenge of this century" [Are you alright? MRFW News!]
  • Freedom is fragile