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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 08 January 2012 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1726 ]
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Write4U - 08 January 2012 03:56 PM

And I am not denying that humans have a much greater ability for abstract thinking, in addition to verbal language.

But there is a remarkable example of planning for gaining advantage. i cited it in another thread, but it’s worth repeating.
There is a species of monkeys that love to eat the roots of waterplants. They actually dive and gather the plants, root and all from the river bottom. These rivers are patrolled by crocodiles and there is a constant danger to the monkeys when completely exposed in the water. So they have look-outs sitting in branches overlooking the river. When a croc is spotted they issue a warning cry and everyone scrambles out of the water to the safety of the trees and many drop their bounty on the ground. It was observed and recorded that some clever monkeys figured it out that the whole scenario of warning for crocs yielded a bounty left behind for easy pickings. So this little thief would hide on the shore, issue a a loud croc warning, and when the rest of the troup scrambled for safety, he would come out of hiding, gather the dropped plants and scramble back to his little hiding place, all the while looking around if any of the other monkeys would spot him. When they do he faces severe punishment, for ‘crying wolf” and stealing what did not belong to him. If caught he would face justice and punishment.
This was a clear example of planning and execution of an “imaginary scenario” to the advantage of the thief as well as a system of law enforcement.  Free will?

That rascal seems to have learned how to lie.  Free will? Yes, by the compatibilist definition.  Planning, maybe.  When I “plan” something, I think about it (I use covert verbal behavior - self talk). I would tell myself “If I give the “croc” signals the other monkeys will drop their food, then I can feast.” (Of course this would not be “free will” for me as I have ethical beliefs that I would be violating. But I assume the “monkey-who-has-learned-to-lie” has no such compunctions.)  Now this monkey may be going through a similar cognitive process where he is visualiaing what will happen, but then again, he may not.  He could be doing it without anything even approaching verbal behavior or imagination.  All that is necessary is that he has in the past experienced the positive consequence (for him) of making the “croc warning cry”. Perhaps he originally just made the croc cry accidentally, or otherwise spontaneously.  Once he experienced the benefit of doing so when no croc was present, then the behavior of making the croc cry when no croc is present starts to become part of his behavioral repertoire. IOW he gained a new food getting behavior through operant conditioning. Is his croc cry in the absence of a croc a verbal behavior?  I would say, yes.  It is at least a mand delivered to the listeners (the other monkeys) that has the function of getting his want (for food) satisfied. Also, his punishment, at the hands of the other monkeys is not necessarily evidence of them planning a punishment in order to discourage him from the false cry.  It might just be an angry response to him getting their food.  The rascal monkey’s behaviors of hiding, surruptiously coming out of hiding, looking around for other monkeys, and hiding again, could all be behaviors that were operantly conditioned by his past successful attempts to temporarily avoid, or in some cases, completely escape punishment. No “planning” or “imagination” would be necessary for the rascal monkey to learn all of these behaviors.  Does it look to most human observers that the monkey’s behavior represents his foreplanning and using imagination? Yes, because it is natural for us to interpret what we see in terms of our own subjective experience.  But I suggest that we don’t know if planning and imagination is going on inside the monkey’s head, and that it doesn’t need to be in order for the monkey to do those behaviors.

[ Edited: 08 January 2012 07:02 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 08 January 2012 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1727 ]
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I just realized that I didn’t explain the behavior of the “lookout” monkeys without resorting to concepts of “planning” and “imagination”.  This is more difficult to explain in terms of simple operant conditioning.  My first thought is that the troupe has developed some simple cultural process of reinforcing “lookout” behaviors in some monkeys.  I would need to do closer observations of troupe interactions over time to do a better analysis. 

Another thought is that some of the monkeys are born in the troupe who have a genetic predisposition to doing “lookout behaviors”.  If that is the case, then the entire troupe could be more at risk of eventually dying out if the “lookout monkeys” were lost or no new ones with that predisposition were born.  (Being a lookout monkey would seem to have some survival advantage as they are not available to be immediate victims of the croc as are the monkeys who are gathering roots.)

Or, as you suggest, perhaps the monkeys do have a way of “planning”, and assigning the task.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1728 ]
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TimB - 08 January 2012 07:34 PM

I just realized that I didn’t explain the behavior of the “lookout” monkeys without resorting to concepts of “planning” and “imagination”.  This is more difficult to explain in terms of simple operant conditioning.  My first thought is that the troupe has developed some simple cultural process of reinforcing “lookout” behaviors in some monkeys.  I would need to do closer observations of troupe interactions over time to do a better analysis. 

Another thought is that some of the monkeys are born in the troupe who have a genetic predisposition to doing “lookout behaviors”.  If that is the case, then the entire troupe could be more at risk of eventually dying out if the “lookout monkeys” were lost or no new ones with that predisposition were born.  (Being a lookout monkey would seem to have some survival advantage as they are not available to be immediate victims of the croc as are the monkeys who are gathering roots.)

Or, as you suggest, perhaps the monkeys do have a way of “planning”, and assigning the task.

Now that you mention it.  The same program did show a sequence of an old member being the look-out.  They showed him falling asleep “on the job” and missing the presence of a croc, which did catch one of the diving monkeys. The commotion woke him up and one could almost feel his embarrassment. he looked at the scene below and then looked around with a distinct guilty look, to see if any of the others had seen him asleep. Then he rubbed his head and held it, just like a human would. It was a visual I’ll never forget.
I did not include it in my original narrative, to save space, but combined with the rest, it could have been a human scene, except for the actors.

I’ll try to find the link again. It was on one of the nature channels.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 09:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1729 ]
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I believe this was the program

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/clever-monkeys/full-episode/7112/

I could not verify because the server seemed to be down, but the narrative is still compelling.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1730 ]
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Write4U - 08 January 2012 09:36 PM

I believe this was the program

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/clever-monkeys/full-episode/7112/

I could not verify because the server seemed to be down, but the narrative is still compelling.

I pulled up the link, but it said the video is not available now. I will try again later.

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Posted: 09 January 2012 01:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1731 ]
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TimB - 08 January 2012 01:57 PM

Might your dog, simply be ticking with his paw because this has resulted, in the past, in your opening the garden door? (Perhaps he is picturing you opening the door or is remembering times that you have opened the door in the past, but I don’t know how you would know that.)

Yes, of course, but that is not a contradiction. He wants to get in, and has the experience that ticking the window helps. “Thinking” is not a necessary condition for free will. Having wishes and showing behaviour that helps to get them fulfilled is enough.

TimB - 08 January 2012 02:59 PM

GdB made the point, however, (and I apologize if I am mis-paraphrasing) that advanced verbal behavior would increase the options for “free choices”.

Exactly. I can learn much more of the experience of others.

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Posted: 09 January 2012 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1732 ]
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TimB - 08 January 2012 01:25 PM

Alternate explanation:  The moment that you began walking toward the toolbox you wanted your keys. (Your want existed in that moment.

Yes, that’s the same as my explanation, I wasn’t clear enough sorry. But although the want was there in that moment it was a want to get my hands on the allen keys in the future, that’s the point.


If you could have easily, instantaneously produced your keys you probably would have.)

However instant, time would past and I’d take steps that got me the keys in the future.

So no subconscious thought is necessary to explain your behavior.  All that is truly necessary is your want of the keys (at that moment),

 

  There is not even subjective evidence that those thoughts existed.

True there is no subjective evidence from experience. It’s a question of whether the story is the best explanation.

In order to change my mind, I’d need to understand want, without that meaning wanting now for something to happen in the future.

 

Stephen

[ Edited: 09 January 2012 03:51 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 09 January 2012 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1733 ]
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Doug,

Taken from the are we less free with god thread:

This is different in the case that someone points a gun at you and asks for your valuables. If you refuse to give your money and get shot, nobody (I hope) would say it was your own silly fault. They would say you were forced into a bad decision and lacked the relevant freedom to make your own decisions. The fault was entirely the thief’s.

The gunman would say it was my own silly fault. I didn’t have to do it, I could have just handed over the money, he gave me fair warning.

Some would praise me for my bravery and defiance, implying I had free will.

Many would say I was being forced to hand over the money, not forced to be defiant.

In this case the gunman would be wrong to say it was my fault, because he was acting immorally, it was wrong to shoot me in this case because his aim in doing so was immoral. So whether I had free will in defying him or not is not key in dividing responsibility, so it’s not a very good example to use.

Perhaps better is the case of a speed camera. I see the camera and keep my foot down defying the will of those who wish to make me slow down. Is this freely willed?

Stephen

[ Edited: 09 January 2012 10:41 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 09 January 2012 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1734 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 January 2012 10:38 AM

I see the camera and keep my foot down defying the will of those who wish to make me slow down. Is this freely willed?

Yes. In this case you explicitly want to defy the will of those who wish to make you slow down. You want it, your want causes you to do it, so you freely will it.

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Posted: 09 January 2012 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1735 ]
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dougsmith - 09 January 2012 10:48 AM
StephenLawrence - 09 January 2012 10:38 AM

I see the camera and keep my foot down defying the will of those who wish to make me slow down. Is this freely willed?

Yes. In this case you explicitly want to defy the will of those who wish to make you slow down. You want it, your want causes you to do it, so you freely will it.

So, not only playing devils advocate, but how it seems to me, I want to defy the gunman. (and the gunman wants me not to)

Stephen

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Posted: 09 January 2012 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1736 ]
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dougsmith - 09 January 2012 10:48 AM

your want causes you to do it, so you freely will it.

One problem that just remains unresolved or even addressed is does this want exist? I definately feel I understand what it means to say I choose to do what I don’t want to do or visa versa, but when I check to see I can’t find this want.

What I find is want as in the outcome of the competing beliefs and desires. My brain is the place the competition takes place. Neuroscientists can point to that competition and point to the winner of the competition. And we can build machines to do it too.

But can neuroscientists point to this thing you are calling want?

I understand that it’s at a “higher level” , but mustn’t it somehow correspond to the physical stuff the brain is doing or the state that it is in?

Stephen

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Posted: 09 January 2012 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1737 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 January 2012 11:36 AM

So, not only playing devils advocate, but how it seems to me, I want to defy the gunman. (and the gunman wants me not to)

Sure, if you want to defy the gunman and do defy the gunman (and get killed doing it) then you have indeed freely defied the gunman. But you have not freely gotten yourself killed, because you didn’t want to get killed. Freely willed acts are ‘intensional’ acts, in the philosophical terminology. They depend on their description. The same act can be free or unfree depending on how it is described.

E.g.: X wants to be at the party but X doesn’t want to be the worst dressed person at the party. So X is at the party freely (X goes freely) but X isn’t the worst dressed person at the party freely (X doesn’t go as the worst dressed person freely).

(This is different from Y who is an ironist and wants to go as the worst dressed person, so goes freely as the worst dressed person).

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Posted: 09 January 2012 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1738 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 January 2012 11:45 AM

One problem that just remains unresolved or even addressed is does this want exist? I definately feel I understand what it means to say I choose to do what I don’t want to do or visa versa, but when I check to see I can’t find this want.

What I find is want as in the outcome of the competing beliefs and desires. My brain is the place the competition takes place. Neuroscientists can point to that competition and point to the winner of the competition. And we can build machines to do it too.

But can neuroscientists point to this thing you are calling want?

I understand that it’s at a “higher level” , but mustn’t it somehow correspond to the physical stuff the brain is doing or the state that it is in?

Yes, this is a concern. The term “want” (= “desire”) is a term of everyday psychology which will almost certainly be retrofitted with some suite of more correct terminology by cognitive psychology and brain science. But as of yet we have no idea what wants really amount to in terms of brain states, so we’ll have to stick to the word “want” for now, with the idea in mind that that is a sort of promissory note that eventually will need cashing out in other terms.

At any rate it is incontrovertible that biological organisms have needs and cognitive states that channel those needs into behaviors; at base that is just what wants are. So it is incontrovertible that at the end of the day we will have some story of wants.

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Posted: 09 January 2012 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1739 ]
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dougsmith - 09 January 2012 11:58 AM
StephenLawrence - 09 January 2012 11:45 AM

One problem that just remains unresolved or even addressed is does this want exist? I definately feel I understand what it means to say I choose to do what I don’t want to do or visa versa, but when I check to see I can’t find this want.

What I find is want as in the outcome of the competing beliefs and desires. My brain is the place the competition takes place. Neuroscientists can point to that competition and point to the winner of the competition. And we can build machines to do it too.

But can neuroscientists point to this thing you are calling want?

I understand that it’s at a “higher level” , but mustn’t it somehow correspond to the physical stuff the brain is doing or the state that it is in?

Yes, this is a concern. The term “want” (= “desire”) is a term of everyday psychology which will almost certainly be retrofitted with some suite of more correct terminology by cognitive psychology and brain science. But as of yet we have no idea what wants really amount to in terms of brain states, so we’ll have to stick to the word “want” for now, with the idea in mind that that is a sort of promissory note that eventually will need cashing out in other terms.

At any rate it is incontrovertible that biological organisms have needs and cognitive states that channel those needs into behaviors; at base that is just what wants are. So it is incontrovertible that at the end of the day we will have some story of wants.


Our wants are states of deprivation.  Our primary wants are things like nourishment when our body has gone without for too long, or water, or warmth when deprived of that needed to remain healthy or survive.  From these kind of primary states of deprivation other conditioned states of deprivation are formed. For example, an infant comes to want to hear its mother’s voice as it has been paired consistently with more primary states of deprivation being satisfied.  So, at least for primary wants, I wouldn’t expect the physical correlates to be located exclusively in the brain.

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Posted: 09 January 2012 10:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1740 ]
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dougsmith - 09 January 2012 11:54 AM
StephenLawrence - 09 January 2012 11:36 AM

So, not only playing devils advocate, but how it seems to me, I want to defy the gunman. (and the gunman wants me not to)

Sure, if you want to defy the gunman and do defy the gunman (and get killed doing it) then you have indeed freely defied the gunman. But you have not freely gotten yourself killed, because you didn’t want to get killed. Freely willed acts are ‘intensional’ acts, in the philosophical terminology. They depend on their description. The same act can be free or unfree depending on how it is described.

E.g.: X wants to be at the party but X doesn’t want to be the worst dressed person at the party. So X is at the party freely (X goes freely) but X isn’t the worst dressed person at the party freely (X doesn’t go as the worst dressed person freely).

(This is different from Y who is an ironist and wants to go as the worst dressed person, so goes freely as the worst dressed person).

OK, so how does this help with responsibility?

1)I am responsible for defying the gunman but do not want to get shot so am not responsible for getting shot.

2)I am responsible for going to the party but don’t want to be the worst dressed person, so am not responsible for being the worst dressed person.

3)I am responsible for speeding past the speed camera but don’t want to pay the fine, so am not responsible for paying the fine. ??

Stephen

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