Jeffrey Epstein’s Determinism

When I get some time, I’d like to take a closer look at pedophile/sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and New Atheism.  But for the time being, I’ll just briefly point to some relevant articles.  Let’s start with  this article:

Many contributions to Edge were plausibly the products of genuinely special minds. Epstein’s were not. In 2008, the year he went to jail for prostitution, the prompt was “What have you changed your mind about?” Epstein replied, “The question presupposes a well defined ‘you’ and an implied ability that is under ‘your’ control to change your ‘mind.’ The ‘you’ I now believe is distributed amongst others (family friends, in hierarchal structures), i.e. suicide bombers, believe their sacrifice is for the other parts of their ‘you.’ The question carries with it an intention that I believe is out of one’s control. My mind changed as a result of its interaction with its environment. Why? Because it is a part of it.”

It sure looks like Epstein was an atheistic determinist.  If you’ll recall, determinist Jerry Coyne likes to insist that determinism means we are not morally responsible for our actions.  And I suppose there is a connection between atheism, determinism, and a disbelief in moral responsibility.  After all, it is quite common for those three to be linked.

But at this point, rely on your “street smarts” and ask yourself, “What type of person does not want to be held morally responsible for their actions?”

Answer – someone like Jeffrey Epstein.

 

This entry was posted in atheism, free will, New Atheism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Jeffrey Epstein’s Determinism

  1. 1791L is apparently doing a whole journalism series on the man for those interested in a deep dive.

  2. Ilíon says:

    It sure looks like Epstein was an atheistic determinist.

    Also, explicitly eliminativist; most God-deniers try to hide or ignore the eliminative aspect of atheism.

  3. William says:

    What does atheism have to do with eliminativism? An atheist has just as much reason to believe in consciousness as a theist – introspection and observation of other people. Most atheists are not eliminativists, to boot.

    The idea that atheism is eliminativist has no basis whatsoever in theory or fact.

  4. William says:

    > It sure looks like Epstein was an atheistic determinist.

    You mean the way hundreds of child molesters were Christians, including many priests?

  5. Ilíon says:

    Oh, William! No one is really impressed by your capacity for intellectual dishonesty.

  6. TFBW says:

    William says: “What does atheism have to do with eliminativism?”

    Eliminativism is “Eliminative Materialism”, a purely materialistic account of the mind. If you’re an atheist and don’t hold to materialistic accounts of all things, then you’re a fairly special breed of atheist, since philosophical materialism is pretty much a core tenet of New Atheism. If you are a philosophical materialist and don’t hold to eliminativism, then you’re also a fairly special breed, since there aren’t really any mainstream alternatives. Panpsychism, the theory that consciousness is a purely material property, present in all atoms in the same way that the other fundamental forces are, is one possibility. It’s logical in that if you take materialism and the existence of consciousness as premises, then the conclusion must be that consciousness is a physical property, but unsatisfying in that nobody really has any idea what it means for consciousness to be a physical property.

    So that’s what atheism has to do with eliminativism, in a nutshell. If you want to explain why you’re an atheist who isn’t an eliminativist, go right ahead, because it’s the kind of non-standard position which warrants an explanation.

  7. William says:

    TBFW writes:

    > Eliminativism is “Eliminative Materialism”, a purely materialistic account of the mind.

    Eliminativism isn’t a materialistic “account” of the mind, since it denies that the mind exists in the first place. From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Eliminativism holds that there is no hard problem of consciousness because there is no consciousness to worry about in the first place.”

    https://www.iep.utm.edu/hard-con/#SH3a

    There is obviously no logical connection between this position and atheism. It’s easy for an atheist to reject eliminativism by being a dualist and an atheist, or by being an atheist and accepting any of the many physicalist accounts of consciousness (e.g., that of Searle). Eliminativism is highly controversial and not at all “standard.”

  8. TFBW says:

    William says: “Eliminativism isn’t a materialistic “account” of the mind, since it denies that the mind exists in the first place.”

    That’s a pedantic objection. It accounts for the mind by declaring it an illusion or similar. It explains the mind away. Its entire purpose is to address the problem of consciousness from a materialist perspective, and is an account of the mind in that sense.

    The logical connection is that New Atheism is staunchly materialistic, and Eliminativism is the hardest of hard core materialistic options on the table. It’s not insignificant that Daniel Dennett was one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism. Not everyone wants to go full eliminativist: it’s called the “hard” problem of consciousness for a reason. Frankly, the most common option seems to be to profess not to understand what the problem is: be eliminativist with regards to the problem itself rather than consciousness as such. Second to that seems to be the hand-wave approach of “I don’t know, but science will figure it out eventually.” Dualism is an option, but it is perceived as a violation of materialist presuppositions, along with things like affirmation of free will, so it gets scorned and derided by the scientific rationalists who make up the core of New Atheism.

    Of course, New Atheism is already past its prime, so the relevance of my observations may be dwindling. It applies to Epstein, however, since he associated with Dawkins and other New Atheist notables, not to mention the evidence of his own opinions, seen in the OP.

  9. Isaac says:

    William says:
    “You mean the way hundreds of child molesters were Christians, including many priests?”

    Sorry to pull your quote as an example, William, but this quote right here is an excellent specimen of tribal thinking. William sees this blog post as an affront to his tribal identity, and therefore fires back with examples of bad behavior from the other “tribe.” All of which completely misses the point.

    There is no debate going on here about whether atheists or Christians are the coolest, the smartest, the nicest, or the most ethical (there are plenty of places to have those debates; I’m just pointing out that those debates aren’t going on here.)

    The question under review is whether New Atheism is a good worldview, as contrasted with Christianity.

    Christianity prohibits behavior like that of Harvey Weinstein. It also has a logical reason to do so (a God responsible for dictating objective morality.)

    New atheism in general, and determinism in particular, enable behavior like that of Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein’s behavior cannot truthfully be labeled as “wrong” or “bad” if atheism reflects reality. Any such labels are, in an atheist world, just as baseless as faith in a god.

    For William’s comment to have any bearing on the discussion, he’d have to demonstrate that if a secular parallel to the Catholic Church existed, in which celibate atheist men interacted with young subordinate men and boys, that the rate of abuse would be less. (He can’t do that.)

    (I’m setting aside the argument over whether priestly celibacy or the existence of alter boys, etc. are even biblical, since any and all Catholics and Protestants will all agree anyway that pedophile behavior is wrong.)

    Alternatively, William could show some evidence that wealthy people who build peso-sex islands and orgy-planes for themselves are more likely to be religious (I doubt he can do that.)

  10. Ilíon says:

    William:What does atheism have to do with eliminativism?

    TFBW:Eliminativism is “Eliminative Materialism”, a purely materialistic account of the mind.

    Actually, “Eliminative Materialism” is just the special case; eliminativism, whether or not materialistic, is just another way of saying “There is no God/Creator.” Take away the materialism … hard as that is to imagine a purely non-physical reality … and you still have the eliminativism.

    Eliminativism is the denial that minds are *real*: eliminativism is the denial that there exist, or can exist, any entities which are free agents. That is, eliminativism is the assertion that *all* things are mechanistically determined.

    TFBW:If you’re an atheist and don’t hold to materialistic accounts of all things, then you’re a fairly special breed of atheist, since philosophical materialism is pretty much a core tenet of New Atheism.

    “If you’re an atheist and don’t hold to materialistic accounts [sic (*)] of all things, then you’re …” stuck with a choice among options which are even more absurd than the one normal ‘atheists’ pretend to believe.

    TFBW:Panpsychism, the theory that consciousness is a purely material property, present in all atoms in the same way that the other fundamental forces are, is one possibility.

    If the people pretending to believe that ‘Panpsychism’ were a real solution to the “mind-body problem”, they’d also hold themselves to be under the moral obligation to kill themselves, For, after all, *all* living beings live only due to their continual enslavement of other allegedly “consciousness” entities.

    TFBW:[Panpsychism is] logocal in that if you take materialism and the existence of consciousness as premises, then the conclusion must be that consciousness is a physical property, but unsatisfying in that nobody really has any idea what it means for consciousness to be a physical property.

    No, upon examination, it’s really not logical at all; “consciousness” is a mental construct — that is, there is no such thing as “consciousness” unless there is at least one actually existing mind.

    (*) .. the atheistic account is actually deterministic at root, rather than merely materialistic; ‘materialism’ is what you get when you combine the affirmation of the reality of the physical world with the denial of the reality of minds/selves/free agents.

  11. Ilíon says:

    Both ‘theism’ and ‘atheism’ are affirmations and denials about the nature of reality … and about the nature of human beings.

    ‘Theism’ *affirms* that “the ground of all being” is an actually existing mind: a rational Who.

    ‘Atheism’ *denies* that “the ground of all being” is an actually existing mind, and contrarily affirms that “the ground of all being” is some set of mechanistically determined states: non-rational whats.

    ‘Theism’ does not deny that there are mechanistically determined states; what it denies is the assertion of ‘atheism’ that such states are the entirety of reality. Thus, ‘theism’ — because it definitionally affirms that “the ground of all being” is a rational Who — has no particular problem with the existence of the billions of Whos who comprise the human race.

    ‘Atheism’ — because it definitionally denies that “the ground of all being” is a rational Who — not only cannot explain the reality of human minds, but logically must deny that they really exist at all.

    ‘Atheism’ is irrational and absurd, and thus is immediately seem to be the false affirmation about the nature of reality.

    And there is only one alternative to ‘atheism’: ‘theism’.

  12. Dhay says:

    TFBW > Panpsychism, the theory that consciousness is a purely material property, present in all atoms in the same way that the other fundamental forces are, is one possibility. It’s logical in that if you take materialism and the existence of consciousness as premises, then the conclusion must be that consciousness is a physical property, but unsatisfying in that nobody really has any idea what it means for consciousness to be a physical property.

    Interestingly, I found a long review (“discussion and critique”) of Anneka Harris’ new book, Conscious, which review includes:

    At the same time, Harris is not afraid to venture outside the scientific mainstream by endorsing the idea of panpsychism—that all matter contains some basic form of subjective experience.

    https://areomagazine.com/2019/08/23/annaka-harriss-conscious-and-the-trap-of-dualism/

    Does her husband, Sam Harris, also endorse panpsychism?; or are they at philosophical loggerheads?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.