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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 15 April 2012 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 136 ]
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GdB - 15 April 2012 11:43 PM

This time I must wholeheartedly agree with George, Stephen. Free will has everything to do with consciousness. Looking for (meta)physical free will does not make any sense.

I’m shocked, seriously. What kind of compatibilist are you exactly?

How could consciousness have anything to do with it GdB?

We are sticking with the definition acting in accordance with your beliefs and desires aren’t we?

You never said we have to be conscious of them.

Stephen

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Posted: 16 April 2012 12:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 137 ]
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dougsmith - 13 April 2012 04:57 AM

The standard arguments against compatibilism are dualist arguments. Anyone swayed by libertarianism re. free will is in that same grasp.

Well, this is strange. Jerry Coyne goes through the if we re run the tape argument and says we couldn’t have done otherwise. That’s at base what it’s about Doug.

People can’t see how their actions can be free and predetermined. They contrast predeterminism and freedom.

Of course, we agree that regarding “real freedom” that is a mistake.

But it’s predeterminism that they see as the problem for sure.

And Gdb says that it’s dualism that makes people see their actions as forced if predeterminism is true.

But again that just isn’t right. They see them as forced because they believe they have to do it if predeterminism is true.

It has been argued that this is the modal scope fallacy but I don’t think so really. It’s just by have to do it, they mean, have to given the actual past.

Stephen

[ Edited: 16 April 2012 12:25 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 16 April 2012 12:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 138 ]
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StephenLawrence - 15 April 2012 11:53 PM

I’m shocked, seriously. What kind of compatibilist are you exactly?

How could consciousness have anything to do with it GdB?

We are sticking with the definition acting in accordance with your beliefs and desires aren’t we?

You never said we have to be conscious of them.

Without consciousness, no desires and beliefs. No reason to be shocked. Humans are conscious, aren’t they? Don’t think about a soul or something, just think about a higher level of description of humans than firing neurons.

You don’t need a ‘walking soul’ to understand that humans can walk. Walking is a process, implemented in coordinated movements of legs. 
You don’t need a ‘conscious soul’ to understand that humans are conscious. Consciousness is a process, implemented in the coordinated firing of neurons in the brain.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 139 ]
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StephenLawrence - 15 April 2012 11:47 PM

They are all saying you are changing the subject.

What subject?

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Posted: 16 April 2012 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 140 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 12:56 AM

Without consciousness, no desires and beliefs.

No, we are sometimes conscious of desires and beliefs.

We don’t need to be conscious of them to act in accordance with them. Often we are not.

You do realise there is no such thing as conscious will, I assume?


Stephen

[ Edited: 16 April 2012 01:13 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 16 April 2012 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 141 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:10 AM

No, we are sometimes conscious of desires and beliefs.

Right. Therefore the adagio ‘Know thyselves!’ is so important. It makes us less spineless, freer when we know ourselves better.

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:10 AM

You do realise there is no such thing as conscious will, I assume?

No. I do agree that a lot we do is not well-reflected.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 142 ]
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Consciousness is the enigma here. It’s clear that we do not consider someone who does something unconsciously to have been acting freely in the relevant sense: they are not responsible for their actions. E.g., if someone could be proven to have stolen or murdered while sleepwalking, they would be treated as someone who did the same while psychotic: it would be a matter for the doctors, not the jails. As well, someone who stole or murdered while in a coma but hooked up to some muscle-moving machine would not be remotely considered to have acted freely.

So consciousness is crucial. However experiments show conclusively that act decisions are made preconsciously. Hence it is not ‘the conscious mind’ (whatever that is) that makes the decision. Rather, the brain makes the decision and then the decision’s having been made invades consciousness, along with, perhaps, the reasoning that led to that decision.

If this is the correct description of what goes on, the question arises about what the point is of consciousness. Is it some appendix or spandrel? My feeling is that consciousness may simply be the decision-process becoming available to the wider brain, so it can be verbalized and filed into memory.

But the decision itself, the act initiation, is not conscious. It is preconscious. Nevertheless the decision is mine insofar as it comes from my brain, and follows what I would consider my own beliefs and desires in the matter. Sometimes, arguably in cases of mild or serious mental illness, we may find ourselves behaving in ways that we feel do not fit our own desires. (Perhaps because there is a disconnect between the desires wired into our preconscious brain, and our conscious awareness of those desires). Then we do feel less free in our actions.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 143 ]
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Moved to the Philosophy folder ...

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Posted: 16 April 2012 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 144 ]
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dougsmith - 16 April 2012 04:34 AM

Moved to the Philosophy folder ...

Great. Then we can start a thread in Humanism that really is about the pragmatic consequences of belief in free will or not. surprised

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Posted: 16 April 2012 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 145 ]
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Well shit.

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Free in Kentucky
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Posted: 16 April 2012 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 146 ]
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FreeInKy - 16 April 2012 05:53 AM

Well shit.

LOL
Try again, FreeInKy!

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Posted: 16 April 2012 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 147 ]
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FreeInKy - 16 April 2012 05:53 AM

Well shit.

If you’re REEEEEALLLy opposed I can move it back, but this I think was never destined to become anything other than a philosophy discussion ....  red face

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Posted: 16 April 2012 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 148 ]
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For me it’s OK here. I think it would be possible, theoretically, to discuss the practical aspects of free will or not, but a lot of people are too determined to make it philosophical again…

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Posted: 16 April 2012 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 149 ]
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dougsmith - 16 April 2012 04:33 AM

So consciousness is crucial. However experiments show conclusively that act decisions are made preconsciously.
<snip>
Is it some appendix or spandrel?
<snap>
But the decision itself, the act initiation, is not conscious. It is preconscious.

That doesn’t seem to fit… How can consciousness be crucial and like an appendix or sprandel?

According to Gerhard Roth, German neurologist and philosopher, states that consciousness is involved when dealing with new situations. When these kind of situations repeat, they are done more and more unconsciously. This would mean that any simple task (like in the Libet experiment) is mainly handled unconscious.
(But still, Gerhard Roth is one of those neurologists that think we have no free will and therefore our judicial system should be transformed.)

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Posted: 16 April 2012 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 150 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 06:59 AM

That doesn’t seem to fit… How can consciousness be crucial and like an appendix or sprandel?

I raised the spandrel issue as a potential rejoinder to my claim that consciousness was crucial. The rest of my post was showing how consciousness might fit in. It ends up being more of a spandrel than we might have thought, but still has a role to play. It may be more like the tip of the iceberg rather than the iceberg itself.

GdB - 16 April 2012 06:59 AM

According to Gerhard Roth, German neurologist and philosopher, states that consciousness is involved when dealing with new situations. When these kind of situations repeat, they are done more and more unconsciously. This would mean that any simple task (like in the Libet experiment) is mainly handled unconscious.

Maybe, who knows? It’s all speculative. I expect that we’re decades away from understanding the neural role of conscious states.

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