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Choice: Paraphillia, and Freewill

The idea of sexual preference being a choice is absurd to rational people. But
these same people don't give the concept enough scope. It is understood that a
person no more chooses to be gay than a person chooses their natural eye color or
race. But perhaps more significantly, neither does a person chose the events in his
or her life which shape their psychology and sexuality. In short a person doesn't
choose their fetishes, bigotries, neuroses, or virtues either. Indeed, one may
reasonably ask, what does a person really choose?

This has some interesting moral consequences, the clearest picture of which
can be found in death penalty and other areas of criminal law. The concept of
extenuating circumstances is very common, as it should be. We’ve pretty much
agreed that no action exists in a vacuum. The meaning of any human choice is to a
large degree controlled by the context of preexisting conditions. One of these that
really has only been given serious attention in modern times, is the idea that your
childhood has an impact on the rest of your life, beyond your control.

Many times criminals are excused of their offences because they were
abused, or traumatized, or misinformed about the situation in front of them. Some
consider this injustice, I do not. I’m pro vengeance, only when the proper target is
selected and available. Sometimes the real criminal is long dead.

The root of this argument is basically that intention is more important than
results. This causes problems though because it’s a very of a basic ethical question,
do the ends justify the means? This idea suggests that indeed intention is more
important, that there is a fundamental lack of control when it comes to choices, and
that there are no moral absolutes.

But if choice isn’t really yours, if tendencies given to you by reality, decades
before can measurably control the choices you make, where is your personal
responsibility? Is it ethical to even claim that it exists? How is that not like blaming a
tribal elder for the drought and executing him? Seems somewhat primitive to me.

If you grant that choices can be made for you by environment, as we all know
they can be, and that environment plays a role in every choice, as it must, then it
logically follows that choice is at least in large part an illusion, if choice is an illusion
then how do you justify punishing or rewarding people?

Well, punishment and reward becomes part of the environment you wish
people to react with. But what if that desire is in itself a function of the
environment? Then I find myself cringing to the shrill whine of social feedback. The
question becomes what good is an individual? How do you define a living individual?
How do you define living? What is the fundamental difference between living and
dead matter? Etc.

If the physical constants are indeed constant, if the rules of nature are fixed
then the behavior of all matter and energy much be fixed along with those rules.
God doesn’t play dice. Clearly they can’t behave in a manner in conflict with those
rules, because if they did then that behavior would become a part of those rules.
Like “gravity does X” would become “gravity does X except when X”. The last home
for God is physical law, the one question science cannot ever answer is, what
enforces and dictates the physical constants? If people are made of energy and
matter, as clearly we seem to be, then how is the behavior of a person, and it’s
reaction to the environment expected to deviate from the dictates of physical
constancy -or God’s will if you like- is sin even a valid concept?

It seems to me that given all these things, we’ve invented society as a set of
rules that can be bent and broken expressly for the purposes of creating good, evil,
and choice. It seems to me this is an extension of imagination, imagination simply
being a creative solution to calculation problems stemming from not having all
information available, thus the illusion of calculation having the chance for errors,
giving rise to divergence, IE the illusion of choice.

Evolutionarily speaking, It goes something like this, I don’t have all data, but I
need to know what is going to happen in the next 20 minutes or I’ll be eaten. Like
quantum physics, the answers are bounded and have a given range. You know that
when you throw this rock it will travel in this general direction, for this general
distance with this general impact at the end. You don’t know the specifics, despite
them existing, but you can boil down the situation to a binary, if I toss this rock it
will either accomplish my intended goal or I’ll miss. Survival chances are maximized
if you have a course of action preloaded for each outcome, kind of like instinct but
only flexible. So your brain generates a scenario for each. But the fact is, the rock
will only take one path in response to the forces applied to it. But wait, you say
chaos math says that extremely small forces can have large impacts, which
effectively result in random actions, like turbulence crashing a plane. Ok, but how
does that bode well for choice? Now the “possibilities” are simply random action or
determined actions.

The room for true choice seems to have become precisely 0. But what does
that mean? If my choices are merely random, or predetermined, then how can I
have value? What do I do if it becomes clear that I have no value? For me it’s
simple, choice or not, value or not, you still feel, and you still exist. Struggle to
make it enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you, and struggle to keep them
and yourself alive. The more information you have the better choices you will make.
To me the personal spiritual conclusion is this, Knowledge of physical law, is
knowledge of God’s law, therefore knowledge is holy. And as our primal ancestors
learned, the more accurate everyone’s world view is, the more likely you’ll survive
and enjoy the next 20 minutes.