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And if so many processes all play a role in one's mental state that would suggest to me that consciousnesses is not a specific process but may very well be an emergent one. The emotional feedback, the senses with the seemingly irrelevant filtered out, etc... Such that focused attention on various nearly simultaneous or fully simultaneous processes creates an illusion of unified consciousness distinct from the filtered background noise.

 

I agree.

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If you are making other people's lives better, is the underlying reason also irrelevant?

To a large extent, yes.

 

If bacteria causes bad behavior, then it is also responsible for good behavior.

Exactly. It's unclear to me why you think I disagree with this.

 

So rights and responsibilities are both illusions?

Maybe. I'm just sharing what the facts are. It changes very little about our existing day-to-day experiences. The only thing that potentially changes (needs to change?) is the internal models we each use in our own heads to understand the universe, but the universe itself (and the way we interact with / experience it) is effectively unchanged by accepting these facts.

 

The way you behaved and thought yesterday will be the same tomorrow even after recognizing these new truths today.

 

We can take the medals from our war heroes and give them instead to their bacteria, and remove the bad bacteria from people instead of jailing them.

There's no need to get emotional or silly.

 

[EDIT] The above comment was specific to the "taking away medals from war heroes" comment. It should be noted, however that looking at gut bacteria as a potential way of better rehabilitating prisoners very much is an active line of research. [/EDIT]

 

Logic dictates that we acknowledge the good and the bad of behavior with equal understanding, just as it dictates that rights and responsibilities are two halves of the same coin

I never argued otherwise. Your criticism seems misplaced.

 

 

And if so many processes all play a role in one's mental state that would suggest to me that consciousnesses is not a specific process but may very well be an emergent one. The emotional feedback, the senses with the seemingly irrelevant filtered out, etc... Such that focused attention on various nearly simultaneous or fully simultaneous processes creates an illusion of unified consciousness distinct from the filtered background noise.

I agree.

Me, too. Consciousness as an emergent phenomenon is a common way of looking at it. Edited by iNow
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Well, there is some moral consideration here. If a man commits a crime, but his actions are decided deterministically, and we decide to punish that man, are we truly acting justly? Or are we simply attempting to remove a threat without regard for justice?

 

If my sense of control over my destiny was actually an illusion of control, and especially if consciousness is emergent, then should we still hold any man, even the criminal, responsible for his actions?

 

After all, he may literally not be able to respond. Imagine I could run a super computer with all of the relevant factors including those currently unknown by science, assuming that the universe is deterministic, and get the results of every action or event that will take place from now until the end of time.

 

I see in the report that Bob is fated to murder 10 people but I can't intervene for the sake of argument. Afterward however I can choose to put him in jail, put him in psychotherapy, or do nothing. If I do nothing he will go free and might surely kill again, so if I value the lives of other humans I cannot in good conscience do nothing. If I send him to jail he will suffer for his crimes and remain in prison until death, never finding peace, redemption, or reform. If I send him to psychotherapy, for the sake of argument it's really amazing psychotherapy, he will be very unlikely to kill again but he will not suffer and will eventually be released having found peace of mind despite having brutally murdered 10 people.

 

Should I reason that this man has done something terrible and thus deserves to suffer, thereby choosing to put him in jail? Or should I reason that he was not the author of his fate, and a slave of destiny cannot be made to suffer for crimes he was forced to commit by fate, thereby placing him in super good, pleasant, enjoyable psychotherapy?

 

It's not a question I feel I could even find an answer to really, assuming I was really deeply disturbed by the deaths of those 10 hypothetical people.

 

Does not being able to not commit a heinous crime without remorse make one deserving of terrible vengeance and suffering? Framed another way, is the ability to choose to not commit a heinous crime a requirement of retribution?

 

We seek vengeance from a place of hurt and anger, but can you really be mad if a man carries out the will of fate? Could you seek vengeance on a computer if it was programmed to kill the people you loved?

 

Yes, obviously, but should you be? I think part of the anger comes from an idea that it could have all been avoided, but if we live in a truly deterministic world then bad fates cannot be avoided, and I would argue for sympathy and understanding for even the most vile of creatures.

 

 

Now I suppose it seems silly to talk about, because it's easy to say that if we live in a truly deterministic world then I don't have a choice either, but while it may be true it doesn't matter when you're coming from a position of ignorance. If my fate is predestined then I will always have chosen to do whatever I did given the same inputs, however if I'm unaware of what that will be then each thing that I think could be a factor which determines what the outcome will have always been destined to one day be.

 

If knowledge is the input, and my response to that knowledge is predetermined, but I can't know how I will ultimately process that knowledge until I am finished doing it, if I carry an attitude that I am not in control of myself nor my actions, while that may be true, the thought itself while not truly under my control may negatively affect the ultimate outcome despite the fact that if that is the way I end up think I won't ever have truly been able to choose not to think that way.

 

Likewise if I think with an attitude that I am responsible for the way that I think, while I may not really be able to hold myself responsible the added weight that lends to my ultimate decision may force me to think more critically leading to an increased likelihood of favourable outcome even though once it has occurred I will know that I was never able to not think that way.

 

So basically I have no true control over what I think and yet paradoxically the way I think matters. Put another way it's OK to realise that there's not really a me and to the extent that there is I'm not truly in control of what I do, but the way that I think and the actions I take still matter, and should still be given due consideration even though if I don't give them consideration I will never have had the option to do so in the first place.

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  • 4 months later...

I don't understand the model you have set up but i think that you cant really create free will because like you said the circumstances or tasks have been created by someone elces free will. i like to believe that we do have free will it makes me feel better, that means I can change, if we didint have free will we would not be able to change our personalities, and maybe we cant change them i cant seem to change mine. I think for now we dont have the science to set up this experiment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If we have no input, we can't make choices, can we? If I could choose between strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, but I don't know that ice cream exists, I can't choose between the three flavors. Obviously then to some extent our choices are defined by our input.

Say there was a floating consciousness with absolutely no knowledge at all but for the ability to make choices and an innate and endless love of frozen desserts. It has no preference for flavors. I present it with STRAWBERRY. With the ability to choose strawberry or nothing, it choses the strawberry, because any quantity of ice cream is better than no ice cream. (You might do something different, but you have extra knowledge of the situation. All the floating brain knows is that a. it likes ice cream and b. it can choose strawberry or nothing.)

But what if there are three flavors to choose from?* The consciousness likes them all equally, but it can only choose one. It realizes that not choosing between the three flavors is the same as choosing nothing. The only problem is that there's no way to actually choose randomly between them. Having no appendages, the mind can't exactly roll a die or choose out of a hat.*

If you or I were in this situation, however, choosing between three flavors that we like equally, most of us would have no problem. We'd just call out whichever one we were in the mood for, or just whatever came to our mind first. This means that there's an element of randomness in our decision.

I propose, therefore, that human decisions are information input + bias + an element of randomness which we are unable to control. Choosing between two shirts, you may think, "I choose the red shirt" and feel happy because you made a decision without your parents' help. But why did you choose the red shirt? If you didn't actually care about the color, how did you choose? That's the flaw/random element.

 

*This example, originally using a donkey and two bundles of straw, is centuries older than me, and thought up by someone much smarter than me.

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Centuries old stories aside for a moment, this was just published yesterday in Neuroscience News, based on a study published in the journal Acta Psychologica:

 

http://neurosciencenews.com/consciousness-complex-ideas-psychology-4071/

This surprising effect offers further evidence that the contents of our consciousness — the state of being awake and aware of our surroundings — are often generated involuntarily

(snip)

“Our study reveals that unintentional, unconscious processes can be more sophisticated than what has been thought before.”

(snip)

the study provides more support for the passive frame theory that he proposed along with his colleagues last year, a potentially groundbreaking idea that suggests consciousness is more of a conduit for information in the brain rather than an active creator of information. The theory has generated a significant amount of attention in academic circles and in the popular media, and Morsella said his team has written a follow-up paper to the study that will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Here's a link to the abstract: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001691816300488

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If we have no input, we can't make choices, can we? If I could choose between strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, but I don't know that ice cream exists, I can't choose between the three flavors. Obviously then to some extent our choices are defined by our input.

Say there was a floating consciousness with absolutely no knowledge at all but for the ability to make choices and an innate and endless love of frozen desserts. It has no preference for flavors. I present it with STRAWBERRY. With the ability to choose strawberry or nothing, it choses the strawberry, because any quantity of ice cream is better than no ice cream. (You might do something different, but you have extra knowledge of the situation. All the floating brain knows is that a. it likes ice cream and b. it can choose strawberry or nothing.)

But what if there are three flavors to choose from?* The consciousness likes them all equally, but it can only choose one. It realizes that not choosing between the three flavors is the same as choosing nothing. The only problem is that there's no way to actually choose randomly between them. Having no appendages, the mind can't exactly roll a die or choose out of a hat.*

If you or I were in this situation, however, choosing between three flavors that we like equally, most of us would have no problem. We'd just call out whichever one we were in the mood for, or just whatever came to our mind first. This means that there's an element of randomness in our decision.

I propose, therefore, that human decisions are information input + bias + an element of randomness which we are unable to control. Choosing between two shirts, you may think, "I choose the red shirt" and feel happy because you made a decision without your parents' help. But why did you choose the red shirt? If you didn't actually care about the color, how did you choose? That's the flaw/random element.

 

*This example, originally using a donkey and two bundles of straw, is centuries older than me, and thought up by someone much smarter than me.

 

 

This is far too simplistic given the amount of sensory input humans have (which is far more than five), what we’re in the mood for, is governed by our most recent sensory input (food, weather, images, suggestions, etc...) and so has less recourse to randomness, than it does to our culture and what we’ve lately experienced, eaten, drunk, smoked etc...

+1 iNow, far more informative than my post.

Edited by dimreepr
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dimreepr: Yes. I was trying to simplify. Let me explain exactly what I mean-- I probably wasn't too clear earlier.

 

1. Information is taken in by an individual. This is input.

2. The individual narrows down choices based on past experiences/culture/genetics, etc. You don't think about this process. If you don't like strawberry, you just don't have strawberry as an option. If you've never eaten ice cream before and it's outside of your comfort zone, you don't get ice cream. This is bias.

3. The processes in the mind are affected by the fact that humans are irrational beings. Some randomness occurs.

 

You might argue that you could still choose to get ice cream even if you've never had it before, of course. Most people do. But in that case, your choice would be determined by the fact that you had never eaten ice cream before.

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dimreepr: Yes. I was trying to simplify. Let me explain exactly what I mean-- I probably wasn't too clear earlier.

 

1. Information is taken in by an individual. This is input.

2. The individual narrows down choices based on past experiences/culture/genetics, etc. You don't think about this process. If you don't like strawberry, you just don't have strawberry as an option. If you've never eaten ice cream before and it's outside of your comfort zone, you don't get ice cream. This is bias.

3. The processes in the mind are affected by the fact that humans are irrational beings. Some randomness occurs.

 

You might argue that you could still choose to get ice cream even if you've never had it before, of course. Most people do. But in that case, your choice would be determined by the fact that you had never eaten ice cream before.

 

 

Well, we’ve all had a past, but I fail to see how a lack, thereof, would determine our future?

Edited by dimreepr
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Well, we’ve all had a past, but I fail to see how a lack, thereof, would determine our future?

 

 

It's not the fact that you've never eaten ice cream before. It's the fact that you know that you've never eaten ice cream before.

Edited by bioazer
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I'm, really, not getting your point (bioazer), maybe try a different approach or a better way to explain your idea, I mean no disrespect, but please try to make more sense..

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  • 2 months later...

I started listening to the above podcast, but it is just too long to listen to now. According to Jerry Coyne:

In the end, there is nothing "free" about compatibilist free will. It's a semantic game, in which choice becomes an illusion - something that isn't what it seems. Whether or not we can "choose" is a matter for science, not philosophy, and science tells us that we're complex marionettes dancing to the string of our genes and environments.

​(This Idea Must Die; Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress - Free Will)

 

His 2012 USA News Column regarding the matter of free will may be old news to some, but still worth a read. It attracted numerous counter-arguments though.

Edited by Memammal
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Whether or not we can "choose" is a matter for science, not philosophy, and science tells us that we're complex marionettes dancing to the string of our genes and environments.

 

That is a purely philosophical argument, not a scientific one. (Apart from anything else, it depends on a specific definition of the term "free will".)

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