I wonder now about a specific charge against natural will. Natural will is the idea that your choices come from all of nature rather than from one physical body.
This idea is this: society needs to believe in free will because otherwise people cannot be held responsible for their actions and so the justice system would break down.
First, as always, the honest reader must admit that free will is an illusion, if not a harmful delusion.
I don’t have a problem with beliefs that make you happier, but we shouldn’t accept harmful ideas.
So if free will is a lie, how does that affect justice? My overall argument is this: though we do not regard hurricanes as “evil”, we still try to understand them, prepare for them, and repair after them.
This hurricane, this force of nature, is in the same class as thieves and thugs.
We are the same species as a thief, and we feel we have control over our actions. Therefore so does he.
What if you grant my premise, though, that free will doesn’t exist?
If you accept that because you didn’t choose when or where to be born, you don’t have the same choices, then can’t you extend some compassion to the bad guy? Did he choose when or where to be born, if you didn’t?
Again, it must be stressed that we are looking at criminal behavior as a force of nature, and we can still legitimately defend ourselves from acts of God.
We can seek to stop and control hurricanes, without taking the behavior of the complex system personally.
The more society admits it is partly responsible for the creation of force-of-nature criminals, the more society can use technology and compassion to reduce these destructive behaviors.
Should criminals be detained by society? Probably. It’s a good first step.
At the same time, society should exhibit compassion as far as possible.
It is not through revenge that society betters itself, but by cooperation.
Thieves and thugs need to be controlled and planned for, just like we plan and control for earthquakes. But we shouldn’t take their behavior any more personally than we do a tornado’s: thieves didn’t choose when or where to be born.
A justice system can still operate well, even when natural will is accepted over free will.
Doing something illegal because “the universe made me do it” is not an invalid argument, it’s just unhelpful.
We hunt down man-killing bears, even though they also are a force of nature.
The universe did work out that the bear murdered, and yet there is good reason to stop it from doing it again.
Therefore justice does not fall by the wayside because a society recognized the validity of natural will.
If justice would persist just fine without belief in free will, then why keep it?
Here’s the problem with mixing justice and free will: it imprisons us all in random situations of fault.
You can put down a dangerous bear without feeling personally outraged.
It is a sad event but most of the dangerous-animal-killing is done for safety, not purely revenge.
We kill the animal because it will cause more harm, even though the animal is a force of nature.
We can hold specific patterns of destruction as responsible without becoming personally offended. We defend against dangerous bears, lions, and humans.
When we accept free will we remove compassion from justice. True justice does not come from the barrel of a gun but from impartial examination.
Revenge has no place in life; not when dealing with human criminals nor with bear criminals.
The argument of free will being necessary for the stabilization of society is not only incorrect but cruel.
Society’s justice system no more needs a belief in free will than it needs a belief in an Invisible Pink Unicorn.