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8 Great Philosophical Questions That We’ll Never Solve
Posted: 03 November 2012 03:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 166 ]
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George - 02 November 2012 08:01 PM

Some behaviour? As far as I know all the experiments have shown the same results. The only differnce is that the better they get at doing the experiments, the more obvious it becomes that conscious awareness happens after the decision has been made.

All the experiments I know of were Libet variations. Let a subject do some simple stupid task, again for no reason at all, and measure what happens in the brain.

What you are saying is that the brain already has prepared what you will do before it reaches consciousness. But that is suggesting that there is some centre in the brain where the consciousness takes place. Or you see the brain as causing consciousness, which it isn’t the case either. You cannot formulate your critique without using some Cartesian variation of consciousness. Consciousness is a multi-threaded process in the brain, where several separate tasks work together, or compete, resulting in actions, to which belong (Libet): observing a dot on a clock, having motoric impulses, recollecting the task, reporting the place of the dot on the clock, etc. Some of these processes are slower than others. And in this swirling of different threads Libet ‘measures’ when consciousness is taking place? C’mon, this is a very naive view.

Libets experiment is as useful in the question of free will as is seeing the sun rise for proving that the earth is the centre of the universe (or not). In reality there is not even a centre of the universe. The question if the brain causes consciousness, or consciousness starts some brain processes is just such a non-question.

[ Edited: 03 November 2012 03:54 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 03 November 2012 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 167 ]
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You are wasting your time, GdB. I never said anything about any center for consciousness. And as I already told Doug, I’ll take the scientis’s word before that of a philosopher (Dennett’s) on when the moment of awareness begins.

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Posted: 03 November 2012 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 168 ]
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George - 03 November 2012 07:28 AM

You are wasting your time, GdB. I never said anything about any center for consciousness. And as I already told Doug, I’ll take the scientis’s word before that of a philosopher (Dennett’s) on when the moment of awareness begins.

You missed “Or you see the brain as causing consciousness” in my previous posting.

Cartesian thinking is so strong that even many scientists are fooled by it. But of course you would never believe that from a philosopher. Libet’s experiments only show that libertarian free will (“the mind causes brain processes, and thus precedes any process in the brain”) is wrong, nothing more. Concluding from that, that compatibilist free will does not exist is just wrong.

And to repeat, an attack on compatibilist free will must show that it cannot support our societal practices. Brain experiments have not much to say about this.

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Posted: 03 November 2012 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 169 ]
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GdB - 03 November 2012 08:39 AM

But of course you would never believe that from a philosopher.

I don’t really care what philosophers think of neuroscientists. What matters to me is what the experiments show. If the science on this subject shows to be wrong, I am sure it will not be disproved by a philosopher. And even if you and Dennett are right, it will still take science to show that you are right.

I think we are done here, no?

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Posted: 03 November 2012 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 170 ]
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George - 03 November 2012 09:19 AM

I think we are done here, no?

Until next time you say something arguable wrong, including Libet’s experiments, about free will… vampire

It is your free choice…

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Posted: 03 November 2012 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 171 ]
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George - 03 November 2012 09:19 AM

I don’t really care what philosophers think of neuroscientists. What matters to me is what the experiments show.

Yep.

Stephen

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Posted: 03 November 2012 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 172 ]
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George - 02 November 2012 08:01 PM

Some behaviour? As far as I know all the experiments have shown the same results. The only differnce is that the better they get at doing the experiments, the more obvious it becomes that conscious awareness happens after the decision has been made.

Well, this may just be me, but I consider the various cognitions that we have when we are aware, i.e., consious awareness itself, to be behaviors.

And beyond that, I am not familiar with all of the Libet related experiments that you are referring to, but I doubt that they have covered the entire range of behaviors that humans have.

One may easily over generalize, and over assert, and under qualify when drawing conclusions from experiments.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 173 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 November 2012 10:28 AM
George - 03 November 2012 09:19 AM

I don’t really care what philosophers think of neuroscientists. What matters to me is what the experiments show.

Yep.

Nope.

Would you wait for experiments for the following:

- Proof empirically that no bachelor really is married?
- Find out what the it is when it rains?

Now, imagine we had to predict what Libet could have found in his experiments:
1. The subject reports the time of his decision, and out of the blue exactly at that moment the EEG is at maximum, and then slowly fades out.
2. The subject reports the time of his decision, and exactly at this moment a small signal is detected that grows fast to a maximum, and then fades out.
3. The subject reports the time of his decision, shortly after the tiny beginning of an EEG signal can be measured.
4. The subject reports the time of his decision, when the EEG signal has grown considerably.

1. and 2. would imply that there is some unknown influence on the brain. This would be the case for libertarian free will, but also for a soul. Without causal history the brain starts doing things. (Some people might think this is a amplified quantum fluctuation and that we need a theory of quantum gravitation to explain the mind (Penrose)).

So for those who do not believe in a soul only the option 3. and 4. remain. But both are principally the same, it is only a question of what the ‘lead time’ in fact is: and Libet discovered that it is considerably longer than a lot of people expected. And that is all. The brain is just more amazing (again) than we thought.  Libet’s experiment, if you leave out the unreasonable options 1. and 2., says nothing about the existence of free will. It only says that consciousness is not a causal agent separate from the brain. Is that a scientific discovery?

Those who look for free will in the brain are looking in the wrong place.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 174 ]
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GdB - 04 November 2012 01:16 AM

Those who look for free will in the brain are looking in the wrong place.

My comment had nothing to do with looking for free will in the brain. It wasn’t even about free will, we are all pretty much agreed, we don’t have libertarian free will and we do have compatibilist free will, although some argue over whether we should call one or other or both free will.

I was simply saying we should go with the empirical evidence. If that is that decisions are made before conscious awareness of having made a decision then that’s it.

We shouldn’t reject empirical evidence based on our own philosophy of what consciousness is.

Stephen

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Posted: 04 November 2012 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 175 ]
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StephenLawrence - 04 November 2012 05:06 AM

I was simply saying we should go with the empirical evidence. If that is that decisions are made before conscious awareness of having made a decision then that’s it.

We shouldn’t reject empirical evidence based on our own philosophy of what consciousness is.

Of course. I was not implying that Libet’s experiments are incorrect, only that his results should be no surprise for naturalists. But it should also be clear that these experiments have nothing to do with our daily practice of assigning responsibility, of free choice, and of free actions. Even if neurologists would be able to predict more complex choices even more in advance, it would change nothing. Then they might discover what processes occur during making a responsible choice, but it would still be a responsible choice. And so there is no denial of compatibilist free will either.

But when neurologist start to say we have no free will at all based on Libet’s experiments and the like, and should start treating criminals instead of punishing them, then they definitely make conceptual errors that have nothing to do with the results of their experiments.

[ Edited: 04 November 2012 10:15 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 04 November 2012 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 176 ]
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GdB - 04 November 2012 09:33 AM

But when neurologist start to say we have no free will at all based on Libet’s experiments and the like, and should start treating criminals instead of punishing them, then they definitely make conceptual errors that have nothing to do with the results of their experiments.

What we need to look at is the merits and drawbacks of both treatment and punishment.

And that’s what you are worried about, the drawbacks of treatment, basically you think it’s worse than punishment. If you support punishment verses treatment you do it because it’s the kindest fairest thing to do, more or less.

Then the question is who to punish and the answer is those who’s being punished will act as a deterrent to other similar people and who might be corrected by the punishment.

Nobody would argue over such people existing, so there is no need to point out that they have compatibilist free will, all it does is cause no end of confusion.

Stephen

[ Edited: 04 November 2012 10:35 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 04 November 2012 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 177 ]
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StephenLawrence - 04 November 2012 05:06 AM
GdB - 04 November 2012 01:16 AM

Those who look for free will in the brain are looking in the wrong place.

My comment had nothing to do with looking for free will in the brain. It wasn’t even about free will, we are all pretty much agreed, we don’t have libertarian free will and we do have compatibilist free will, although some argue over whether we should call one or other or both free will.

I was simply saying we should go with the empirical evidence. If that is that decisions are made before conscious awareness of having made a decision then that’s it.

We shouldn’t reject empirical evidence based on our own philosophy of what consciousness is.

Stephen

I am also not suggesting that the Libet experiments are an argument for or against free will.  My point is that we should not over-generalize the results to conclude that the evidence proves that behaviors of conscious awareness have no influence whatsoever on subsequent behaviors.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 178 ]
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StephenLawrence - 04 November 2012 10:26 AM

And that’s what you are worried about, the drawbacks of treatment, basically you think it’s worse than punishment. If you support punishment verses treatment you do it because it’s the kindest fairest thing to do, more or less.

Not directly. It is not about what is worse for the offender, treatment or punishment. Punishment is the correct reaction on moral wrong-doing. Morality supposes we are moral agents. Treatment supposes we are medical patients. That would be the end of responsibility, and with that the breaking down of the cement of society.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 179 ]
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GdB - 04 November 2012 01:17 PM
StephenLawrence - 04 November 2012 10:26 AM

And that’s what you are worried about, the drawbacks of treatment, basically you think it’s worse than punishment. If you support punishment verses treatment you do it because it’s the kindest fairest thing to do, more or less.

Not directly. It is not about what is worse for the offender, treatment or punishment. Punishment is the correct reaction on moral wrong-doing. Morality supposes we are moral agents. Treatment supposes we are medical patients. That would be the end of responsibility, and with that the breaking down of the cement of society.

Ok, so the problem with treatment is there would be bad consequences for society.

Still seems much simpler and effective to argue that than get into free will.

Stephen

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Posted: 04 November 2012 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 180 ]
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StephenLawrence - 04 November 2012 01:46 PM

Still seems much simpler and effective to argue that than get into free will.

Unless somebody says we are not responsible because we have no free will, because that is proven by neurology.

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