Can we be to blame for our actions??

Postby Outsidethebox » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:30 am

Hello,

So recently I have been thinking about something. And that is... Can we really be to blame for anything we do??. If you think about it, everybody has something in they're brain backing up absolutely everything they do and every decision a person makes is backed up in they're head and in the same situation with the same person surely they would choose the same option every time because it is just kind of how they're brain is wired. Does this mean that we can't actually be to blame for our actions if we are backed up in our brain for what we do? I know people will say things like "but there are people with bad mental illnesses that will just do things without a back up like psychopaths" however if they are a psychopath, is that really they're fault anyway and can they be to blame for what decisions they make as a psychopath for example? Surely the decisions we make in every situations which tell us to do something is shaped by everybody else around us and how we are influenced by them? So if the actions we take are as a result of being influenced by others to decide to do a certain thing, is that our fault really and can we actually be to blame for what we do? You can also say that there are things that are just in our nature from inheritance that shape our personality and the decisions we make in life but... Again, is that our fault? Im sorry, I know this is long winded but I would really appreciate any opinions on the subject.

Thanks,
Tom
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:46 am

Outsidethebox wrote: Can we really be to blame for anything we do??


Hi Tom,

A topic for thousands of years without resolution is the debate between determinism and free will.

A strict determinist believes no blame is possible as everything in the universe has a prior cause. The universe is a big pinball machine, with “first cause” as far as we can trace goes back to the bing bang. In the most extreme form, your existence, every behavior and this post ultimately can be traced back to a process of causes/effects that was set in motion billions of years ago. That view argues free will doesn’t exist. And without free will, no blame is possible, no sin is possible, no morality is possible, etc.

The above view out of the way, let me explain why a person can still be blamed, even in a deterministic universe.

A child is not born knowing that 1 + 1 = 2.

You know that 1 + 1 = 2, right?

Now, you can argue all you want that learning 1+ 1 = 2 is not your fault, you are not to blame, that based on the universe and people around you and the age into which you were born, you learned this basic math.

Fair enough. Learning 1 + 1 = 2 wasn’t your fault. I don’t blame you. But, you have now demonstrated you have that knowledge. You know! I know that you know, because you have demonstrated multiple times you are aware and capable of answering correctly the question “What does 1 + 1 equal?”

You take a test to qualify for a job and you incorrectly answer the question about 1 + 1. Who is to blame? Who is responsible?

You are. You are to blame if you get it wrong.

Sure, we can trace back the error to whatever you wish that caused your neurons to misfire, impacting your recall and you writing down 3 for the answer. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, maybe you suffered a brain injury, maybe you are getting old. As we age, cognitive ability declines. We can try to shift blame, but the primary responsibility is with you, the person that has demonstrated multiple times that they are fully aware and capable of responding correctly to the question.

Regardless of factors you can point to as a reason, you will most likely be held responsible for getting the answer incorrect. You will be blamed. Not fair? Too bad. If you have suffered brain damage or cognitive decline, that is still you responding, albeit a you in cognitive decline.

For the extreme determinist, for someone that believes that blame is not possible, the response is even more simple. Of course you can be blamed, because it was determined billions of years ago as the universe was formed that you will be blamed. It was determined, based on complex cause effect systems, that you can and will be blamed and you will suffer the consequences of that blame.

My response certainly will not resolve an intractable issue that philosophers have debated for thousands of years. But, it doesn’t really matter. A belief in free will or determinism will not impact how blame works in life. If a person demonstrates they know a rule, then they violate that rule, they get blamed. Mitigating circumstances can and often are taken into account, but the person knew better, the person is to blame.
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#2

Postby Outsidethebox » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:58 am

Hello,

Thankyou so so much for replying to me and giving me more info on what I have been thinking about. I found it really interesting what you had to say and have taken it into account with my own beliefs. It gives a very different perspective on blame. Don't worry, I'm not trying to defend a court case so I'm not imprisoned for murder. Haha. I was just thinking about it as I tend to think about and find an answer to these kind of things I don't know and don't understand.

Thanks for sharing your opinion and helping to shape mine,

Tom.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:12 pm

If you a curious, another term to research is ‘mechanism’. Very similar to determinism.

There are solid arguments on both sides, both for and against the concept of free will.
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#4

Postby Outsidethebox » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:58 pm

Thankyou!
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#5

Postby quietvoice » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:20 pm

At every moment, we each have the choice to think or to not think. This implies that that at every moment, we are responsible for the actions that come out of that decision.

Thinking is a tool, and part of life's lessons would be how to appropriately use that tool, and not let it become your master. You take control of your thinking mechanism.

If you choose to not think (in situations that require one to use this tool), you are choosing to be at the mercy of outside influences and your subconscious programming, and your actions will be as they will, according to any of your past thinking or not-thinking that is released from your subconscious.

To not take responsibility for one's actions and one's life, leaves one in an unhappy state of being, leaving that person in the victim mode and all that that implies.

This is not to say that in appropriate circumstances, one can't choose to not think, allowing one to see what may come up from the subconscious, or notice what one can become aware of by immersing oneself in the present moment, as in meditative practices and such.
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#6

Postby Outsidethebox » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:58 pm

Thank you very much for answering and I'm not trying to sound rudez I just would like to further explore your views, but why do you think a person would choose not to think?
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#7

Postby quietvoice » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:21 pm

Outsidethebox wrote: I just would like to further explore your views, . . . why do you think a person would choose not to think?

In one sense, to think is to deliberately use one's reasoning skills in application of or to a situation faced in one's life. This is at times a difficult task, and many default to not thinking, and depend upon the conditioned mind as a guide to action. Now, how that conditioned mind was minded in one's past will determined whether the outcome of this exercise will be of benefit or not. If one has not the habit of using their reasoning skills as a rule, then the conditioned mind will reflect what was picked up along the way, which is other peoples' thinking or non-thinking.

In another sense, thinking can mean the runaway mind when it is attached to a certain idea that doesn't feel good ("You're thinking too much!"). That's when it would be good to take time to step away and let the mind settle.

If I understand your question correctly, it is because to the untrained mind, using one's reasoning skills can be easier left alone than being made use of.
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#8

Postby Outsidethebox » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:55 pm

Ok, thanks for your help. I have taken into account what you have said!
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#9

Postby squadus » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:14 pm

Yes, we are all to be blamed for our own personal actions. The actions we decide to take are important for showing the world exactly who we are.
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#10

Postby Livetowin » Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:31 pm

If there is anything I have learned in my 50 plus years of living its that we only control OURSELVES. What we choose to relinquish from that stated control is still of our own doing, because influence comes from adopting something you have heard or witnessed. If you find agreement with it, that does not mean you have to be the author of that idea to be responsible for what you do. You also have a responsibility for how you process that information.

There's allot of truth to the saying, " Its not what happens to you that counts, but how you handle it that matters." I grew up with two other brothers under the same roof. We all turned out very different, but the root cause of those differences is placed on the same source. So I can't subscribe to this idea that influence can only mean ONE OUTCOME and that somehow you were under a spell to do what every other person would have done. That's a myth.

Managing your actions is a key part of knowing who you are. You can't ask others to understand your actions, if you are not first to do that for yourself. If you choose to abandon that principle then don't expect society to be anymore thoughtful in dealing with your actions. You reap what you sow.
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#11

Postby Dorothy Anne » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:18 am

In order to live a life that is happy and fulfilling it's helpful to remember...

You have to take 100% responsibility for what is 100% out of your control.

Think about it. Whether you are a believer in no free will or a strict determinist, you ultimately are living in a reality in which taking responsibility for your actions is the only reasonable thing you can do.

Taking responsibility means you own up when you mess up, you control what you can and release your control to what seems not in control. We live a life of ambiguity all of the time. Constantly in a fight between relinquishing our control to others and taking control for ourselves. Our brain likes to tell us otherwise, creating complex mental constructs so that we don't go completely psychotic.

No one knows whats going on. If they try to say otherwise, they are a con. No guru, no practitioner, no scientist knows anymore about free will and making choices than the homeless person on the street. They only like to think that they do.

Namaste,
D.
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