Bruno,

Would you comment on C.S.Soon et al, "Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain," Nature Neuroscience, 11, 543 - 545 (2008) ? In this paper, the "split second" becomes 10 seconds. Sorry if this has been addressed before in this list.


William


On Mar 13, 2010, at 3:37 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:


On 12 Mar 2010, at 21:53, m.a. wrote:

I agree with you that quantum indeterminacy doesn't affect (free) will: "Quantum mechanics is local and deterministic, and explains why it seems indeterministic to the 99,9999...% of the observers." (3/12/2010 7:58 AM), which is why I feel that your use of the words "ability" and "develop" when you say: "the ability of a person to develop personal goals and to satisfy them in absence of coercion" (above) can as easily refer to completely determined processes which introspection identfies as voluntary a split second afterwards ... as it can anything else. m.a.



Are you thinking to Libet's experiences?

Anyway, if Libet's experiences has been repeated and confirmed (which is quite plausible). It would demolish only a pseudo-mystic conception of free-will where a 'substantial soul' would somehow influence the brain, or why not, directly the arms, ... or the spoon.

Some materialist used Mechanism, not to for formulating or solving, the mind body problem, but for eliminating the mind and its attributes. Mental things does not really exists, only matter. And so no free will, nor even consciousness for the most extremists.

The general mistake here (imo) consists in believing that reducing higher order epistemological notion to lower order notions eliminates the importance or the existence of the higher order notions. Or more generally, that representing an unknown field in a known field, eliminates the unknown field. It may eliminate it from the primitive ontology, but this does not mean it is eliminate from the appearances or from the experiences. If that was true a materialist eliminativist would never take a pain killer.

And if we are (apparently material) machine, then, if we are digital machine, we are immaterial or abstract, or higher order, machine or number. The whole coupling consciousness/realties emerge, and thus is reduced, to the additive and multiplicative structure of numbers. This does not make disappear neither consciousness, nor the first person (singular and plural) material perception of matter.

Free will is just very hard to define. It needs consciousness, it implies a partial control of the self with respect to its most probable "macro-histories" (macro = above its comp substitution level).

George Orwell said that freedom is the right to say that 2+2 = 4.
I would say that free will is the will to say that 2+2 = 4.

Bruno
http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/




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