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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 16 March 2014 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1021 ]
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And here we come to the Great Debate.  At what point does an organized system know (is conscious of) its function in relation to its surroundings. IMO everything in the universe is connected and functions in relation to its surroundings.  Is that “consciousness”?  “sentience”? “awareness”? “responsiveness”?
I believe Intelligence is just a minor part of consciousness. It allows for more data to be processed and abstract relational thinking. But is that necessary to be conscious?

Perhaps the word “consciousness” is too general and generic.  We are conscious and we can observe and act in our environment. But we are not conscious of everything in our environment. In fact, it appears we really are conscious of only a tiny part of reality. But we are conscious of being an organism. “I think, therefore I am”.
IMO, there are probably several species who have the ability for abstract thought and self awareness.

Then, the universe itself is causally connected and reponsive. Bohm calls it Holonomy. But how do you classify Holonomy?
Fields, such as Gravity and EM are connected and respond to “disturbances”. How would we classify that? Sentience?
Insects are conscious, but their program (functionality) is very narrow and probably does not involve self-awareness. Yet they are responsive to external threats. How does one classify that?
Higher animals respond to their environment and can exhibit very sophisticated defense ot hunting mechanisms. Where does that fall in on the scale?

Humans are able to take causal action independent of direct causality.  We build a dam, “just in case” there is a flood in the future. Is there a significant distinction in consciousness between action now and preventive action for the future?

[ Edited: 16 March 2014 04:38 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 16 March 2014 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1022 ]
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Write4U - 16 March 2014 04:33 PM

And here we come to the Great Debate.  At what point does an organized system know (is conscious of) its function in relation to its surroundings. IMO everything in the universe is connected and functions in relation to its surroundings.  Is that “consciousness”?  “sentience”? “awareness”? “responsiveness”?
I believe Intelligence is just a minor part of consciousness. It allows for more data to be processed and abstract relational thinking. But is that necessary to be conscious?

Perhaps the word “consciousness” is too general and generic.  We are conscious and we can observe and act in our environment. But we are not conscious of everything in our environment. In fact, it appears we really are conscious of only a tiny part of reality. But we are conscious of being an organism. “I think, therefore I am”.
IMO, there are probably several species who have the ability for abstract thought and self awareness.

Then, the universe itself is causally connected and reponsive. Bohm calls it Holonomy. But how do you classify Holonomy?
Fields, such as Gravity and EM are connected and respond to “disturbances”. How would we classify that? Sentience?
Insects are conscious, but their program (functionality) is very narrow and probably does not involve self-awareness. Yet they are responsive to external threats. How does one classify that?
Higher animals respond to their environment and can exhibit very sophisticated defense ot hunting mechanisms. Where does that fall in on the scale?

Humans are able to take causal action independent of direct causality.  We build a dam, “just in case” there is a flood in the future. Is there a significant distinction in consciousness between action now and preventive action for the future?

No, they’re both the same and they’re both determined by factors we are unaware of. The reason humans might build a dam is a result of our genes and our environment and many other factors we have no control over, not a conscious motive. It’s why apes don’t build dams though they live in the same world we live in and they are conscious.

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Posted: 17 March 2014 12:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1023 ]
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Write4U - 16 March 2014 04:33 PM

And here we come to the Great Debate.

Sorry Write, I do not see a ‘Great Debate’, only Wild Speculations. You cannot expect me to go into that.

Write4U - 16 March 2014 04:33 PM

Humans are able to take causal action independent of direct causality.  We build a dam, “just in case” there is a flood in the future. Is there a significant distinction in consciousness between action now and preventive action for the future?

Humans cannot ‘take causal action independent of direct causality’. That would logically put them outside the causal fabric of the universe. People can make decisions independent of of other people, i.e. without taking the wishes and beliefs of others into account. Then it is called free will. But nobody can make a decision independent of what causes him to do it. That would be (magical) libertarian free will.

And I think you make a wrong kind of distinction here: I do not see why a ‘preventive action for the future’ would not be an ‘action now’. It seems to me that a ‘preventive action for the future’ is a subclass of all ‘actions now’. I assume you mean the difference between an action with short term aims and an action with long term aims. If you mean that then, yes, I think there can be a difference in ‘grade of consciousness’. But I think the more relevant factor is the complexity of the factors taken into account. Now complexity usually increases when more factors come into play, and the farther in the future our imagined consequences lie, the more factors can chime in. So complexity tends to increase with time, but I don’t think this is necessarily so.

[ Edited: 17 March 2014 12:46 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 17 March 2014 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1024 ]
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Lois - 16 March 2014 07:00 PM

The reason humans might build a dam is a result of our genes and our environment and many other factors we have no control over, not a conscious motive.

Humans build a dam not as a result of a conscious motive??? So all the discussions, planning, environmental analysis are done unconscious? Wow.

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Posted: 17 March 2014 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1025 ]
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George - 16 March 2014 12:58 PM

Maybe. But to reason means to find others responsible. For me the whole free will thing wouldn’t be all that complicated if we only didn’t find others responsible for their actions.

But George we find the flu virus responsible for people’s symptoms. Moral responsibility is just more complicated because it’s to do with agents capable of responding to the prospect of praise and blame, of being held responsible.

When you talk about moral responsibility you mean ultimate moral responsibility but again the answers are straight forward. 1) We aren’t ultimately morally responsible. 2) the illusion comes from a mistake over CHDO. By leaving out that we would have had to have been in different circumstances to have done what we should have done, we get the impression that it was entirely our fault that we didn’t.

What’s wrong with those answers?

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Posted: 17 March 2014 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1026 ]
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GdB - 16 March 2014 11:57 AM
Lois - 16 March 2014 11:32 AM

Consciousness is the ability to observe.

So a photo sensor that opens a door is conscious? If not, why not? How does such a sensor-door system differ from (non)-human animal?

No, it’s not conscious. A sensor door is not an animal. Do you really not know the difference between an inanimate object and a sentient animal? But in a sense, a sensor door reacts to its programming, not a lot different than humans. It just isn’t aware.

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Posted: 17 March 2014 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1027 ]
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GdB - 18 February 2014 08:30 AM
Lois - 17 February 2014 02:54 PM

Think of life as a movie. You are aware of what’s going on. You may even be aware of things the characters don’t know. You may form opinions as to what the characters “should do” and criticize their actions.

Right. Here we get somewhere. When you criticise their actions, you do that with reasons. (I hope at least you do, and that you don’t always stick to “I can’t accept that!”).
Now if you do not criticise movie characters, but real people, or maybe yourself (“I shouldn’t have done that.”), then you might change their or your behaviour in future similar situations. If that happens, the reasons were causally effective. Yes, it is all determined, but reasons are causally effective, even if they are caused themselves. There is no contradiction between ‘being a cause’ and ‘being caused’ applying them to one and the same event.

And that is exactly the compatibilist notion of free will.

Lois - 17 February 2014 02:54 PM

But you can’t rewrite the script. I say you can’t rewrite your script, either, even though you are aware of how it’s unfolding.

Right. Nobody here has ever said otherwise, even that you seem to think that some people here do.

You can call the phenomenon anything you like.  I call it determinism, pure and simple. Free will in any guise and with any adjective attached to it is something so different, I don’t care to confuse the issue by referring to determinism as any kind of free will, compatibilist or otherwise. It’s a choice I’ve made and I will stick to it.

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Posted: 17 March 2014 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1028 ]
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GdB - 16 March 2014 03:41 AM

Sorry for neglecting you so long, Tim.

TimB - 12 March 2014 07:11 PM

What interests me, the most, is trying to identify the essential elements re: what it takes to have CFW.

Firstly ... a system must be able to represent its environment internally, and its own position in it. ...
...So I think there is the next necessary condition for CFW: being able to reflect on the reasons for certain actions…

 

Thank you for your reply (and George also).

Staying away from terms that are too broad to define adequately, like consciousness and intelligence, I think you would agree with the following:

1) the entity must have perceptual abilities
2) the entity must have remembering behavior
3) the entity must have a sense of self/other

and, in order to have a broader range of CFW
4) the entity must have a way to conceptualize, (IOW, I think, it must have some elements of verbal behavior, the more complex, the better).

If we are on the right track here, I think we could predict that social animals are more likely to have some semblance of CFW, as #‘s 3 and 4, above, have only developed, I think, in social animals.

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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: 19 March 2014 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1029 ]
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Lois - 17 March 2014 11:28 AM

No, it’s not conscious. A sensor door is not an animal. Do you really not know the difference between an inanimate object and a sentient animal? But in a sense, a sensor door reacts to its programming, not a lot different than humans. It just isn’t aware.

Of course I know the difference. But when I ask you how you see this difference, why a sensor door is not conscious and an animal is, then you just mirror the question.

Both sensor door and animal observe the environment, and react on it. Your plain ‘Consciousness is the ability to observe’ is simply not enough. 

And I forget to react on your first remark here:

Lois - 16 March 2014 11:32 AM

Conscousness doesn’t mean the ability to reason or to change anything.

If consciousness doesn’t change anything, then why was it selected for in evolution? How could nature ‘recognise’ conscious organisms if not by some causal impact that consciousness has? Obviously, being conscious has certain evolutionary advantages.

—>So please describe for me why just observing is all consciousness can do, and how at the same time it is possible that it was selected for in evolution.

Another question:

—> If you criticise somebody’s behaviour, could that have impact on on that person’s behaviour? Look again at my comment on your movie example here.

And another point: isn’t the whole idea of evolution that organisms have more or less control on their environment? An organism is a regulative system, that like a thermostat, tries to keep its environment between certain parameters (temperature, humidity, light) by changing the environment, or move to better places. A log floating in a stream has no control on his position at all, a fish swimming against the stream has, at least a little. Both are caused, of course, but in quite different ways.

—> Do you see that ‘being caused’ and ‘having control’ is no contradiction? If you do not see it, how then would you describe the difference between a floating log and a swimming fish?

I would be very pleased if you answer the three questions (marked with ‘—>’) by giving your own view on them.

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