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The Blameless. Part 2: The Poor

October 20, 2008

Here I will address the claim that children are not responsible for their actions because their behaviour is determined by their background.

When children’s bad behaviour is excused as being a response to circumstances (or to their environment), then this is usually circumstances that result from them being underprivileged. It is easy to observe that the claim is often made that children (or even adults) are badly behaved because they are poor. There is some evidence to support the idea. Even if we eliminate as unhelpful examples related to being unable to afford school equipment or uniform, we can still see that there is a lot of bad behaviour in schools where there is a lot of poverty and deprivation. It is easy for me to think of badly behaved children I have taught who were suffering from incredible deprivation. There is a link of some kind between poverty and bad behaviour and so it does appear plausible that poverty itself causes children to misbehave. Or at least it does until you stop looking at whether badly behaved kids are poor, and start looking at whether poor kids are badly behaved.

If poverty caused bad behaviour in itself we would expect recent immigrants from poor countries, particularly the children of asylum seekers, who often arrive with very little, to be the worst behaved kids. This is exactly the opposite of what is the case in my personal experience. Although there are exceptions, recent immigrants, even those who have arrived in the worst possible circumstances, are often the most eager to learn and work hard. Of course, my experience could be unrepresentative, so let’s have a look at the statistics.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation “Rates of poverty were highest for Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Black Africans, reaching nearly two-thirds for Bangladeshis. Rates of poverty were also higher than average for Indian, Chinese and other minority group households.” So if poverty itself caused bad behaviour we would expect Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Black Africans to be the worst behaved children in school.

Does this hold up? Here are the figures for permanent exclusions by ethnic group (From http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000793/SFR14_2008TablesAdditional10Julya.xls):

PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS: NUMBER OF PERMANENT EXCLUSIONS BY ETHNIC GROUP AND GENDER England, 2006/07 (ESTIMATES*)

Boys

(Percentage of school population)

Girls

(Percentage of school population)

Total

(Percentage of school population)

White

0.19

0.05

0.12

White British

0.19

0.05

0.12

Irish

0.23

0.04

0.14

Traveller of Irish heritage

0.54

#

0.35

Gypsy/Roma

0.78

0.28

0.54

Any other White background

0.14

0.03

0.09

Mixed

0.35

0.11

0.23

White and Black Caribbean

0.56

0.16

0.36

White and Black African

0.31

0.10

0.20

White and Asian

0.18

0.04

0.11

Any other Mixed background

0.27

0.09

0.18

Asian

0.12

0.01

0.07

Indian

0.06

0.01

0.04

Pakistani

0.16

0.02

0.09

Bangladeshi

0.15

0.02

0.08

Any other Asian background

0.07

0.02

0.05

Black

0.35

0.10

0.23

Black Caribbean

0.57

0.19

0.38

Black African

0.22

0.04

0.13

Any other Black background

0.39

0.11

0.26

Chinese

#

0.00

#

Any other ethnic group

0.10

0.03

0.07

Unclassified (8)

..

..

..

Minority Ethnic Pupils

0.21

0.05

0.13

All pupils (4)

0.20

0.05

0.13

* Figures relating to permanent exclusions are estimates based on incomplete pupil-level data. See Notes to Editors 5.

# less than 5, or a rate based on less than 5 exclusions.

Totals may not appear to equal the sum of component parts because numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Figures for fixed period exclusions show:

PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS:

NUMBER OF FIXED PERIOD EXCLUSIONS BY ETHNIC GROUP AND GENDER England, 2006/07

Boys (Percentage of school population)

Girls (Percentage of school population)

Total (Percentage of school population)

White

9.32

3.22

6.33

White British

9.39

3.24

6.38

Irish

9.88

3.91

6.92

Traveller of Irish heritage

24.87

7.00

16.24

Gypsy/Roma

25.90

12.44

19.33

Any other White background

6.21

2.13

4.22

Mixed

13.03

4.96

9.04

White and Black Caribbean

19.76

7.79

13.77

White and Black African

11.45

4.71

8.08

White and Asian

6.96

2.01

4.54

Any other Mixed background

10.54

3.89

7.27

Asian

5.08

0.96

3.08

Indian

2.90

0.59

1.78

Pakistani

7.09

1.23

4.25

Bangladeshi

5.35

1.17

3.26

Any other Asian background

3.81

0.77

2.34

Black

13.28

4.68

8.99

Black Caribbean

18.57

6.81

12.67

Black African

9.76

3.26

6.51

Any other Black background

15.36

5.55

10.61

Chinese

1.27

0.38

0.83

Any other ethnic group

6.10

1.67

3.98

Unclassified (6)

..

..

..

Minority Ethnic Pupils

8.50

2.75

5.68

All pupils (5)

9.34

3.19

6.32

Totals may not appear to equal the sum of component parts because numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.

A quick glance reveals that the poorest ethnic groups actually have rates of exclusion that are either about average (for black African students), or below average (for Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Chinese and Indian students).

As an additional point, if you know anybody who has taught in the developing world they are likely to tell you that (other than occasional problems with paying attention when hungry) children in some of the poorest countries in the world behave well in school despite appalling conditions of poverty. It simply isn’t poverty itself that causes children to behave badly. Communities can suffer poverty without suffering exceptionally bad behaviour in schools.

What we see in schools is not poverty making children behave badly, but many of the worst behaved children coming from poor homes. Given the retreat from discipline within schools it is hardly a surprise that students learn to behave, if at all, in their own homes. This provides us with a more plausible explanation of the connection between poverty and bad behaviour. Homes where children are not taught to behave or encouraged to learn are often poverty-stricken homes because a culture of poor behaviour and a culture of low aspirations go well together, but poverty itself does not cause low aspirations or poor home discipline.

I won’t explore how poor home discipline develops and it’s precise connection to poverty (but if you are interested Thernstrom et al (2003) would be a great place to start), but for now we can simply observe that when we identify the connection between poverty and bad behaviour to be one based on poor discipline in the home, then we cease to have any reason to excuse poor discipline in school. It is not that the badly behaved children from deprived homes are not responsible for their actions; it is that they are not held responsible for their actions at home and the case for holding them responsible for their actions at school is strengthened, rather than weakened.

Whereas most of the reasons for claiming that children aren’t responsible for their actions are usually justified with “psychological theories”, the claim that poverty removes responsibility is often justified in far more wide ranging social theories. There is a part of the British middle class socialist tradition that suggests the poverty is the cause of all of the moral weakness of the poor. (Often expressed in ways that make me think of this chap). If such an argument were to be taken seriously, it would, as Chesterton (1908) argues, give us grounds, not so much to improve the condition of the poor, but to exclude and disempower them:

I have listened often enough to Socialists, or even to democrats, saying that the physical conditions of the poor must of necessity make them mentally and morally degraded. I have listened to scientific men (and there are still scientific men not opposed to democracy) saying that if we give the poor healthier conditions vice and wrong will disappear. I have listened to them with a horrible attention, with a hideous fascination. For it was like watching a man energetically sawing from the tree the branch he is sitting on. If these happy democrats could prove their case, they would strike democracy dead. If the poor are thus utterly demoralized, it may or may not be practical to raise them. But it is certainly quite practical to disfranchise them. If the man with a bad bedroom cannot give a good vote, then the first and swiftest deduction is that he shall give no vote. The governing class may not unreasonably say: “It may take us some time to reform his bedroom. But if he is the brute you say, it will take him very little time to ruin our country. Therefore we will take your hint and not give him the chance.” It fills me with horrible amusement to observe the way in which the earnest Socialist industriously lays the foundation of all aristocracy, expatiating blandly upon the evident unfitness of the poor to rule. It is like listening to somebody at an evening party apologising for entering without evening dress, and explaining that he had recently been intoxicated, had a personal habit of taking off his clothes in the street, and had, moreover, only just changed from prison uniform. At any moment, one feels, the host might say that really, if it was as bad as that, he need not come in at all. So it is when the ordinary Socialist, with a beaming face, proves that the poor, after their smashing experiences, cannot be really trustworthy. At any moment the rich may say, “Very well, then, we won’t trust them,” and bang the door in his face. On the basis of Mr. [Robert] Blatchford’s view of heredity and environment, the case for the aristocracy is quite overwhelming. If clean homes and clean air make clean souls, why not give the power (for the present at any rate) to those who undoubtedly have the clean air? If better conditions will make the poor more fit to govern themselves, why should not better conditions already make the rich more fit to govern them? On the ordinary environment argument the matter is fairly manifest. The comfortable class must be merely our vanguard in Utopia.

When psychological theories are resorted to in this case then it is often with reference to theories about human needs such as those of Maslow. The use of ill-defined “needs” in education is a big enough topic to require another post at a later date.

References

Chesterton, G.K., Orthodoxy, 1908

Thernstrom, Stephan and Thernstrom, Abigail, No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap In Education, Simon & Schuster, 2003

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19 comments

  1. [...] adults) are badly behaved because they are poor. There is some evidence to support the idea. Ev Source Education – [...]


  2. It can’t possibly be that adults may be poor because they are badly-behaved?

    Just a thought.


  3. It has recently struck me that if, as research suggests, children learn much of their behavior from their peers, then separating children in to classrooms by age is quite counterproductive. Not a terribly original thought, I am sure.

    The high standards of discipline at, say martial arts classes, or in the armed forces must surely be in a large part attributable to the influence of older role models who have already trodden the path. Even in basic training, the closest military analog to primary school in some senses, each section has an experienced corporal to provide guidance and motivation to raw recruits.

    In classes where I taught martial arts to children, the instructor student ratio was far lower than in modern classrooms, but of course I relied on the steadying influence of the teenagers on the ten year olds, and the ten year olds on those even younger. And just to reiterate the point, I started instructing classes independently at 16 (having done so under increasingly remote supervision since aged 14).

    I know also that in Canada, the youngest school children are often assigned ‘mentors’ from classes only three or four years older than them.


  4. Oldandrew: is exclusion the best indicator of bad behaviour? I am sure that you often complain that badly-behaved students are often left in class rather than being excluded.
    Also consider that there are pressures to keep the number of exclusions down. Perhaps there are even pressures to keep the number of exclusions to a ratio that does not emphasise any particular ethnic group.

    ["If poverty caused bad behaviour in itself we would expect recent immigrants from poor countries, particularly the children of asylum seekers, who often arrive with very little, to be the worst behaved kids. This is exactly the opposite of what is the case in my personal experience."]

    I feel this could be a bit of a straw man argument. Yes, if there ARE people who consider that “poverty is a cause and explanation of bad behaviour”, then you are right to point out the counter-example of well-behaved immigrants of lower means. Yet, I would say the issue here is more cultural. There are many children in the world who have unbelivably impoverished lives, yet are very thirsty for schooling. This is why the literature I am familiar with talks about ‘home background’. I would disagree with anybody claiming that “less money means a poorer home background”, just as I know that there are plenty of people from richer families who felt their home background was affected by alcoholism, abuse, or issues like divorce.

    ["It is not that the badly behaved children from deprived homes are not responsible for their actions; it is that they are not held responsible for their actions at home and the case for holding them responsible for their actions at school is strengthened, rather than weakened."]

    I agree with you, children MUST be held responsible for their actions. If we do not do this, then how do we expect them to function in society, or as parents themselves in the future? But I must add two statements to that quote.

    First of all, some evidence. These are studies from The Psychology of Education by Martyn Long (pp254-5):
    Farrington (1978) conducted a longitudinal study that found that there was a correlation of 61.5% between harsh parental discipline at 8-10 years, and delinquency at 22.
    Patterson (1986) observed families, and concluded that children learn aggressive and non-compliant behaviour by social learning. Tantrums, teasing, and aggression are reinforced by attention or a reward (eg ‘here’s a sweet to shut up’).
    Campbell (1995) was a major review of studies, and found that “difficult home backgrounds” were associated [NB: this would necessarily be to a significant level] with problems in childhood, which persisted to school age.
    Pagani et al (1997) found that divorce before a child was 6 resulted in long-term increases in oppositional behaviour during later childhood. (Oppositional behaviour is otherwise known as being badly behaved).

    We can clearly see that students are indeed affected by their background. This is a problem. Do we fully accept this and perhaps become paralysed by a failure to apply sanctions when behaviour is bad – “Jimmy might be impossible to teach, but his past is so sad?” Or do we avoid both of these outcomes, by ignoring history and simply blaming each student equally for their behaviour, whatever the causes?
    Evidently, blaming the outcomes of an event on the actor, regardless of the cause, is morally wrong. When something is an accident, for example, we should not blame in the same way. So what do we do?
    I propose that as well as holding students responsible, we make sure that they understand that they are indeed responsible. We must make it clear to them that their history might help to explain their behaviour, but it does not excuse it. We must take away their capacity to rely on the past to explain their present by fully understanding the effects of their past, and helping them minimise them.
    This must go hand in hand with the tricky task of ‘retraining’ a child from a difficult home background. I hope you can agree with the research above that children learn standards of behaviour from parents. Where these standards are wrong, the children must have learnt and in some way accept the value of the school’s/society’s standards for reprimands about breaking them to have any effect.

    To hold students responsible for their actions is right. But to hold them responsible for their actions when they a) can argue they have been taught differently and b) can seek to excuse themselves endlessly seems on one hand unfair, and on the other hand unhelpful.

    One very simple example of all of this is that universities must teach students not to plagiarise. They are so used to copying from books, and presenting such unaltered text as their own, when they reach university they must be taught that this is a grave error.

    [rosie: "It can’t possibly be that adults may be poor because they are badly-behaved?"]

    So rich parents pass on fortunes to their children because all of these children are well-behaved? And the children of poor parents get little because they are dirty benefit-scrubbing scum? Suddenly the economy works so much more simply.


  5. “is exclusion the best indicator of bad behaviour? I am sure that you often complain that badly-behaved students are often left in class rather than being excluded. Also consider that there are pressures to keep the number of exclusions down. Perhaps there are even pressures to keep the number of exclusions to a ratio that does not emphasise any particular ethnic group.”

    I’m well aware of this. There are pressures to reduce exclusions among certain groups. None of them, however, are the groups I mentioned.

    “I feel this could be a bit of a straw man argument. Yes, if there ARE people who consider that “poverty is a cause and explanation of bad behaviour”, then you are right to point out the counter-example of well-behaved immigrants of lower means. Yet, I would say the issue here is more cultural.”

    Have you read my post? That is entirely what I am arguing.

    “There are many children in the world who have unbelivably impoverished lives, yet are very thirsty for schooling. This is why the literature I am familiar with talks about ‘home background’. I would disagree with anybody claiming that “less money means a poorer home background”, just as I know that there are plenty of people from richer families who felt their home background was affected by alcoholism, abuse, or issues like divorce.”

    Again this appears to be what I am arguing.

    “I agree with you, children MUST be held responsible for their actions. If we do not do this, then how do we expect them to function in society, or as parents themselves in the future? But I must add two statements to that quote.

    First of all, some evidence. These are studies from The Psychology of Education by Martyn Long (pp254-5):
    Farrington (1978) conducted a longitudinal study that found that there was a correlation of 61.5% between harsh parental discipline at 8-10 years, and delinquency at 22.”

    That’s one of those studies that has me banging my head on the wall. The harshest punishments are given to the worst behaved kids? What a shock. Unless you are planning to reverse cause and effect and make the laughable claim that they are badly behaved because they are harshly disciplined, then I don’t see what this has to do with anything.

    “Patterson (1986) observed families, and concluded that children learn aggressive and non-compliant behaviour by social learning. Tantrums, teasing, and aggression are reinforced by attention or a reward (eg ‘here’s a sweet to shut up’).
    Campbell (1995) was a major review of studies, and found that “difficult home backgrounds” were associated [NB: this would necessarily be to a significant level] with problems in childhood, which persisted to school age.
    Pagani et al (1997) found that divorce before a child was 6 resulted in long-term increases in oppositional behaviour during later childhood. (Oppositional behaviour is otherwise known as being badly behaved).

    We can clearly see that students are indeed affected by their background. This is a problem. Do we fully accept this and perhaps become paralysed by a failure to apply sanctions when behaviour is bad – “Jimmy might be impossible to teach, but his past is so sad?” Or do we avoid both of these outcomes, by ignoring history and simply blaming each student equally for their behaviour, whatever the causes?
    Evidently, blaming the outcomes of an event on the actor, regardless of the cause, is morally wrong. When something is an accident, for example, we should not blame in the same way. So what do we do?”

    You are making a really odd jump here. You have evidence that poor discipline at home leads to bad behaviour, and you are using this to argue that children should be subjected to poor discipline at school too. The logic of this makes no sense to me at all, you genuinely seem to be arguing that as there has been a failure to discipline effectively at home leading to bad behaviour, then we have reason not to discipline effectively at school. Surely, the usual response to a deficiency is to compensate for it, not to institutionalise it?

    “I propose that as well as holding students responsible, we make sure that they understand that they are indeed responsible. We must make it clear to them that their history might help to explain their behaviour, but it does not excuse it. We must take away their capacity to rely on the past to explain their present by fully understanding the effects of their past, and helping them minimise them.
    This must go hand in hand with the tricky task of ‘retraining’ a child from a difficult home background. I hope you can agree with the research above that children learn standards of behaviour from parents. Where these standards are wrong, the children must have learnt and in some way accept the value of the school’s/society’s standards for reprimands about breaking them to have any effect.”

    Just to remind you, I am talking about secondary education. There has been 6 or 7 years of retraining before the kids get to me.

    “To hold students responsible for their actions is right. But to hold them responsible for their actions when they a) can argue they have been taught differently and b) can seek to excuse themselves endlessly seems on one hand unfair, and on the other hand unhelpful.”

    Surely a) and b) are precisely the reasons they should be held responsible?

    “One very simple example of all of this is that universities must teach students not to plagiarise. They are so used to copying from books, and presenting such unaltered text as their own, when they reach university they must be taught that this is a grave error.”

    We’ve done the “they don’t know what they are doing” excuse on the previous entry.


  6. ["We’ve done the “they don’t know what they are doing” excuse on the previous entry."]

    Yes, but if they really do not know what they are doing then it is a perfectly reasonable excuse. You can’t expect a student who has been allowed to plagiarise in the past to not think plagiarism is unacceptable without being told.

    ["Unless you are planning to reverse cause and effect and make the laughable claim that they are badly behaved because they are harshly disciplined, then I don’t see what this has to do with anything."]

    It is exactly that laughable claim that I was making. I will see if I can find any details on such studies that compare equivalent groups, one of whom receives harsh physical punishment, and the other group punishment which is not of that nature (e.g. discipline through rules and sanctions). This would help to settle the question.
    If physical discipline is used regularly and often, perhaps even without cause (e.g. because a parent is alcoholic, depressed, aggressive) then surely it teaches a child to react in the same way? If you believe that behaviours and morals are teachable – surely this is what you are saying we must do – then you can see that negative behaviours and morals are also teachable.


  7. I come from a family who by any modern standards would be termed poor. We never wanted for food but our clothing was second-hand, we had no car, phone, or for most of my childhood, TV. We only went on holiday twice before I was 15, both times a week in England. But we were not culturally or emotionally deprived. My parents were both intelligent and continued to enjoy learning throughout their lives. They encouraged our musical interests and while they took no active part in our school education – not their department – they were pleased at our successes. They taught us manners and morals and punished us meaningfully if we defied them.

    None of us was excluded from school, although I was clouted for lip on pretty much a weekly basis. None of us has ever been in trouble with the Police nor felt the need to glass someone on a Saturday night. I know plenty of people from poor families who have, and I know plenty from wealthy families who do.

    The sort of poverty that causes behaviour problems in schools is not financial.


  8. Congratulations! Your post will appear in the Mole Day edition of the Carnival of Education. You can view the CoE here – http://theinfamousj.livejournal.com/341377.html – on 10/22 when the link goes live. Thank you in advance for any publicity plugs that you offer on your site.


  9. ["The sort of poverty that causes behaviour problems in schools is not financial."]

    Sadly, the home factors that really caused bad behaviour are most prevalent in poorer homes.


  10. ["Sadly, the home factors that really caused bad behaviour are most prevalent in poorer homes."]

    If the children disrupting classes leaned the behaviour from observing their parents, then aren’t the parents behaving in ways that make them unemployable?

    So would it not be reasonable to conclude that the home factors cause the poverty, rather than vice-versa?


  11. “Yes, but if they really do not know what they are doing then it is a perfectly reasonable excuse.”

    As I said in a previous entry, this simply doesn’t account for the types of poor behaviour we see in schools.

    “It is exactly that laughable claim that I was making. I will see if I can find any details on such studies that compare equivalent groups, one of whom receives harsh physical punishment, and the other group punishment which is not of that nature (e.g. discipline through rules and sanctions). This would help to settle the question.”

    Eh? How are these two alternatives let alone the alternatives we were discussing? You seem to be introducing a straw man here.


  12. It has long been the case at Hell High that the majority of entries on the Behaviour Database are about black and mixed-race kids. Excuses have been made for them for as long as I can remember – cultural differences, institutional racism, single-parent families, slavery, whatever flavour of hands-off codswallop it is this month.
    The intervention put in place to make up for slavery, sorry, to support and encourage them (Black Pupils’ Achievement Programme) makes no reference to their behaviour, which sees the worst offenders out of the classroom for a large part of the day presumably because no-one DARE make a negative general observation.
    The ethnic group performing most poorly in terms of hard grades is Pakistani. There is not and never has been a Raising Pakistani Achievement programme despite the fact that they are fairly low on the League of Naughty, especially the girls. I’d like to see the National Council of Muslims (if there is one) take this up. That’d make them shift.


  13. I grew up in a poor family with two sisters. My father was just a waiter and we didn’t have any health insurance. Yet, there were high expectations for good behavior. My parents drilled into our heads that their was no excuse for bad behavior and we would suffer consequences for it. I think society has taken away parent’s rights for disciplining their children so we shouldn’t be surprised when children behave badly. I’m not talking about child abuse but normal child discipline. Now children feel if they are scolded they get to tell on their parents to an agency. It is time to let parents get control of their children and to do it as soon as possible.


  14. Sorry,probably shows I’m thick but I find those statistics difficult to understand. You have the rates for exclusions etc as a percentage of the school population but ?did you have the actual ethnic breakdown of the school population so that we could derive the relative proportion of each ethnic group which was being excluded.Also, this was the number of exclusions-would a few recidivists clocking up multiple exclusions significantly affect the scoring? (eg if Moldavians made up 1% of the school population but were responsible for 5% of exclusions that would be significant even if all the other ethnic groups were responsible for 6% also if one ghastly member of a sparsely represented ethnic group was excluded every second day would not that also change the stats?)


  15. The “percentage of school population” statistic is based on the school population for that ethnic group, not total school population.

    Recidivists don’t really affect the argument one way or another. If poverty caused poor behaviour then we would expect the poorest groups to have more exclusions, regardless of whether it was the whole group, or a recidivist minority that was getting the exclusions.


  16. ["Recidivists don’t really affect the argument one way or another. If poverty caused poor behaviour then we would expect the poorest groups to have more exclusions, regardless of whether it was the whole group, or a recidivist minority that was getting the exclusions."]

    Reading your blog, I had come to expect that poor behaviour did not reliably lead to exclusions. Has it suddenly become a good indicator of behaviour?

    Please see Lilyofthefield’s opinion, above, that pupils are not just treated on the basis of their behaviour but also as belonging to ethnic/cultural groups. Therefore schools would perhaps not want to seem prejudiced by having exclusion statistics that show any group being over-represented.


  17. You appear to have forgotten that you already made these points (and I subsequently answered them) 8 days ago.


  18. “Whereas most of the reasons for claiming that children aren’t responsible for their actions are usually justified with “psychological theories”, the claim that poverty removes responsibility is often justified in far more wide ranging social theories.”

    I’m not sure that the argument you dislike is that poverty removes responsibility. It is that poverty is a cause of behaviour in schools (not exclusion, which makes your stated figures not part of the argument). Would you not say that your background limits your behaviour? If you would say it does, but we still have free will, you are a compatibilist:

    There are two main ideas of free will. The most common is compatibilism – here I quote Wikipedia:

    “In articulating this crucial proviso, David Hume writes, “this hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to every one who is not a prisoner and in chains”.[10] To illustrate their position, compatibilists point to clear-cut cases of someone’s free will being denied, through rap.e, murder, theft, or other forms of constraint. In these cases, free will is lacking not because the past is causally determining the future, but because the aggressor is overriding the victim’s desires and preferences about his own actions. The aggressor is coercing the victim and, according to compatibilists, this is what overrides free will. Thus, they argue that determinism does not matter; what matters is that individuals’ choices are the results of their own desires and preferences, and are not overridden by some external (or internal) force.[9][10] To be a compatibilist, one need not endorse any particular conception of free will, but only deny that determinism is at odds with free will.”

    Do you agree with this, OldAndrew, that determinism and free will are compatible? This says that, yes our actions can be limited by previous variables (determinism) but when we have the liberty of choice we are still exercising free will.


  19. Would you not say that your background limits your behaviour?

    I believe I have covered that point in the original post.



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