Monday, February 24, 2003


There are many ways to use the word "choice," but I assume that the most common meaning does not entail that, in addition to picking an action, a choice chooses the desires, preferences, and dispositions that motivate it. Given that desires and the like obviously are in large measure, or perhaps entirely, unchosen, it would follow that we never or almost never choose our actions if the common meaning of "choice" were so inclusive. So, it includes only the action chosen as its object. Determinism does entail that it is written in stone already which people will be good and which wicked, even long before they are born. But this does not commit us to accepting, absurdly, that since no one is responsible for his character, no one is to be praised or blamed for his actions. "You can't blame him; he's wicked" is a non-starter, a joke, and the reason is that when we speak of choice, no one cares about the trivial causes that account for the wicked fellow. All that matters is that he is a wicked fellow. "Why praise him? He simply happens to be hard-working by disposition" is a funny one, too.