I've just finished Sam Harris' Free Will.  It isn't exactly a book, rather an extended essay.  I'm also reading The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel M. Wegner published in 2002 so it is more a review of and background material for Harris' discussion.  

My question is one of predictability.  Nobody likes to think their actions, their thoughts, their very lives are predictable.  But does determinism imply predictability?  If not, then how does the belief in determinism distinguish itself from free will?  I don't know what you will do next...I don't know what I will do next...I do not know what will happen next...all  of these statements would seem to be valid whether you take the free will position or the deterministic position.

My position could be described by the term "apathetic determinism."  Everything I do and say...and you do and say...and that happens in our world...has been determined by the culmination of a long train...perhaps infinite?...of cause and effect.  I agree.  When it comes to particulars in our lives, then who we are and what we do, can with some degree of predictability, be assigned meaning.  But to what point?

With each person traveling along a line from being abused to being an abuser, then at what point can we say they went from victim to perpetrator?  For that matter, can we ever make such a distinction?  

Free will...conscious will...is necessary if we are to feel justified in condemning and punishing other people.  But it is the last thing we apply when we are reviewing our own life and actions.  This explains the idea that there are no guilty men in prison or that when Judge Judy cast her verdict the people who she claims to be guilty still use their final minutes of their fifteen to declare their innocence.

The question is never "Do we have free will?"  There are always extenuating circumstances that are just as valid as those that would be used to condemn us.  The question...and answer...is "Do other people have free will?"

Religion is a sick delusion not because it offers forgiveness but because it allows people to judge and condemn others for the same sins we commit.  

The original subject, which I seem to have drifted from, is simply:

If determinism does not imply predictability then what good is it?

 

Tags: Christianity, Sin, conscious, forgiveness, free, will

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"Although rock and water and human being are so different from one another, you see no primal joint separating them, while I do--between the human being and the others."

I do see primal joints separating them, but I also see primal joints separating rock and water. It is this special-ness  you are giving to the natural "joint" within consciousness that I think flawed. You are placing the joint, in a way, outside of the configuration that derives it through time. It is like placing the rolling outside of the configurations of the rock, hill, gravity, and time.

In the epistemic methodology of today's philosophy of mind, as you represent it and as I have experienced it in my reading, evolution doesn't figure, despite the social context for discussion of mind having changed from an origin story of special creation to one of evolution.

I think you may be a little confused on what we mean when we say "epistemic methodology". Regardless, in just about everything I've ever read, evolution is a key factor in today's philosophy of mind.

"I draw a joint between evolved creatures and everything else."

So do I, I just don't draw a special joint.

"Yes, we are evolved creatures, like any other, but within that category we are exceptional."

I agree, but exceptional doesn't make the joint built of some special magical stuff. We are exceptional because we can experience. Its a self-reflective "joint" that is built by the very same "stuff" as non-self-reflective joints.

"could your account capture the essence of what I mean, or would it merely allocate it to a compartment, such as "incompatibilism"?"

Incompatibilism only applies to the words "free will". We should not conflate concepts. The lack of free will does not negate the exceptional properties of conscious experience and thought. Also keep in mind that "exceptional" is not necessarily a "good" thing. Consciousness carries with it all of the negative value such as pain and suffering. These horrible qualities are exceptionally negative. 

"Are you on the right side of a division between methodologies that can accommodate new realizations, and those too rigid to do so."

I'd like to think I'm quite open-minded, and I think my leaning toward some really unpopular philosophies (not just my hard incompatibilism re. "free will", but a whole host of others) accounts for that - as I only lean toward what makes sense and like science, am willing to change if new evidence arises. That being said, I think you are quite mistaken on your stance that there is some new information in evolution that accounts for some type of "special" immaterial joint.

Later. :-D

To an outsider I think our conversation would seem barren. Neither of us has found in the other's philosophy of mind anything new to take into account. To me that reinforces that we represent two different ways of being cognitively equipped. Our difference is not one of philosophy, it is of cognition; our philosophies are the due results of our different cognitions. They are like astronomies that study the universe in terms of only either visible light or radio waves. We actually experience different natures, in the world and in our selves.

Is it reasonable that only one of these cognitions should be acknowledged in something with the title "Philosophy of mind"? I can't object to people with your cognition sharing a common philosophy of mind, but I do object to it being promoted as THE philosophy of mind, as if we should all agree it's how humans do or should think.

How can people with my kind of cognition get represented? I studied biochemistry at college in England, became a medical and science writer, now have written and published five books of evolution. But I have also been a book designer, a graphic designer, and a web designer. While working as a designer I am paid for being "creative." I am part of a large working community of people whose special expertise, for which we are recognized by a special tolerance for eccentricity not afforded editors and production people, is our "creativity." That's my community. That's who I represent.

When I leave that community--and believe me, few designers relish "philosophy of mind"--I encounter an alien world taking its metaphors from scientific Positivism. Just as biology in the 20th century adopted Scientific Positivism without due cause, so a century earlier philosophy of mind seems to have felt impelled to adopt Comte's new Positivism, a rigorous methodology denying "volition" that, once universally adopted, would force everyone to reach the same conclusion from the same premises and prevent such calamities as the differences of opinion that lead to the French Revolution.

The unfortunate result of imposition of a rigorous methodology of discourse is the elimination of whatever that rigor excludes. In this case, me! And my kind. I represent them. And I do that by defying your rigor and reaching people through stories. Of course, you complain I'm not using the rigorous methodology proper to discussions in "THE" philosophy of mind! Right.

When I look around natural philosophy I feel a resonance between my creativity and the appearance in one environment of penguins, in another of elephants. I am blown away by the creativity of evolution. It stands for me as the giant pattern of my own creativity. That's what lies behind my conviction that

there is some new information in evolution that accounts for some type of "special" immaterial joint.

I can draw fantastic creatures, too, but they're only drawings. Nature can make them for real. How can I make myself more creative, draw down into myself some of evolution's creativity? That won't come from physical science, there's only complexity, not creativity.

The lack of free will does not negate the exceptional properties of conscious experience and thought.

Notice I talk more about creativity than about free will. I see "free will" as a staw-man that philosophers of mind erected to make easy play with. "Free will" is a construct created within Positivist logic to stand opposite physical determinism, or even quantum indeterminacy. It's your term, not my choice. I'll defend "creativity," and draw on it to help me carve my joints.

"I can draw fantastic creatures, too, but they're only drawings. Nature can make them for real."

Again, nature also forms some beautiful sunsets, mountain formations, volcano formations, snow flake formations, crystals, blackholes, meteors, moons, planets, stars, complex chemical reactions, etc etc. Nature's "creativity" is not unique to the production evolution and natural selection form. 

Also, just an FYI, I'm a designer as well ...and think of myself as "creative". I too draw some fantastical creature (practically every day). I take no issue with your creativity and think it great. The only issue I take is when creativity is conflated with intellectual rigor and methodologies of knowledge, rather than it being a side add-on to these.

"I see "free will" as a staw-man that philosophers of mind erected to make easy play with."

When the majority of the world inherently feels they have "free will", it is anything but a straw-man or something just erected by philosophers. Philosophers are addressing very real, existent beliefs inherent in most people. Beliefs that do not simply mean "I think I'm creative", but rather extend to the abilities of how options are chosen, abilities to have done otherwise, ideas about control, blameworthiness, deserving-ness, inequality condonement,  retribution, and so on.

I only take issue with your definition of free will, as it's used to avoid a very important and very real thought pattern within the mind of humans. 

I don't think we would disagree that consciousness derives creativity in the sense of being creative with our thoughts and what we produce due to them. The point about not having free will is that ultimately, the decision to create or not to create or what we "create" stems outside of us. 

:)

I am astonished and delighted that we share so much, including our delight in design. Now, why do we disagree?

Again, nature also forms some beautiful sunsets, mountain formations, volcano formations, snow flake formations, crystals, blackholes, meteors, moons, planets, stars, complex chemical reactions, etc etc. Nature's "creativity" is not unique to the production evolution and natural selection form.

I make two distinctions between what you list as natural forms, and nature's creativity. First, the forms you quote may be complex, but they are not anywhere near as mechanically intricate and self-repairing as those that have evolved. That difference needs accounting for. Second, they show no development over time, or if they did it would be incidental. Snow flakes can, I've read, take any of 250 different basic forms but I doubt those forms have changed since the Earth was formed. But in 3 billion years evolution has gone from bacteria to elephants.

Why do you not see these differences as indicating the crossing over a joint? Suggest to me any joint as significant.

The only issue I take is when creativity is conflated with intellectual rigor and methodologies of knowledge, rather than it being a side add-on to these.

Some of your own colleagues, such as Jonathan Haidt, might argue that intellectual rigor and methodologies of knowledge depend at base on creativity. OK, he'd say, emotion, but what's the difference? OK, there is a difference. But doesn't it take more creativity than a stone has to come up with a methodology of knowledge?

Given that we share so much else, why do we differ in these judgments? It's possible that you, like Stephen J. Gould, wish to fight people's urge to self-aggrandizement by demoting us to mere collections of particles swirled around by physical currents too complex for us to fully understand. A necessary prophylactic. My motives are, of course, not compensation for anything, just logical deductions from our common experience.

Or, you could be a Logical Positivist and I am an Empiricist. From a Wittgensteinian acceptance of language as a game through which we create forms of discourse as needed to cope with our particular situation you flee to the rigor of a body of syllogisms that must apply at all times and places, a Tractatus, from which creativity must be banished as crosses from the lairs of vampires at which they would stare wide-eyed, and slobber and eventually dissolve into primal muck. No, creativity must be glued to a spot somewhere on the spectrum between compatibilism and incompatibilism, and made safe.

I see two issues. One is, truth. The other is, empiricism. The truth issue is that of where to carve the joints in order to see what is similar to what, as we divide species up into classes. Consider a living creature that can, in the course of writing a book about philosophy of mind, weigh which of two terms to use for a distinction and settle on one or the other? What is most similar to that creature? A stone? A star? A volcano? Or a Hitler who, intent on killing Jews, weighs with country to invade next? Trivial, of no more call on our attention than a storm turning this way or that? The Second World War hangs in the balance--a natural disaster, or something in the category "INTENDED"? Ah, something intended-- "VOLITION." That surely, though banished from Positivism, must figure in your philosophy of mind. Where on the spectrum between compatibilism and incompatibilism do you glue that?

Or, take an empirical approach. What is knowledge for? To help us think. Does it help us think to say of our own thinking that it is determined, as determined as when a volcano will release a plume? Must we sit back and wait for the plume, or can we do something to speed it up, or prevent it? See thinking as thoughts evolving in mind, and merely by studying how evolution works we may revolutionize our capabilities for thinking. Like Bacon, we can make Progress our criteria of what epistemic methodologies to develop. Have you thought of that!

Just what are your motivations for relegating your own conscious impulses to the world of quantum indeterminacy? Is it for fear of those very impulses themselves? Writers may have to use all kinds of tricks to keep themselves at their desks, resisting impulses to flee, but that is not a license to impose those tricks on the rest of us, under the guise of a philosophy of mind.

Let your people free!

"I make two distinctions between what you list as natural forms, and nature's creativity. First, the forms you quote may be complex, but they are not anywhere near as mechanically intricate and self-repairing as those that have evolved."

Here we are back to, as I said earlier, a need for what we mean by "creativity". No one is denying that (many) living creatures are "complex". Does complexity equal "creative", if so, why not just call it complexity? I'm certain it's because words such as complexity don't give it that special mystical air. Also, there are many things that have come about through the evolutionary process that are not as complex as say the fusion in a star. Life has been on earth for around 4 billion years, yet multicellular organisms didn't even happen until 610 million years ago. That's billions of years of evolution that weren't even close to the complexity we have today.

"Second, they show no development over time, or if they did it would be incidental."

Everything in the universe is developed over time, from the shape of a mountain, to the formation of a planet, to the fusion happening in a star, etc. etc.

"Snow flakes can, I've read, take any of 250 different basic forms but I doubt those forms have changed since the Earth was formed."

Now we are talking about variation for the "creativity" word (which makes more sense to me than complexity if we are using it in a sense outside of what intelligent creatures produce). But again, the variations of planets and stars in the universe far exceeds the variations of life on planet earth. Indeed there is most likely no two planets that are identical in every way. And if we talk about everything else in the universe that has not "evolved" biologically, we have a ginormous amount of variation. It's a mistake to address the variations of the snowflakes category alone without talking about every other non-biological thing that is different than a snowflake. In this sense, what has come about via biological evolution, though quite unique, isn't even close to the variations that have come about through non-biological means.

"Some of your own colleagues, such as Jonathan Haidt, might argue that intellectual rigor and methodologies of knowledge depend at base on creativity. OK, he'd say, emotion, but what's the difference? OK, there is a difference."

There is an important difference between needing creativity to think outside of the box, and emotion to drive our intellectual endeavors. These things are entirely different than "rigor" and "methodologies" that we must apply. It might be a creative endeavor to think about 2 + 2 equaling 5, but as soon as we apply the mathematical standards we hold, we can understand that such creativity is not mathematically rigorous. It still doesn't prevent us from saying 2+2=5 or even making a poem about how four is poor and five is alive, or whatever, and understand that this is not intellectual rigor.

"It's possible that you, like Stephen J. Gould, wish to fight people's urge to self-aggrandizement by demoting us to mere collections of particles swirled around by physical currents too complex for us to fully understand."

Yet I've done the exact opposite. I've explained how such a stance is reductionistic - and how that's a mistake.

"Consider a living creature that can, in the course of writing a book about philosophy of mind, weigh which of two terms to use for a distinction and settle on one or the other? What is most similar to that creature? A stone? A star? A volcano? Or a Hitler who, intent on killing Jews, weighs with country to invade next?"

That's like saying "Consider a rock rolling down a hill. what is most similar to that rock: a star, a blackhole, water, or ANOTHER rock rolling down a different hill?" Of course a person is more similar to a another person than they are of something that is "not a person", just as a rock is more similar to a rock than it is of "not a rock".

"The Second World War hangs in the balance--a natural disaster, or something in the category "INTENDED"? Ah, something intended-- "VOLITION."

No one is disagreeing with this. I am disagreeing if you think the volition is in any way "free" or that it doesn't stem to events entirely outside of the control of the thinking person.

"To help us think. Does it help us think to say of our own thinking that it is determined, as determined as when a volcano will release a plume?"

Its definitely "as determined". That does not mean, however, that the properties or that the causes are of the same type as a volcano.  As far as I know our thinking has nothing to do with the overheating of rock.

"See thinking as thoughts evolving in mind, and merely by studying how evolution works we may revolutionize our capabilities for thinking. Like Bacon, we can make Progress our criteria of what epistemic methodologies to develop. Have you thought of that!"

I don't necessarily disagree with you on this. But until you can provide a better epistemological standard, we can only apply the best we have at any given point. And when we do not, that's a problem. There's no such thing as absolute knowledge. That is why methodologies such as science, for the most part, are self correcting. If something that was once shown correct is later proven incorrect, either it's discarded, or built upon in a way that it's no longer incorrect.

"Just what are your motivations for relegating your own conscious impulses to the world of quantum indeterminacy?"

I think its more likely that, at the quantum scale, the universe is non-locally deterministic. That being said, I do not know that for sure, so I make my conclusions on if the universe is deterministic, AND if it is indeterministic. Modal logic. 

;)

Trick, I've seldom found discussion so frustrating. It's as if we live in non-parallel universes with different physical constants. Nothing you say corresponds to anything I experience. To me you seem to confine your responses to stock professional rebuttals of folk psychology. Any challenge must fit into one of the standard set of folk beliefs, requiring only the appropriate stock rebuttal.

I intend to go through this entire topic to see if I can figure out what's going on.

As of this moment, it seems to me you accept today's physics as representative of a future complete physics, and your logical methods as absolutely valid. What you experience yourself you're used to translating into those terms, and so you translate what I experience into the same terms, excecting me to find them apply to me as completely as they apply to you. To me, today's physics is a product of a limited set of methods, so it is woefully incomplete. And your logic is suspect, as statistics is--garbage in, garbage out. When I come up with things I think should give you pause, your logic is suspiciously automatic. Remember the clerical responses to Galileo, "I won't look through your telescope because what you say defies logic and can't be true, you're simply using magic" or something like that. I can't believe, I don't find, that your philosophy of mind, that I am sure pre-dates the discovery that our origin lies in evolution, has made any concessions to that discovery. Instead it seems to have pigeon-holed evolution as a purely physical phenomenon so it can fit it within existing categories in your logic. Then, any claim that evolution poses challenges can be met by saying, no, it can only be physical, hence it's covered by our logic. But today's physics is not complete enough to comprehend evolution, you cannot logically assume it does. But you do. Integrity of your epistemology seems to be of pre-eminent importance to you. That I can't understand.

Kant, who I think figured large in philosophy of mind, skated on the edge of coming across evolution. It was proposed to him by a young colleague, I believe, but he rejected it. More surprising, Goethe seems to have ignored it. German philosophers up to the mid 1850's seem to have ignored it. Philosophy of mind seems to have jelled into an extremely powerful structure just too soon to make room for us having evolved. You are choosing to continue that tradition unchanged?

Trick, I've seldom found discussion so frustrating.

It truly is not my intention to frustrate you. I do apologize for that. Different universes indeed. 

To me you seem to confine your responses to stock professional rebuttals of folk psychology.

Stock how-so? folk psychology, how-so?

"As of this moment, it seems to me you accept today's physics as representative of a future complete physics, and your logical methods as absolutely valid."

I think we have a lot more to discover, particularly at the quantum scale. In fact, me suggesting that I don't know if the universe is deterministic or indeterministic suggests just the opposite. That I think today's physics does not have all of the answers. That being said it also has a lot of answers.

"What you experience yourself you're used to translating into those terms, and so you translate what I experience into the same terms, excecting me to find them apply to me as completely as they apply to you."

I don't expect you to find they apply to you. It's quite obvious the differences in the methodologies we apply, and to get into them would be quite long and painful. The key thing I'm trying to get across to you is that there are certain standards that are more consistent and reliable than other standards.

"To me, today's physics is a product of a limited set of methods, so it is woefully incomplete."

I'd have to disagree. It's not the product of the "methods", but rather the product of the "information set". An information set that is currently  limited. Can you imagine with your creative mind a better methodology? If so, you indeed should write a book on that very thing. It's imperative that you do! ;)

I can't believe, I don't find, that your philosophy of mind, that I am sure pre-dates the discovery that our origin lies in evolution, has made any concessions to that discovery.

I find it interesting how you invoke evolution, and at the same time seem to disregard certain epistemological standards with would include the very scientific method in which evolution is verified and validated.

"But today's physics is not complete enough to comprehend evolution, you cannot logically assume it does."

We comprehend evolution through the study of evolutionary biology as well as physics. And we do comprehend it enough. How you can say we cannot comprehend evolution when we do just that is beyond me. Again, don't conflate comprehending evolution with comprehending consciousness, there is a whole lot of non-conscious life evolving as we speak.

"Philosophy of mind seems to have jelled into an extremely powerful structure just too soon to make room for us having evolved."

I'm not really parsing this sentence. Most philosophy of mind I've ever come across explains how consciousness could arise through the evolutionary process. These things are part of each other.

Anyway, like I said, I really don't want to frustrate you.  Frustration isn't worth it unless you can take something from the conversation that makes it worth it. If, however, you see value in continuing, we can keep going.

Have a good day!

Trick, I got it. We're both monists, but of different kinds. You're a monist materialist, with an epistemic methodology based on today's physics and a traditional logic and set of axioms. I'm a monist but the epistemic methodology of my monism hasn't yet been realized, it's based on a future physics that perfectly captures all people at that future time experience of both matter and what corresponds in them to what in us we call "mind." So I make-do with belief in both matter and, as a stop-gap supplement, what we call today mind. That's a legitimate monism if it's legitimate to posit a future physics that includes all possible meanings of "matter" and "mind." Pin me down and I'll accept whatever physics is in 350 years time. Let's call that "physics350" as opposed to "physicsToday."

Determinism, as used in physics, does not imply predictability. It simply means that every event has a cause. If, however, there are events that are acausal, the universe is indeterministic. Both types of universes are logically incompatible with Free Will. The hard incompatibilist position is a stronger position than the hard determinist position - as it addresses both possibilities.

I assume philosophy of mind is not allowed to actually outlaw mind, merely note that an epistemic methodology based on physicsToday has nothing to say about it. I therefore insist you allow for today's "mind" in your philosophy, as a better approximation to physics350--which must be our standard--than physicsToday.

Suppose an event has a cause but it is not physical, it's mental. You don't know what "mental" means, all you know is, it's not physical. Is that event determined? I say, no. "Determined" only applies to an event with a physical cause. You can't claim that events with a non-physical cause are determined, because it's possible (not logically impermissable) that such causes can have multiple outcomes (see "vitality" below). On the other hand, you can't call it indeterminist, because there is a cause, it just isn't physical. Your two-state logic, determinist-indeterminist, can't apply to causes that aren't physical, whose nature you can know nothing of, because physicsToday's epistemic methodology may not apply to volition (John Stuart Mill on Comte's Positivism 1850).

"Free will" is about a state of being.

You are not allowed to assume you know what it is. You don't know. All you know is it's a phrase we associate with certain conscious experiences. "State of being" is an importing of a logical condition that may be inappropriate to use for this entity and lead to errors of logic.

It's a claim that a certain ability "exists", and is ontological. Since we cannot measure both the momentum and position for certain small scale particles with accuracy (uncertainty principle), we cannot predict (know) them. This does not mean, however, that they were not determined by antecedent events. That depends on the quantum interpretation being assumed.

I do have this pre-knowledge of physics350. It poses a quality it calls "vitality." Any entity with "mind" has a numerical value of physical indeterminacy associated with it. For a mouse it is 5 units, for monkeys between 20 and 35, and for a human 700 (on average). The relevance of this to science350 is that such a being's location cannot be predicted by science within an envelope sized in proportion to its vitality. Within that envelope a creatures' behavior and mental states cannot be estimated or predicted by scientific methods.

Given that, I think you can't say of free will that it is even "ontological." Within a being's envelope of vitality you face a paradox similar to that posed by Schrodinger's cat--it's not clear what you can say about the being, so far as "ontological" goes.

I'm only halfway down your fitst post on page 2. I will continue. But I will ask, at this point, can you justify setting up a "philosophy of mind" on such a flimsy basis as physicsToday when physics350 is only a few years away, and pokes so many holes in your epistemic methodology?

"with an epistemic methodology based on today's physics and a traditional logic and set of axioms."

Not "traditional logic" but today's analytic and modal logic. Also, when you say "today's physics", I'd suggest that is the only physics we can go by. We cannot, for example, see into the future (e.g. 350 years in the future), and I'm sure at that time you'd say, no no...we can't go by these physics either...let's wait another 350 years.  I go by Today's physics, and tomorrow I go by tomorrows physics, etc. I find it absurd to deny everything we can understand via physics due to a few incomplete parts, particularly at the quantum scale.

"I assume philosophy of mind is not allowed to actually outlaw mind, merely note that an epistemic methodology based on physicsToday has nothing to say about it."

Neuroscience has a whole lot to say about it, as does behavioural science, physics, and evolutionary biology. What they don't (yet) answer is the exact "how" of "how consciousness occurs". They do understand, for example, that you can force very specific conscious experience through manipulation of the brain state, and you also can predict based on prior brain states (e.g. I explained to you the 7 to 10 second ability to predict a button before the person consciously decides on it, based entirely on the physical brain state prior).

"Suppose an event has a cause but it is not physical, it's mental. You don't know what "mental" means, all you know is, it's not physical. Is that event determined? I say, no. "Determined" only applies to an event with a physical cause. You can't claim that events with a non-physical cause are determined, because it's possible (not logically impermissable) that such causes can have multiple outcomes (see "vitality" below)"

No, it IS logically impermissible for a cause to have multiple possible outcomes, and I fill an entire chapter as to why this is the case. It matters not if "physical" or "non-physical", a cause being able to lead to X and at the same time not X (e.g. Y instead) is a logical contradiction. If, however, your epistemological standard allows for contradictions, then I cannot argue. i can only point out the flaws in such standards.

"On the other hand, you can't call it indeterminist, because there is a cause, it just isn't physical."

For an even to be able to lead to either X (and ~Y) or Y (and ~X), it needs to be an acausal event. There is either a cause that denotes it going to X and ~ Y or there is not. If not, it's acausal for it to go to X (and ~Y). If there is a cause that denotes it, it cannot at the same time go to ~X( and Y). If so, there is an inherent self-contradiction in the event.

This is why the logic really has nothing to do with it being "physical", and it's a mistake to underpin determinism to the physical realm (even if, as I believe, that is all there is).

                 "Free will" is about a state of being." - trick

"You are not allowed to assume you know what it is. You don't know. "

The claim that "Free Will EXISTS" means that "free will" IS. That is what "state of being" means...that the claim is that something "exists" (to "BE" = "state of being"). Ontology means we are addressing what exists or what doesn't exist (we are talking about "existence"). Therefore, "free will EXISTS" is an ontological claim. If you are not addressing an ontological claim with the word "free will", I don't know what you are addressing. 

It poses a quality it calls "vitality."

This is another word like "creativity" that doesn't really have a whole lot of meaning until you define it the way you are using it.

"Any entity with "mind" has a numerical value of physical indeterminacy associated with it. For a mouse it is 5 units, for monkeys between 20 and 35, and for a human 700 (on average)."

Indeterminism for this debate means that events are "acausal" (without a cause). Having "units" of "indeterminacy" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.

"The relevance of this to science350 is that such a being's location cannot be predicted by science within an envelope sized in proportion to its vitality."

Again, determinism does not imply predictability...as I mentioned in my very first response to the initial question (which you have seemed to of now read).

"Within that envelope a creatures' behavior and mental states cannot be estimated or predicted by scientific methods."

To a large degree it can...as I mentioned earlier. But again, even if we couldn't, the logic shows why the creature still cannot have free will.

"But I will ask, at this point, can you justify setting up a "philosophy of mind" on such a flimsy basis as physicsToday when physics350 is only a few years away, and pokes so many holes in your epistemic methodology?"

As you can see, no holes were poked. If anything, by you suggesting a cause can have multiple possible outcomes (and therefore a self-contradictory cause can exist), it is your epistemological standard that needs to be addressed. Also keep in mind that my own "philosophy of mind" has nothing to do with my reasoning for why free will is impossible. These are seperate things, and I go into the "IF my philosophy of mind is incorrect (meaning not entirely physical), it wouldn't matter for this topic". Right now free will (not meaning just "to be creative" of course) is a logically incoherent term.

Talk to ya' later,

'Trick

"Religion is a sick delusion not because it offers forgiveness but because it allows people to judge and condemn others for the same sins we commit."  Hear!  Hear! 

Trick, we are advocates for opposite philosophies of nature. I am an enemy of physicalism in all its forms except as scientific methodlogy. I wrote a book titled "Save Our Selves From Science Gone Wrong: Physicalism and Natural Selection." Now to that I will add "and Philosophy of Mind."

Comte's Positivism explictly banned from its methodology "volition, natural or supernatural," according to John Stuart Mill. By the 20th century, the resulting lack of data on mind was taken to be proof that mind cannot exist, not just in scientific methodology but in the cosmos as a whole. False logic!

Your philosophy of mind is clearly just physicalism systematized and made into a logical grid from which, once defined as having a place within the system, no entity can escape. It's like making chess a metaphor for life: once you agree to be made a player on the board your life is limited to the rules of chess. Once you agree to allocate all conscious experiences to one or another square on the logical grid of physicalism and "philosophy of mind" you are then limited to moves within that grid.

It is in effect a Procrustean bed. What remains for me as a puzzle is what puzzled me about Procrustes when I first heard of him. Why does he want to cut people down or stretch them, to fit his beds? Why doesn't he provided beds of different sizes? Now, I can ask you that. Why do you want to be today's Procrustes? What is in it for you? Do you like losing the experience of being able to exercise judgment through a series of thoughts each leading on to the next in consciousness? Do you like seeing yourself as no more than the contents of the test-tube in the experiment I referred to before? What's the psychological payoff? I was a physicalist in my thirties but it just couldn't take the heat of detailed analysis, I was forced to abandon it. And what a relief that was!

when you say "today's physics", I'd suggest that is the only physics we can go by.... and tomorrow I go by tomorrows physics, etc.

Aristotle intended his syllogisms to apply for all time. I don't think it is legitimate to claim you are developing a philosophy depending on logic and then say, "but only for today's physics, not for future changes in physics of a scale similar to those we've seen in the last 350 years. You can't challenge me on any basis but today's physics." Better, I think, would be to set the limits within which your "philosophy of mind" applies, eg, not to mind.

I find it absurd to deny everything we can understand via physics due to a few incomplete parts, particularly at the quantum scale.

Physicalism is incomplete not only at the quantum level but at the level of conscious mind. Is it absurd to believe I can consciously choose where to place my left foot next, to prove I have uncaused choice, free of determinism? You know that me moving my foot to the left, otherwise meaninglessly, is only determined by by the lights of your definition of me as not being able to be otherwise. That is no better than doctrines like transubstantiation. You are in effect setting up to be a priest with sacred wisdom, knowing what is determined and what is not. There is no scientific proof for this, only doctrine based on belief in a physicalism erroneously based on Posivitism.

Neurobiology etc can show that some conscious states are influenced by material causes, but it cannot prove, and never will be able to prove, that all are. Making such a claim sets a very low standard for logic. "What I think unlikely I'll make a law cannot happen."

No, it IS logically impermissible for a cause to have multiple possible outcomes, and I fill an entire chapter as to why this is the case. It matters not if "physical" or "non-physical", a cause being able to lead to X and at the same time not X (e.g. Y instead) is a logical contradiction. If, however, your epistemological standard allows for contradictions, then I cannot argue. i can only point out the flaws in such standards.... For an even to be able to lead to either X (and ~Y) or Y (and ~X), it needs to be an acausal event. There is either a cause that denotes it going to X and ~ Y or there is not. If not, it's acausal for it to go to X (and ~Y). If there is a cause that denotes it, it cannot at the same time go to ~X( and Y). If so, there is an inherent self-contradiction in the event.... This is why the logic really has nothing to do with it being "physical", and it's a mistake to underpin determinism to the physical realm (even if, as I believe, that is all there is).

Well, my science of vitality, which is not logically deniable, says it is permissible. Again, you are merely making a claim that it isn't so. Of course, that's easy if you define "cause" as the completely determining influence of an outcome. Draft a suitable definition and you foreclose the conclusion. That's what's equivalent in your logic to the parallel with statistics, "garbage in, garbage out." By defining terms for a supposed "philosophy of mind" (actually a philosophy of physicalism) you foreclose the possibility of having to consider any challenge. You define all possible challenges out of existence.

The claim that "Free Will EXISTS" means that "free will" IS. That is what "state of being" means...that the claim is that something "exists" (to "BE" = "state of being"). Ontology means we are addressing what exists or what doesn't exist (we are talking about "existence"). Therefore, "free will EXISTS" is an ontological claim. If you are not addressing an ontological claim with the word "free will", I don't know what you are addressing.

I say that sometimes I feel patriotic. Does that mean "Patriotism exists." "Free will" is like that, a feeling we give a name to. Is that ontological? Can we now apply logic to whether patriotism, or chivalry, or integrity, exists or not? You're applying your logic out of its appropriate context. You're using a rubber stamp wildly without discrimination, you're not being open to experience and discovery. You really are acting like the cardinals in the face of Galileo's telescope. I don't mean necessarily in relation to my suppositions, but just generally, to any challenge. You deal with my redefinings by saying they don't make sense. You call my "vitality" "indeterminancy," switching the definition from my context to yours. OK, then you win. But do you really? Can you only operate in terms of the game board you've designed?

Right now free will (not meaning just "to be creative" of course) is a logically incoherent term.

Logically incoherent because your logic is set up to make it so, not because the universe works that way. I have my own logic, I pointed it to you, and you declared it not logical. OK, we have competing logics.

I feel we've reached the end. Physicalism based on a materialism fashioned to crush mind/soul is my enemy. I understand it, I was for a while a physicalist, I am no longer, I have the passion of a convert to the opposite point of view. My mission is to build a logic that will engage the minds and hearts of non-physicalists, fire them up to embrace non-physicalism as an identity, and join battle with physicalists, for the good of future society. That was done once with eugenics, in the 1930s, simply by people refusing to accept a logic they didn't like the smell of, we must do it now with philosophy of mind/physicalism.

We're back to a battle of the books. My book (actually now a play) against yours. There is no higher authority to appeal to.

"I don't think it is legitimate to claim you are developing a philosophy depending on logic and then say, "but only for today's physics, not for future changes in physics of a scale similar to those we've seen in the last 350 years. You can't challenge me on any basis but today's physics.""

You are confusing what we know about physics with the scientific methodology we use to discover such things (with the logic). These are not the same thing. For example, the theory of gravity is a scientific theory. If that theory should change, that does NOT mean the scientific method (the logical method) is what changes. It just means that some different evidence has been placed within the same scientific methodology. What we know about physics could be so much more, but that does not mean our logical standards will be different. It's this conflation between "physics" and  certain methodologies of induction and deduction that seems to be mixing you up quite a bit.

"Neurobiology etc can show that some conscious states are influenced by material causes, but it cannot prove, and never will be able to prove, that all are."

This is a claim that you are making (that it "never will be able to"). An unsupported claim.

"Well, my science of vitality, which is not logically deniable, says it is permissible. Again, you are merely making a claim that it isn't so."

Again, I explained why it's a contradiction. If yours says a contradiction is possible, then I cannot defeat that. In fact all reason goes out the window.


" Of course, that's easy if you define "cause" as the completely determining influence of an outcome. Draft a suitable definition and you foreclose the conclusion."

Of course I define a cause as the completely determining influence for an event. Otherwise you've just thrown in an ACAUSAL (non-causal) influence in. Something that does not have a cause. If part of the influence comes from something other than the cause...it's NOT the cause.

"I say that sometimes I feel patriotic. Does that mean "Patriotism exists."

No, just as you saying "I feel free will" doesn't mean free will exists. It does, however mean the feeling of patriotism or the feeling of free will exist. The problem is with moving those "feelings" into something other than how they exist "as feelings only".

And yes, if addressing the existence of something (even if it doesn't REALLY exist), we are in the ontological realm of philosophy. Even talking about the non-existence of something is ontology.

"You call my "vitality" "indeterminancy," switching the definition from my context to yours"

I honestly don't know what your "vitality" is or means. In regards to indeterminism, I'm only addressing how such words are used in science and philosophy. Maybe you have a different semantic. Indeed, I think much of your issue is that you are applying your own semantic to the semantic others are addressing, rather than the opposite. Words need to be agreed on, and usually for these discussions it's assumed that people are using the common definitions. When not using the common definitions, it really is the burden of those that are not to fully explain the definition they are using. They also cannot make a claim on the other persons definition based on their own...which you seem to be doing with such words as "free will".

"Logically incoherent because your logic is set up to make it so, not because the universe works that way."

It isn't "my logic"...it is a logical methodlogy that has evolved through the ages based on consistency and reliability of results.

"I have my own logic, I pointed it to you, and you declared it not logical. OK, we have competing logics."

Here is the big factor.  You think "logic" is a personal subjective system (e.g. my logic, your logic). It's like saying "my math says 2+2=5 and yours says 2+2=4", in which case neither is wrong, they are just each persons subjective methodology of math.

"Physicalism based on a materialism fashioned to crush mind/soul is my enemy."

It doesn't crush the mind. It doesn't say "mind does not exist". It doesn't say "consciousness does not exist". It doesn't say "mind/consciousness is not important". There is a whole lot physicalism doesn't say that. "Soul" on the otherhand...eh. ;)

"My mission is to build a logic that will engage the minds and hearts of non-physicalists, fire them up to embrace non-physicalism as an identity, and join battle with physicalists, for the good of future society..."

My mission is to USE logic to explain why such things as free will are not only incoherent, but how the belief in it also lead to extremely dangerous, harmful, egocentric, thoughts that allow for great inequalities, placing blame on those that are not to blame, and placing people on pedestals of fictitiously being "more deserving" than others. We both are doing thinks we think will better society. It's just that one of us is incorrect and the other is correct (and we both disagree on which is which).

Of course our paths were lead by different variables, and we didn't have the free will to decide otherwise than the variables we were given. I'm just hoping your reflection on our discussion will embed itself as a variable in your mind. ;)

We'll keep it the "Battle of the books". And again, please don't take what I've said personally. Passionate discussions like this can sometimes feel that way.

Have a great day! :D

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