At TSZ, Dr. Liddle made the argument that a “ghost in the machine” is not a necessary component when it comes to experiencing qualia and providing us with what I call “conscious free will”. In another thread, she took issue with Barry Arrington’s premise that the brain, under materialism, is taken as, in essence, a biological computer. My response (below) is, even if biological physics can produce experiential qualia, learn, and contain self-referential subject/context loops as she describes, so what? That doesn’t make any significant difference to Mr. Arrington’s premise that, under materialism, the brain is like an organic computer, nor does it provide any metaphysical relief from the materialist conclusion that one’s will (choices, decisions) are being determined (not free or autonomous) by the process of biological physics, rendering people nothing more, in my words, than biological automatons incapable of making moral choices (except in name only). While Mr. Arrington holds that computers cannot experience qualia (and I agree), even if they do, those experiences, and that qualia, are still, under materialism, computations of biological physics and as such cannot resolve the philosophical dilemma of moral agency and responsibility.
For brevity’s sake, “CFW” = Conscious Free Will
Is the CFW referred to by materialists the same as the CFW referred to by theists? Using the same terminology is not the same as using the same concept. EL argues in the above and other threads that biological entities that have self-referential subject/context learning loops that provide qualia experiences is all that is necessary to bridge the gap and give us CFW – but is it a CFW that provides any real distinction from being, as she says, a biological automaton (computer)? Does adding self-referential learning loops with qualia experience fundamentally change a computer into something else?
Under materialism, all experience, even that of CFW, is presumed to be manufactured by biological physics (material cause & effect). There is no abstract thought, idea, will, consideration or sense of self and other that is not manufactured, in some way, by biological physics. Whether or not CFW is a strong or weak emergent property, under materialism CFW is not “autonomous” in that it can do or experience anything other than what biological physics (or just physics) dictates.
Under materialism, CFW is not “autonomous” wrt “biological physics”. Given the same input and conditions of biological physics, the organism will experience, think, and decide the same thing every single time (ruling out any random influences).
It doesn’t matter if there is a self-referential feedback loop or not; it doesn’t matter if an organism “learns’ or not; it doesn’t matter if experiences (biological states) of CFW are an essential and necessary part of the computational (in terms of what the biological physics produces via cause and effect) system, rendering the organism dysfunctional if the “CFW experience” module is shut down (unconscious). It doesn’t matter if the organism experiences subjective qualia.
Biological physics cannot produce CFW as conceptualized by idealists, which is autonomous wrt biological physics. What Liz and others argue at TSZ is entirely a straw man constructed by using the same term for something entirely different at the conceptual level. It doesn’t matter if you can materially build a biological entity that is indistinguishable, materially, from someone with idealist CFW; that learns, experiences qualia and has the experience of CFW; that doesn’t change the fact that, under materialism, the experience of CFW is a material computation, and any decision reachesd after incorprating those qualia experiences are still materially computed via cause and effect.
The concepts of responsibility, morality, choice, etc. under materialism are entirely different than what those same terms mean under theism. Under materialism, everything an individual is, does, thinks, decides and believes is a computation of biological physics. Nothing more. Nothing less. Even if it generates the experience of CFW, and the experience itself becomes a necessary part of the functionality of the organism, it is still a computation that is part of a computation. Nothing more or less. There is no freedom whatsoever to deviate from the material computation because there is nothing available to use to accomplish such a deviation.
Materialists would have us believe that if biological physics computes and produces subjective experiences, then processes those experiences with other sensory input and computes decisions, that the entity can be a moral agency. Without autonomous (wrt biological physics), operational command of the decision-making process, all materialists here are doing is obfuscating the point that under materialism, people cannot be anything other than biological automatons, regardless of how complex the programming is, and regardless of if it involves self-referential feedback loops, and regardless of if biological physics produces the experience of concscious free will, and regardless of if the organism experiences qualia.