On Monday, August 19, 2013 11:02:00 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On 17 August 2013 04:01, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com
>> The objection that the terms ‘consciousness’ or ‘free will’ are used in
>> too many different ways to be understandable is one of the most common
>> arguments that I run into. I agree that it is a superficially valid
>> objection, but on deeper consideration, it should be clear that it is a
>> specious and ideologically driven detour.
>> The term *free will* is not as precise as a more scientific term might
>> be (I tend to use *motive*, *efferent participation*, or *private
>> intention*), but it isn’t nearly the problem that it is made to be in a
>> debate. Any eight year old knows well enough what free will refers to.
>> Nobody on Earth can fail to understand the difference between doing
>> something by accident and intentionally, or between enslavement and
>> freedom. The claim that these concepts are somehow esoteric doesn’t wash,
>> unless you already have an expectation of a kind of verbal-logical
>> supremacy in which nothing is allowed to exist until we can agree on a
>> precise set of terms which give it existence. I think that this expectation
>> is not a neutral or innocuous position, but actually contaminates the
>> debate over free will, stacking the deck unintentionally in favor of the
> It is possible to make the distinction between doing something by accident
> and intentionally, between enslavement and freedom, while still
> acknowledging that brain mechanisms are either determined or random.
Why would such a distinction be meaningful to a deterministic or random
process though? I think you are smuggling our actual sense of intention
into this theoretical world which is only deterministic-random
> I do something intentionally if I want to do it and am aware that I am
> doing it; this is compatible with either type of brain mechanism.
Only if you have the possibility of something 'wanting' to do something in
the first place. Wanting doesn't make sense deterministically or randomly.
In the words of Yoda, 'there is no try, either do or do not'.
> I am enslaved if someone physically constrains me or threatens me in order
> to make me behave in a certain way; this is also compatible with either
> type of brain mechanism.
In the deterministic universe, you would be enslave no matter what, so what
difference would it make whether your constraint is internally programmatic
or externally modified?
> It’s subtle, but ontologically, it is a bit like letting a burglar talk
>> you into opening up the door to the house for them since breaking a window
>> would only make a mess for you to clean up. Because the argument for hard
>> determinism begins with an assumption that impartiality and objectivity are
>> inherently desirable in all things, it asks that you put your king in check
>> from the start. The argument doubles down on this leverage with the
>> implication that subjective intuition is notoriously naive and flawed, so
>> that not putting your king in check from the start is framed as a weak
>> position. This is the James Randi kind of double-bind. If you don’t submit
>> to his rules, then you are already guilty of fraud, and part of his rules
>> are that you have no say in what his rules will be.
>> This is the sleight of hand which is also used by Daniel Dennett as well.
>> What poses as a fair consideration of hard determinism is actually a
>> stealth maneuver to create determinism – to demand that the subject submit
>> to the forced disbelief system and become complicit in undermining their
>> own authority. The irony is that it is only through a personal/social,
>> political attack on subjectivity that the false perspective of objectivity
>> can be introduced. It is accepted only by presentation pf an argument of
>> personal insignificance so that the subject is shamed and bullied into
>> imagining itself an object. Without knowing it, one person’s will has been
>> voluntarily overpowered and confounded by another person’s free will into
>> accepting that this state of affairs is not really happening. In presenting
>> free will and consciousness as a kind of stage magic, the materialist
>> magician performs a meta-magic trick on the audience.
>> Some questions for determinist thinkers:
>> - Can we effectively doubt that we have free will?
>> I can't effectively doubt that I decide to do something and do it. I can
> effectively doubt that my actions are random, that they are determined, or
> that they are neither random nor determined
It sounds like you are agreeing with me?
>> - Or is the doubt a mental abstraction which denies the very capacity
>> for intentional reasoning upon which the doubt itself is based?
>> Yes: if I intend to do something, I can't doubt that I intend to do it,
> for otherwise I wouldn't intend to do it.
If you doubt anything though, it is because you intend to believe what is
true and your sense is that some proposition is not true. To say "I doubt
that there is a such thing as free will (intention)" is itself an
intentional, free-will act. You are saying not just that there is a sense
of doubt, but that you voluntarily invest your personal authority in that
>> - How would an illusion of doubt be justified, either randomly or
>> deterministically? What function would an illusion of doubt serve, even
>> the most blue-sky hypothetical way?
>> - Why wouldn’t determinism itself be just as much of an illusion as
>> free will or doubt under determinism?
>> Determinism and randomness can be doubted. There is no problem here.
Only because we live in a universe which supports voluntary intentional
doubt. They couldn't be doubted in a universe which was limited to
determinism and randomness. That's my point. To doubt, you need to be able
to determine personally. Free will is the power not just to predict but to
> Another common derailment is to conflate the position of recognizing the
>> phenomenon of subjectivity as authentic with religious faith, naive
>> realism, or soft-headed sentimentality. This also is ironic, as it is an
>> attack on the ego of the subject, not on the legitimacy of the issue. There
>> is no reason to presume any theistic belief is implied just because
>> determinism can be challenged at its root rather than on technicalities. To
>> challenge determinism at its root requires (appropriately) the freedom to
>> question the applicability of reductive reasoning to reason itself. The
>> whole question of free will is to what extent it is an irreducible
>> phenomenon which arises at the level of the individual. This question is
>> already rendered unspeakable as soon as the free will advocate agrees to
>> the framing of the debate in terms which require that they play the role of
>> cross-examined witness to the prosecutor of determinism.
>> As soon as the subject is misdirected to focus their attention on the
>> processes of the sub-personal level, a level where the individual by
>> definition does not exist, the debate is no longer about the experience of
>> volition and intention, but of physiology. The ‘witness’ is then invited to
>> give a false confession, making the same mistake that the prosecutor makes
>> in calling the outcome of the debate before it even begins. The foregone
>> conclusion that physiological processes define psychological experiences
>> entirely is used to justify itself, and the deterministic ego threatens to
>> steal from another the very power to exercise control upon which the theft
> For psychology not to be reducible to physiology, something extra would be
> needed, such as non-physical soul.
Then the opposite would have to be true also. For select brain physiology
not to be reducible to psychology, you would need some homunculus running
translation traffic in infinite regress. Non-physical and soul are labels
which are not useful to me. Physics is reducible to sense, and sense tends
to polarize as public and private phenomena.
> Absent this something extra, the reduction stands. That's my definition of
> reductionism. If your definition is different then, according to this
> different definition, it could be that reductionism is wrong in this case.
Physical reductionism is wrong because it arbitrarily starts with objects
as real and subjects as somehow other than real. It's not really
reductionism, it's just stealth dualism, where mind-soul is recategorized
as an unspecified non-substance...an 'illusion' or 'emergent
property'...which is just Santa Claus to me as far as awareness goes.
> It is important to keep in mind that the nature of free will is such
>> that it is available to us without pretense of explanation. Unless
>> paralysis interrupts the effectiveness of our will (paralysis being a
>> condition which proves only that physiology is necessary, but not
>> sufficient), the faculty of voluntary action is self evident. If we want to
>> open our eyes, no set of instructions is necessary, nor will any amount of
>> explanation help us open them if we can’t figure out how. Often the
>> deterministic end couches free will in terms of the power to make
>> ‘choices’, which injects another bit of unsupported bias into the debate.
>> We use free will to make choices, but choices imply a pre-existing set of
>> conditions from which we choose. This makes it much easier to make the leap
>> of faith toward the presumption that free will can be successfully reduced
>> to a computing algorithm. Computers can ‘choose’, in the sense that they
>> compute which branch on the logic tree must be followed. What computation
>> does not do, which free will does, is to lead, and to lead from felt
>> experience rather than logic. Leading means creativity and intuition, not
>> merely selecting from strategic simulations.
> The logic is in the low level chemical processes. These *never* defy
> physics. Fantastically amplified complexity leads from these dumb processes
> to the creation of literature and smart phones.
Complexity can only complicate and enhance awareness that is already there.
Low level processes never defy physics because they represent the outermost
periphery of experience. High level processes *always* defy (public)
physics. Feelings have no location, specific gravity, velocity, etc. They
are proprietary and signifying.
> The game theory <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory> approach to
>> free will truncates morality and responsibility, reducing not only
>> personhood to mechanism, but also the door entirely on meaningful, game
>> changing approaches altogether. Free will allows us not only to elect a
>> single decision from a set of fixed alternatives, but also to generate new
>> alternatives which go beyond behaviorism. Our values stem from the quality
>> of our experience, not just the short term advantages which our actions
>> might deliver. The choice is up to us, not because the human body can’t
>> function in its environment without an illusion of a decision maker, but
>> because it isn’t just about choice, and the body’s survival alone is not
>> enough to justify the quality of a human experience. Choice is not where
>> free will begins, any more than opening your eyes begins with an
>> understanding of eyelids. Experience begins with feeling, not knowing.
> It's not an argument against mechanism to say that it will lead to moral
> degeneracy. If you are right, then we will all suffer when we see the
> truth; but that will not change the truth.
That is an assumption of mechanism though. The knife can't tell you the
morality of stabbing. If game theory is amoral, it is because it represents
this kind of voluntary self-dilution, a regression to a pre-human
sensibility. If we use that mechanistic logic to judge the decision to use
mechanistic logic, we have as self-fulfilling fallacy...a fallacy that is
hidden by its own nested circularity.
> Stathis Papaioannou
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