TRC #626: A Deep Dive Into ‘Just Deserts’ By Daniel Dennett & Gregg Caruso

On this week’s show, Darren takes a deep dive into a well of ideas discussed in “Just Deserts” by Daniel Dennett and Gregg Caruso. The book features a debate between the two famed philosophers regarding their views on a range of topics like free will, moral responsibility and legal punishment. Darren recorded the segment with Adam and their ensuing conversation was quite interesting, so we decided to release it as a full show.

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Just Deserts

Just Deserts: Debating Free Will

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1 Response to TRC #626: A Deep Dive Into ‘Just Deserts’ By Daniel Dennett & Gregg Caruso

  1. Rich W. says:

    Quickly and inelegantly…

    (a) These types of discussions are why too many people think philosophy is just elitist mental masturbation. (Unfortunately I was like that until I finally had a good [well, kind’a sad] reason to do a deep dive. Now I’m annoyed that it was always presented so stupidly when I could have really learned a lot of great things from it.)

    (b) Heh, I was going to chime in about experts using common words in esoteric ways that laypeople would never figure out. I once had a therapist tell me – with a straight face – that when clinicians use the term “forgiveness” it has absolutely nothing to do with, uhm, forgiving people. :facehoof:

    (c) Isn’t “retaliation” just an emotional response designed to create and reinforce deterrence?

    (d) I doubt humans are capable of coming up with true “logical” definitions of punishment, reward, in terms of responsibility* because at the base level our lives are completely run by feelings: hunger, thirst, need for socialization, curiosity, etc. Seriously, there’s no way to define what’s “fair” that doesn’t necessarily rely on some emotional base.

    (“Intelligence” is just a very lovely and useful hat on top of a mass of feelings that happened to get very lucky. Sadly, too many people only use it to rationalize what their feelings want anyway.)

    (e) In regards to determinism, if there are truly “random” events that occur in nature then they would change the current course of “what will necessarily happen” except that each moment can become it’s own new set of initial conditions. (In the end though, that thought is really more about the universe than taking ownership of one’s own actions and thoughts.)

    (f) I’m way out of my league on these issues, but you cool Canadian folks don’t seem to mind when I ramble and, better yet, you don’t go out of your way to look for the absolute worst interpretation of my poor way of wording things. (Me goed at publik skule)

    (g) Now I want dessert.

    * or maybe just about anything to do with ourselves and anything that’s ever been anthropomorphized. But it’s still good to try.

    Thank you again for another fun and thoughtful episode.

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