> > "Seeing conscious deliberations as maximally irreducible has some > relevance for the issue of free will. Consider for example the requirement > for autonomy: to be free, one must certainly be independent from > constraints outside one's deliberating consciousness. These include both > environmental constraints, such as limitations that force us to a > particular choice or that impede our own choice, and unconscious, 'alien' > constraints that, while generated somewhere within our brain, affect our > actions largely outside the control of the conscious self. Given the > definition of a complex, a conscious choice is necessarily autonomous, as > it is made intrinsically. > > The requirement for understanding implies that, to be free, a choice must > be based on a concept of what is at stake - for example, one can freely > choose between right and wrong only if one has a notion of which actions > are right and which are wrong under some circumstances. According to IIT, a > complex can be held responsible for a certain choice only if it has a > mechanism implementing the corresponding causal concept, in this case the > backward component of the concept. For example, I must have a concept > corresponding to the distinction between right and wrong (IF certain sets > of past states occur, THEN certain sets of future actions/omissions are > right/wrong) to be responsible for that choice - that concept is a > maximally irreducible cause for my action. Similar considerations apply to > the requirements for self-control, since the forward component of concepts > within a quale ensures control. > > The requirement for irreducibility implies that a choice can only be free > if it cannot be ascribed to anything less than myself - I am the only > entity that can be said to be responsible for my choice. That is, when > asking who is responsible for the choice, the answer should be 'me', > meaning all the circuits underlying my present conscious experience, and > nothing less than that. IIT indicates that each experience is a maximally > integrated conceptual structure generated by a complex, and therefore what > it will choose given a particular present state cannot be ascribed to > anything less than the full structure, with all its concepts (recall the > light-blink example of a previous note). This structure is supremely causal > to account for the choice in that it is maximally irreducible - anything > less won't do, anything more won't matter. Furthermore, the choice happens > at the macro-level at which ΦMIP is maximized, meaning that our conscious > choices are not an illusion supervening upon micro-level events that are > the true causes, as is often assumed. Indeed, the macro-level exists only > if it has more causal power than the micro-level, which it then supersedes. > Thus, each choice is a choice of the whole complex, not reducible to a > number of choices made within nearly independent modules, each in a limited > context, or to choices made by micro-elements. Therefore a choice is the > freer, the more it is conscious: more consciousness, more freedom. > Moreover, a bit paradoxically, a choice is the freer, the more it is > determined (intrinsically). This is one fundamental sense in which the key > notion of alternative possibilities - the feeling that one could have acted > otherwise, which is essential to the feeling if being responsible for one's > action, is captured by a large integrated conceptual structure: such a > structure implies a very large number of counterfactuals (alternative > possibilities) that are under the control of the agent (they are part of > his consciousness). In other words, a conscious choice is one in which a > large number of highly informative concepts that make up my perceptions, > thoughts, beliefs, desires, feelings, memories, and character, all concur > in determining a choice in the integrated 'tribunal' of consciousness. Note > however that, even though every conscious choice involves a large number of > counterfactuals, it is still useful to distinguish between 'deep' and > 'shallow' conscious decisions, based on how many concepts are directly > involved in determining the choice here and now. At one extreme, the > decision to request a divorce or not is likely to involve simultaneously > many different concepts within the complex, so it is deep. At the other > extreme, the decision to flex one's finger or not during an experiment on > free will depends on just a small number of concepts (do I feel the urge or > not), so it is shallow. This is because the previous conscious decision to > participate in an experiment on free will has had the consequence of fixing > most variables within the main complex, so the only variable that is left > free to vary is the 'urge' to act. > > In this view, freedom requires first and foremost irreducibility, meaning > that a choice cannot be ascribed to anything external, or anything less, > than the agent. However, indeterminism also plays a role, though not the > usual role of reducing responsibility by substituting it with chance. > Recall that if a complex generates maximal integrated information at a > macro-scale in space or time (say neurons instead of subatomic particles, > and over hundreds of milliseconds), this means that: i) the system is most > determined, in an informational/causal sense, at that macro-scale than at > any micro-scale; but ii) it is also necessarily under-determined, because > the macro-level can be more informative/causal than the micro-level only if > there is some indeterminacy. Given that our own consciousness appears to > flow at a macro spatio-temporal level, some degree of indeterminism is a > given (in line with both physical sources of indeterminacy and the simple > fact that the environment is unpredictable). But IIT does not consider > indeterminism as a drop of randomness that instills some arbitrariness into > a preordained cascade of mechanisms, thus decreasing their causative > powers. Rather, in this view indeterminism provides a backdrop of ultimate > unpredictability against which macro-level, integrated mechanisms fight to > increase understanding and control - a fight for increasing the causative > powers of consciousness, and the more these increase, the more freedom > increases. But since this is a battle against a backdrop of indeterminism, > its results are never completely predictable. In other words, freedom of > will is a fight in which order (integrated information) tries to minimize > disorder (lack of constraints) by taking into account as many constraints > (knowledge) as possible. A bit like building a society or a civilization > out of relative chaos, or a bit like evolution creating macro-order out of > micro-level disorder, thus increasing complexity. But as with societies, > civilizations, and evolution, what will actually occur can never be > predicted exactly before it happens, and micro-fluctuations - a queen and a > squire falling in love, two lizards separated from the mainland after a > flood - may initiate an extraordinary turn of events that nobody could > predict, not even the universe itself."
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