40
   

Is free-will an illusion?

 
 
martinies
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 06:21 pm
@cicerone imposter,
For something to be an illusion it has to be independent of the observer or it is a delusion.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 06:31 pm
@martinies,
Illusion is a deception appearance. It can apply to an observer.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 07:09 pm
@MoralPhilosopher23,
MoralPhilosopher23 wrote:
Is free-will an illusion?

Free will is an ill-defined concept. Free from what?
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 07:35 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
That's goes into psycho analysis.


I think we can forgo that. Why layer on hypothetical constructs when more parsimonious explanations exist?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 08:26 pm
@Briancrc,
Thousand dollar words go way over my head.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 08:34 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
Thousand dollar words go way over my head.
Very Happy
Ya gotta make a good impression.
So.
Serve a word salad.
Yum.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 02:22 am
@Thomas,
Best post on this thread for quite some time.
0 Replies
 
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 04:35 am
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
Thousand dollar words go way over my head.


Okay...from the discount rack...why invent internal mechanisms when a person's behavior can be explained by the behavior's interaction with the environment?

If approaching a soda machine, placing coins in the coin slot, and pressing a button produces a soda bottle because that was what has happened before, then why go through the rigmarole of adding cognitive processing, desires, expectations, will power, etc, in explaining the behavior? Our language system is an advantage and a hindrance for explanation. We don't jump through these hoops when explaining non-human animals doing the same things; nor should we.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 05:27 am
@Briancrc,
Yup. Occam's razor is a useful heuristic, and I try to use it when in doubt.

I've been working on the infinite regress aspect of conscious decision-making. I'm still not at a conclusion, but maybe writing it out here will help. Upon introspection, it seems that I don't consciously make a decision to make a decision, then make the decision. My subjective perception is of a thought appearing unbidden in the stream of consciousness, for example, "Out of coffee. Get more."

Then I think about what preceeded that. My glance at my coffee cup wasn't consciously premeditated; it has long ago become a reflex action. The perception of the emptiness of the cup certainly wasn't volitional. Sometimes instead of "Get more," the thought will arise, "Wait a while. You've had too much this morning."

Beneath that, it seems, come various visceral, pre-verbal impulses or feelings, like "want," "strongly want," "weakly want," "don't want," etc. I suspect, but am not sure, that my body has an unconscious awareness of my caffeine level at any given moment, and the conscious thoughts are the product of that momentary dipstick measurement. I can see conditioning and biochemistry covering all of those phenomena and even more complex ones.

I don't see the need, so far, for any sort of disembodied executive decider that works independently of physiology. This explanation would work to get rid of the infinite regress that such a disembodied executive leads to, so at the moment, at least, it seems to be the better explanation.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 05:35 am
@Briancrc,
Quote:
If approaching a soda machine, placing coins in the coin slot, and pressing a button produces a soda bottle because that was what has happened before, then why go through the rigmarole of adding cognitive processing, desires, expectations, will power, etc, in explaining the behavior? Our language system is an advantage and a hindrance for explanation. We don't jump through these hoops when explaining non-human animals doing the same things; nor should we.

Not addressing the obvious cognitive processes involved -- just try and get a non-sentient object to get a coke from a soda machine if you're not really convinced -- is ignoring reality. Whenever you get a coke at the soda dispenser, you DO go through some cognitive process, don't you?

Accounting for our thoughts is beyond science at the moment, but it doesn't mean we should stop thinking...
martinies
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 06:56 am
@Olivier5,
No ya should stop thinking. Most people are ok provided they dont think.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 09:47 am
@martinies,
That's just a cynical broadside on mankind. It doesn't get us anywhere closer to the answer.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 02:44 pm
@Olivier5,
I should have added that the makers and sellers of soda machines and sodas DO go through quite a lot of "rigmarole" of studying cognitive processing, desires, expectations, will power, etc, of those people using their soda machines, and the reason they do so is that there's money to be made. All these coins in the coin slot go somewhere... Somebody collects them, and wants to know how to keep it coming.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 04:09 pm
@Olivier5,
Have you seen the latest? One machine dispenses many different flavors and water by pushing two buttons.
Olivier5
 
  0  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 02:22 am
@cicerone imposter,
No, i haven't seen that one yet.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 12:16 pm
New evidence of tool use discovered in parrots
phys.org

Psychologists at the University of York and University of St Andrews have uncovered the first evidence of tool use by greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa).

Studying ten captive parrots, researchers in the Department of Psychology at York observed the birds adopt a novel tool-using technique to acquire calcium from seashells and also the active sharing of tools among themselves.

The birds used small pebbles or date pits to grind calcium powder from the shells or to break off small pieces of shell to ingest. This behaviour, never before seen in this species, is the first evidence of a nonhuman using tools for grinding, and one of the few reports of nonhuman animals sharing tools directly.

Observing and filming the parrots over an eight month period (March to October), researchers documented their interactions with cockle shells on the floor of their aviary. Shells are a known source of calcium for birds.

Five out of ten birds were documented using tools, placing either pebbles or date pits inside shells to grind against the shell, or using them as a wedge to break apart the seashell.

Interest in the shells was greatest from March to mid-April, just before the breeding season - this may be due to calcium supplementation being critical for egg-laying. Researchers were therefore initially surprised to find that it was the males, not the females who showed the greatest interest in shells.

However, observation of the parrots' breeding behaviour showed that males often engaged in regurgitative feeding of females before copulating with them, thus potentially passing on the calcium benefits.

More: http://m.phys.org/news/2015-12-evidence-tool-parrots.html#
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 12:24 pm
@Olivier5,
I've just read about that, cool.
Olivier5
 
  0  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 02:15 pm
@ossobuco,
We're not alone... Very Happy
0 Replies
 
Briancrc
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 03:59 am
@FBM,
Quote:
I've been working on the infinite regress aspect of conscious decision-making. I'm still not at a conclusion, but maybe writing it out here will help


I could see why one might want to explore this model. As has been discussed elsewhere the duality of mind and Brain parallels the duality in some religious views.
I've also liked the parallels between the evolution of behavior and the evolution of a species.
When looking at various psychological experiments, there have been some conducted with findings people are fascinated with, generally accept, but then, I would think, must believe do not apply to them. How could there be specific and generalized effects of different manipulations, but the subjects, at the same moment, were free to do otherwise? I think those that are opposed to the notions that what people do is deterministic seek solace in the variability of behavioral data. Perhaps, since behavior operates differently than the proverbial billiard ball, with less than perfect contingencies between behavior and environment, then whatever control that does exist from moment-to-moment can simply be dismissed.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 08:47 am
@Briancrc,
Briancrc wrote:

I could see why one might want to explore this model. As has been discussed elsewhere the duality of mind and Brain parallels the duality in some religious views.


Maybe the persistence of mind/brain dualism in secular society is a vestige of language that developed around the body-spirit duality. I've done some light reading lately about how one's mother tongue influences one's subjective processing of experience.

Quote:
I've also liked the parallels between the evolution of behavior and the evolution of a species.
When looking at various psychological experiments, there have been some conducted with findings people are fascinated with, generally accept, but then, I would think, must believe do not apply to them. How could there be specific and generalized effects of different manipulations, but the subjects, at the same moment, were free to do otherwise? I think those that are opposed to the notions that what people do is deterministic seek solace in the variability of behavioral data. Perhaps, since behavior operates differently than the proverbial billiard ball, with less than perfect contingencies between behavior and environment, then whatever control that does exist from moment-to-moment can simply be dismissed.


I think there's something like a reflex aversion to applying reductionism to personal identity. Maybe it threatens the "unique snowflake" that we want to be. Reductionism is fine when it's applied to just about anything else except "me." NIMBY. I not infrequently encounter the argument that quantum fluctuations are random, undetermined events, and that consciousness may be a product (or attribute?) of that. But why reduction to collapses of wave functions is aesthetically preferable to a complex, shifiting interplay between excitatory and inhibitory responses to inputs in bundles of nerves is beyond me. I don't share that aesthetic bias. Whatever the evidence points to, it points to. Doesn't matter whether I like it or not.
 

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