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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 26 November 2012 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 166 ]
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George - 26 November 2012 07:05 AM

Tim, thinking and awareness are not the same thing. Indeed, as per Libel’s study, awareness seems to be much less than a weak antagonist, as it plays no role whatsoever. You are not aware of you stomach making the decision to digest food because such a decision happens on the level of the brain that doesn’t give rise to conscious awareness. Thinking about a car is more complex and for some reason makes us aware of doing the computing—although with a slight delay. Awareness is a spectator, not an antagonist nor a protagonist.

Ok, let’s say that you are absolutely correct.  I was only defending the following statement: “our awareness of our wants and our recognition of our beliefs are sometimes strongly influencing factors in our actions”.  We are often aware of thinking about things that we want.  If awareness is a spectator, it doesn’t preclude what we view, having influence on what we do. What we view is often a strong determining factor in our actions. So why shouldn’t the information that we “spectate” when we are aware, do so as well?

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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: 26 November 2012 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 167 ]
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TimB - 26 November 2012 01:07 PM

you are absolutely correct

Good. I am glad I could finally convince you.  cheese

Just kidding. The information we gather while we consciously observe does indeed play a role in our future actions. The information, not the the awareness of doing the observing. Think of consciousness as the heat from a light bulb. Tesla didn’t intend for the light bulb to produce heat, just like natural selection most likely didn’t select for conscious awareness. Tesla was after light and evolution was aiming for rational reasoning. Now, a light bulb will alway get hot, just like we will always be aware while making the decision about what car we wish to purchase. But just like the heat of the light bulb does not play a role in the production of light (although the two can never be separated), consciousness has no impact on us calculating our decisions.

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Posted: 26 November 2012 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 168 ]
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George - 26 November 2012 01:42 PM
TimB - 26 November 2012 01:07 PM

you are absolutely correct

Good. I am glad I could finally convince you.  cheese

The information we gather while we consciously observe does indeed play a role in our future actions.

And I am glad I could convince you!  (We should work for Fox News, with our ability to take phrases and sentences out of context.)

But addressing your actual point, I would again refer to your metaphor that “awareness is a spectator”.  When one is a spectator, one takes in information.

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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: 26 November 2012 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 169 ]
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TimB - 26 November 2012 02:34 PM
George - 26 November 2012 01:42 PM
TimB - 26 November 2012 01:07 PM

you are absolutely correct

Good. I am glad I could finally convince you.  cheese

The information we gather while we consciously observe does indeed play a role in our future actions.

And I am glad I could convince you!

Touché.  LOL

As for the rest of your post, I am running out of ideas (and analogies and metaphors) to say what I already said about a zillion times here, in any other way.

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Posted: 26 November 2012 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 170 ]
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George - 26 November 2012 02:46 PM
TimB - 26 November 2012 02:34 PM
George - 26 November 2012 01:42 PM
TimB - 26 November 2012 01:07 PM

you are absolutely correct

Good. I am glad I could finally convince you.  cheese

The information we gather while we consciously observe does indeed play a role in our future actions.

And I am glad I could convince you!

Touché.  LOL

As for the rest of your post, I am running out of ideas (and analogies and metaphors) to say what I already said about a zillion times here, in any other way.

That’s ok.  I am just left to conclude that I am right.  And that’s not such a bad thing.

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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: 27 November 2012 12:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 171 ]
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George - 26 November 2012 01:42 PM

Just kidding. The information we gather while we consciously observe does indeed play a role in our future actions. The information, not the the awareness of doing the observing. Think of consciousness as the heat from a light bulb. Tesla Edison didn’t intend for the light bulb to produce heat, just like natural selection most likely didn’t select for conscious awareness. Tesla Edison was after light and evolution was aiming for rational reasoning. Now, a light bulb will alway get hot, just like we will always be aware while making the decision about what car we wish to purchase. But just like the heat of the light bulb does not play a role in the production of light (although the two can never be separated), consciousness has no impact on us calculating our decisions.

The question in this respect is if consciousness is a necessary epiphenomenon of information processing. From physics we know that heat is not an absolute necessary byproduct of producing light (fireflies, LEDs). So can we have thinking, feeling, anticipating the future, reasoning etc without conscious awareness? Well, I would say we have no example of such combination. This is related to the problem of the philosophical zombie: would it be possible that a being exists, that behaves exactly as we do (this includes talking about inner feelings, planning etc) but is not conscious. The honest answer is of course: we don’t know. But in practice, we treat everybody this way. So the practical answer is: yes, such beings have consciousness. So to say the least: I think you must have very strong arguments to say that consciousness is just a useless epiphenomenon.

And maybe we should also say: a necessary epiphenomenon is not an epiphenomenon per definition.

[ Edited: 27 November 2012 12:05 AM by GdB ]
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“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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Posted: 27 November 2012 12:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 172 ]
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So all of the rest of you may be philosphical zombies and I have no way of knowing?  Man, now I am really going to be creeped out when I watch “The Walking Dead”.  Note: Don’t come after my brains.  I’m just a philosphical zombie too.  Really.  Nothing scrumptious to eat here.

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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: 27 November 2012 12:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 173 ]
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GdB - 27 November 2012 12:02 AM

The question in this respect is if consciousness is a necessary epiphenomenon of information processing.

The way it feels to me is this idea about consciousness is just a wild guess.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 November 2012 12:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 174 ]
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On a more serious note, what about when we consciously reflect on something, and by doing so, elicit our own emotional responses?  Emotions themselves are a factor in determining the probability of subsequent behaviors.  So in this respect, isn’t consciously reflecting on something that elicits one’s own emotional response, at least, an indirect (but significant) factor in determining some behavior?

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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: 27 November 2012 12:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 175 ]
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TimB - 27 November 2012 12:25 AM

So all of the rest of you may be philosphical zombies and I have no way of knowing?

Yep. And there you see that most of those who contradict free will and consciousness etc do this on pure academical and theoretical grounds. In daily life everybody has a pretty clear notion of what free or coerced actions are, that we all have consciousness, that our decisions play a role, and that we are responsible.

But when we are in a philosophical discussion we suddenly do as if we do not agree with them at all.

I think we should explain how these concepts work in a natural world, instead of declaring them nonsense.

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Posted: 27 November 2012 12:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 176 ]
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TimB - 27 November 2012 12:35 AM

On a more serious note, what about when we consciously reflect on something, and by doing so, elicit our own emotional responses?  Emotions themselves are a factor in determining the probability of subsequent behaviors.  So in this respect, isn’t consciously reflecting on something that elicits one’s own emotional response, at least, an indirect (but significant) factor in determining some behavior?

Yes, of course! Many of our decisions take longer than ‘flexing a hand spontaneous now, for no reason to do it now’. And all this works perfectly on a deterministic state machine. The thing however is: these states do so by being thoughts and feelings on a higher level.

[ Edited: 27 November 2012 12:47 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 27 November 2012 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 177 ]
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GdB - 27 November 2012 12:39 AM

I think we should explain how these concepts work in a natural world, instead of declaring them nonsense.

i agree very much. that’s one of my favorite general points.

so why do you still say ““The light is on, but there is nobody at home””

[ Edited: 27 November 2012 07:42 PM by isaac ]
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Posted: 27 November 2012 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 178 ]
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George - 26 November 2012 01:42 PM

natural selection most likely didn’t select for conscious awareness.

i find it useful for some parts of me to know what other parts are thinking, and reflect on that, in turn.

That’s one definition of ‘concious awareness’... are you thinking of something else?

[ Edited: 27 November 2012 07:43 PM by isaac ]
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Posted: 27 November 2012 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 179 ]
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Isaac,

To know and to reflect are not the same thing as being aware of knowing and reflecting.

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Posted: 27 November 2012 10:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 180 ]
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isaac - 25 November 2012 04:57 PM
GdB - 25 November 2012 01:32 PM
Lois - 25 November 2012 12:51 PM

We have just persuaded ourselves that there is some “self” that is somehow able to step outside of our mind and supercedes our determining factors.

Now that is true. But if there is no such self, how can this self be unfree? So you should say, not that we are not free, but that the concept of free will does not apply to anything, also not humans.

On the other side, I am pretty sure that in daily life you can distinguish between a coerced and a free action.

saying there is no ‘self’ is a lot like saying there is no free will.  Both are terms for useful concepts.

I never said there is no self. We have a self that observes and assesses.  It just doesn’t have the ability to act on its own—which is what free will implies.


......

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