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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 01 March 2014 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 901 ]
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George - 28 February 2014 11:42 AM

Sleepwalkers are indeed philosophical zombies.

So a sleepwalker cannot be distinguished from a complete awake person? When not, then it is not a philosophical zombie per definition. A philosophical zombie is an otherwise human person, which behaves exactly like a conscious human, but in fact has no consciousness.

Just think about it: somebody defending that he can imagine that ‘all this’ (observe the environment and reasoning about it, and about the possibilities of actions in it, etc) exists but is not consciousness, defends in fact that philosophical zombies exist, that it is a sensible concept.

And I think, Tim, this shows also why behaviourism, as explanatory theory of what conscious is, is empty: as a behaviourist, you could just study as well zombies. Behaviour might be a methodical door to consciousness, but it does not explain it. The explanation really comes from our understanding of the brain, and the appearance of consciousness through evolution. And with that the explanation of free will also, of course wink

BTW, just stumbled over this video on TED: John Searle: Our shared condition—consciousness (Searle is on of the grand old men in the area of philosophy of consciousness). I don’t agree on everything he says, but it is close. He tackles behaviourism in the last few minutes…

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Posted: 01 March 2014 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 902 ]
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I have sleepwalked my whole life and I think I already posted here about an incident from my childhood when in the middle of a night I went to our neighbours to call an ambulance for my mother and waited with her for the doctor to arrive. Although the doctor quickly realized I was indeed sleepwalking, my mother had no idea. I obviously was not aware of any of it. And I have many more similar examples.

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Posted: 01 March 2014 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 903 ]
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GdB - 01 March 2014 09:12 AM

... A philosophical zombie is an otherwise human person, which behaves exactly like a conscious human, but in fact has no consciousness.

Just think about it: somebody defending that he can imagine that ‘all this’ (observe the environment and reasoning about it, and about the possibilities of actions in it, etc) exists but is not consciousness, defends in fact that philosophical zombies exist, that it is a sensible concept.

And I think, Tim, this shows also why behaviourism, as explanatory theory of what conscious is, is empty: as a behaviourist, you could just study as well zombies. Behaviour might be a methodical door to consciousness, but it does not explain it. The explanation really comes from our understanding of the brain, and the appearance of consciousness through evolution. And with that the explanation of free will also, of course wink...

GdB, The winking emoticon seems a bit arrogantly self assured.  In considering what consciousness is, I include, as you say, “the brain and the appearance of consciousness through evolution”.  I am not sure what your investment in discluding the laws of behavior, in the attempt at such an understanding, is. 

I admit that everyone else in the world could conceivably be a philosophical zombie.  But I know subjectively, that I am not.  I choose to believe that the rest of you are also not.  (It is possible that when I arrived home, today, everything I owned had been stolen and replaced with an exact duplicate.  I choose to believe that nothing was stolen to begin with.)

If your argument is that behaviorists don’t have the tools to effectively study covert behavior, then that is true, so far.  But that fact does not preclude attempts at theoretical understanding.  Also as our technologies advance in identifying neurological correlates for all behavior, practical study should become more possible.

It seems ironic that you would take the “you” out of behavior, but not the “u”.

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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: 01 March 2014 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 904 ]
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GdB - 01 March 2014 09:12 AM

...
BTW, just stumbled over this video on TED: John Searle: Our shared condition—consciousness (Searle is on of the grand old men in the area of philosophy of consciousness). I don’t agree on everything he says, but it is close. He tackles behaviourism in the last few minutes…

John Searle, in this video rather flippantly, and absolutely, discounts a role for behaviorism in our understanding of consciousness.  He says behaviorism is an embarrassment.  (BTW, he makes a mistake similar to yours, when he made the analogy between consciousness and water.  Water is not an organism and is not subject to the identified laws of behavior.)  He says that behaviorism is obviously false, because one can feel pain and not engage in pain behavior.  This is a fundamental misunderstanding.  Feeling pain, I would suggest is behavior.  It is covert and, most usually, respondant rather than operant behavior, but nevertheless, behavior.  It is a different behavior than the behavior of moaning, cringing, or saying “ow!”, for example.

I agree with a lot of what John Searle was saying, but his absolute exclusion of looking at behavioral principles in understanding consciousness, will have the effect of delaying what seems to be his passion, i.e., a more complete understanding of what consciousness is.

[ Edited: 01 March 2014 02:45 PM 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: 01 March 2014 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 905 ]
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GdB - 28 February 2014 07:13 AM

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

 

Seeing a difference in this respect isn’t an objective observation-it is merely an extension of the philosophy.
So you have listed a bunch of subscribers to a certain philosophy here.

Otherwise what value is contained in the philosophy of those of us who refuse(?) to see the difference?

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Posted: 01 March 2014 06:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 906 ]
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GdB - 28 February 2014 11:01 AM

OK, I did not tackle the ‘problem of consciousness’ yet.

Yeah I know. I’ve tried to bring it up a thousand times.

How could consciousness not be the vanguard of this discussion?
We already agreed rocks abide by causality.
After rocks, what’s left?  Oh yes…consciousness!

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Posted: 01 March 2014 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 907 ]
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VYAZMA - 01 March 2014 06:29 PM

We already agreed rocks abide by causality.
After rocks, what’s left?  Oh yes…consciousness!

No.

Actions produced by calculations on the bases of what will/might happen if.. are significant (to say the least)

You willfully ignore that.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 908 ]
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George - 01 March 2014 09:42 AM

I have sleepwalked my whole life and I think I already posted here about an incident from my childhood when in the middle of a night I went to our neighbours to call an ambulance for my mother and waited with her for the doctor to arrive. Although the doctor quickly realized I was indeed sleepwalking, my mother had no idea. I obviously was not aware of any of it. And I have many more similar examples.

I cannot react better than Doug once did, which I think you accepted:

George - 01 November 2012 08:15 AM
dougsmith - 01 November 2012 08:13 AM

This case is more complex, George, because in this case the state you’re describing could be either the qualia OR the functional state responsible for getting you up to walk around, without interfacing properly with your short- or long-term memory. (As normally happens when we are asleep and dreaming).

Yes, you’re right. I realized that after I posted it.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 909 ]
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I realise in the last post I was talking bout intentional actions. Back to compatibilist free will. The difference between going to work voluntarily and being forced to work against your will is also very significant.

Yes it takes consciousness for there to be a difference in the quality of the experience which is why it’s so important, but if consciousness plays no further role, it doesn’t change the significance.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 910 ]
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TimB - 01 March 2014 01:55 PM

GdB, The winking emoticon seems a bit arrogantly self assured.  In considering what consciousness is, I include, as you say, “the brain and the appearance of consciousness through evolution”.  I am not sure what your investment in discluding the laws of behavior, in the attempt at such an understanding, is. 

The smiley was only for the connection I made with free will, not for the rest of what I was saying.

I think you do not quite get my point (or I am misunderstanding your criticism). I don’t think that behaviour is unimportant for studying consciousness. Without studying behaviour it is impossible to understand consciousness: it is the only objective entry we have to consciousness of other people. We study what people do, and just as important, what they say, which includes what they report about their inner states. But I am more in for what Dennett calls ‘heterophenomenology’:

Heterophenomenology (“phenomenology of another not oneself”) is a term coined by Daniel Dennett to describe an explicitly third-person, scientific approach to the study of consciousness and other mental phenomena. It consists of applying the scientific method with an anthropological bent, combining the subject’s self-reports with all other available evidence¹ to determine their mental state. The goal is to discover how the subject sees the world him- or herself, without taking the accuracy of the subject’s view for granted².

Notes by me:
1. That includes of course behaviour
2. In a scientific account of consciousness we must try to explain why subjects report what they say. But it doesn’t mean that we must take the contents of their reports as true facts. To stick to free will: if people reported they were not determined by previous factors in some decision, we know that is not true. But a theory of consciousness must explain why they say so, or even why they feel so.

My point is that behavourism leaves something out: you cannot reduce consciousness to behaviour. We also need to know what happens in their brains. So again: behaviour is one of the most important entry points for studying consciousness; but it cannot be reduced to it. And therefore I think also that Searle is correct in his TED talk when he says:

So it’s an obvious mistake. Why did they make the mistake? The mistake was — and you can go back and read the literature on this, you can see this over and over — they think if you accept the irreducible existence of consciousness, you’re giving up on science.

BTW: Dennett once wrote a furious criticism on Skinner: ‘Skinner skinned’. But I must confess I did not read it. Here is a discussion of the article. But maybe you are not a ‘skinnerian’, and it does not apply to your views.

Edit: Ha! Found it. Search for the sentence ‘skinner behaviorism is simultaneously retiring from the academic limelight’, including the quotes, in Google. Dennetts book ‘Brainstorms’ is at Google books.

[ Edited: 02 March 2014 07:43 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 02 March 2014 04:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 911 ]
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VYAZMA - 01 March 2014 06:19 PM

Seeing a difference in this respect isn’t an objective observation-it is merely an extension of the philosophy.
So you have listed a bunch of subscribers to a certain philosophy here.

Bryan does not subscribe to this philosophy. But he sees the difference.

Let’s try it again. Do you see that these two definitions of free will differ?

a. Free will is the capability to act without being influenced by prior causes.
b. Free will is the capability to act based on our own wishes and beliefs.

Some of the relevant questions are:
1. What is the capability we really have?
2. Which one fits to a naturalistic world view?
3. What capability do we need to suppose to declare me or others responsible (not ultimate responsible!) for their actions?

VYAZMA - 01 March 2014 06:19 PM

Otherwise what value is contained in the philosophy of those of us who refuse(?) to see the difference?

I am not quite sure what you are asking here. But I think an answer possibly is: you and Lois are stuck in giving simple and dogmatic answers on questions which are slightly more complicated (too many adjectives?) than you wish they would be. For reasons I do not understand you are attached to believing that any account of free will contradicts a naturalistic world view.

[ Edited: 02 March 2014 04:49 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 02 March 2014 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 912 ]
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GdB - 02 March 2014 04:41 AM

I am not quite sure what you are asking here.

Hmmnn.  I thought you would have understood it.
Forget it.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 913 ]
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StephenLawrence - 01 March 2014 09:47 PM
VYAZMA - 01 March 2014 06:29 PM

We already agreed rocks abide by causality.
After rocks, what’s left?  Oh yes…consciousness!

No.

Actions produced by calculations on the bases of what will/might happen if.. are significant (to say the least)

You willfully ignore that.

Yeah, that’s part of consciousness.(to say the least)!

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Posted: 02 March 2014 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 914 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 March 2014 05:23 AM
StephenLawrence - 01 March 2014 09:47 PM
VYAZMA - 01 March 2014 06:29 PM

We already agreed rocks abide by causality.
After rocks, what’s left?  Oh yes…consciousness!

No.

Actions produced by calculations on the bases of what will/might happen if.. are significant (to say the least)

You willfully ignore that.

Yeah, that’s part of consciousness.(to say the least)!

Is it?

I’m conscious of this computer screen. I’m (sometimes) conscious of calculations on the basis of what will happen if.. . What’s the difference?

And in any case compatibilism isn’t about the role consciousness is playing even if it is playing one. You can leave that aside.

Stephen

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Posted: 02 March 2014 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 915 ]
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StephenLawrence - 01 March 2014 09:47 PM

Actions produced by calculations on the bases of what will/might happen if.. are significant (to say the least)

You willfully ignore that.

What forms the calculations on the basis of what might happen?
Remember most of those calculations are working off of vision, hearing, touch, memory etc.

What is that called again?  Hmnnn….Consciousness?
I think it is.

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