Are we responsible for our actions in all circumstances ?
Topic: "Are we responsible for our actions in all circumstances. Is there any time we are not. Do we have free will or is everything predetermined? Does anything happen randomly?"
20 April 2013
This debate topic could take many directions . The notes here were prepared for a Brisbane discussion group.
- Responsibility is a matter of belief, culture, circumstance and courage.
1a) PNG – minivan of men kill neighbouring tribe’s decendants with axes : cultural belief – responsible for actions, or controlled by custom?
1b) PNG – students in wars – outcasts if don’t participate
1c) PNG – 22yo woman burnt as a witch to pacify evil spirits
2a) Vietnam war induction - lottery selection – responsible to resist, or participating as a citizen? (WW1,II – conscientious objectors)
2b) Until about 17 th Century most Europeans believed their actions were controlled by “God”, and that individual action “against the will of God” was futile.
2c) It has been said that governments have all of the vices of individuals, with none of the restraints of conscience. What is true of governments is true of organizations in general. We have daily examples of predatory behaviour by companies and organizations. All organizations are manifested by their human agents, yet those human agents put aside their personal code and act in the name of the company, just as their ancestors acted in the name of God.
2d) For an individual within an organization or government to defy or expose the actions of that organization requires courage. The hero of the football field becomes a mouse when he has a family and a mortgage and a career. How responsible are we for our cowardice?
2e) Bradley Manning is a person of high intelligence with a personal code of values which rebelled against the barbarous behaviour of the organization in which he was (and is) entrapped. That required extraordinary courage, for which he will be jailed and reviled, while the people around him who failed to speak are awarded medals of honour and promotions. At what point does our own cowardice absolve us from responsibility?
Complex Systems – notes
Olaf Sporns (2007), Scholarpedia, 2(10):1623.
[for complex systems from a dynamical perspective see Nicolis (2007) at http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Complex_systems ]
10. relations between multiple complex systems will be mediated by systems of communication
13. such systems of communication between complex systems are critical to the behaviour of the whole
14. interactions between complex systems often result in the emergence of functions that are properties of the whole, not the parts.
15. dissection of complex systems into components will result in the lost of emergent properties.
16. complex systems when studied require the observation both of states and transitions between states.
17. there is a strong link between complexity and the nature of network structures
19. complex networks can integrate separate and heterogeneous components, and accommodate specialized components
20. the existence and behaviour of complex systems may be central to what “Nature” actually is.
May, Thor (2001) (2013) “The Probable Language Brain” http://www.academia.edu/2563032/The_Probable_Language_Brain
Nicolis, Gregoire and Catherine Rouvas-Nicolis (2007) "Complex Systems". Scholarpedia, 2(11):1473 online @ http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Complex_systems
Sporns, Olaf (2007), Scholarpedia, 2(10):1623. online @ http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Complexity
All opinions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the author, who has no aim to influence, proselytize or persuade others to a point of view. He is pleased if his writing generates reflection in readers, either for or against the sentiment of the argument.
"No Man is an Island " © copyrighted to Thor May; all rights reserved 2013