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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 02 February 2014 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 781 ]
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StephenLawrence - 29 January 2014 09:14 PM

Pointless

You asked for it. Singular causality.

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Posted: 02 February 2014 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 782 ]
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GdB - 31 January 2014 09:03 AM

Of course there are actions we do without much deliberation. But assume you were a burglar, I think you would be very well able to keep your profanity at a very low acoustical level…

Are lions or coyotes actively thinking to be quiet when they are sneaking up on prey? Or is it more of a reflex?
Hint: It’s more of a reflex. Same with humans.  That’s why burglars don’t make lot’s of noise usually.
Lowering acoustical levels is an evolutionary trait that we obviously gained when we were all hunters.
What’s a burglar doing? Hunting! 
It’s also a proven fact humans instinctively lower their voices in certain situations. Like nighttime, outdoors.

Let’s try a better example. What else you got?
Stephen was able to illustrate an example of the causal chain of events in a chess move and somehow by illustrating the chain is giving himself license to call it something…I don’t know what he calls it. But he uses it to highlight that people make choices based on the future.
(actually, any choices we make are solidly based on the past.)

So. Try to name/explain the mechanism that you are going to illustrate, then illustrate it.
For example…“I can show that we make choices based on a freedom to act according to wishes…”
Then show an action where someone is doing this. Of course don’t forget to show that a wish just materialized out of thin air, and is not in fact a direct result of, natural behaviors, environmental circrcumstances, memory, etc etc…(in other words, the wish is just a poorly mislabeled, actually non-existent or unnecessary label in the causal chain of events.)

Always remember to show that “wishes” are independent of the causal chain of events. Otherwise what are yo actually arguing for?
That we need to recognizes wishes? That’s fine. I agree.  That doesn’t mean I think wishes now suddenly appear out of the ether.

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Posted: 02 February 2014 10:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 783 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 February 2014 08:56 PM

For example…“I can show that we make choices based on a freedom to act according to wishes…”
Then show an action where someone is doing this. Of course don’t forget to show that a wish just materialized out of thin air, and is not in fact a direct result of, natural behaviors, environmental circrcumstances, memory, etc etc…(in other words, the wish is just a poorly mislabeled, actually non-existent or unnecessary label in the causal chain of events.)
Always remember to show that “wishes” are independent of the causal chain of events. Otherwise what are yo actually arguing for?
That we need to recognizes wishes? That’s fine. I agree.  That doesn’t mean I think wishes now suddenly appear out of the ether.

Why should I? Must I describe something I continuously argue against?

See e.g. here:

GdB - 30 January 2014 10:31 PM

Now my brain is, for all practical purposes, a determined system: so what I will do is also determined. But that does not mean that these options were not there, and that my brain is not evaluating options! To say that my choice is fixed and therefore I have in fact no choice, is a category error. The evaluating of options is a determined process, but it is a fact that this is what my brain does. The options are the options as they appear to me, not in some ‘real indeterminacy’, in which the brain would not be determined.

Now it is true, as Lois says again and again, I have no idea of my determining factors. But that does not change the fact that I evaluate possible future actions! But because I have no access to these determining factors (I am not aware about what my neurons are doing), the impression arises that I am the uncaused cause of my actions. That is the illusion of Libertarian Free Will.

I suggest you read that complete posting and its follow-up. From there:

GdB - 31 January 2014 08:16 AM

Well, I am a reductionist. But not a naive, or vulgar reductionist. Atoms are simple objects with simple causal (and partially non-causal) relationships, they can build up to molecules that can have complexer relations with their environment, molecules to cells that can replicate (which atoms never can!), molecules to organisms. On every level behaviour becomes more complex, and the objects have more possible relationships with the environment. On the other side, of course they can never override the causal relationships that their constituents have. So there definitely is no room for LFW: it would override the causal relationships of our constituents. (This is the point I think where you and VYAZMA suspect me of introducing some magic in the system. I don’t.)

You, and Lois make the same error again and again and again and again... You are not arguing against my standpoint, but against libertarian free will, which I have repeatedly argued against myself. (E.g. see my discussion with Bryan).

[ Edited: 02 February 2014 11:04 PM by GdB ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 784 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 February 2014 08:56 PM

Stephen was able to illustrate an example of the causal chain of events in a chess move and somehow by illustrating the chain is giving himself license to call it something…I don’t know what he calls it. But he uses it to highlight that people make choices based on the future.
(actually, any choices we make are solidly based on the past.)

When I decided not to move my knight it was because it was defending an important square that black’s queen could come down to and give a dangerous check. So I didn’t do it in order to avoid that possible future.

I’m calling that intentional, it is different to other causal chains in which preferred outcomes are not playing into reasons for behaviour.

A clear obvious difference. I’m actually prepared to discover I’m wrong, that I’m deluded in believing we and chess computers do this. But I would need a good argument against it.

You say little more than I’m wrong because we’re determined.

[ Edited: 03 February 2014 02:39 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 02:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 785 ]
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George - 31 January 2014 06:50 AM

I do agree that compatibilism does create a new set of rules, specifically with regard to our legal system. Fine. We do find people guilty all the time and compatibilism is clearly the best way to explain why we do it. But, that doesn’t mean it accurately describes the true nature of our universe. I guess it depends on how much of a reductionist one is. The same goes for options and choices. It does seem like reasoning allows us to choose from a number of options, but it would be wrong to assume we could have done otherwise.

I think there are two separate illusions that you bring up in various posts. 1) being conscious author. 2) CHDO

I agree with Sam Harris that the conscious author one just comes from not paying close enough attention to the experience. When we speak we know what we say because we hear it at about the same time as those we are talking to hear it. It’s clear we aren’t conscious of how we manage to put together the sentences and we don’t know what we are going to say.
The CHDO illusion is a bit more tricky. The first thing to say is if indeterminism is true we CHDO and yet that wouldn’t give us free will, so you need more to explain what is meant by CHDO. The more is CHDO without circumstances beyond our control having been appropriately different.

That illusion comes from combining CHDO in the actual situation with the choice being up to us. The question here is are we ever really thinking about the actual situation? There is a lot of evidence that we aren’t. We don’t know what the actual situation is for starters, and we have no idea whether there are alternative possibilities in the actual situation. But we do have empirical evidence for more ordinary alternatives. I don’t have to eat when I’m hungry, how do I know? Because sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

To deny alternative possibilities is to deny we ever really avoid anything. I would take that to mean medicine doesn’t ever really work because we only get pain relief from a tablet if the pain would have continued if we hadn’t taken the tablet, and so we prevent that possibility from occurring by taking the tablet.

To disbelieve in alternative possibilities I’d need to see some way medicine could work without avoidance. Or some coherent idea of avoidance without alternative possibilities. Or some evolutionary advantage to be had from believing medicine works when in fact it doesn’t.

[ Edited: 03 February 2014 09:59 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 09:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 786 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 February 2014 01:51 AM

I’m calling that intentional, it is different to other causal chains in which preferred outcomes are not playing into reasons for behaviour.

 

Could you possibly reword this sentence please.  I can’t follow it. Sorry.

Is this the same thing?  I changed a few words around….with Respect.
I’m calling that intentional, it is different to other causal chains in which preferred outcomes are not playing into for reasons of behaviour.

Obviously “preferred outcomes” only arise in causal chains that deal with sentient beings.(through behavior)
Actually the definition of “preferred outcomes” goes deeper when we look at evolution and DNA.
For example plant life, one way or another seems to achieve “preferred outcomes”. Viruses or bacteria seem to achieve “preferred outcomes” too.
This is readily apparent through observation of evolution adaptation, and day to day environment adaptation(ie reproduction).

So, I’ll cut it short here and ask, do you see a difference between human behavior with regards to survival and recreational games such as chess?
How is your example of “the chess move intention” any different from a caveman hunter knowing not to stalk a large lion into a cave?

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Posted: 03 February 2014 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 787 ]
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VYAZMA - 03 February 2014 09:17 PM

Obviously “preferred outcomes” only arise in causal chains that deal with sentient beings.(through behavior)

It’s a matter of calculating that outcome is better, so chess computers do it.

For example plant life, one way or another seems to achieve “preferred outcomes”. Viruses or bacteria seem to achieve “preferred outcomes” too.

Is there a calculation? Do they have some idea of what will happen if they do this or that and act on the basis?

So, I’ll cut it short here and ask, do you see a difference between human behavior with regards to survival and recreational games such as chess?

It all depends upon whether there are calculations based on what will happen if… or not. No calculation no intention in my view of intentions.

How is your example of “the chess move intention” any different from a caveman hunter knowing not to stalk a large lion into a cave?

When he doesn’t do it, is it because he’s worked out what will or might happen if.., or not?

If he has no difference, if he hasn’t that’s the different.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 788 ]
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VYAZMA - 03 February 2014 09:17 PM

Obviously “preferred outcomes” only arise in causal chains that deal with sentient beings.(through behavior)

It’s a matter of calculating that outcome is better, so chess computers do it.

For example plant life, one way or another seems to achieve “preferred outcomes”. Viruses or bacteria seem to achieve “preferred outcomes” too.

Is there a calculation? Do they have some idea of what will happen if they do this or that and act on the basis?

So, I’ll cut it short here and ask, do you see a difference between human behavior with regards to survival and recreational games such as chess?

It all depends upon whether there are calculations based on what will happen if… or not. No calculation no intention in my view of intentions.

How is your example of “the chess move intention” any different from a caveman hunter knowing not to stalk a large lion into a cave?

When he doesn’t do it, is it because he’s worked out what will or might happen if.., or not?

If he has no difference, if he hasn’t that’s the different.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 789 ]
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VYAZMA,

It is not that difficult, and it involves no magic.

There are reasons why plants grow in the direction of light, there are reasons why bacteria move into the direction of the gradient of more nutritional substances. But it is only we that see these reasons, from the outside. The plants and the bacteria do not move because they have these reasons.

Animals, human and non-human, act because of the reasons. Reasons play a role in the causal chain that in the end leads to an action. We can recognise our environment, our position in this environment, and can evaluate possible actions from there. These reasons are caused themselves, of course, so they are determined. But the point is, as said, that for us reasons can be causes. That is not the case with lower organisms, and not at all in dead matter. (What is the reason that the earth circles the sun? Well there is a reason, but the earth does not have this reason.)

So reasons are implemented in the determined brain, and therefore are just as determined as anything else. If reasoning would have no causal effects, how could this capability then be an evolutionary advantage?

If you read this carefully, then you see that the question you asked me a few postings before just makes no sense: I do not plead anywhere for uncaused reasons or motivations:

VYAZMA - 02 February 2014 08:56 PM

Of course don’t forget to show that a wish just materialized out of thin air, and is not in fact a direct result of, natural behaviors, environmental circrcumstances, memory, etc etc…(in other words, the wish is just a poorly mislabeled, actually non-existent or unnecessary label in the causal chain of events.)

Always remember to show that “wishes” are independent of the causal chain of events. Otherwise what are yo actually arguing for?
That we need to recognizes wishes? That’s fine. I agree.  That doesn’t mean I think wishes now suddenly appear out of the ether.

Why are you so stubborn not to recognise that I am saying all the time that such uncaused wishes do not exist?

You say that something is free will only when wishes materialise out of thin air. I don’t. I say it is enough to show that reasons play a causal role in our actions: not that these reasons are uncaused. That is enough basis for assigning free will.

[ Edited: 04 February 2014 02:35 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 12:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 790 ]
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Vyazma,

Move 34 in the same game is coming up http://www.chess.com/echess/game?id=83988526 . I’ll tell you what I’m going to do and why.

I will take his rook. The reason is not taking me back would be suicidal. He can’t take back with his King as it breaks the rules (physically impossible). So he has to take back with his other rook. That will leave a pawn undefended which I can take. Once that is taken the two surrounding pawns will be isolated and easy pickings.

There are calculations about what will happen in the future (or at least might happen) as a consequence of the action. It’s not just that there are consequences but that we work out what they will/might be and are acting to bring them about on purpose.

Better players might see something wrong with my calculations or see an even better move.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 791 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 February 2014 11:47 PM


It’s a matter of calculating that outcome is better, so chess computers do it.

So you and a chess computer are the same?

Is there a calculation? Do they have some idea of what will happen if they do this or that and act on the basis?

I don’t know. Who knows how DNA works?  How do cells know when to mutate? How did fish cells begin to know to accommodate
fin/legs over millions of years?
It appears as if that is the “preferred outcome” though. If plants developed seeds that get dispersed in the wind then that seems to be a preferred outcome.

It all depends upon whether there are calculations based on what will happen if… or not. No calculation no intention in my view of intentions.

What exactly are these calculations of “what will happen if…” What data are we using to process these intentions?
How often does one actually say to themselves, “What will happen if…?”
Not often, because you always know “what will happen if…?”
It’s all based on memory mostly. More accurately we say, “I know what will happen if….”
And just about everyone shares all of those “I know what will happen ifs…”
Some more than others due to experience and memory and intelligence.

When he doesn’t do it, is it because he’s worked out what will or might happen if.., or not?

No he hasn’t “worked it out”. He knows instinctively. He knows what will happen next! The lion will attack him in the cave.
If you go to a bad section of your city(if there is one.) at night and look down a particularly bad alley, are you going to know not to walk down
the alley, or will you have to work it out? You won’t have to work it out. Chemicals in your body will release hormones and that will make you fearful
to walk down the alley. And you most likely won’t. Unless another overriding fear compels you to walk the alley.

Your chess moves? I couldn’t think of a better example of causal, environmental determinism. To the best of your memory and intelligence
you will make your next move based on changing circumstances on a board with 64 squares. I bet you won’t let your opponent take your queen and then let him check mate you…
I bet you won’t place checkers on the board and tell your opponent you want to use those too.
In fact, I bet if you know you’re going to lose, you won’t flip the board over and storm out of the room.
They say there’s a trillion different combinations of possible moves in chess. You won’t come anywhere near that amount of possibilities in your life. You’ve probably got a few dozen “algorithms”  you “know” that you will try to use to adapt to the opponents moves.
You certainly aren’t going to move the Knight diagonally across the board in a straight line. You aren’t going to move a pawn 4 spaces.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 792 ]
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VYAZMA - 04 February 2014 05:20 AM

So you and a chess computer are the same?

That depends on the abstraction level you apply. E.g. a chess computer, a volcano and a person are processes implemented in matter, and therefore under the respect of ‘being caused’ they are the same.

However: did you ever see a volcano win a game of chess? (Eh, of course I also never saw a chess computer spit lava, but I hope you do not think that is relevant.)

A chess computer is programmed to evaluate chess positions based on possible moves. This evaluation is a kind of calculation, implemented in a discrete state machine, so determined to the core. But the possible moves are the options the computer has during the game of chess. It evaluates all options, and then chooses the one that is best according to its (determined) algorithm. So it is explicitly programmed that the chess computer has options, and evaluates them.

So humans and chess computers are the same under the respect that they both have options, and evaluate them. And also that both are determined.

Does that make sense to you?

And also that one can say about a move of the chess computer that it better could have taken the castle on D4?

And do you think it makes sense to say that a volcano evaluates its options if, and how, it will spit out its lava?

Of course there are also lots of differences between humans and chess computers, but it would be nice if we can get this first point across.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 793 ]
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Do octopuses have free will?

From http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6474/

Deep Intellect

But now, increasingly, researchers who study octopuses are convinced that these boneless, alien animals—creatures whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago—have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities. Their findings are challenging our understanding of consciousness itself.

Other minds:

The American philosopher Thomas Nagel once wrote a famous paper titled “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Bats can see with sound. Like dolphins, they can locate their prey using echoes. Nagel concluded it was impossible to know what it’s like to be a bat. And a bat is a fellow mammal like us—not someone who tastes with its suckers, sees with its skin, and whose severed arms can wander about, each with a mind of its own. Nevertheless, there are researchers still working diligently to understand what it’s like to be an octopus.

Consciousness, mind and Free will?

So what does it feel like to be an octopus? Philosopher Godfrey-Smith has given this a great deal of thought, especially when he meets octopuses and their relatives, giant cuttlefish, on dives in his native Australia. “They come forward and look at you. They reach out to touch you with their arms,” he said. “It’s remarkable how little is known about them . . . but I could see it turning out that we have to change the way we think of the nature of the mind itself to take into account minds with less of a centralized self.”

“I think consciousness comes in different flavors,” agrees Mather. “Some may have consciousness in a way we may not be able to imagine.”

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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 794 ]
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Vyazma,

Here is a way to explain what I’m saying. Firstly I need to say I’m defining intentional quite narrowly.

We say squirrels store nuts for the winter but do they? Collecting the nuts and storing them is behaviour which is selected for since squirrels that did that survived and past on their genes. Let’s say for arguments sake that that is all there is to it. If so then there is no intention by my definition. That is because the squirrel hasn’t thought ahead to the winter and realised that it will be without food if it doesn’t start saving up food now. It hasn’t calculated that it needs to collect the nuts to avoid a bad winter.

Making those calculations has also been selected for and when we (or the squirrels if they do it) act upon those calculations that is acting intentionally.

Does a spider build it’s web intentionally to get food? I doubt it, not by my definition(I know there are wider definitions). I think we can be fooled into thinking it does because we do things like that intentionally. I don’t think we’re fooled into thinking we act intentionally as well.

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Posted: 05 February 2014 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 795 ]
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StephenLawrence - 05 February 2014 01:02 AM

Making those calculations has also been selected for and when we (or the squirrels if they do it) act upon those calculations that is acting intentionally.

Excellent. So can you give some examples where humans don’t act “intentionally”?
Have you ever acted against your intentions?  I know I haven’t.
Like I said, when I want pizza, I don’t eat hamburgers.

Sure someone could say…“Oh I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention.”
But surely you understand the dynamics behind that.
Whatever that person did, it was their intention.

So please, don’t ignore this point. Take a look at it. Have you ever acted against your intentions?

If you can’t answer yes, then your whole “squirrel” thing is out the window.

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