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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 18 February 2014 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 886 ]
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Lois - 17 February 2014 01:29 PM

Not in a debate about free will. The point is to come to an agreement as to how all participants are going to define the term before the debate begins. And adding adjectives isn’t going to help unless the participants also agree on the meaning of the adjectives.

Well, if you refuse to get an agreement on the adjectives, there will never be an agreement. A nice strategy to block any discussion.

StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:07 PM

So, why not two or more definitions? And if only one why your one?

I assume Lois sticks to it because it is the easiest target for naturalists.

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Posted: 18 February 2014 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 887 ]
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VYAZMA - 17 February 2014 02:30 PM

Let me get back to this again….
What use does compatibilism serve if the compatibilist also believes in causal determinism?

It shows that we can continue to use the idea of free will, with two subtractions compared to libertarian free will (watch the adjective!):
- having free will does not mean ‘being uncaused’
- having free will does not mean that you under exactly the same circumstances could have done otherwise.

Compatibilist free will (watch the adjective!) shows that we have to do away with the idea of ultimate responsibility (watch the adjective!), but we keep the simpler concept of responsibility in the meaning of ‘being the cause of an action’, or ‘being able to give valid reasons for an action’ etc. None of these contradict determinism.

So the ‘gain’ is not on the ‘causation side’, it lies on the ‘free will side’.

[ Edited: 18 February 2014 08:32 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 18 February 2014 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 888 ]
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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.

[ Edited: 18 February 2014 09:44 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 28 February 2014 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 889 ]
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GdB - 18 February 2014 08:30 AM
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.

It’s been a while since I’ve been on this thread.  (I linked over from the Philo thread.)  I went back in this thread and saw where we were discussing this back in Nov of 2012. Back then, George made a cogent point when he said “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.” 

I have a little bit different take on this, however.  I view our “conscious observing” as various behaviors. And I view our awareness of “self” as a various conglomeration of behaviors.  I also know that behaviors can often act as discriminative stimuli for other behaviors, and can often act as reinforcers of other behaviors.  So in this sense, I think that our conscious observing behaviors and our self awareness behaviors, do indeed sometimes, if not often, play a role in determining what our future “script” will be. 

That being said, I must add that I am not insisting that our conscious observing behaviors and self awareness behaviors play a controlling role to the point that most people, I think, tend to automatically believe they do.

[ Edited: 28 February 2014 01:08 AM by TimB ]
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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: 28 February 2014 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 890 ]
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GdB - 18 February 2014 08:01 AM
Lois - 17 February 2014 01:29 PM

Not in a debate about free will. The point is to come to an agreement as to how all participants are going to define the term before the debate begins. And adding adjectives isn’t going to help unless the participants also agree on the meaning of the adjectives.

Well, if you refuse to get an agreement on the adjectives, there will never be an agreement. A nice strategy to block any discussion.

StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:07 PM

So, why not two or more definitions? And if only one why your one?

I assume Lois sticks to it because it is the easiest target for naturalists.

If people in a debate can’t agree on terms then there is no use debating. It becomes a matter of everyone involved doing nothing but making statements about their positions, using their own meanings of words, neither side understanding the other.  We might as well be speaking different languages which our fellow debater(s) don’t know.  It’s an exercise in futility.  This is why we keep on having the same useless debates. Nothing will ever be resolved because we aren’t speaking the same language.

Lois

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Posted: 28 February 2014 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 891 ]
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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.

But some people do and many have said otherwise.

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Posted: 28 February 2014 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 892 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:07 PM
Lois - 17 February 2014 01:29 PM

Not in a debate about free will. The point is to come to an agreement as to how all participants are going to define the term before the debate begins. And adding adjectives isn’t going to help unless the participants also agree on the meaning of the adjectives.

Lois

But it is used to mean more than one thing. So everybody except Bryan agrees with you about free will as you define it. But compatibilists think there is another definition that we should use as well.

So, why not two or more definitions? And if only one why your one?

Because then you’re not having a debate but having alternate monologues.

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Posted: 28 February 2014 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 893 ]
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Lois,

As I understand you correctly, it is impossible for you to agree on the following definitions:

- we call your version of free will ‘libertarian free will’
- we call my version of free will ‘compatibilist free will’

Really? And only because you are emotionally stuck on the idea that your version of free will is the one and only correct one?

Hmmm. Let’s just see who understand the difference:
Stephen
Doug
TimB
Bryan
Daniel Dennet (American philosopher)
Harry Frankfurt (American philosopher)
Raymond Smullyan (American mathematician)
Norman Swartz (American philosopher)
Peter Bieri (Swiss philosopher)
Nearly all of my philosophy student colleagues and lecturers

That does not mean necessarily that they all agree, but they see the difference. And you don’t?

Lois - 28 February 2014 05:11 AM
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.

But some people do and many have said otherwise.

Funny that you again do not react on my first paragraph, in which is an argument. You are avoiding the topic, and try to safe your face by blaming it all on definitions.

Why don’t you just answer the questions: are reasons causally effective? Does the fact that reasons are caused themselves refute the fact that they are also causally effective?

Edit: typo

[ Edited: 28 February 2014 10:26 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 28 February 2014 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 894 ]
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TimB - 28 February 2014 01:02 AM

So in this sense, I think that our conscious observing behaviors and our self awareness behaviors, do indeed sometimes, if not often, play a role in determining what our future “script” will be. 

OK, I did not tackle the ‘problem of consciousness’ yet. But I think it is just not so difficult as many people think. The real problem is that when people think about consciousness, suddenly they put much harder constraints on explanations than they do for all other kind of explanations.

When a system can anticipate the future, i.e. picture its environment, its position in its environment, play through different possibilities of actions and evaluate the results, and can do all this in a natural environment, then this system is conscious. All the processes in the brain (or in the computer) of such a system are consciousness. They do not cause it, they are it. And so, the other way round consciousness does not cause these processes, it is these processes.

Compare it with movement: movement is not caused by an object being in one place, and then at another. That is movement. Nor is it the other way round: movement does not cause one object to be at one place and then the other, it is an object being at one place and then a moment later being somewhere else.

People say they can imagine that an organism could do everything we do, but is not conscious (the philosophical zombie). I state that this is not a valid argument. I can imagine that from one moment at the other the sky turns green and the sun becomes pink. But is that an argument against the fact that it does not happen? For any other explanation I would never give such an ‘I can imagine’ experiment (or worse, ‘one could imagine’). So why would I suddenly do this when consciousness is involved? Per definition, people would not recognise the difference between a conscious human and a philosophical zombie. Nobody takes the possible existence of philosophical zombies as a starting point of his beliefs. So why should this be a real argument when consciousness is involved?

TimB - 28 February 2014 01:02 AM

That being said, I must add that I am not insisting that our conscious observing behaviors and self awareness behaviors play a controlling role to the point that most people, I think, tend to automatically believe they do.

Exactly: that follows from the above. People might think that consciousness causes brain processes, and that is of course absurd.

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Posted: 28 February 2014 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 895 ]
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We can function to some level without our actions resulting in consciousness when we sleepwalk. Sleepwalkers are indeed philosophical zombies. I don’t think anyone will be able to do algebra when they sleepwalk but people often accomplish all sorts of tasks while “sleeping” without being aware of any of it. I often have a conversation with my wife while sleepwalking and although she says most of what I say does make sense, I say it Czech. My wife can’t speak Czech, but she understands it well enough to know what I am saying. It scares the hell out of her.  cheese

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Posted: 28 February 2014 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 896 ]
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GdB - 28 February 2014 11:01 AM
TimB - 28 February 2014 01:02 AM

So in this sense, I think that our conscious observing behaviors and our self awareness behaviors, do indeed sometimes, if not often, play a role in determining what our future “script” will be. 

OK, I did not tackle the ‘problem of consciousness’ yet. But I think it is just not so difficult as many people think. The real problem is that when people think about consciousness, suddenly they put much harder constraints on explanations than they do for all other kind of explanations.

When a system can anticipate the future, i.e. picture its environment, its position in its environment, play through different possibilities of actions and evaluate the results, and can do all this in a natural environment, then this system is conscious. All the processes in the brain (or in the computer) of such a system are consciousness. They do not cause it, they are it. And so, the other way round consciousness does not cause these processes, it is these processes…

 

I tend to agree with this, but when you say “They do not cause it, they are it.”, I am attempting to be more explanatory, when I view these processes as behavior that are subject to the laws of behavior in organisms, and say that one conscious behavior can influence other behaviors (conscious or not). (As any behavior, conscious or not, can, potentially, influence a subsequent behavior, conscious or not.)

In regards to the analogy of movement, for my point, we would need to distinguish whether the movement is by an organism.  E.g., a rock rolling down a hill is not subject to the laws of behavior that exist for organisms.  OTOH an organism moving is behavior.

[ Edited: 28 February 2014 02:21 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 28 February 2014 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 897 ]
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George - 28 February 2014 11:42 AM

We can function to some level without our actions resulting in consciousness when we sleepwalk. Sleepwalkers are indeed philosophical zombies. I don’t think anyone will be able to do algebra when they sleepwalk but people often accomplish all sorts of tasks while “sleeping” without being aware of any of it. I often have a conversation with my wife while sleepwalking and although she says most of what I say does make sense, I say it Czech. My wife can’t speak Czech, but she understands it well enough to know what I am saying. It scares the hell out of her.  cheese

I am not addressing your points here, it just made me think of something.  There was a time when the question occurred to me, “Can one read in a dream?”  I started to try to pay attention, while dreaming, to whether I could read something.  As is the case with recollections of dreams, mine were very vague, but of what I could recall, I most often could not read while dreaming, but once I did recall that I was able to read.  So I took that as an answer to my question.  But who knows, really, whether my recollection was just a confabulation?

Sorry to get off point, but I like to share random thoughts sometimes.

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Posted: 28 February 2014 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 898 ]
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TimB - 28 February 2014 02:08 PM
GdB - 28 February 2014 11:01 AM
TimB - 28 February 2014 01:02 AM

So in this sense, I think that our conscious observing behaviors and our self awareness behaviors, do indeed sometimes, if not often, play a role in determining what our future “script” will be. 

OK, I did not tackle the ‘problem of consciousness’ yet. But I think it is just not so difficult as many people think. The real problem is that when people think about consciousness, suddenly they put much harder constraints on explanations than they do for all other kind of explanations.

When a system can anticipate the future, i.e. picture its environment, its position in its environment, play through different possibilities of actions and evaluate the results, and can do all this in a natural environment, then this system is conscious. All the processes in the brain (or in the computer) of such a system are consciousness. They do not cause it, they are it. And so, the other way round consciousness does not cause these processes, it is these processes…

 

I tend to agree with this, but when you say “They do not cause it, they are it.”, I am attempting to be more explanatory, when I view these processes as behavior that are subject to the laws of behavior in organisms, and say that one conscious behavior can influence other behaviors (conscious or not). (As any behavior, conscious or not, can, potentially, influence a subsequent behavior, conscious or not.)

In regards to the analogy of movement, for my point, we would need to distinguish whether the movement is by an organism.  E.g., a rock rolling down a hill is not subject to the laws of behavior that exist for organisms.  OTOH an organism moving is behavior.

I am not sure what to think when I read something like this. Either you are being a Captain Obvious here, Tim, or a closeted indeterminist.

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Posted: 28 February 2014 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 899 ]
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George - 28 February 2014 11:42 AM

We can function to some level without our actions resulting in consciousness when we sleepwalk. Sleepwalkers are indeed philosophical zombies. I don’t think anyone will be able to do algebra when they sleepwalk but people often accomplish all sorts of tasks while “sleeping” without being aware of any of it. I often have a conversation with my wife while sleepwalking and although she says most of what I say does make sense, I say it Czech. My wife can’t speak Czech, but she understands it well enough to know what I am saying. It scares the hell out of her.  cheese

Don’t let your wife watch “The Walking Dead” or keep a hammer by the bed.

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Posted: 28 February 2014 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 900 ]
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George - 28 February 2014 02:38 PM
TimB - 28 February 2014 02:08 PM
GdB - 28 February 2014 11:01 AM
TimB - 28 February 2014 01:02 AM

So in this sense, I think that our conscious observing behaviors and our self awareness behaviors, do indeed sometimes, if not often, play a role in determining what our future “script” will be. 

OK, I did not tackle the ‘problem of consciousness’ yet. But I think it is just not so difficult as many people think. The real problem is that when people think about consciousness, suddenly they put much harder constraints on explanations than they do for all other kind of explanations.

When a system can anticipate the future, i.e. picture its environment, its position in its environment, play through different possibilities of actions and evaluate the results, and can do all this in a natural environment, then this system is conscious. All the processes in the brain (or in the computer) of such a system are consciousness. They do not cause it, they are it. And so, the other way round consciousness does not cause these processes, it is these processes…

 

I tend to agree with this, but when you say “They do not cause it, they are it.”, I am attempting to be more explanatory, when I view these processes as behavior that are subject to the laws of behavior in organisms, and say that one conscious behavior can influence other behaviors (conscious or not). (As any behavior, conscious or not, can, potentially, influence a subsequent behavior, conscious or not.)

In regards to the analogy of movement, for my point, we would need to distinguish whether the movement is by an organism.  E.g., a rock rolling down a hill is not subject to the laws of behavior that exist for organisms.  OTOH an organism moving is behavior.

I am not sure what to think when I read something like this. Either you are being a Captain Obvious here, Tim, or a closeted indeterminist.

Well, it may be obvious to Captains of the Universe, like you and I, but it also seems to me that most people don’t look at these kind of issues from a behavioral perspective, and I am being, as usual, an out of the closet behaviorist.

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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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