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PhilosophyGround >> Determinism and your thoughts


8/29/06 8:08 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 29-Aug-06
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Dude, I know what determinism is. I have a B.A in philosophy. I am making a metaphysical claim that determinism is true("EVERY choice--rational or otherwise--directly follows from the past facts and the laws of nature.") I.E that the human brain and body is made up of physical matter that follows the laws of nature and past state of affairs and therefore when someone smokes cigarattes they become addicted to nicotine, which causes them to make the *choice* to continue smoking.. I am describing certain human behaviors as evidence of psychological determinism which is pertinent to the free will discussion.
8/30/06 4:36 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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Sanguine I think you are still in the dark considering the implications of your own examples: the whole list you posted, from...: "A smoker wants to quit but he can't because he's addicted" ...to... "You don't walk up a pretty girl in the street, whip out your DICK and yell "SUCK ON THIS YOU UGLY PIG" because you know that this causal chain of events would probably CAUSE her to be frightened or weirded out." ...makes sense only if you assume that you are in a position to actually have a choice of some kind. If we take the last one. If determinism is correct then you do not have a choice whether to go to the girl or not - this has to predetermined also. So there is nothing for you to KNOW or DO - if determinism is correct then your route of action must be determined before. So your example of you not walking up to a pretty girl BECAUSE you know what it will probably end up in, is not an argument for any type of determinism but rather shows that you in your examples ASSUME determinism not to be TRUE. The fact that you know what your action will PROBABLY end up in just shows that people usually behave in patterns and you know those patterns, but that doesn´t imply anything causally. Greets, Indrek
8/30/06 4:39 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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Please do read my previous post also. There was some stuff that I am not quite sure you understood because you didn´t reply to it. Both on the topic of the implications of your own defence of moral responsibility and also on the topic of cultural determinism not being possible.
8/30/06 7:14 AM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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"To be clear, I am not denying that there is no causal link rather, that the link is one of causal necessity." I think winnidon is correct here. So to reply to sanguine: I think there are room for different opinins regarding determinism inside the field of psychology.
8/30/06 11:02 AM
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winnidon
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Edited: 30-Aug-06 11:08 AM
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Sanguine, To respond, I am on the same page (literally & figuratively - haha) as Indrek. To further clarify take you example: "A smoker wants to quit but he can't because he's addicted" Given the truth of determinism there is a real sense in which it makes no sense to say "A Smoker wants to quit" because what an individual desires plays no role in what is done (or not done). Same with "because he's addicted" - that is very misleading, again given determinism, because that is not why he cannot refrain from smoking. As Indrek said, it was predetermined for him to be an addict and have another smoke (if that is what he did in fact do) and, as such, he could not have done otherwise. Another way to put the same point, if determinism is true, then it is not up to you (i.e., you have no choice) whether you respnd to this (and how you do) or not.
8/30/06 1:19 PM
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Dogbert
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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As someone who believes that the laws of physics abply to humans too, I agree with sanguine cynic. The biggest anti-determinism fallacy is IMO believing that determinism entails that nothing matters and we can just lean back and let everything happen. No we can't, and there are deterministic reasons for that. "Choice" is a operational term that has nothing to with "will", whatever that means. If there are options a organism or a machine can take, the organism or machine chooses. This says nothing about the internal workings. On the moral side it is clear that moral systems provide incentives for the workings of society. And social animals that we are, we reflect on that and form moral opinions. That doesn't violate determinism. I'm not a utilitarian because I believe that "utility" is a meaningless term. We need some conception of a good life. But I agree with some views connected to utilitarianism. If I would have to decide (!) wether a murder is punished or not and I would be assured that no other person will be influenced or even know what my decision is, I wouldn't punish the murderer. What would it help? What really makes me wonder is why the anti-determinists think that all people make "free choices" that somehow follow the empirical destribution we would expect as determinists.
8/30/06 2:29 PM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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Dogbert. I believe humans are subject to the laws of nature. A human being is subject to the law of gravity - he won?t float away when he wills and he will fall to the ground if he jumps of a cliff. But that doesn?t imply causal determinism or does it? The organism can choose, but if determinism is true then he did not have any CHOICE, no possibility to do otherwise. I cannot think of such an idea of a choice where there is no real choice. "On the moral side it is clear that moral systems provide incentives for the workings of society. And social animals that we are, we reflect on that and form moral opinions. That doesn't violate determinism." Ok. We reflect and form those opinions. No values or no moral responsibility still since there is nothing that could be otherwise.... I.
8/30/06 2:43 PM
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Dogbert
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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"Dogbert. I believe humans are subject to the laws of nature. A human being is subject to the law of gravity - he won?t float away when he wills and he will fall to the ground if he jumps of a cliff. But that doesn?t imply causal determinism or does it?" Your brain is an object working according to the laws of physics. Where does the free will enter? "The organism can choose, but if determinism is true then he did not have any CHOICE, no possibility to do otherwise. I cannot think of such an idea of a choice where there is no real choice." I don't know what a real choice is, but one can speak of alternatives. I don't know what more one can get. "Ok. We reflect and form those opinions. No values or no moral responsibility still since there is nothing that could be otherwise...." Well, one can hold values for deterministic reason. I agree that there is no moral reponsibility- apart from "holding someone responsible".
8/30/06 3:37 PM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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"Your brain is an object working according to the laws of physics" How does that support causal determinism and why do you think this is true? I want clarification, I am not denying those right now. You must also assume that acts of consciousness, reasoning etc = brain function in some sense or are determined by that. I´d like to see some argument for that too. There is no sense to talk about alternatives if it could have gone only one way. For a real choice I would say we would need 1) a few alternatives 2) a possibility for either of them to occur. I.
8/30/06 3:43 PM
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Dogbert
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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"How does that support causal determinism and why do you think this is true? I want clarification, I am not denying those right now. You must also assume that acts of consciousness, reasoning etc = brain function in some sense or are determined by that. I´d like to see some argument for that too." That's an empirical question. When you have typed that, the motoneurons in your hand were activated by your brain. I'm sure some people here know more about that but I think the empirical evidence is pretty clear. "2) a possibility for either of them to occur." Actually that's probably not enough. If both possibilitys can occure but on purely probabilistic grounds, you are probably not satisfied.
8/30/06 5:39 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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Believe me guys, I know what you are saying and the point you are trying to get across. I guess I am having a very difficult time articulating myself. Most of the trouble occurs because our language is so imbedded with the illusion of free will. Indrek, "...makes sense only if you assume that you are in a position to actually have a choice of some kind." This is correct. However you have to remember that I don't believe choice and determinism are exclusive. You have a choice AND determinism is true. How is this done? By slightly changing the definition of choice from 'could have done otherwise' to 'the ability to evaluate different options and go with the best one'. Now do agree that Deep Blue's actions are determined right? Analogy: If I am playing Deep Blue in a game of chess and suppose I make a silly move that leaves my queen ripe for the taking. Deep Blue will then evaluate the different possibilities and choose the most appropriate move, which in this case would be to take my queen. Did Deep Blue make a choice? It depends on our definition of choice. Could Deep Blue have acted differently under those EXACT same conditions? No. Did Deep Blue evaluate between different options and possible outcomes and go with the best one? Yes. Was it determined? Yes. So under the definition choice "The ability to evaluate between different options and go with the best one", Deep Blue had a choice AND it was determined. Now let's return to one of my examples. You want your friend John to lend you $50. So you wait till he is in a good mood before you ask him. In your head you probably evaluated between asking him at any moment or waiting until he was in a good mood. Am I assuming you have a choice? Yes. Different options have come to your attention, you have evaluated the different possible outcomes and gone with a decision. You have made a choice and it was determined.
8/30/06 5:44 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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"Given the truth of determinism there is a real sense in which it makes no sense to say "A Smoker wants to quit" because what an individual desires plays no role in what is done (or not done). " An individuals desire does influence decision making. This is not at odds with determinism. "Same with "because he's addicted" - that is very misleading, again given determinism, because that is not why he cannot refrain from smoking. As Indrek said, it was predetermined for him to be an addict and have another smoke (if that is what he did in fact do) and, as such, he could not have done otherwise." Because he is addicted IS the reason he can't stop smoking. A battle goes on in the brain, the chemicals that 'crave' nicotine vs. the chemicals that want to quit. If he smokes another cigarette it is because the chemicals that crave nicotine have overpowered the opposition.
8/30/06 5:45 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 30-Aug-06
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"So to reply to sanguine: I think there are room for different opinins regarding determinism inside the field of psychology." During the first day of every psychology class I took in college, we were told that an assumption of psychology was determinism. If you can find any debate going on among psychologists on this issue please show me.
8/31/06 12:45 AM
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winnidon
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Edited: 31-Aug-06 02:33 AM
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Dogbert: "I don't know what a real choice is, but one can speak of alternatives. I don't know what more one can get. " -- but given determinism there are no alternatives...so is 'choice' little more than a linguistic concept ""Your brain is an object working according to the laws of physics" " -- sure; but will you cash out what you mean by "according" because it seems to me this is entirely what is at issue: is it 'according' to wit determinism or indeterminism? Sanguine, "An individuals desire does influence decision making. This is not at odds with determinism. " -- Again you need to clarify what you mean by 'influence' and, for that matter, 'desire'. But I suspect given your rejoinders that it is at odds with determinism. "Because he is addicted IS the reason he can't stop smoking. A battle goes on in the brain, the chemicals that 'crave' nicotine vs. the chemicals that want to quit. If he smokes another cigarette it is because the chemicals that crave nicotine have overpowered the opposition. " -- NO! It seems to me that you fail to grasp that determinism is a metaphysical view about causal necessity. I'm not sure how to make this anymore clear: The reason he cannot stop smoking, given the truth of determinism, is BECAUSE of the laws of nature and the past facts. If you want to offer one (of many) empirical accounts of why he cannot stop smoking fine (e.g., it is because the chemicals that crave nicotine have overpowered the opposition) but, given determinism, know that it is akin to the fanatic that thinks his team will win if he cheers loud enough at the tv. Strictly speaking it is not the chemicals in the brain causing the smoker to smoke (unless this cashes out without remainder to the laws of nature and the past facts) just as it is not the fan yelling at the tv that causes his team to win.
8/31/06 2:35 AM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 31-Aug-06
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Winnidon. I think I know what you are saying. It is a common misconception about determinism and here is the JFK example used to show why it is wrong. Did the Big Bang cause the death of John F. Kennedy? According to determinism, the precise conditions of the universe one second after the Big Bang (call the corresponding sentence S1) causally sufficed to produce the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963(sentence C). Yet there is no reason to believe that S1 caused C. For all we know Kennedy might have been assassinated anyway, even if some different conditions had obtained back during the universe's birth. How could we ever tell? We can imagine the investigation, even if we can't conduct it: Imagine that we take a snapshot of the universe at the moment of Kennedy's assisination, then alter the picture in some trivial way. (by moving Kennedy 1mm to the left, say) Sentence C, "John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 is still true, but with a microscopic difference in the atomic conditions that make it true. Then, starting from our subtley revised state description of 1963, and following the deterministic laws of physics in reverse all the way back to the Big Bang, obtaining a world in which S1 subtly fails. There are highly similar possible worlds in which Kennedy is killed but S1 is not the case, so the state of the universe at S1 is NOT the cause of Kennedy's assassination. More plausible causes of that even would include "A bullet followed a course directed at Kennedy's body" "Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger on his gun". Conspicuously absent from this list are microscopic detailed descriptions of the universe billions of years prior to the incident. Philosophers who assert that in determinism the initial conditions of the universe caused Kennedy's assasination miss the main point of causal inquiry, and is a major error.
8/31/06 2:52 AM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 31-Aug-06
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Sanguine: As winnidon points out, the question of determinism and indeterminism in psychology is a metaphysical one, so it´s mostly discussed by philosophers in the Philosophy of Mind. anyway, if you do a PubMed search you´ll find this article discussing determinism and indeterminism: And another one "On the application of the principle of indeterminism to psychology" (but you need to be ableto read Italian, LOL)
8/31/06 3:02 AM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 31-Aug-06 03:03 AM
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I think that JFK argument is flawed btw. It doesn´t matter if S1 is still the case or not, it might as well have been S2 that lead to the assination of JFK, like in the argument above (where JFK is moved one mm to the left). So it doesn´t show that the assination of JFK wasn´t determined by *some* previous state (S1 or S2). And that´s all that matters.
8/31/06 3:06 AM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 31-Aug-06
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Dogbert:"I agree that there is no moral reponsibility" Exactly. If determinism is true, the there can be no moral responsability. Unless Cabal1 can come here and prove as all wrong of course.
8/31/06 5:11 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 31-Aug-06
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And I would say that if D is true there is no fact-value distinction in the relevant sense either.
8/31/06 3:11 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 31-Aug-06 03:15 PM
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"So it doesn´t show that the assination of JFK wasn´t determined by *some* previous state (S1 or S2). And that´s all that matters. " It's not meant to show that wasn't determined by some previous state. Of course it was. What the argument is meant to show is that the Prior state that caused JFK's murder was Oswald shooting him, not the initial state of the universe. Therefore the prior state that causes a smoker to be addicted to cigarettes is that he has smoked in the past and become addicted to the nicotine, not some initial state of the universe or whatever it was that winnidon was trying to argue was the cause of a smoker being addicted. Also what is moral responsibility? what exactly do you mean by that term?
8/31/06 3:40 PM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 31-Aug-06
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"What the argument is meant to show is that the Prior state that caused JFK's murder was Oswald shooting him, not the initial state of the universe." But it doesn´t *show* that, it merely asserts it. And the argument is in fact intending to show that S1 isn´t the initial cause for the murder of JFK. "Also what is moral responsibility?" It means that individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. That they can be blamed for acting wrong.
8/31/06 3:42 PM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 31-Aug-06
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"not some initial state of the universe or whatever it was that winnidon was trying to argue was the cause of a smoker being addicted." No offense, but I think you are totally missing winnidons point here. You might need to read his posts again and reply to what he is actually saying.
9/1/06 2:35 AM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 01-Sep-06
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"But it doesn't show it, it merely asserts it" In all cases where JFK was shot, in which you merely changed the location where the bullet went through his body(it would have to be in a place that still killed him) and rewound time you would still have Oswald pulling the trigger in EVERY possible world. Yet the initial state over the universe would change every single time you moved the bullet. Therefore we can say that the cause of JFK's death was Oswald pulling the trigger(since it happens in every possible world) and not the initial state of the universe(which happens in only 1 of an infinite number of possible worlds) "And the argument is in fact intending to show that S1 isn?t the initial cause for the murder of JFK" You are making up a term "initial cause" which is featured nowhere in the argument.
9/1/06 2:58 AM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 01-Sep-06 03:02 AM
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Fudo, I think we can gather that since you were only able to find ONE english article dealing with determinism/indeterminism in psychology that is not a often discussed issue and I think we can say with confidence that psychology assumes determinism to be true. Fudo Myoo is claiming then that:People can not be held responsible and blamed for their actions That is ridiculous. Why not? Daniel Dennett's response to this via wikipedia Dennett gives a two part answer to this question. First, we hold people responsible for their actions because we know from historical experience that this is an effective means to make people behave in a socially acceptable way. Second, holding people responsible only works when combined with the fact that people can be informed of the fact that they are being held responsible and respond to this state of affairs by controlling their behavior so as to avoid punishment. People who break the rules set by society and get punished may be behaving in the only way they can, but if we did not hold them accountable for their actions, people would behave even worse than they do with the threat of punishment. This is a totally utilitarian approach to the issue of responsibility: there is no need for moral indignation when people break the rules of proper behavior. Is it, then, moral to punish people who are unable to do other than break a rule? Yes, people have the right to come together and improve their condition by creating rules and enforcing them. We would be worse off if we did not do so. Again, an argument for utility." So my question to you Fudo is why SHOULDN'T we hold people morally responsible for their actions and what should we do instead?
9/1/06 3:06 AM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 01-Sep-06 03:10 AM
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I do think I grasp what Winnidon is saying and his problem is that he can't understand or is ignorant to a compatabilist notion of free will and determinism. He fails to to realize this "The conventional arguments against both free will, on the one hand, and scientific materialism, on the other, rests on the belief that in a deterministic universe there is simply no room for freedom. If every state of the universe has been determined by a previous state then in what way could any act be said to be 'free'? Is it not simply the inevitable outcome of a series of causal links that goes all the way back to the Big Bang? Not so, says Dennett. Such a view confuses determinism and inevitability. Suppose I'm playing baseball and the pitcher chucks the ball directly at my face. I turn my head to avoid it. There was, therefore, nothing inevitable about the ball hitting my face. But, a skeptic might say, I turned my head not of my own free will but was caused to do so by factors beyond my control. That is to misunderstand the nature of causation, Dennett retorts. What really caused me to turn my head was not a set of deterministic links cascading back to the beginnings of the universe - though that certainly exists - but my desire at that moment not to get hit by the baseball. At a different moment I might decide to take a hit in the face, if by doing so I help my team win the game.

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