Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Troubles with determinism

Expand Messages
  • Will
    The author fails to explain the context within which EHR occurs. The
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 2, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      <http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/one-among-many/200901/troubles-with-determinism>

      The author fails to explain the context within which EHR occurs. The
      instances in which I have heard people use the phrase "everything
      happens for a reason" they were referring to supernatural agency. They
      believed that the events in their life were part of "god's plan".
      This is not a true determinism since a god might choose to intervene
      or not. It is also usually presumed that god intervenes (has a plan)
      only for the true and faithful.
      There is also a fatalism here, since if there is a plan, it would be
      foolish to act on one's own and disrupt the plan.
      <<<Instead, they are using the term "randomness" as a shortcut
      description of a jumble of systematic effects that is too complex to
      be unpacked. In other words, to determinists the notion of randomness
      is an epistemological trick. It expresses their ignorance of
      everything that lies beyond the boundaries of their theories.>>>
      No, only that which lies beyond their direct observation.
      <<<In scientific psychology, there is constant friction between
      deterministic theories, such as behaviorism (or any other theory
      describing "mechanisms") and theories stressing human agency. What
      academic psychology seems to be telling us is that human behavior
      follows scientifically detectable laws and that at the same time we
      have the power to choose and change apart from these laws.>>>
      This misrepresents the friction between behaviorism and other
      psychological theories.
      Radical Behaviorists believed that only behavior need be considered
      when treating a patient. Later, it became widely acknowledged that
      cognition has a major role in shaping a person's experience. The
      resulting blending of these approaches is CBT Cognitive Behavioral theory.
      It would be a mistake to say that Cognitive theory stresses "Human
      agency" that is "apart from scientific laws".
      In my experience, cognitive theorists are either neutral or lean
      heavily in the direction of determinism.
      The practical reason for this lean toward determinism is that if a
      person has human agency that is beyond scientific law then they can
      simply choose not to be mentally ill. If this is the case and they
      choose to remain mentally ill then they are deserving of the stigma
      attached to their condition.
      By viewing mental illness through the lens of determinism, the
      mentally ill are spared the stigma and condemnation of their fellow
      human beings.
      Determinism doesn't mean that humans don't have choice. Determinism
      means that their choices are circumscribed by genetic predisposition,
      environment and chance encounter.
    • Alessandro D. Gagliardi
      Thanks for sending this, though I take issue with a couple of your points. First, a minor point in that while I agree that academic psychologists will lean
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 2, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        Thanks for sending this, though I take issue with a couple of your points.  First, a minor point in that while I agree that academic psychologists will lean toward determinism whether they are a behaviorist or a cognitivist or whatever, I think that isn't really relevant to the teleological argument about EHR.  Now, you say that this teleology is specifically supernaturalistic, but I don't see that as necessarily being so.  I brew coffee toward the end of consuming caffeine.  The happening of the coffee brewing happens for a reason, but there is nothing supernatural about that.  We may wish to avoid such teleological descriptions when it comes to things like evolution, because that would be anthropomorphic, and that's bad.  And yet I catch even the most hardcore materialist biologists slipping words like "reason" into their description of evolution (i.e., "the reason x evolved is so that it could do y.")  It's not that these people believe in some kind of intelligent designer.  But to describe it in any other way would be horribly cumbersome.  (Not that describing it in a forward causal chain is useless.  It comes up quite often when trying to refute a supernatural description.)  But we might call the teleological or backward causal chain a sort of short-hand.  Does the finch know why it's beak is a bit narrower than those of it's aunts and uncles?  Hell, it's probably not even aware of it.  But does that difference exist for a reason?  Certainly.

        I'm not going to try to defend the EHR stance.  It seems pretty indefencible to me, at least from a strictly rational standpoint.  (Though I agree with Krueger's thoughts as regards psychological well being.)  But I don't know if I agree that believing that EHR is intrinsically supernaturalistic.  I don't see why said reasons couldn't be emergent phenomena on the same lines as the evolution of sight or individual volition, just on a larger scale.

        -Alessandro

        On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 9:53 AM, Will <will_g_davidson@...> wrote:
        <http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/one-among-many/200901/troubles-with-determinism>

        The author fails to explain the context within which EHR occurs. The
        instances in which I have heard people use the phrase "everything
        happens for a reason" they were referring to supernatural agency. They
        believed that the events in their life were part of "god's plan".
        This is not a true determinism since a god might choose to intervene
        or not. It is also usually presumed that god intervenes (has a plan)
        only for the true and faithful.
        There is also a fatalism here, since if there is a plan, it would be
        foolish to act on one's own and disrupt the plan.
        <<<Instead, they are using the term "randomness" as a shortcut
        description of a jumble of systematic effects that is too complex to
        be unpacked. In other words, to determinists the notion of randomness
        is an epistemological trick. It expresses their ignorance of
        everything that lies beyond the boundaries of their theories.>>>
        No, only that which lies beyond their direct observation.
        <<<In scientific psychology, there is constant friction between
        deterministic theories, such as behaviorism (or any other theory
        describing "mechanisms") and theories stressing human agency. What
        academic psychology seems to be telling us is that human behavior
        follows scientifically detectable laws and that at the same time we
        have the power to choose and change apart from these laws.>>>
        This misrepresents the friction between behaviorism and other
        psychological theories.
        Radical Behaviorists believed that only behavior need be considered
        when treating a patient. Later, it became widely acknowledged that
        cognition has a major role in shaping a person's experience. The
        resulting blending of these approaches is CBT Cognitive Behavioral theory.
        It would be a mistake to say that Cognitive theory stresses "Human
        agency" that is "apart from scientific laws".
        In my experience, cognitive theorists are either neutral or lean
        heavily in the direction of determinism.
        The practical reason for this lean toward determinism is that if a
        person has human agency that is beyond scientific law then they can
        simply choose not to be mentally ill. If this is the case and they
        choose to remain mentally ill then they are deserving of the stigma
        attached to their condition.
        By viewing mental illness through the lens of determinism, the
        mentally ill are spared the stigma and condemnation of their fellow
        human beings.
        Determinism doesn't mean that humans don't have choice. Determinism
        means that their choices are circumscribed by genetic predisposition,
        environment and chance encounter.


        ------------------------------------

        Yahoo! Groups Links

        <*> To visit your group on the web, go to:
           http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naturalismphilosophyforum/

        <*> Your email settings:
           Individual Email | Traditional

        <*> To change settings online go to:
           http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naturalismphilosophyforum/join
           (Yahoo! ID required)

        <*> To change settings via email:
           mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum-digest@yahoogroups.com
           mailto:naturalismphilosophyforum-fullfeatured@yahoogroups.com

        <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
           naturalismphilosophyforum-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

        <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
           http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/


      • twclark2002
        Here s another take on Krueger s blog The troubles with determinism
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 2, 2009
        • 0 Attachment

          Here's another take on Krueger's blog The troubles with determinism that I sent to him. Sorry for the earlier post that attributed it to Allesandro:

          A rational endorsement of determinism would, as you suggest, admit that our actions, past, present and future, don't ever transcend cause and effect. This science-based conclusion about behavior leads to compassion, since as you put it: "we did our best and really couldn't have acted differently."

          But the fear that determinism conflicts with genuine human agency is unfounded. Human beings, though caused in each and every respect, are just as real as the causes that shaped them, and they still have causal powers to pursue their goals, including self-change (see Avoiding demoralization by determinism). You can't logically attribute causal power to the factors that create human agents and yet deny it for the agents themselves. And were there some part of a human being exempt from determining influences, it would have no reason to choose one way or another, since after all it wouldn't be affected by, and thus responsive to, its own motives and reasons. Any exemption from determinism wouldn't give us a freedom (or responsibility) worth wanting, only a random factor introduced into behavior. So we don't need, and indeed shouldn't want, a power to choose that's independent of scientifically detectable laws.

          There are now psychiatrists and therapists who are coming to grips with a deterministic, and more broadly, naturalistic understanding of behavior. Dr. Ron Pies, clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston, is one - see his papers on what he calls "psychiatric naturalism" in Psychiatric Times, Hume's Fork and Psychiatry's Explanations: Determinism and the Dimensions of Freedom and Psychiatric Naturalism and the Dimensions of Freedom: Implications for Psychiatry and the Law.

          Understanding that we are in fact fully caused to be and act the way we do not only generates compassion, but gives us control, since we won't suppose that any part of us is magically able to rise above our circumstances. Instead, we'll look at the actual causes of behavior, internal and external, and thus be in a much better position to design and target effective interventions. Once clients in treatment see that being exempt from cause and effect isn't necessary for change, and would indeed give them no coherent, useable power, the insight that their behavior is determined becomes a key tool in achieving therapeutic objectives.

          best,

          Tom Clark, Director
          Center for Naturalism
          www.centerfornaturalism.org
          http://www.naturalism.org/therapy.htm  

          Pies' articles:

          http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/54281
          http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/55086


          --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Alessandro D. Gagliardi" <adfgagliardi@...> wrote:
          >
          > Thanks for sending this, though I take issue with a couple of your points.
          > First, a minor point in that while I agree that academic psychologists will
          > lean toward determinism whether they are a behaviorist or a cognitivist or
          > whatever, I think that isn't really relevant to the teleological argument
          > about EHR. Now, you say that this teleology is specifically
          > supernaturalistic, but I don't see that as necessarily being so. I brew
          > coffee toward the end of consuming caffeine. The happening of the coffee
          > brewing happens for a reason, but there is nothing supernatural about that.
          > We may wish to avoid such teleological descriptions when it comes to things
          > like evolution, because that would be anthropomorphic, and that's bad. And
          > yet I catch even the most hardcore materialist biologists slipping words
          > like "reason" into their description of evolution (i.e., "the reason x
          > evolved is so that it could do y.") It's not that these people believe in
          > some kind of intelligent designer. But to describe it in any other way
          > would be horribly cumbersome. (Not that describing it in a forward causal
          > chain is useless. It comes up quite often when trying to refute a
          > supernatural description.) But we might call the teleological or backward
          > causal chain a sort of short-hand. Does the finch know why it's beak is a
          > bit narrower than those of it's aunts and uncles? Hell, it's probably not
          > even aware of it. But does that difference exist for a reason? Certainly.
          >
          > I'm not going to try to defend the EHR stance. It seems pretty indefencible
          > to me, at least from a strictly rational standpoint. (Though I agree with
          > Krueger's thoughts as regards psychological well being.) But I don't know
          > if I agree that believing that EHR is intrinsically supernaturalistic. I
          > don't see why said reasons couldn't be emergent phenomena on the same lines
          > as the evolution of sight or individual volition, just on a larger scale.
          >
          > -Alessandro
          >
          > On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 9:53 AM, Will will_g_davidson@... wrote:
          >
          > > <
          > > http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/one-among-many/200901/troubles-with-determinism
          > > >
          > >
          > > The author fails to explain the context within which EHR occurs. The
          > > instances in which I have heard people use the phrase "everything
          > > happens for a reason" they were referring to supernatural agency. They
          > > believed that the events in their life were part of "god's plan".
          > > This is not a true determinism since a god might choose to intervene
          > > or not. It is also usually presumed that god intervenes (has a plan)
          > > only for the true and faithful.
          > > There is also a fatalism here, since if there is a plan, it would be
          > > foolish to act on one's own and disrupt the plan.
          > > <<<Instead, they are using the term "randomness" as a shortcut
          > > description of a jumble of systematic effects that is too complex to
          > > be unpacked. In other words, to determinists the notion of randomness
          > > is an epistemological trick. It expresses their ignorance of
          > > everything that lies beyond the boundaries of their theories.>>>
          > > No, only that which lies beyond their direct observation.
          > > <<<In scientific psychology, there is constant friction between
          > > deterministic theories, such as behaviorism (or any other theory
          > > describing "mechanisms") and theories stressing human agency. What
          > > academic psychology seems to be telling us is that human behavior
          > > follows scientifically detectable laws and that at the same time we
          > > have the power to choose and change apart from these laws.>>>
          > > This misrepresents the friction between behaviorism and other
          > > psychological theories.
          > > Radical Behaviorists believed that only behavior need be considered
          > > when treating a patient. Later, it became widely acknowledged that
          > > cognition has a major role in shaping a person's experience. The
          > > resulting blending of these approaches is CBT Cognitive Behavioral theory.
          > > It would be a mistake to say that Cognitive theory stresses "Human
          > > agency" that is "apart from scientific laws".
          > > In my experience, cognitive theorists are either neutral or lean
          > > heavily in the direction of determinism.
          > > The practical reason for this lean toward determinism is that if a
          > > person has human agency that is beyond scientific law then they can
          > > simply choose not to be mentally ill. If this is the case and they
          > > choose to remain mentally ill then they are deserving of the stigma
          > > attached to their condition.
          > > By viewing mental illness through the lens of determinism, the
          > > mentally ill are spared the stigma and condemnation of their fellow
          > > human beings.
          > > Determinism doesn't mean that humans don't have choice. Determinism
          > > means that their choices are circumscribed by genetic predisposition,
          > > environment and chance encounter.
          > >
          > >
          > > ------------------------------------
          > >
          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >

        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.