#251: Fun with Funishment

#251: Fun with Funishment

Hey look, new comic!

The concept behind this one – “funishment” – comes from a fun paper by the philosopher Saul Smilanksy. Smilansky puts forth the idea as a reductio of hard determinism. Astute readers will recall that this isn’t the first time I’ve turned one of Smilansky’s ideas into a comic (see here for the comic on prepunishment).

You can find a great discussion of funishment here, on the always excellent Flickers of Freedom blog, very much worth taking a look at.


Discussion (6)¬

  1. Bunny says:

    The concept is reminiscent of what England was going for when they shipped all of those convicts off to Australia… except without the vaporizing. They may have hoped that the wild dingos or Aborigines would do the same job, though.

  2. chaospet says:

    Vegemite is a far worse fate than vaporization

    (no offense to our Australian readers, of course)

  3. Frogbert says:

    Full disclosure – I haven’t read the paper, so maybe Saul addresses this point. But I’m having trouble seeing why this is a reductio of hard determinism. If hard determinism is true, then don’t we just lose the normative question entirely? It doesn’t make sense to talk about how we “should” treat criminals, because we have no control over that – we will just treat them however we are causally determined to treat them, and we can’t be blamed for not treating them differently, because of course we couldn’t.

  4. chaospet says:

    Frogbert, I don’t think that hard determinism would eliminate the need for normative questions. Regardless of whether hard determinism is true, we still have to reason in our daily lives, we still have to make decisions about what to do. Our practical decisions still causally affect the our lives and the lives of others – regardless of whether or not it turns out that those decisions are themselves causally determined by earlier factors. And in deciding what *to* do, we have to ask questions about what we *should* do. So even if hard determinism is true, the normative questions remain important.

  5. Wm Tanksley says:

    …not to mention that there are two different types of incompatibilities that might be faced by determinism (usually the word “hard” means that the person accepts the incompatibility): in one incompatibility, determinism is allegedly incompatible with moral obligation; and in the other, it’s allegedly incompatible with reasoning (such that our performance of moral reasoning in specific is somehow irrelevant to our actual actions).

    Personally, I’m not a hard determinist in either sense, but rather a compatibilist.

    But I was going to say that no matter what, wasn’t I.

  6. chaospet says:

    Ha, good point Wm. If hard determinism is true, then nobody can fault us for being compatibilists.

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