On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 12:27 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> I could easily think of evidence that would convince me, for example,
>> that the moon landing was a hoax, but no conceivable evidence would
>> have any bearing on the fact that everything is either determined or
>> random, since this is true a priori.
> There is no a priori truth there at all. Your view is your choice. If it
> were a priori true, then I could not conceive of a third option other than
> randomness or determinism, but obviously both of those options are neither
> necessary nor sufficient to explain intention.

I don't think you *can* conceive of a third option. I think you're
just saying you can, like saying that you can conceive of a four-sided

>> You haven't explained what difference it would make if random events
>> in my brain ARE or ARE NOT a manifestation of the mental acting on the
>> physical.
> It's not a simple matter of mental acting on physical. It is multiple levels
> of private and public physical acting on each other. The difference is that
> we have a realistic physics driven by experience, or we have a meaningless
> jumble of computations that accidentally thinks that its an experience. You
> have to ask yourself 'Am I having an experience, or is the world which I
> think I experience the side effect of a compression algorithm which exists
> for no reason?' The answer to that is actually an IQ test. If you are dumb
> enough to disavow the profound reality of your experience - if it is a
> higher priority for you to remain impartial on the question of your own
> existence, then you deserve to live in a world in which you have no free
> will and are a computer program.

I don't doubt that I have experiences and that I exist, I doubt your
claim that this is incompatible with mechanism.

>> It seems to me that I would feel exactly the same in both
>> cases and someone examining my brain would observe exactly the same
>> things in both cases. Do you disagree?
> Yes. This has nothing to do with what someone would see looking at your
> brain. Consciousness isn't visible in the brain, so by that criteria, its
> not just free will that doesn't exist, it's color, sound, feeling, flavor,
> beauty, thinking, science, etc. What matters is how to justify the feeling
> that we clearly and obviously have free will. We distinguish between
> voluntary and involuntary muscles quite easily. Some processes of our body,
> like breathing or blinking, we share with reflex. What could this mean in a
> world of determinism? Why would I feel that I can blink intentionally but
> also unintentionally?

The voluntary actions are those where cognition plays a part and the
involuntary actions are those where it doesn't. This says nothing
about whether cognition is based on deterministic processes or not.
>From mere introspection, I haven't any clue that I even have a brain,
let alone whether it is deterministic or not.

>> "Intentional", as far as I can understand its use in philosophy, is
>> more or less equivalent to "mental" or "conscious".
> No. You can be conscious of an unintentional act. A spasm for example.
> Intention is explicit, primitive, and obvious to the subject.

Perhaps that is what "intentional" should mean, but the Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it differently. This is why we have
to be clear about what we mean by the terms we are using. Operational
definitions are usually easier.


>> You seem to take
>> it as an a priori fact that something that is either deterministic or
>> random cannot have intentionality.
> To the contrary, I think that all appearances of determinism or randomness
> reflect an disconnection from an intention on some scale.

Why is that contrary to what I said? Do you believe it is possible for
a deterministic or random system to have intentionality?

>> This seems to me obviously wrong. I
>> can easily conceive of my brain being either deterministic or random
>> and, at the same time, being conscious.
> If it was random, how would it be conscious? By accident? If it was
> deterministic, why would it be conscious? Why would there be a such thing as
> "conscious" either way? Randomness can be random and determinism can be
> deterministic without consciousness.

I don't really understand your argument. If my very existence in the
world is an accident why couldn't my consciousness also be an

It's a legitimate question to ask why consciousness should exist at
all, since evolution would have done just as well with zombies. The
most plausible explanation is that consciousness is a necessary
side-effect of intelligence.

>> Even incompatibilists can see
>> this. They claim that if the world is deterministic then free will is
>> a delusion, not that consciousness is a delusion.
> It's complicated because we have a lot of different levels of participation.
> It's qualia, not quanta, so there is a huge variety of contexts in which we
> participate to different degrees of freedom. Within these different
> contexts, our expectation of freedom of actual is very often overstated, as
> our personal range of awareness pulls together the other ranges - the
> sub-personal, and super-personal influences. Therefore we might see a
> commercial for pizza on tv and think that we can use our free will to order
> a pizza. Of course, since the pizza company has spent a lot of resources
> developing addictive food and marketing it with maximum convenience, the
> whole process really puts our free will on the defensive. Ordering the pizza
> is not a neutral proposition, but rather the end result of a team of people
> who are intentionally trying to overcome people's free will while giving
> them the impression that they are exercising it.
> In your view, all of this is nullified. The tv commercial is determined
> economically, whether you order it or not is statistically determined or
> random (its not very random actually, if you have ever looked at direct
> response advertising results, it is fantastically consistent. If a spot
> generates 473 orders one week., chances are it will generate exactly the
> same number within maybe 5% each week). Your view misses the physical
> reality of decision making and willpower, of hunger, boredom, and isolation
> which go into selling pizza.

I don't see how my view of how the pizza is ordered misses out on
anything. It doesn't even miss out on free will: when I choose the
pizza I honestly believe that I have chosen it freely and that, had I
wanted to, I could have chosen differently.

Stathis Papaioannou

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