- Aug 12, 2001
- Georgia, US
- Basic Beliefs
I didn't realize that you started this thread, Ruth. I don't believe in absolute free will myself, and oddly enough, I'm currently reading a book by the same author in the article, called, "Behave".Gift link to NYT article.
This was an interesting read, but I disagree completely with his reasoning. If this was actually the case, humans would be no different from animals which live on instinct. I firmly believe that we have something within us that makes us separate from typical animals; call it a “soul” or whatever you want.
There are statements of his views in one paragraph that I absolutely reject:
There are major implications, he notes: Absent free will, no one should be held responsible for their behavior, good or bad. Dr. Sapolsky sees this as “liberating” for most people, for whom “life has been about being blamed and punished and deprived and ignored for things they have no control over.”
If this is the case, we have no basis for punishment of criminal behavior. I suspect that when it comes to his personal life, he would expect anyone who harmed him to be punished for that behavior.
Animals have well developed social skills, intelligence etc. so they have a lot more in common with us, then most people think. I wouldn't say that they or we act strictly on instinct. I'd say that we are all the products of both genetics and environmental influences, regardless if we are humans or dogs. If a dog or a human child is abused, as well as having certain genetic traits, it's likely that the human or dog will have certain behavioral issues. An abused dog might bite. An abused child might become a violent adult or an abusive parent. But, sometimes with the right environmental influences, both the dog and the person might be rehabilitated.
I don't think that crime should be punished necessarily. If there is no other option, prisons should be for rehab, but some people are natural psychopaths. I've read at least one book on psychopathy. It's actually a brain disorder, but it's not safe to allow a violent psychopath to live freely among the rest of society, so we do need facilities for such people. I just wish we would have prison reform, as well as better mental health care, because I believe that prisons should be humane places, where those who have a chance to be influenced positively will have the opportunity to do so. But then again, it's my nature to be compassionate, so not everyone sees it that way.
If we did have free will, then the other animals do too. We are after all, animals that evolved big brains that sometimes get us into a lot of trouble. I don't see humans as above other animals. Animals simply have some different traits than we do. Birds, for example, have amazing navigational skills. Dogs have amazing senses of smell. We have big brains that allow us to make up all kinds of fantasies. I just never have the will to get involved in discussions about free will. So, I'll just leave it at that, and let those who feel the need to discuss this topic endlessly, enjoy themselves.