Intelligent Design

Ghost in the Machine, Response

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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.

 

76 Replies to “Ghost in the Machine, Response

  1. 1
    gpuccio says:

    William J Murray:

    Absolutely true.

    Wow, how many threads on the problems of consciousness and strong AI theory! I can only be happy of that.

    I have just posted on niwrad’s thread, and I believe I should repeat here the same things, but I will not (I have always been lazy 🙂 ).

    I would say that all our friends at TSZ, for what I can understand, do not believe in libertarian free will. They are, at best, “compatibilists”. I believe that Elizabeth stated that explicitly, at some point, for herself. Others there have defended compatibilism in discussions with me and others. So, whatever they say, they don’t believe in free will, because libertarian free will is the only concept of free will that makes any sense.

    I will not repeat here what I think of compatibilism. I have done it many times, and I must confess that the issue does not certainly evoke my best human qualities… 🙂

    I will only state, maybe in jest (but not too much), that compatibilism is, at its best, determinism in a cheap tuxedo. Very cheap, indeed.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM:

    Great to hear from you again.

    I commend to all, as a framework for discussion, the Smith Model that allows us to address in-the loop and beyond the loop control. Without necessarily committing to that his is THE architecture, it is an archi that allows us to see differences and distinctions.

    The two-tier controller possibility allows us to see what happens if there is or isn’t such a higher order controller. And it brings out exactly the issues you highlight.

    KF

    PS: GP so good to see you here too.

  3. 3
    gpuccio says:

    KF:

    Hi! Important issues, important discussions…

    I love to be here!

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    Oh boy, Liddle talking about philosophy of mind related issues. Sit back and enjoy the obfuscation, equivocation, goalpost moving, redefining terms to suit her needs and backtracking, all topped off with so many cutesy smiley faces it’ll seem as if a five year old’s sticker book vomited in her thread.

    I’ll just comment on one thing, because really – I have Liddle patience (ha ha) for Elizabeth.

    For a start, the computer on which I am writing this post receives all its input from human sources. My brain, in contrast, receives its inputs from all manner of external sources, and, what is more, depending on those inputs, “computes” a motor response which it sends to my body (my eyes, my neck, my torso, my legs) that changes the input.

    A question to consider: by what standard does the materialist determine what is or is not “THE source” of a given action?

    In both the case of the computer and the cast of the human, under the materialist view, we have ongoing chains of causation stretching back to the Big Bang, or at the very least to some quantum moment. So, the sun hits the human’s eyes, the human is disturbed by this, the human writes on the computer “sure is bright today”.

    Why is the human regarded as the source of input, and not the sun? Remove the sun from the chain of causation and apparently you remove the input into the computer. Now, I can understand how a non-materialist may make sense of such a view – with the libertarian, it seems, the choices ultimately trace back to the human. The Aristotilean is going to treat humans non-reductively, or regard things (particular in the brain) as having intrinsic meaning, or being directed towards such and such.

    But for the materialist, what makes one cause ‘THE cause’ and not another? At best, it’s subjective and interest-relative. But in that case it makes just as much sense to draw the causal chain back to the sun.

    What’s more, computers certainly do receive ‘input’ from other than human sources. They break down. They get buggy. They have errors. They get damaged hardware. Why are all these things and more not counted as ‘input’? Again, it’s interest relative. Spill some soda on your keyboard, stick a poorly wired device into your USB, and your computer gets some input alright. Maybe not the input you like, but input all the same.

    Ah, need. That’s another thing – organisms have needs (at its most simplest, to survive, but with all kinds of sub-needs, and epiphenomenal needs supporting that basic need – we should probably leave the origin of those needs to one side for now…) Organisms have needs, therefore they potentially have goals – outcomes that they seek, which we can also express as “desire, and take action to fulfill”. And those goals themselves are part of what the brain sets, and changes, in the light of new information.

    “Needs”? Since when? In what relevant way?

    Is Liddle saying that there are intrinsic needs and purposes that exist in nature? If so, adios materialism – she’s off in the land of Aristotle and other such views now.

    But maybe she means something else – maybe that these needs and purposes derived and/or interest relative. But if that’s the case, once again, we can talk about the needs of a computer as well if we want. A computer ‘needs’ electricity, it ‘needs’ to clear its RAM, because it’s ‘trying’ to run a program (it has a goal!) and is having trouble doing so. The same would apply to human minds as well – whatever goals humans have must be of a derived sort. Of course, the act of deriving that goal must itself be derived, and so on and so on and…

    Gosh, what a mess. One can understand why she wants to merely have it assumed that ‘goals’ and ‘needs’ exist in materialism, rather than have anyone inquire about what their origin is. They emerge from loops – magic! Or somesuch.

    That’s all for now. I’d beseech her, from the bowels of Christ, to think it possible she’s mistaken – but that little melodramatic Skepzone tagline is very much directed at everyone else, not the site regulars.

  5. 5
    OldArmy94 says:

    It seems to me that the problem faced by the materialist regarding CFW is analogous to the problem regarding the origin of life. In other words, they are attempting to solve the problem by creating another layer between the observed reality and theory. Whether it be aliens seeding life on earth or feedback loops, the materialist cannot adequately confront the realities facing him or her.

  6. 6
    StephenB says:

    GPuccio: “I will only state, maybe in jest (but not too much), that compatibilism is, at its best, determinism in a cheap tuxedo. Very cheap, indeed.”

    Now that, my friends, is the perfect way to illuminate the truth with a creative metaphor that has been used to militate against the truth. As we used to say when grading pithy jokes and ironies, that one is a “10.”

  7. 7
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Good OP.

    What I have often wondered is that if materialism is true, and all of our ideas are algorithmically based, how could we come up with the very idea of “libertarian free will” in the first place? Such an idea would be utterly meaningless to “mere algorithms”, no matter how complex.

    As C.S. Lewis said, “dark” only has meaning because light exists. In a universe without light, “dark” would be meaningless. Likewise, the idea of “no libertarian free will” only has meaning to us because libertarian free will exists. In a universe without libertarian free will, the idea of “no libertarian free will” would be meaningless.

  8. 8
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Nullasalus: That’s all for now. I’d beseech her, from the bowels of Christ, to think it possible she’s mistaken.

    You rascal, you. Hehe.

  9. 9
    Bruce David says:

    William,

    Your post is right on, but I think the issue of qualia is every bit as central to the discussion as CFW. I lost interest in communicating with EL because she would spout nonsense like qualia can arise from self referential feedback loops in the brain. That is no more an explanation than the notion of epiphenomena. The fact is, materialists have no clue, not the foggiest idea, of how qualia could arise from a material brain.

    Qualia are the fundamental fact of human existence, from which all else arises–all our notions of the existence of a physical universe, and indeed even the existence of other people. And the materialist hasn’t the slightest inkling of an explanation for this fundamental fact.

  10. 10

    While I agree about the comments on qualia not being explained by materialism-based perspectives, the point I wanted to make was the even so, an experiencing, feedback-loop learning, self-referential computer is still just that – a computer.

    Interetingly, Dr. Liddle has agreed that, under materialism, one’s will is a computation of the physics/biology involved.

    Me:

    All of this word-wrangling is, IMO, nothing more than you (and others) trying to avoid that simple statement – that yes, under materialism, our thoughts, ideas, experience of qualia and choices, are computed by biological physics and nothing more,and that given an identical run-up set of physical states and sequences “X”, Y will be the decision-outcome every single time – whether an identical run-up, in reality, would or could ever happen.

    Dr. Liddle

    I didn’t avoid it. I agreed. What I dispute is that that has any bearing on whether or not we can be sensibly said to be autonomous.

  11. 11
    RDFish says:

    Qualia are the fundamental fact of human existence, from which all else arises–all our notions of the existence of a physical universe, and indeed even the existence of other people. And the materialist hasn’t the slightest inkling of an explanation for this fundamental fact.

    I quite agree, but must point out that the dualist has no explanation either.

    The materialist says qualia somehow emerge from physical processes, but we can’t even imagine how physical processes are connected to conscious experience, much less come up with a testable hypothesis. Materialist explanations of phenomenology are non-starters.

    The dualist says qualia don’t emerge from anything – they just somehow exist. Nothing dualism says about mentality (as substance, property, form, or whatever) is anything like an explanation of qualia – it is merely an assertion of the existence of something that accounts for them.

    In truth, nobody can imagine what sort of explanation there could be for qualia. To acknowledge this, we cannot simply declare the problem solved by calling them “irreducible”; rather, we must acknowledge that they are inexplicable.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  12. 12
    Bruce David says:

    RDFish, re. #11,

    I quite agree, but must point out that the dualist has no explanation either.

    Qualia are phenomena of mind; they are an essential element of it. To a philosophy that includes mind, they don’t need an explanation, any more than objects in motion need to be explained in a materialist metaphysics. What the dualist has to explain is any causal relationship between matter and mind. How does neurological activity in the brain affect what our minds perceive, and how do our intentions, which are mental phenomena, cause activity in the brain that results in bodily action?

    I have never seen or heard a compelling explanation for this, which is why I am not a dualist. I agree with Bishop Berkeley and a number of other philosophers—perceptions of objects are the objects. There is no material world “out there” existing independently of our perceptions of it.

  13. 13
    RDFish says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Qualia are phenomena of mind; they are an essential element of it. To a philosophy that includes mind, they don’t need an explanation, any more than objects in motion need to be explained in a materialist metaphysics.

    But objects in motion required a great deal of explanation in materialist metaphysics! We have delved into the nature of matter and energy in search of ever-deeper explanations of the objects in motion that we observe. If materialists had simply declared that “matter is a phenomenon of materialism; it is the essential element of it, and requires no explanation” then your comparison would be more accurate.

    What the dualist has to explain is any causal relationship between matter and mind.

    For all interactionist varieties of dualism, yes indeed. And just as the materialist can’t imagine how matter gives rise to mind, the dualist can’t imagine how mind arranges matter.

    I have never seen or heard a compelling explanation for this, which is why I am not a dualist.

    There are non-interactionist forms of dualism, but none explain qualia.

    I agree with Bishop Berkeley and a number of other philosophers—perceptions of objects are the objects. There is no material world “out there” existing independently of our perceptions of it.

    Perhaps, or perhaps the world is neither matter nor mind but something incomprehensible to us.

    In any event, I’d like to see more awareness that materialism isn’t the only metaphysics that fails to explain our conscious experience – they all do.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    SB & GP:

    Great stuff.

    The Determinism (up to including relevant statistical distributions) in a cheap tuxedo, is quite apt.

    As to the notion that qualia emerge from looping, I guess software and cybernetic, that is an obvious categorical error.

    Indeed, it is the same poof-magic emergentism game again.

    What loops in cybernetic systems is fed back signals. Which have no intrinsic meaning, a gauge pressure of so many psi, or a voltage of so many mV or a pulse repetition frequency of so many Hz, or a sequence of Hi/Lo voltages in a discrete state signal [or whatever is used] are all dependent on imposition of implicit rules of meaning and as appropriate codes. In addition, feedback imposes huge complexity and tuning requisites. Indeed, even something so “simple” as how people with diseases get shakes, shows part of that: instability due to ill adjusted feedback loops, having deteriorated — the poles are drifting out of the stability zone and an oscillator is developing.

    In software loops, a similar problem obtains. The required instruction, to conditionally branch and test some looping condition, or even to loop forever, imposes huge co-ordination constraints on organisation of components. These normally require tuning, based on a purpose, and often co-ordination with other subroutines/methods or whatever one wishes to call them.

    FSCO/I lurks there, in quantity.

    And just to give an idea, if the amount of coordinated organised yes/no answers to set up the requisites is at the 1,000 chained y/n answers threshold — i.e. the nodes-arcs structures have at least 1,000 bits of FSCO/I, this becomes essentially unobservable by blind chance and mechanical necessity. Unless, you want to argue that the observed cosmos is programmed with the programs written into basic laws that have remained elusive, which immediately implies design of the cosmos.

    My latest back of envelope calc indicates that the 1.07 *10^301 possibilities implies that, at the 10^-14 s atomic reaction rate step size for events across 13.7 BY with 10^80 atoms, the needle in haystack search challenge we now face is to pick a single straw sized sample from a cubical haystack, 1.43 *10^45 light years across. (That is with the entire atomic resource of the observed universe dedicated to the blind search task for 13.7 BY, at the fastest atomic interactions rate.)

    To put that into perspective, if you were to convert all the some 10^80 atoms of our observed cosmos into sub cosmi of the same scope as ours, and dot them in the haystack as raisins in a pudding, these would be utterly lost, about 1 in 10^20 of the stack as a rough order of magnitude. (You would be complaining, where are the raisins in the pudding, at that rate.)

    Sampling theory tells us quite firmly, that the only reasonable expectation form such a search is: straw, the overwhelming bulk of the distribution.

    But also, we have not even got a ghost of a trend to assign meaning, or to fine-tune the requisite components so they and the relevant protocols, codes etc match.

    Let’s just say, that Mr Gates and successors over in Redmond, do not hire armies of monkeys to bang away at keyboards at random to write their software. For a reason.

    That’s JUST TO GET FUNCTION.

    For consciousness, purpose, sense of awareness and responsibility before truth, right, fairness etc, and the qualia of experience, that is yet another issue of poof magic. There is not even the ghost of a trend that points that way. Blindly mechanical computation is just that, blind and utterly lacking in understanding.

    Playing word magic games will not make that go away. For just one instance, notoriously, computers do not spontaneously exhibit common sense. So, they will happily mechanically grind away at nonsense until something crashes.

    Now, above, someone tried to say that non materialists are int eh same boat.

    Not at all.

    As has been pointed out repeatedly in recent days but ignored as usual, the empirical observation is that we have chance effects, mechanical ones, and effects of intentional choice driven contrivance — design by ART-ificial cause. It can be shown, as the latest needle in haystack calc shows, that it is maximally implausible that blind chance and mechanical necessity tosses up such without ART-ificial direction. Indeed, if one wants to argue that the cosmos will toss off such in any reasonable environment that happens, that points to design and fine tuning of the cosmos on steroids from its framing laws on up.

    Search for search will get ya every-time.

    That is, functionally specific complex information and organisation implying such have to be explained on an adequate FIRST cause, they cannot plausibly emerge from blind chance and necessity. No matter how long the chain of transmission — and to preserve info and organisation against noise itself already implies a higher level of info, for error detection and correction — we terminate in an adequate cause.

    The only empirically observed adequate cause is agency, per our observations of both men and beavers, etc.

    Agency acting by ART to effect choice contingency and resulting contrivance, is an empirical FACT. A brute phenomenon of the cosmos. Indeed, as I have said reepeatedly, it is our first fact, the underlying context of experience of the self and observation of the other, that allows us to access, reflect on and act into our world.

    It is only by a priori imposition of materialist ideological blinkers that such a massive, patent and self-evident FACT: conscious, responsible, intelligent, designing agency, can be made to vanish from our considerations.

    The other side of the poof magic, I suppose.

    Such a fact, demands acceptance, and invites explanation.

    As I have repeatedly highlighted, and as has been just as routinely willfully glided by bu objectors, the Smith Model offers us a useful cybernetic systems architecture that can be used to profitably focus the discussion. A cybernetic loop, with an embedded lower order controller and a higher order supervisory one coupled to but not itself in the loop. A loop that feeds back internal state (proprioception hence muscle memory as an illustrative example, how we fell in the groove and that this is flowing just right) as well as senor turret orientation and reports form the sensor suite interacting with the external world, with actuators and effectors also engaging that world. Where internal state can be stored in a homunculus and used to compare actual and desired path, leading to efference copy control of deviation from intended path i.e. contingent control action.

    The decoupling of the supervisor, SC, and the use of a lower order in- the- loop i/o controller, LC, preserves freedom to act and set purposes and paths, while allowing the LC to be a part of the processing suite.

    Now, obviously such is amenable to software modelling, and to crude implementation. Indeed, we are looking here at adaptive and learning controller architectures, which show limited autonomy and flexibility, based on a higher level of programing in the SC module. Where of course such, notoriously are designed, assembled and tuned to work.

    Putting us easily past the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold of FSCO/I that is only reasonably explicable on design.

    Could such a SC be a disembodied mind (similar to Cartesian dualism or raising the suggestion of Liebniz’s monad), or a form immanent in the lower order cybernetic system (I have here in mind hylemorphic dualism)?

    Yes.

    At quantum level, we see that we have openings for influences to pass into and from the physically observed world, below our threshold of perception. And in fact there has been a proposal on influences on microtubules, etc. Coupling would be informational/influential, not deterministic-material, mechanical or random chance.

    At any rate, there is a perceived need for such an opening [once we are not blind to the massive power of the first fact of our experience], and there is a candidate here that is not immediately outright nonsensical.

    That is, we need to recognise conscious mind/self as a fact of experience, and then we need to accept that the physical world needs to be understood as open to such.

    Our very selves are data on this.

    But the Plato’s cave bewitching intoxicants that make self-refuting materialism seem the only “acceptable” and “scientific” view, are very strong in today’s world.

    Let me therefore draw attention yet again to Haldane’s unanswered challenge from 80+ years ago:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. ]

    Is it too much to expect that the very first fact of experience should be a part of science, if science is about the unfettered pursuit of a true understanding of our world in light of empirical evidence and reasoned analysis of same leading to ever better explanations [aka theories, models etc]?

    And, can we not see that one of the achievements of ID is to highlight the empirical gap between what it is plausible for blind chance and necessity to achieve and the signs that are only empirically grounded in choice contingency, aka design?

    Looks to me like the mind-body issue is another front opening up in the design theory cultural wars.

    My strategic nose tells me that, together with OOL and OO cosmos, this one is a third decisive front. The three together exert terrific indirect strategic leverage on the area imagined to be the stronghold of evolutionary materialism, body plan level macro-evolution.

    This is a cumulative force of cogency case. A rope with mutually reinforcing strands yielding a result where the whole is much more than the mere sum of the parts, not a chain. Where, chains are no stronger than their weakest link.

    With ropes, short, thin, individually weak fibres are twirled together so they grip on one another and gain length and strength. Such are counter twirled together and so on to get a long, strong rope that has stability and coherence due to mutual reinforcement.

    I strongly suspect that part of he logical problem of many objectors to design theory, is they fail to see the systemic cumulative effect of our case.

    KF

  15. 15
    Alan Fox says:

    William,

    You use the word “qualia” ten times in your OP. You haven’t defined the term and looking at Wikipedia and Stanford, there seems little agreement among philosophers and much doubt expressed as to the usefulness of the term. Indeed, one can wonder whether the set of qualia contains real phenomena or is empty. Seems to me that qualia, like much else in philosophy, are a human construct without much practical use.

    PS @ gpuccio

    You say:

    I would say that all our friends at TSZ, for what I can understand, do not believe in libertarian free will.

    I rather think that many would first ask “what do you mean by ‘Libertarian’ free will?” The eternal problem for philosophy is, until it adopts goals such as clarity and precision, it will be continued to be ignored by those curious about the world around us and our existence.

    …philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.

    Stephen Hawking.

  16. 16
    RDFish says:

    Hi Alan,

    Philosophy of mind is ever mired in word sense ambiguity, yes.

    But I wouldn’t be too worried about “qualia” in particular; the essence of what we’re talking about – in this context anyway – it nothing other than phenomenal experience, and if we can’t inter-subjectively confirm that then it really doesn’t pay to talk about mind at all.

    As for libertarian will, however, I think you’re right on the mark. How are we to understand an act that is neither random nor determined? Libertarian acts are by definition not fully caused by antecedent effects; they are at least partially determined by a cause that is not itself an effect. But on this account, our acts are still determined – partially by antecedent effects, and partially by this supposedly uncaused cause (our libertarian will).

    If the will is uncaused, what accounts for our will causing one act rather than another? Does nothing at all determine which way the will will decide? If nothing at all determines which act the will causes, then the choice is random. Otherwise, it is determined.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: AF reappears, showing that he has been around.

    As to what it is like to be appeared to redly or the like, it should be clear enough form our experience, that there is a considerable consensus that certain things do have that appearance, and there are tests for colour blindness that show that his perceptual phenomenon is indeed linked to objective facts. That is the instinct to be hyperskeptical and dismiss, is hown up for what it is, self-referentially absurd.

    Next, the problem of cause and effect and the main sources thereof, is again not something that is unfamiliar or not subject to empirical validation. Just that the implications do not go where those intoxicated with the common cave shadow shows are wont to go.

    We routinely observe mechanical necessity, and reduce it to physical laws: F = m*a is classic. Likewise, we routinely see phenomena exhibiting statistically distributed contingency that is reasonably traceable to chance variation, by various mechanisms. For all intents and purposes, a fair die will follow a more or less flat distribution with each of the six sides showing a propensity to be as likely to come up as any other. This is driven by the implications of twelve edges and eight corners, so that when a die falls under F = m*g, it tends to fall in such a way that there is sensitive dependency on the conditions at work leading to effective randomness.

    This is quite familiar.

    Now, we have already got on the table a sharp contrast, easily empirically detectable, between low and high contingency of outcomes under circumstances, tha tis readily empirically detectable.

    But, in our experience there is a third phenomenon, high contingency of outcomes by choice, i.e. design, which fits with neither blind chance nor mechanical necessity, nor any plausible combination thereof. As has been mentioned above already this morning, if a contingency would pass the threshold of 1,000 yes/no nodes, and is thus 1,000 bits deep, we have a situation where the config space is such that if every atom of our observed cosmos were expanded to form another of like scope, then such were immersed in the cubical haystack for these contingencies, we would be hard pressed indeed to find such among the straw by blind searches.

    But, as the text of posts in this thread show, intelligent designers exist and routinely produce things such as posts, that easily surpass that threshold of FSCO/I. For instance, AF’s post above is 948 ASCII characters in English, at 7 bits per character. Well beyond the 1,000 bit threshold.

    We all know that the only empirically warranted, reliably confirmed source for that is intelligent design.

    And, we see here the design filter at work, showing its utility.

    Going beyond, excerpting, we readily see that the following happens when one supposes that such design capacity is wholly produced and determined by blind chance and mechanical necessity, however focussed through warm little ponds, resulting genetics and ultimately socio- cultural conditioning:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [[Emphases added. Also cf. Reppert’s summary of Barefoot’s argument here.]

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    In short the denial of the existence of intelligent agency and the attempt to reduce to blind chance and mechanical necessity reduce fairly directly to self-referential absurdity. Such a denial is maintained ideologically, rahter than on any intrinsic merits.

    So, it is plausible that we do have and exert genuine choice. Where the SC- LC split as discussed above on the Smith Model can provide an analytical framework for discussion. There is no need to pretend that here are mysteries and dubious conundrums involved in the very first fact of our experience, which turns out to be necessary for us to experience other facts, and be credible as thinkers. That is, if our thinking is wholly reducible to mechanisms driven and controlled by blind chance and mechanical necessity, the obvious capacities would be inexplicable, and the resulting “intelligence” would be highly suspect.

    So, it seems to me that what has happened is that due tot he rise of a hyperskeptical spirit and an evolutionary materialistic ideology, we have ended up in the absurdity of sawing off the branch on which we are and must be sitting.

    Craack!

    And that objectors to design theory are reduced to such, shows just how far they must go to object.

    The common sense view is that we exhibit significantly free (though limited) responsible, intelligent choice and act into the world as self-moved initiating causes. No other view is in the end compatible with the facts of consciousness and the capabilities of humans as designers.

    KF

    PS: I should note that Hawking’s dismissal of phil is irrelevant, and reflects his own want of adequate knowledge base to address such topics. Unfortunately, too many physicists are like that. A better view of the subject would understand that we all have worldviews, which have structures, involving warrant, credibility, rationality, judgement, morality, aesthetics and the like. So, it is appropriate to critically assess same, and philosophy is that discipline that addresses such. Whether or no at any given era the practice is good or bad does not undermine the foundational importance of same. When a movement is reduced to trying to brush aside phil, that is a strong sign that the movement is in trouble at worldviews foundation/core/ whatever metaphor floats your boat level.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: RDF needs to remember he has been corrected that our agency is secondary, as we are creatures that have a beginning and are contingent. The cause of our decisions is our self, which is best seen as located in the Smith architecture (which RDF apparently refuses to engage) as SC interacting with LC. In addition, it can be shown on logic and a wide body of observations that our observed cosmos is contingent, pointing to a necessary being as root cause. On the fine tuning that fits our cosmos for life, such would seem to be highly intelligent and knowledgeable, skilled and powerful enough to create a cosmos.

  19. 19

    I should note that Hawking’s dismissal of phil is irrelevant, and reflects his own want of adequate knowledge base to address such topics.

    They dismiss philosophy only to sneak theirs in without challenge.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Cf VJT on freedom and the will here at UD.

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    Hi Alan Fox:

    Seems to me that evolutionism , like much else in philosophy, are a human construct without much practical use.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    And seems to me that materialism, like much else in philosophy, are a human construct without much practical use.

  23. 23
    gpuccio says:

    Hi, SB and KF:

    The old trio is still here, after all 🙂

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The following clip on Richard Taylor’s data-based assessment, may be useful also, from here:

    _______

    >> TAYLOR’S DATA TO WHICH ANY THEORY MUST CONFORM

    Richard Taylor is a modern American philosopher who has taught at the University of Rochester and at Hartwick College. Taylor proposes the following method for finding out whether or not determinism is true: We try to see whether it is consistent with certain data, “that is, by seeing whether or not it squares with certain things that everyone knows, or believes himself to know, or with things everyone is at least more sure about than the answer to the question at issue.” (Metaphysics, 4th ed., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992, p. 38)

    The following is from http://www.citruscollege.com/a.....Taylor.asp\ 2001. [LINK SEEMS BROKEN]

    Taylor’s data

    (1) I sometimes deliberate, with the view to making a decision; a decision, namely, to do this thing or that.

    (2) Whether or not I deliberate about what to do, it is sometimes up to me what I do.

    By “deliberation” Taylor means the experience of weighing something in one’s mind, of trying out various options in one’s mind. There are certain presuppositions of deliberation, namely,

    (1) I can deliberate only about my own behavior and never about the behavior of another.

    (2) I can deliberate only about future things, never about things past or present.

    (3) I can’t deliberate about what I’m going to do if I already know what I’m going to do.

    (4) I can’t deliberate about what to do, even though I may not know what I’m going to do, unless I believe that it is up to me what I’m going to do. (pp. 39-40)

    These data are not consistent with the thesis of determinism. If determinism is true, then it is an illusion that I ever genuinely deliberate about anything or that anything is ever really up to me. If these data are true, then determinism is false. Taylor argues that it doesn’t make any difference whether we are talking about a forthright, “hard” determinism, like that of Holbach, or a compatibilist, “soft” determinism, like that of Hume. According to “soft” determinism, an action is free just so long as it is caused by an internal state of the agent himself or herself. Against this, he proposes the counterexample of an ingenious physiologist who can induce in a subject any volition he pleases, so that, simply by pushing a button, he can cause the subject to have an internal state which the subject will experience as the desire to do a certain thing. If the subject then does that thing, unimpeded by any external obstacle, that action meets the criterion of being a “free” action, in accordance with the thesis of soft determinism. That is, the action is due to an internal state of the agent and is not opposed by any external factor. However, we see at once that this action is not free, because it was due to the subject’s being in a certain internal state over which he or she had no control. Then Taylor points out that the supposition of the work of the ingenious physiologist isn’t necessary to reach the same conclusion. As long as there is any cause of the internal state that was not under the control of the person whose internal state it is, the resulting action is not free. [–> This seems to capture an essential point]

    There is a real choice that is not to be evaded, then, between accepting determinism and rejecting the data with which we began, on the one hand, or holding fast to our data and rejecting the thesis which is inconsistent with them. Taylor points out, however, that simply rejecting determinism and embracing the thesis of simple indeterminism, which says that some events are uncaused, brings us no closer to a theory explaining free actions that is consistent with our data. He asks the reader to imagine a case in which his or her right arm is free, according to this conception. That is, it just moves one way or another, without any cause whatever. Plainly, if the agent is not the cause for the arm movements, then those movements are not free, voluntary actions of the agent.

    Accordingly, Taylor develops a theory of agency with the following elements:

    (1) An action that is free must be caused by the agent who performs it, and it must be such that no other set of antecedent conditions was sufficient for the occurrence of just that action.

    (2) An agent is a self or person, and not merely a collection of things or events, but a self-moving being [note the echo of Plato in The Laws Bk X, c. 360 BC, cf here]. (pp. 51-52)

    Taylor recognizes that this involves a metaphysical commitment to a special kind of causation, and he suggests that perhaps “causation” is not the best language to use to describe it. He proposes that we might want to say instead that an agent originates, initiates, or simply, performs an action. All other cases of causation we conceive of as a relation between events. One event or set of events is a sufficient, or necessary, or sufficient and necessary condition for the occurrence of another. However, an agent is not an event, and we certainly wouldn’t say the mere existence of the agent is ever a sufficient condition for the occurrence of one of his or her free actions. Rather, it is only the free action of the agent that is the cause or the origination of the action. Since Taylor can offer no further explanation of how it that this occurs, he admits that it is possible that the data that this theory was developed to explain might be an illusion after all, and his essay ends on an inconclusive note. >>

    _______

    The concept that such is an illusion must be followed up, and it will lead to absurdity.

    We evidently do not currently have a good understanding of the roots of the self, the agent. But that can be compared to the challenges made to Newton on asking why would action at a distance hold, and under such a law as that of gravitation. He had no answer, and none would be forthcoming until Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, 250 years later.

    But it did not mean that Newton’s insight was wrong. Just, incomplete.

    I am perfectly willing to take the above, feed it into the Smith Model, and point tot he SC as the locus of a self-moved initiating agent cause. Where self-moved brings to bear that the past has an influence on the present in many ways, but in so doing, I am also bringing to bear other situations where we know of influence factors and even necessary causal factors, without being able to identify and specify sufficient causal circumstances in details amenable to formulaic prediction, whether by mechanical law or by statistical pattern.

    In part I so hold in a context where I have reason to believe that any species of reduction to mechanical necessity and/or chance ends in self referential incoherence and undermining of rationality.

    KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    GP: Indeed, indeed, though now joined by folks like the formidable VJT and the not to be underestimated WJM, with folks like UB and so many others still here or joining up. KF

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM: A serious point. It brings to mind the observation that one cannot avoid doing metaphysics (and logic and epistemology), all that one can do is to do so uncritically, and thus likely very badly. Which is ever so evident in failure to understand that properly nothing is non-being, when such declare that they have pulled a whole universe out of a hat, only the hat is labelled “nothing.” Nothing, non-being can have no causal powers, whether mechanical, stochastic or agency. KF

  27. 27
    gpuccio says:

    KF:

    I want to tell you how much I have appreciated your #14. Truly fundamental concepts!

    I will just paste here again some of your statements with minimal comments, so that they can stand for themselves:

    “Indeed, it is the same poof-magic emergentism game again.”

    It definitely is.

    “Sampling theory tells us quite firmly, that the only reasonable expectation form such a search is: straw, the overwhelming bulk of the distribution.

    But also, we have not even got a ghost of a trend to assign meaning, or to fine-tune the requisite components so they and the relevant protocols, codes etc match.”

    Exactly. We can easily win the battle with one single functional protein emerging from straw, but there is so much more at the higher levels!

    “For consciousness, purpose, sense of awareness and responsibility before truth, right, fairness etc, and the qualia of experience, that is yet another issue of poof magic. There is not even the ghost of a trend that points that way. Blindly mechanical computation is just that, blind and utterly lacking in understanding.”

    Simple and true. How is it that so many intelligent persons cannot see it? What happened to their “computations”, and especially to their intuition?

    “For just one instance, notoriously, computers do not spontaneously exhibit common sense.”

    It wopuld be too easy to say that they are in good company among humans…

    “Now, above, someone tried to say that non materialists are in the same boat.”

    Not mine, I hope! Not ours.

    “Not at all.”

    Exactly.

    “No matter how long the chain of transmission — and to preserve info and organisation against noise itself already implies a higher level of info, for error detection and correction — we terminate in an adequate cause.”

    A conscious designer.

    “Agency acting by ART to effect choice contingency and resulting contrivance, is an empirical FACT. A brute phenomenon of the cosmos. Indeed, as I have said reepeatedly, it is our first fact, the underlying context of experience of the self and observation of the other, that allows us to access, reflect on and act into our world.”

    Absolutely! It is the mother of all facts.

    “It is only by a priori imposition of materialist ideological blinkers that such a massive, patent and self-evident FACT: conscious, responsible, intelligent, designing agency, can be made to vanish from our considerations.”

    Hat tip to materialists. They really know how to impose nonsense.

    “Such a fact, demands acceptance, and invites explanation.”

    Wow, you are asking them to accept facts… Be realistic, please.

    “The decoupling of the supervisor, SC, and the use of a lower order in- the- loop i/o controller, LC, preserves freedom to act and set purposes and paths, while allowing the LC to be a part of the processing suite.”

    A very good model.

    “Could such a SC be a disembodied mind (similar to Cartesian dualism or raising the suggestion of Liebniz’s monad), or a form immanent in the lower order cybernetic system (I have here in mind hylemorphic dualism)?

    Yes.”

    Yes.

    “At quantum level, we see that we have openings for influences to pass into and from the physically observed world, below our threshold of perception. And in fact there has been a proposal on influences on microtubules, etc. Coupling would be informational/influential, not deterministic-material, mechanical or random chance.”

    Eccles, Penrose, and so on…

    “Our very selves are data on this.”

    Data, facts. Why ever do you bring those strange concepts in a scientific discussion?

    “Is it too much to expect that the very first fact of experience should be a part of science?”

    “Looks to me like the mind-body issue is another front opening up in the design theory cultural wars.”

    As I have already said: it is all absolutely related.

    “My strategic nose tells me that, together with OOL and OO cosmos, this one is a third decisive front. The three together exert terrific indirect strategic leverage on the area imagined to be the stronghold of evolutionary materialism, body plan level macro-evolution.”

    Indeed, neo darwinism and strong AI theory are the two false pillars of all reductionist materialism. Take those away, and every scientific pretense falls down.

    “This is a cumulative force of cogency case. A rope with mutually reinforcing strands yielding a result where the whole is much more than the mere sum of the parts, not a chain. Where, chains are no stronger than their weakest link.”

    That’s why the discourse must always be global. All aspects are important.

    “I strongly suspect that part of he logical problem of many objectors to design theory, is they fail to see the systemic cumulative effect of our case.”

    I believe that most of them can see it quite well. They are just defending their prejudices.

  28. 28
    gpuccio says:

    Alan Fox:

    I rather think that many would first ask “what do you mean by ‘Libertarian’ free will?” The eternal problem for philosophy is, until it adopts goals such as clarity and precision, it will be continued to be ignored by those curious about the world around us and our existence.

    I could just refer you to RDFish at #16, as he seems to understand this aspèect quite well. But I will answer him separately, so I will give my general views to you here, and I invite you to read also my next post to him.

    So, what do I mean by “libertarian free will”?

    It is simple: true free will. I uise the word “libertarian” to distinguish it from the “false free will” invented by compatibilists.

    I will be mode clear.

    Libertarian free will means the following:

    a) Non conscious events in matter can usually be explained deterministically. In a deterministic system, the evolution of the system depends only on the starting conditions.

    b) We can include probabilistic effect, but indeed macro-probability is just another way to describe deterministiv events, so nothing changes.

    c) At quantum level, probability could be intrinsic (that point is certainly controversial). If that is the case, we must include intrinsic probabilistic effects to determnistic explanations. The evolution of the system, then, will be the result of initial conditions plus the influence of intrinsic random events.

    d) When conscious intelligent beings like us humans interact with those material systems, they have a personal intuition of having what is called “free will”. That means simply that theis action are not completely determioned by deterministic, or probabilstic, inputs, but that there is a cosncious experience behind them thyat is called “choice”.

    e) In that model, our behaviour is never completely determined by deterministic inputs and probabilistic factors, but always maintains an element of choice, that can only be ascribed to a conscious intuitive experience.

    This is libertarian free will. All the rest has nothing to do with free will.

    If you think these concepts lack clarity and precision, please feel free (!) to ask for further clarifications. In the meantime, let’s go to next post.

  29. 29
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish (and Alan Fox):

    But I wouldn’t be too worried about “qualia” in particular; the essence of what we’re talking about – in this context anyway – it nothing other than phenomenal experience, and if we can’t inter-subjectively confirm that then it really doesn’t pay to talk about mind at all.

    I am not sure what you mean. All scientific cognition is made of mental concepts, that we “inter-subjectively confirm” every day. So, what’s the problem with concepts and qualia?

    As for libertarian will, however, I think you’re right on the mark. How are we to understand an act that is neither random nor determined? Libertarian acts are by definition not fully caused by antecedent effects; they are at least partially determined by a cause that is not itself an effect.

    Very good.

    But on this account, our acts are still determined – partially by antecedent effects, and partially by this supposedly uncaused cause (our libertarian will).

    Even better.

    If the will is uncaused, what accounts for our will causing one act rather than another? Does nothing at all determine which way the will will decide?

    Good questions…

    If nothing at all determines which act the will causes, then the choice is random. Otherwise, it is determined.

    … and a very bad answer.

    But, as good questions are more important than bad answers, I am really satisfied with you 🙂

    Let’s see. Where is the problem?

    As you seem to understand (just to forget it immediately) our actions are certainly influenced by deterministic inputs and, probably, random effects.

    Deterministic inputs are both outer and inner. Our physical limitations are as much a deterministic input as our inner states. If my body is weak, I cannot do certain things. If my logical abilities are undeveloped, I will not understand certain cognitive proicedures. If my control of emotions is scarce, I will be strongly biased by them in my behaviour.

    These are all “deterministic” effects. At time “t”, my body is alredy weak, my logical abilities are already undeveloped, and my control of emotions is what it is. I cannot change those things at time “t”. Let’s call them “my outer and inner conditions”.

    So, what happens at time t?

    Let’s say that in some way my consciousness is aware of, that is represents in itself, the sum total of all these conditions.

    Let’s say that my consciousness, aware os such a state, intuits that it can “respond” to such initial conditions in slightly different ways.

    Let’s say the problem is with a strong emotion, that warrants some immediate behaviour.

    Let’s say that I inwardly feel that I can just let the emotion “have its way”, or try to resist it. Let’s say that I intuit a different moral, or cognitive, (or both), meaning in the different possible responses.

    Let’s say I choose one response.

    What happened?

    I made a choice. A free choice.

    Will my behaviour change as a consequence? Absolutely.

    Please, note: maybe my behaviour will not change outwardly. Maybe my emotion is too strong, and I will behave accordingly in any case. But inwardly, the “action” can be very different, according to my free attempt at changing the result, even if the outer result does not change.

    But, many times, the outer result will change. If the emotion is not too strong. Or, for example, if this is the tenth time that I try to resist it.

    That’s how people change their personal destiny. Sometimes.

    Now, the importamt point is:

    1) The inner free choice consists in how we react to the initial conditions, both outer and inner.

    2) The outer results may vary in different conditions

    3) The inner choice is not determined. It can be different, given the same initial conditions. That’s why it is a choice.

    4) The inner choice is not random at all. It depends on how we intuitively choose to be at time t in relation to a spectrum of possibilities that has a definit intuitive meaning for us. At the same time, the choice is not determined by anything. The only way to describe the choice is that it is a choice among possible possibilities.

    Let’s discuss that a little better. Our consciousness is aware, at time t, of some inner spectrum of possibilities. It may be wide, it may be narrow. It does not matter.

    At the same time, our consciousness intuits a spectrum of moral meanings tied to that spectrum of possibilities. Each possibility is “polarized” in relation to that moral spectrum.

    In the ultimate sense, we can reduce the spectrum to rwo different poles: good and evil. The angel and the demon on Donald Duck’s shoulders.

    What is our choice? In the ultimate sense, the best way to describe it is probably as an acceptation, at moment t, to “be in tune” with the inner power of good or, alternatively, to “be in tune” with the inner power of evil.

    All moments of our life are moment t. So, we always have free will.

    Remember: free will does not mean we can do anything we like. The correct word for that is omnipotence. Not a human feature, usually.

    So, we are always influenced by many things, because our condition is very relative.

    But to be influenced does not mean that we have no choices. We always have choices, only those choices are not always the choices we think we have.

    Another important concequence. In the free will model, we can do something to change our personal destiny. In both directions.

    In any non free will model, including all forms of compatibilism, we can do nothing to change our personal destiny. Morality and responsibility really have no meaning, except as personal delusions for the satisfied compatibilist.

    And this is not bringing things to an extreme. It is simply being aware of the inevitable implications of what one believes.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    GP: Very useful summary, as usual. KF

  31. 31
    JDH says:

    “self-referential feedback loop” what a great ignorant wish leap.

    The 19th and 20th century physicists by sheer persistence defeated the thought that any feedback loop could produce net gain in energy and so ended the quest for the perpetual motion machine by any reasonable people.

    I expect there will be a time when the work of the people of information theory and intelligent design prove that no feedback loop can generate an infinite stream of new information. And so the quest for CFW from a machine will end.

  32. 32
    Bruce David says:

    RDFish, re. #13:

    But objects in motion required a great deal of explanation in materialist metaphysics! We have delved into the nature of matter and energy in search of ever-deeper explanations of the objects in motion that we observe. If materialists had simply declared that “matter is a phenomenon of materialism; it is the essential element of it, and requires no explanation” then your comparison would be more accurate.

    When I say that objects in motion do not need to be explained in a materialist metaphysics, what I mean is that materialism is the belief that the universe is composed entirely of objects in motion, and that all phenomena can be reduced to that. The “great deal of explanation” to which you refer can be characterized as an understanding of the rules that govern the motions and interactions of those objects. But in a materialist philosophy, the “fact” of the existence of objects in motion requires no explanation; it is what is meant by materialism.

    In the same way, a metaphysics that includes mind as a fundamental entity requires no explanation for the existence of qualia. They are included in the notion of mind.

    In any event, I’d like to see more awareness that materialism isn’t the only metaphysics that fails to explain our conscious experience – they all do.

    A metaphysics that posits “mind” or “creative intelligence” or “consciousness” as the ground of being has explained our conscious experience, or more accurately, includes conscious experience as an element of the fundamental nature of reality. I submit that your assertion that all metaphysical systems fail to explain conscious experience is due to the fact that you don’t accept such a metaphysics.

  33. 33
    RDFish says:

    Hi Bruce,

    When I say that objects in motion do not need to be explained in a materialist metaphysics, what I mean is that materialism is the belief that the universe is composed entirely of objects in motion, and that all phenomena can be reduced to that.

    I think one problem with this view is that nobody has belived in this this particular kind of “materialistic” beliefs for a very long time. “Matter in motion” refers to a Liebniz clockwork, with little bits of solid stuff bouncing off of each other. It has been known for a very long time that this can’t possibly explain reality. For example, fields of various types are posited to be real in physics, and they are not “matter in motion”. Quantum mechanics obviously is a great deal more involved than “matter in motion”. Importantly, we have a very successful mathematical theory, but we can’t claim to understand quantum ontology as “matter in motion” at all – it’s clear that whatever it is, fundamentally matter is not “solid stuff”.

    So the view of materialism you describe is really a strawman – nobody believes in it.

    The “great deal of explanation” to which you refer can be characterized as an understanding of the rules that govern the motions and interactions of those objects. But in a materialist philosophy, the “fact” of the existence of objects in motion requires no explanation; it is what is meant by materialism.

    To the extent that “materialist philosophy” fails to accomodate modern physics, perhaps this true. But all modern philosophers who try and understand reality realize that there is much to explain beyond saying “matter exists and moves around”. The relationship between event and observation, implications of nonlocality, and so on are the things that physicists and philosophers try to (and need to) explain in “materialism”.

    In the same way, a metaphysics that includes mind as a fundamental entity requires no explanation for the existence of qualia. They are included in the notion of mind.

    But naming or describing is not explaining. Even old-fashioned materialism didn’t merely posit the existence of matter and leave it at that – there was a rich description of how matter acted. In contrast, simply delcaring that mind exists does not explain anything; in order to gain understanding, we must somehow characterize what it is we mean by this.

    A metaphysics that posits “mind” or “creative intelligence” or “consciousness” as the ground of being has explained our conscious experience, or more accurately, includes conscious experience as an element of the fundamental nature of reality. I submit that your assertion that all metaphysical systems fail to explain conscious experience is due to the fact that you don’t accept such a metaphysics.

    My assertion is due to the fact that we have no metaphysics that explains conscious experience. Why are we conscious? The answer “That is the way the universe is” does not further our understanding, and does not constitute an explanation.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  34. 34
    RDFish says:

    Hi GP,

    RDF: But I wouldn’t be too worried about “qualia” in particular; the essence of what we’re talking about – in this context anyway – it nothing other than phenomenal experience, and if we can’t inter-subjectively confirm that then it really doesn’t pay to talk about mind at all.
    GP: I am not sure what you mean. All scientific cognition is made of mental concepts, that we “inter-subjectively confirm” every day. So, what’s the problem with concepts and qualia?

    You misunderstood what I said. Alan pointed out controversies over what is meant by “qualia”. I said don’t worry about those controversies; what needs explanation is conscious experience, and we all know what that is.

    RDF: If nothing at all determines which act the will causes, then the choice is random. Otherwise, it is determined.
    GP: … and a very bad answer.
    But, as good questions are more important than bad answers, I am really satisfied with you

    I always aim to please! 🙂

    So, what happens at time t?
    Let’s say that in some way my consciousness is aware of, that is represents in itself, the sum total of all these conditions.

    That would be highly unrealistic, given that our consciousness is aware of very little regarding our outer and inner conditions. It is uncontroversial that the vast majority of our mental function – from monitoring and controlling our bodily functions to highly abstract planning and problem solving – proceeds without conscious awareness.

    Let’s say that my consciousness, aware os such a state, intuits that it can “respond” to such initial conditions in slightly different ways.

    You are saying that consciousness is a thing that can do things like intuit and “respond”. This is one sort of conceptualization of what consciousness is and does, but it is certainly not the only one! You seem to be presenting your own take on philosophy of mind as though it was obvious, or settled science or philosophy. Perhaps you don’t realize that if you get 10 philosophers of mind in a room and ask them about consciousness, you will get 15 different answers!

    Let’s say I choose one response.
    What happened?
    I made a choice. A free choice.

    When you say “free” I wonder what you mean? Do you mean that something happens that violates physical causality? Do you mean that some undetectable mental substance interacts with the neurons in your brain somehow?

    Another important concequence. In the free will model, we can do something to change our personal destiny. In both directions.

    In any non free will model, including all forms of compatibilism,…

    Your terminology is quite ideosyncratic here I’m afraid. Traditionally, compatabilism is one position that explains free will in ways that are consistent with physical causality. To call it a “non-free-will model” is odd, and makes it more confusing to consider the various positions.

    … we can do nothing to change our personal destiny.

    Well, that simply misrepresents compabilism of course. Everyone agrees that human beings act and make choices and that these choices affect our futures. Nobody denies any of this. The disagreement arises over how these choices are made – mainly, the question is, “Are human choices determined by physical antecedent causes or not?”

    Morality and responsibility really have no meaning, except as personal delusions for the satisfied compatibilist.

    You don’t state the various positions of this debate very well at all. It’s obvious that you find compatibilism very unsatisfactory, but it doesn’t help to label these ideas “personal delusions” – those sorts of statements just sound ignorant and closed-minded. The best way to approach these issues is the state opposing views as accurately and intelligently as possible, and then show why they are wrong.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  35. 35
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    I’ll ask again…

    As C.S. Lewis said, “dark” only has meaning because light exists. In a universe without light, “dark” would be meaningless. Likewise, the idea of “no libertarian free will” only has meaning to us because libertarian free will exists. In a universe without libertarian free will, the idea of “no libertarian free will” would be meaningless.

    And yet we have this idea of “free will.”

    How?

  36. 36
    RDFish says:

    Hi CentralScrutinizer,

    Couldn’t you just as well argue that “libertarianism” only has meaning to us because determinism exists? In a universe without determinism, the idea of “libertarianism” would be meaningless.

    And yet we have this idea of “determinism”. How?

    You could use this same argument for, well, anything.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  37. 37
    Bruce David says:

    RDFish, re. #33:

    With regard to what materialists believe, I haven’t taken any polls, nor have I seen any on the subject, but my impression of most materialists is that they think of matter mostly in macroscopic terms—objects like KF’s red ball on the desk. When they do consider the components of matter, they generally include atoms and molecules, and electrons if they have to worry about electronic or electro–chemical events. But most of them don’t really include quantum physics in their metaphysics. Some do, of course, and when they do, if they have a philosophical turn of mind, they often begin to question their materialism.

    But what materialists believe is really a side issue to our main difference, which is whether a metaphysics that includes mind needs to explain the existence of qualia.

    In my metaphysics we are mind, or consciousness, and qualia are what consciousness produces. We know this directly through simple awareness. Furthermore, each of us is part of the One Consciousness that is All That Is (God, if you will, but not the Judeo-Christian version). So Consciousness is the Ground of Being, and qualia are the objects of consciousness, which we know through direct experience. We know what consciousness is because that is what we are, and we know that consciousness produces qualia because that is what we experience in every moment of our existence. There is no need for further explanation.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    JDH:

    In re:

    self-referential feedback loop . . .

    In the Smith Model discussion [cf. ref post here], there are of course loops, which in informatics terms are self-referential.

    Looping always raises issues of instability and oscillation or running off to a saturation, or a trigger poiint for a charge-threshold, discharge blocking oscillator. Per abundant experience [cf. control systems, electronics, and programming], they require a lot of careful design and tuning, to avert such failures or potentially catastrophic possibilities. E.g. the volcano some miles S of where I write is a relaxation oscillator on the grand, massively destructive scale. (Build-up of materials and pressure from below, whatever sits on and/or blocks from above,t hen on various scales, boom, relax, block or sit, build up again.)

    Oscillators do trigger signals, oscillations, by mechanical necessity that usually builds on available noise, energy sources and filtering. Software loops will do something over and over again until whatever limits.

    Oscillators are not generating FSCO/I.

    Software loops are themselves strong signs of design. Nor, do they explain self-awareness, insight and intuition, conscience, a sense of value, thus rights and duties, etc etc. All, characteristic of agency in the very familiar sense.

    We are seeing the abracadabra poofery of presto, emergence again.

    Serious discussion of emergence of novel system properties will account for same on underlying components, configs, interactions, results. But, here, that is inherently incapable of bridging the barrier between physical variables such as ion gradient potentials in mV, and truth/falsity, right/wrong, understanding [not mere processing blindly] etc etc.

    Brains as neural networks etc, can be explained as processing systems, but the meaning and function of the signals being used is simply and patently of a categorically different order.

    But then, it seems that a priori ideological commitment to materialism blocks ability to perceive that.

    KF

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: RDF, there is no symmetry between the two. If determinism is real, thought breaks down into delusion. This is a case of denial leading to self-referential incoherence. Cf. reference here for record. KF

  40. 40
    gpuccio says:

    Hi, RDFish:

    I want to thank you for your very thoughtful answer to my post :). It should be only natural to expect people from the other side to answer openmindedly, and understanding what one said, but that is not often the case, so I feel really grateful when it happens. It is also always a good occasion to exchange constructive ideas.

    So, let’s go to your points.

    a) You say.

    You misunderstood what I said. Alan pointed out controversies over what is meant by “qualia”. I said don’t worry about those controversies; what needs explanation is conscious experience, and we all know what that is.

    OK, I am perfectly fine with that. I misunderstood, and I agree with you. I am not a fan of the “qualia” affair, anyway. Let’s stick to consciousness.

    I always aim to please!

    And you succeeded once more! 🙂

    b) You comment my point:

    “So, what happens at time t?
    Let’s say that in some way my consciousness is aware of, that is represents in itself, the sum total of all these conditions.”

    saying:

    That would be highly unrealistic, given that our consciousness is aware of very little regarding our outer and inner conditions. It is uncontroversial that the vast majority of our mental function – from monitoring and controlling our bodily functions to highly abstract planning and problem solving – proceeds without conscious awareness.

    Well, first of all a general premise. In my post I just gave a quick summary of my thought. I am happy now to go into greater details.

    I expexted, indeed, some objection on your line to this point. I think we can come to some better reciprocal understanding on that.

    Let’s say that for me, consciousness is not only “the conscious mind”. The general idea of the conscious mind is restricted to what I will call here “waking consciousness”. I think all, or most, will agree that there are other levels of consciousness. Let’s call them, collectively, “subconsciousness”.

    So, we have: “waking consciousness” + “subnconsciousness” = sum total of conscious representations. That’s what I mean with “consciousness” and its representations.

    Now, it is correct, as you say, that many inputs influence us without reaching consciousness, not even subconsciousness, although the true lower border of subconsciousness is probably much wider than we commonly think. I am fine with that. But that is not relevant to my discussion about free will.

    Let’s make a very gross example, I am here, and I choose to turn on the right. I have not noticed, however, not even subconsciously, that there is a wall on the right, so i bump my head into it. Now, the existence of the wall is certainly an input, and it limits my movement. After I have chosen to turn on the right. But it does not certainly influence my choice, unless it reaches in some way my conscious representations before the choice.

    Now, my point was:

    “As you seem to understand (just to forget it immediately) our actions are certainly influenced by deterministic inputs and, probably, random effects.

    So, what happens at time t?
    Let’s say that in some way my consciousness is aware of, that is represents in itself, the sum total of all these conditions.”

    So, two clarifications:

    1) Consciousness refers here to the whole of conscious representations, as explained.

    2) Conditions refers here to anything that can influence my action, because they reach my consciousness, at any level, before the action itself.

    You say:

    “That would be highly unrealistic, given that our consciousness is aware of very little regarding our outer and inner conditions.”

    I don’t agree it is “very little”, but certainly it is not “all”. You are right about that. But again, I am interested only in the conditions that are represented in consciousness, at some level. The rest, obviously, cannot influence choice, but only the outer results of choice.

    You say:

    “It is uncontroversial that the vast majority of our mental function – from monitoring and controlling our bodily functions to highly abstract planning and problem solving – proceeds without conscious awareness.”

    It is only a question of how we use words. I would never call “mental” functions those that proceed without any representation in consciousness, at any level. And I do believe that most mental functions are represented subconsciously, but that is consciousness just the same.

    Many events certainly happen in the body and brain that are not represented at all. I do not call them “mental”, but you do as you like. If they are not represented, they cannot influence action and choice.

    I consider “action” only those outputs that, at some level, originate in a conscious representation, at any level. The body and brain have certainly many “outputs” that are never represented from inputs that are never represented. I would not call them “actions” at all, but again, you do as you like. Anyway, they are not obviously relevant to a discussion about free will and choice.

    Now, the point is that determinism believes that all “actions” are only “outputs”, whether they are consciously represented or not. In a deterministic model, the output is always the same, and its conscious representation, including the strange intuition that we, as subjects, are the free originators of the output at some level, is irrelevant to what really happens. That is a deterministic model of action, and I don’t believe that it is misrepresented. I will add that the deterministic model is, IMO, perfectly consistent. It is not true, I believe, but it is not inconsistent. It is logically possible that all our actions are only outputs determined by inputs (or randomness), and that our representations are only links in the deterministic chain, and nothing else. It is not true, IMO, but it is possible and consistent. More on that later.

    I think I will go on in my next post.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    GP:

    Could I help. Many’s the time I have “ferry” duties on a morning with my family. Often I am in a sort of routine habit mode.

    Then, there are mornings where there is something different, non-routine.

    I may need to turn left not right, or may need to make a stop. And, being locked in the routine, I forget. Then, some distance along, boom, memory kicks in. I then stop, retrace and do what was needed.

    In the first case I am obviously being influenced by a habitual routine, that needs to be broken but is perhaps entrenched as automatic. An obvious case of what has become a routine in the programing sense. That is the easy path, but maybe not the right one this morning.

    Now, knowing that I need to act differently now, I have put up a flag to do something different.

    Were the routine a program in the simple sense, that would be enough, flick, branch on condition C, else continue.

    BUT IT IS NOT.

    I do not have a mechanical branch trigger, I need to be focus on and be aware of the difference in the situation and CHOOSE to act in a non-routine way. It is not just a matter of on some random chance distribution the flag will work this time or not work this time either. What is plainly happening is that I have a habit, that I need to make a conscious exception for, that if for some reason I am distracted, I will follow the routine, not the exception. Intelligent choice, consciousness etc are all at work and make a difference.

    More details and cases can be added, but that is enough to break the analogy to programming loops, or even to loops with a flag subject to a chance distribution.

    KF

  42. 42

    [Cross posted from TSZ]

    It looks like we have some agreement that humans are biological computing machines, just beyond our current to build or even meaningfully model.

    Liz holds that “our decision-making is chaotic and non-linear, and dependent on complex feedback loops”. I would assume that others here (if not all, some) hold this position – that humans (and particularly, their “minds”, and decision-making processes, are chaotic, non-linear physical computations that cannot be formally predicted but are, nonetheless, determined by the comprehensive state that precedes what comes next (if an identical run-up to decision, then the same decision, every time).

    Earlier, Liz said that I had not yet convinced her otherwise.

    But, what does “convince” mean, under the materialist paradigm as described above? If ideas, beliefs, convictions, thoughts, etc. are arrived at through a non-linear, chaotic, organic/physical process, then it certainly can’t be said that it is only a step by step, linear deductive, inductive or abductive logical analysis which results in a conviction. It cannot necessarily be a linear, step-by-step analysis of the evidence – that would necessarily be predictable.

    As they have already admitted, such a process towards a state of mental conviction is a “chaotic” system, and thus unpredictable by the kinds of predictive, linear methods that logic has to offer. So, how does one convince a chaotic system of its error, if it is computing an error (and we know human computers generate errors all the time – very convincing, compelling errors people will fight and die for)?

    How can I convince Liz if convincing Liz is not a matter of a linear argument concerning evidence and/or logical argument? Since her system is unpredictable and chaotic, who knows what added ingredient will have the desired effect of changing her conviction in this matter? Perhaps a combination of music and a certain meal will have a butterfly effect and cascade down into Liz becoming an Evangelical?

    Or, perhaps an event like the death of a child, as with Darwin, can alter brain chemistry to the point of accepting as true something one wouldn’t even countenance before? Or, a chain of events that seem impossible to affect the computation in order make one believe in a God of some sort?

    Is their any relief to be found from the chaotic, unpredictable nature of these beliefs? No. Such relief would require a map of predictability, a system of some sort inside chaotic patterning and arranging, or a locus of will that is not itself the product of such a system that can be used to arbit “incorrect” conclusions from correct.

    Unfortunately, in the materialist paradigm, the arbiter itself is the product of the same system that produces the error, and can itself be arranged by the system to not see the error as error, but as the correct result, and the only thing that can change the arbiter module is something that we cannot even predict will have that effect in the first place – such as a sound argument or good evidence to the contrary. It may be a bit of pizza or a butterfly flapping it’s wings in Brazil.

    IOW, under this materialist paradigm, it is perfectly reasonable to say that a butterfly flapping it’s wings in Brazil (or a random secretion somewhere in the body) culminated in the final ingredient necessary for Liz – or anyone else here – to compute that their materialism is a sound metaphysic and that there is no God, their system producing the sensation that it is sound reasoning and a logical conclusion or position to hold.

    Also, the arguments they present are the result of a chaotic, unpredictable system that provides both the words said and the sensation that they represent correct values and meaningful arguments. The system could as easily produce, as I have said before, a person that barks like a dog and at the same time believe that it has said something very wise and profound. There is no arbiter but the system itself which is known to produce deep and sustaining errors of thought, complex delusions and convictions that are unsupportable and unreasonable.

    So, how to convince Liz, when there is no way to predict what sort of combinations of stimuli or ingested material would produce such a conviction? In the materialist world, all we are are monkeys flinging feces at the wall, and whatever happens to “stick” triggers a change in conviction.

  43. 43

    It looks like we have some agreement that humans are biological computing machines, just beyond our current to build or even meaningfully model.

    I meant that there is some agreement at TSZ from the materialist side – I certainly do not agree to this. While I do think that there is a part of the mind (or, it may be the brain) that is computational, I hold that a separate locus of will is necessary if there is any hope of controlling the a GIGO problem compounded by a “chaotic” processing system.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    NB: Chaotic means sensitive dependence on conditions, leading to noise amplification and divergence. Such systems are deterministic, but will amplify noise in initial or intervening conditions leading to gradual divergence on outcomes. Predictable short, divergent and unpredictable in detail, long. The problem is with mechanical determinism, where such is patently incompatible with choice, and so is the notion of noise substituting for genuine choice. KF

  45. 45
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    OK, I try to go on, time is not much…

    You are saying that consciousness is a thing that can do things like intuit and “respond”. This is one sort of conceptualization of what consciousness is and does, but it is certainly not the only one!

    I don’t think it is a conceptualization, up to this point. I am only giving an empirical description.

    My words were:

    “Let’s say that my consciousness, aware of such a state, intuits that it can “respond” to such initial conditions in slightly different ways.”

    I am not saying that consciousness is a “thing”, or a “substance”. Those are problems for philosophers, and I am not a philosopher, I am an empirical guy. For me, facts are important.

    I am simply saying that consciousness “is aware” of some representations. That’s exactly what consciousness does: it is aware of representations. Do you deny that? We can observe at any moment that our personal “I” is constant aware of some formal content (its representations). So, I am sticking to observed facts.

    In the same way, I am saying that consciousness “intuits that it can “respond” to such initial conditions in slightly different ways”. Again, I am speaking of a representation (If the word “intuits” disturbs you, we can say “represents to itself”). I am not saying that such a thing is necessarily true. But it certainly true that we have a constant intuition, or representation, or feeling, you name it, that we ca do that. That’s the origin of the concept of free will, of responsibility, of moral conflicts, and so on, in common language: that personal intuition. True or false that it may be, we have it in us. This is, again, a fact.

    So, there is no conceptualization up to this point. I am not saying that consciousness is a thing, nor that it can actually respond in different ways. I am saying that consciousness, or the perceiving I, if you prefer, is aware of its states, and that it represents to itself the possibility of reacting in different ways to those states. Do you deny that?

    In my next post, I will give you my conceptualization.

  46. 46
    gpuccio says:

    WJM:

    I meant that there is some agreement at TSZ from the materialist side – I certainly do not agree to this.

    Well, I was beginning to worry… 🙂

    Thank you for your contribution, however!

  47. 47
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    You seem to be presenting your own take on philosophy of mind as though it was obvious, or settled science or philosophy. Perhaps you don’t realize that if you get 10 philosophers of mind in a room and ask them about consciousness, you will get 15 different answers!

    As already said, up to this point I have not presented my “take”, but only stated very basic empirical considerations. Anyway, I will give you my “take” now. After all, you gave you take in your post, why shouldn’t I do the same? I always give my take on things, I think it is called honest and constructive discussion.

    And I am certainly aware of the 10 philosophers who would disagree. You see, I believe in my take, and I do believe that it is rather “obvious”, if one carefully considers the facts we really have. But I know there are others who think differently. I know that you exist, for example.

    Why should that be a problem? I stick to my take just the same, and listen with attention to others who have interesting thinks to say. That’s all I can do.

    (Ehm, well, in reality, you don’t know me well, but I must confess that I enjoy that a little bit. I am definitely a minority guy. I am really proud when most think differently 🙂 )

    Now, let’s go to my “take”.

    In response to this statement of mine:

    “Let’s say I choose one response.
    What happened?
    I made a choice. A free choice.”

    you comment:

    When you say “free” I wonder what you mean? Do you mean that something happens that violates physical causality? Do you mean that some undetectable mental substance interacts with the neurons in your brain somehow?

    You are very perceptive again. Yes, I do mean that my consciousness interacts with the neurons in my brain somehow. But:

    a) I need not call it a substance, because I am not a philosopher. I am an empirical man, so I will call it a fact. I mean that the fact of my mental representation interacts with my brain somehow.

    b) It is not undetectable in any way. Being a fact, it can be observed. We do observe in ourselves the representation that is connected to the following action, and we can certainly covey that fact to others by language. So, we are not speaking of anything “undetectable”, but of observed facts.

    c) I don’r mean that any physical law of causality is violated. The interaction, in my model, probably happens at quantum level, at the interface of quantum intrinsic probability. So, no deterministic physical law is violated. But probability laws are certainly violated at quantum level.

    This is very beautiful, because it is exactly what we observe at the level of human design, the most visible output of our free will: each time dFSCI is generated by us humans, no physical law is violated, but probability laws are definitely violated by the creation of a new functional order.

    So, in my model the free choice originates in consciousness, and it is outputted to the neuronal activities of the brain at quantum level, without violating deterministic laws, through the interface of quantum probabilistic laws. IOWs, it does change the link of deterministic events through a “bottom-up” intervention that slips through intrinsic probability at quantum level.

    More in next post.

  48. 48
    gpuccio says:

    KF:

    Thank you for your contributions. It is beautiful to imagine you in your everyday life, reflecting on your personal facts to derive your arguments 🙂

  49. 49
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Let’s go to less pleasurable issues: compatibilism 🙂

    You comment:

    Your terminology is quite ideosyncratic here I’m afraid. Traditionally, compatabilism is one position that explains free will in ways that are consistent with physical causality. To call it a “non-free-will model” is odd, and makes it more confusing to consider the various positions.

    You see, for me there are only two positions about the free will issue that are consistent and make sense: determinism (including random effects) and libertarian free will.

    Compatibilism, for me, is not even a “position”. It is simply a gross trick. They take some dummy concept that has nothing to do with free will and which is perfectly compatible with determinism. Then they rename it as “free will”. And they brilliantly “demonstrate” that it is compatible with free will. My compliments to them all!

    So I beg your pardon, I will not include compatibilism among legitimate positions. It is not. It does not deserve any further attention from me, or from anybody else.

    Obviously, if you are a compatibilist (I hope you are not), you are welcome to defend your ideas, possibly in some detail. I will listen to your arguments with attention, because you deserve it.

    You say:

    Well, that simply misrepresents compabilism of course. Everyone agrees that human beings act and make choices and that these choices affect our futures. Nobody denies any of this. The disagreement arises over how these choices are made – mainly, the question is, “Are human choices determined by physical antecedent causes or not?”

    No, I am not misprepresenting anything, least of all compatibilism.

    And it is not true that “Everyone agrees that human beings act and make choices and that these choices affect our futures.” Again, it is simply a trick with words. I will be more clear.

    I can take any dummy thing or concept, and call it “choice”. For instance, just to give a very gross example, I can call the results of a lottery “choice”, and then affirm that they affect my future.

    Well, I am certainly right, especially if I won!

    But the result of a lottery is not a choice of anyone, any more than any other random result. If our action are the result of random events, they are not choices. We, as subjects, have no control of them.

    In the same way, I can take the trajectory of a cannonball after it was fires, and call it “choice”. And I can affirm that it changes my future.

    Well, I am certainly right, especially if I am at the end of that trajectory.

    But the trajectory is not anyone’s choice. It is the computable result of deterministic laws of mechanics.

    So, if I call “choice” what is not “choice”, I will be a satisfied compatibilist. Does that mean that in my model I can change my future? No. Absolutely no.

    You see, the problem as usual is in that small word, “I”. There is no doubt that my conditions influence my future. But I am not my conditions. There is no doubt that my bank account influences my future. But I am not my bank account.

    If my bank account is administered by others, I may become rich, but it will not be because on “my” choices.

    So, if we call “choices” things that are not in our control, we are simply playing gross tricks.

    In any deterministic model, including all forms of compatibilism, the “I”, defined as the perceiver of its representations, has no control at all. It is the passive slave of its representations, of its states, of determinism, of randomness. Therefore, the I cannot “change” his destiny in any way.

    IOWs, if human choices are “determined by physical antecedent causes”, they are not choices at all.

    If you think I am misrepresenting anything here, please be detailed in showing where and why.

  50. 50
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Some final notes.

    You don’t state the various positions of this debate very well at all.

    Why? Please, you state them better, if you can. I am ready to listen.

    It’s obvious that you find compatibilism very unsatisfactory,

    Yes. Yes!

    but it doesn’t help to label these ideas “personal delusions” – those sorts of statements just sound ignorant and closed-minded.

    Why? It’s not a label, it’s a definite statement, of which I take full responsibility.

    Let’s see my original statement:

    “In any non free will model, including all forms of compatibilism, we can do nothing to change our personal destiny. Morality and responsibility really have no meaning, except as personal delusions for the satisfied compatibilist.”

    The second phrase is obviously the logical consequence of the first.

    Now, I have argued in detail for the first statement in my previous posts. I am waiting for your comments or confutations, and in the meanwhile I will stick to my position as stated there.

    Therefore, the meaning of the second phrase is quite obvious:

    As in any non free will model, including all forms of compatibilism, we can do nothing to change our personal destiny, in those kind of models, if we want to remain honest and consistent, morality and responsibility really have no meaning.

    Why? Because morality is the philosophy of choices and of their values in a moral (good – evil) framework. How else would you define it?

    And responsibility is very simply the concept that one can be considered responsible for his choices, because he could have chosen differently.

    Do you want to redefine that too?

    But compatibilists play tricks. So they redefine morality and responsibility in the same way they have redefined free will and choice. Why not? Once you have discovered and learned a trick, it is worthwhile to use it again.

    Who are they deceiving? Not me, certainly. But, if they have a minimum of inner honesty, they are certainly deceiving themselves.

    So, the meaning of my phrase is clear:

    “As morality and responsibility really have no meaning in the compatibilist model, they redefine them falsely, so that they can retain in their model something called “morality and responsibility”. If they are willing enough to deceive themselves in such a gross way, they will probably be satisfied by that false concept of morality and responsibility.”

    Again, I take full responsibility of what I am saying. You are free to defend the position, if you like.

    Finally, you say:

    The best way to approach these issues is the state opposing views as accurately and intelligently as possible, and then show why they are wrong.

    It’s exactly what I have tried to do.

  51. 51
    tgpeeler says:

    I think language (symbols and rules) pretty much settles the issue. What is required for the origination of any rational thought or information is the use of language. The laws of physics, which do a fine job of explaining sub-atomic particles in energy fields, are incapable of, in principle, of accounting for language (the symbols and rules) because the use of language requires both free will and intentionality. Neither concept is present in physics. There is something more and that is MIND. EL, AF and the rest may claim that they don’t have one and I’d be inclined to agree. Also, reducing the argument to thought and not qualia makes it simpler. It’s pretty hard to deny the existence of thoughts.

  52. 52
    gpuccio says:

    tgpeeler:

    Thank you really for the deep truth you have expressed with such simple beauty.

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    TGP: Last I checked, physics uses symbols and rules. That is, it necessarily presupposes all that language implies. Thence, all the implications of distinction as a phenomenon in the world and as recognised and reflected in our thoughts and representations, including in reasoning. Worse, I have lost count of how many “effects” there are, from M’pemba to photoelectric to Peltier and ever so many more. Effects are consequences of causes, putting the principle of sufficient reason squarely on the table. In short physics points to the significance of first principles of right reason. Now ask, what suffices to explain symbols and rules expressed in such? On needle in haystack sampling resources challenge grounds backed by massive and uniform observation, intelligent design. The inductively grounded best explanation of dFSCI is design. In turn, that points to deliberate, insightful configuration towards function that fulfills purposes. That is, agency, choice and mind (at minimum as a label for the capacities listed, no immediate commitment is made beyond observed general capacities of intelligent designers to do such). So now, we come to cell based life and its known massive dependence on coded information in DNA etc. The normal conclusion on inductive Inference to Best Explanation is patent, it is only fended off because of an entrenched ideology that per not only Lewontin but US NAS & NSTA etc. is being embedded into even politically correct redefinitions of science. Which are duly taught to impressionable students as unquestionable dogma, in the worst sense of that. This is willful, institutionalised failure of major duties of care to truthfulness and its object, truth. KF

  54. 54
    Alan Fox says:

    Hi gpuccio,

    Thanks for your detailed comments. Rather than dash off a quick response, I feel I owe you a little more time and effort. I should have an opportunity at the weekend. You would be most welcome at TSZ, by the way, as there are several people who have crossed swords with you in the past that can’t currently comment here and would enjoy continuing to amicably disagree with you.

    In the meantime, someone still needs to explain why ‘quale’ is needed as a word if it is merely a synonym for ‘conscious experience’.

  55. 55
    gpuccio says:

    Hi Alan,

    You are welcome to take all the time you need, and your comments will be certainly appreciated.

    I really miss my enemy-friends at TSZ, and nothing is sweeter than crossing swords with them 🙂 , but please consider that I have serious time problems, even more than in the past. I have been absent for months for that reason, and I would really like to stay here more continuously. IMO, the only way I can succeed is by finding some balance in the quantity of my interventions.

    What happens, if I start a general crossing of swords with all TSZers, either directly, going there, or indirectly, in a parallel discussion like last time, is that the enthusiasm of the fight (on both sizes, I believe) quickly brings me well beyond the limits of my time and resources. At present, I cannot allow that any more (maybe until I retire 🙂 ).

    So, I apologize with all TSZers, but I will keep my involvement a little bit more detached. I will post here as much as I can, and I am ready to answer questions and issues presented or reported here, by you, or others, or IDists who are interested in TSZ’s arguments. But I don’t think I can do more than that.

    I hope that can allow, just the same, a constructive discussion, and maybe some occasional sword crossing too!

  56. 56
    gpuccio says:

    Alan:

    Ah, by the way. As I said, I am not specially interested in a definition of “qualia”, but if you want my opinion, the problem is simple enough.

    Subjective conscious experiences are objective facts, but they are more difficult ti be dealt with than ordinary “fact” observed through the senses. Many conscious experiences (but not all) can scarcely be “measured” quantitatively. That’s why, I suppose, the term “qualia” can be used for them.

    Just take the experience of purpose, so central to ID theory. Purpose is a conscious concept, strictly linked to the experience of desire and feeling. It cannot be defined objectively, like all essential conscious experiences, including meaning. Still, purpose and meaning are the foundations of all our understanding of reality.

    The fact that purpose cannot be measured does not mean that it cannot be applied to quantitative methods in a scientific context. If you consider my definition and procedure for dFSCI, for example, a conscious observer is used to recognize some function in the observed object. That is the first step, and it requires a conscious being that has the experience of purpose. IOWs, he must be able to think: “This object can be used to achieve this result”, something that no non conscious entity can think autonomously.

    This is the first step, and it is “subjectively objective”. But then, the observer has to move on a more objective plane. He must objectively define the function, so that any conscious observer can recognize it, and he must provide a quantitative method to measure it and to categorize it as present or absent in any possible object.

    So, the measurement of the function is objective and quantitative. The definition of the function is objective too (maybe not always quantitative). But the initial recognition of a possible function, being linked to the experience of purpose, is subjective, And yet, it is the only source of all the following objective procedures.

  57. 57
    Alan Fox says:

    28 gpuccio June 4, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Libertarian free will means the following:
    a) Non conscious events in matter can usually be explained deterministically. In a deterministic system, the evolution of the system depends only on the starting conditions.

    I disagree that the universe is deterministic. At the quantum level, especially, it is impossible to specify initial conditions with enough precision to result in identical outcomes. And this is a property of the system. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle rules out the ability to measure the position and momentum of a particle with exact precision.

    b) We can include probabilistic effect, but indeed macro-probability is just another way to describe deterministic events, so nothing changes.
    c) At quantum level, probability could be intrinsic (that point is certainly controversial). If that is the case, we must include intrinsic probabilistic effects to deterministic explanations. The evolution of the system, then, will be the result of initial conditions plus the influence of intrinsic random events.

    Well, indeed. You seem to agree that quantum effects rule out strict determinism.

    d) When conscious intelligent beings like us humans interact with those material systems, they have a personal intuition of having what is called “free will”. That means simply that these actions are not completely determined by deterministic, or probabilistic, inputs, but that there is a conscious experience behind them that is called “choice”.

    Again, indeed. I believe I can make choices within limits. The universe is not clockwork and we are not on rails.

    e) In that model, our behaviour is never completely determined by deterministic inputs and probabilistic factors, but always maintains an element of choice, that can only be ascribed to a conscious intuitive experience.

    As I said, I don’t think the universe is deterministic, we do have constrained choice and we can build a model of our environment though the conscious experience of our sensory inputs, especially when we test that model by sharing experience.

  58. 58
    Alan Fox says:

    29 gpuccio June 4, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Now, the important point is:

    1) The inner free choice consists in how we react to the initial conditions, both outer and inner.

    2) The outer results may vary in different conditions

    3) The inner choice is not determined. It can be different, given the same initial conditions. That’s why it is a choice.

    4) The inner choice is not random at all. It depends on how we intuitively choose to be at time t in relation to a spectrum of possibilities that has a definite intuitive meaning for us. At the same time, the choice is not determined by anything. The only way to describe the choice is that it is a choice among possible possibilities.

    Well, I dispute that it is ever possible to reset identical initial conditions, because the universe is not deterministic. I agree that humans (and other biological entities to a differing degree) are able to choose from alternative courses (of action, say) within constraints.

  59. 59
    Alan Fox says:

    29 gpuccio June 4, 2013 at 7:40 am

    The fact that purpose cannot be measured does not mean that it cannot be applied to quantitative methods in a scientific context. If you consider my definition and procedure for dFSCI, for example, a conscious observer is used to recognize some function in the observed object. That is the first step, and it requires a conscious being that has the experience of purpose. IOWs, he must be able to think: “This object can be used to achieve this result”, something that no non conscious entity can think autonomously.

    I think you are in danger of creating an entity by naming it. I doubt your approach to establishing “purpose” for measuring function as a scientific process will work. How does it differ from “this sure looks designed to me”?

    However I do find purpose everywhere in living things. From the simplest organism, the over-arching common element is purpose in trying to survive and reproduce. It is endemic in human society and what is what keeps us going, agnostics and atheists included. The next step towards world peace is to find a common purpose!

  60. 60
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    How does it differ from “this sure looks designed to me”?

    If something looks designed, and chance and necessity cannot account for it, then we have every right to check to see if it was designed. We do that because that is one of the 3 basic questions science asks, Alan. Do you know what that question is?

    From the simplest organism, the over-arching common element is purpose in trying to survive and reproduce.

    And you think that all “just happened”? Why do living organisms try to survive and reproduce when being a rock is much easier? Nature tends to go towards the easier stuff.

    The next step towards world peace is to find a common purpose!

    It’s been found and ignored by many, yourself included.

  61. 61
    tgpeeler says:

    GP and KF, thanks for the comments. The laws of physics are “written” in the language (symbols and rules) of mathematics. But the laws cannot account for how they came to be laws, or how the abstract discipline of mathematics, oddly enough, is able to describe the physical world. Indeed, as KF says, if we didn’t PRESUPPOSE all that language implies – mind, purpose, (i.e. DESIGN) free will, logic, sense experience – then when doing physics (or ANYTHING ELSE) we couldn’t even be having the conversation in the first place. Score one for the irrationality of materialists. I’m not here. I’m not here. How rational is that?

    Materialists (or naturalists or physicalists, take your pick) stand on the claim that the material (natural/physical take your pick) world is all there is. They do this with an apparently straight face when even a rudimentary analysis of what is required for thought or information (thought communicated) demands the existence of free will, rationality, intentionality, (in other words DESIGN) and something to exercise those three things. Normal people who haven’t been infected with the irrationality virus of materialism recognize that something as MIND. The neurons in my brain are physical structures and thus governed by the laws of physics. Yet there is no room for free will, rationality, or intentionality in the equations of physics. So, and I shout on purpose, THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING BEYOND THE MATERIAL SUBSTRATE. This is a mind.

    The Law of Identity is the First Principle of everything. Everything that exists is what it is. The two major disciplines in philosophy are ontology (what is there?) and epistemology (how do I know?). Both of them are bound up in the Law of Identity. For example: I exist, therefore I can think. And I think, therefore (I know that) I am. With apologies to Descartes for correcting him when he can’t defend himself. We don’t start in the mind. We start with Existence. Existence is simultaneous with Identity. That’s why it is one law. It is impossible for something to exist and not be what it is. This is a universal and immutable truth.

    What have I said when I say that “I” exist? I have simultaneously said that “I” am not everything else. I have IDENTIFIED myself by distinguishing myself from everything else that exists. Thus I cannot be me and not-me. It is impossible for me to be me and not-me for the act of recognizing “me” is simultaneously recognizing that everything else is “not me.” This is the law of non-contradiction. I can’t be both me and not-me. Because to say that I am “me” is the SAME THING as saying I am not not-me.

    I also immediately KNOW that either being “me” or “not-me” exhausts all of the possible states of affairs concerning my existence. This is the law of excluded middle. It tells us that ALL truth claims are exclusive. Philosophical, scientific, theological, or whatever. In ontology something cannot be and not be and in epistemology something cannot be true and not true.

    And lastly, I KNOW that unless I were here, I could not think, say, or do anything. Thus I KNOW that existence precedes causality. It MUST precede causality. I KNOW that nothing can come from nothing as certainly as I know that I am here. Thus, and listen carefully materialist, because a modus tollens argument is on the way: If there ever was a time when nothing “existed” then there would still “be” nothing. But there is something. So something ALWAYS existed. Something eternal, infinite, and necessary. We call Him God.

    In a nutshell called the Law of Identity we have the foundational principles for all rational thought and we KNOW they are true because I am who I am (and you are who you are – everything is what it is). Of course, the materialists deny these foundational truths even as they accuse “us” of being irrational, non-scientific, exercising “blind faith,” etc…

    Interestingly enough, Jesus Christ revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 as the Law of Identity. He said “I AM WHO I AM” or “I AM HE WHO IS.” He also said in verse 15 that: “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.” The Law of Identity, the foundation for all rational thought, is the name of God and it is for all people for all time. So now we have concluded, by means of our own rational thought, that God exists. He has to. We knew that before we read Exodus 3:14-15 but God graciously confirmed it for us in case we were still wondering.

    Also interestingly enough, the Greeks had a word that encompassed the life of the mind. That word is logos, from whence comes our English word for logic. But the Greek word also includes life, thought, mind, language, reason, and so on. It’s a very “rich” word. That word is used to describe God in the first verse of John. “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God” The Logos is God. In verse 14 we have “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” This is describing Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity.

    So right about now someone is getting ready to say well how does the immaterial world interact with the material world? That is the BIG question. I cannot say for sure but I would be willing to bet that we will find the Holy Spirit “lurking” in that explanation somewhere. After all, He is the “Teacher.” Thus He is the enabler of thought since we learn all propositional truth by means of (rational) thought. All thought is, in essence, a miracle. Again, I can’t say that is certainly true (yet and maybe never) but I strongly suspect it is.

    So the discipline of philosophy is wrapped up in the I AM and the Logos. Existence precedes thought and thought (enabled by the Holy Spirit) reveals existence. A tidy little circle I’m sure you’ll agree. Well, if you are rational, you will.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    AF:

    Do you not see the self-referential incoherence in your reply to GP:

    [AF:] I think you are in danger of creating an entity by naming it. I doubt your approach to establishing “purpose” for measuring function as a scientific process will work. How does it differ from “this sure looks designed to me”?

    Let’s ask, first of all: WHO’S SPEAKING?

    In short, by your very language, you imply an I, with a unified sense of identity distinct from others and the rest of the world. You also speak to YOU; and, in that context you speak of the second person having an “approach to,” i.e. you directly acknowledged the existence of goals, plans, steps towards goals, and so also purpose.

    Such is not scientific, it is pre-scientific, it is a condition of existing and using language as a person. It is not to be established by science or argument, it is a common sense recognition that is presupposed by the very ability to communicate in language, especially textual language.

    That you are reduced to trying to selectively hyperskeptically dispute such, pushes you into immediate self-referential absurdity. No surprise, you are in the end disputing the concept of distinct identity, personal form.

    But also you are disputing function and linked purpose. That too, you have implied even as you tried to deny: the words GP used and you yourself used entail function as a recognised reality. So, again, you have contradicted yourself.

    However, the matter does not end there.

    Just in the cited paragraph from 59, you have used a string of 225 glyphs, being a set of 128-state ASCII characters that form a functional structure of words in textual English. They manifest a collection of standard, agreed symbols and associated rules and conventions of a language in the context of computing machinery, towards the generally recognised mutual purpose of communication across the Internet. That in turn implies all sorts of co-ordinated, organised, irreducibly complex designed functional structures in a context of recognised purpose at literally global level, but the bottom-line is that such things did not always exist and were caused to exist (I allude to the principle of sufficient reason and its corollary, that of cause and effect).

    So, how could such be explained?

    We have access to a key distinguishing mark: low/high contingency.

    That which, under similar circumstances exhibits low contingency [e.g. crystallisation from solution] we ascribe to natural regularity tracing to mechanical necessity expressible in principle in law of nature. Such is a major focus of science, leading to things like Newton’s F = m*a, classically.

    Second, there is high contingency. This forever entered physics when thermal properties of gases and the like had to be addressed. From moment to moment gaseous molecules are individually highly contingent in behaviour, and this leads to an aggregate average behaviour accounting fore the macroscopic behaviour of gases, etc. We speak here of chance contingency describing such a stochastic pattern.

    But this is not the only form of highly contingent behaviour.

    The cited text is an example of that which is neither ordered by mechanical necessity nor a manifestation of chance statistics. It is organised, functional, specifically dependent on purposeful arrangement of definite parts in particular patterns that — were such governing factors relaxed, would manifest at random configs from a space of 128^225 possibilities, ~ 1.325 * 10^474. The tight constraints imposed by the requisites of communication in English as a purpose, lead to intelligently directed, sharp constraints on such possibilities.

    The difference in capability indicated between chance and choice is stark.

    Taking the number of possible states of 10^80 atoms in our observed cosmos for a reasonable life time of 10^25 s [~10^17 used up so far on the usual timeline], at Planck time steps rounded down to 10^-45s, we are looking at a needle in haystack challenge, where the number of states possible for our observed cosmos can be compared to the number of possibilities for 225 ASCII characters.

    The result (on the usual back of envelope initial calc, subject to check but right on the main point) is, that one would be asking blind chance to sample a one-sized straw from a cubical haystack ~ 1.16 * 10^90 light years across. Our entire observed cosmos [maybe 50 – 100 bn LY across] would be simply lost in such. On sampling theory, we would only reasonably expect to pick up a sample of the bulk of the distribution even if the whole observed cosmos were immersed therein.

    Chance is simply not credible as an explanation for this sort of commonly encountered thing: functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information, FSCO/I.

    (That such a conclusion is commonly disputed on debates over design, speaks volumes on the sort of ideological clinging we are dealing with here.)

    And yet, you, as an intelligent, choosing agent, doubtless tossed such off in a few minutes.

    Agency is possible, indeed, is actual, and routinely manifests capability to generate entities that blind mechanisms acting for the lifespan of the observed cosmos, simply are not plausible candidates for. The 225 ASCI-character string above being a case in point, part of a much bigger manifestation of the phenomenon.

    There is but one reasonable and empirically grounded explanation of such FSCO/I, design, sourced in intelligent, purposefully choosing agents.

    So much so, that a reasonable person would accept that FSCO/I is — and per the sort of analysis involved — and is likely to remain, a characteristic, diagnostic, revealing signature of design.

    We may debate how such agents come to be [I have suggested examination of Eng Derek Smith’s two-tier controller model . . . the man being a practising investigator in the relevant field of cybernetics . . . ], and how such can be manifested in embodied entities, but that they — frankly, that includes: we — are real enough, is not subject to reasonable dispute or doubt.

    The reasonable view wold be that we need a scientific account of origins that can account comfortably for FSCO/I, including that manifested by ourselves.

    Pace recent dismissive comments, that is not “anti-science.”

    (It is, admittedly, anti-scientism; but there is a world of difference between science and scientISM, an ideology. At least, if science is still held to be an empirical evidence led pursuit of the truth about our world, on observation, experiment and analysis leading to reasoned discussion among the informed rather than being little more than a hand maiden and evangelist for Lewontin’s a priori materialism imposed on our worldviews and institutions.)

    In short, it seems that design thought and theory are a little more relevant and grounded than is too often assumed, implied or asserted by objectors.

    KF

  63. 63
    Axel says:

    ‘Nullasalus: That’s all for now. I’d beseech her, from the bowels of Christ, to think it possible she’s mistaken.’

    It’s OK, Nullasalus, for materialists to invoke Christ, in order to lend weight to their necessarily feeble utterances, but it is definitely not all right for a Christian to invoke him on any grounds, even satirical. It has overtones of bigotry, you know.

  64. 64
    Axel says:

    I can’t demonstrate it in a laboratory, but I believe (‘am persuaded’ arch.!) that the Holy Spirit coordinates the strands of our intelligence, at such levels as we permit it to.

  65. 65
    Alan Fox says:

    GEM asks

    Do you not see the self-referential incoherence in your reply to GP

    No. I was merely expressing scepticism in gpuccio’s thought-method of establishing FSC as a genuine scientific concept. Gpuccio is welcome to develop his method and disabuse me of my scepticism. I am in favour of research and experimentation, not against it. It’s unwarranted armchair speculation without any attempt to compare models with reality that seems a waste of time.

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: I took you step by step through the matter up to and including an outline calculation based on a case of FSCO/I YOU provided, and you have studiously evaded it and tried to dismiss it with rhetorical disdain. That speaks volumes. All I will say further to you is that science is not equal to or controlled by a priori materialist scientism, and functionally specific complex organisation and associated information are empirically grounded logically coherent, and useful, very useful. That you, evidently wedde3d to such scientism, do not like the concept and wish to dismiss it by treating “science” as a party label, makes little difference to the matter of warrant there for all willing to see. KF

  67. 67
    gpuccio says:

    Alan Fox:

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    Frankly, I am now in a bit of a difficult situation: you seem to agree with me in (almost) everything!

    That seems too good to be true. 🙂

    Now, I believe that I will try to clarify some small points, and to ask you some specific questions, just to understand better what you really believe.

    Your first question here was (#15):

    I rather think that many would first ask “what do you mean by ‘Libertarian’ free will?” The eternal problem for philosophy is, until it adopts goals such as clarity and precision, it will be continued to be ignored by those curious about the world around us and our existence.

    In my many posts in this thread, I have tried to go into some detail about what libertarian free will, is, and why it is the only thing that we can really call “free will”. Very simply, my position cpould still be summed up as follows:

    “Libertarian free will is the concept that we can make free choices between possible outcomes, certainly always constrained, and thereby change our personal destinies. Those choices are neither deterministic nor random. They come from our consciousness, and they have a moral value, because they come from our intuition of the moral meaning of the possibilities that are open to us at that moment. That is the natural foundation of morality and responsibility. Any different concept of “free will” and “choice” is not free will and choice.”

    Now, bearing that clearly in mind, let’s go to your comments in #57.

    First, you say:

    I disagree that the universe is deterministic. At the quantum level, especially, it is impossible to specify initial conditions with enough precision to result in identical outcomes. And this is a property of the system. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle rules out the ability to measure the position and momentum of a particle with exact precision.

    Then you realize that I was saying exactly the same thing, and comment:

    Well, indeed. You seem to agree that quantum effects rule out strict determinism.

    And you are perfectly right. We completely agree here. So, I suggest that in the following discussion we call “strict determinism” the old philosophy before quantum mechanics, where the evolution of a system could in principle be predicted entirely from the initial conditions, and simply “determinism” the position which takes into account possible intrinsic random effects from the quantum level. I will no more discuss “strict determinism”, because I think we both agree that it is no more a viable theory.

    Up to now, everything is clear and easy.

    Then, you state the following two phrases answering my points d) and e).

    Again, indeed. I believe I can make choices within limits. The universe is not clockwork and we are not on rails.

    and:

    As I said, I don’t think the universe is deterministic, we do have constrained choice and we can build a model of our environment though the conscious experience of our sensory inputs, especially when we test that model by sharing experience.

    And here my confusion begins. My points d) and e) were as follows:

    “d) When conscious intelligent beings like us humans interact with those material systems, they have a personal intuition of having what is called “free will”. That means simply that these actions are not completely determined by deterministic, or probabilistic, inputs, but that there is a conscious experience behind them that is called “choice”.”

    “e) In that model, our behaviour is never completely determined by deterministic inputs and probabilistic factors, but always maintains an element of choice, that can only be ascribed to a conscious intuitive experience.”

    (emphasis added)

    And you seem to agree, or at least not to object.

    So, I will put it very simply:

    Do you agree that our actions are not determined completely by “deterministic inputs and probabilistic factors”, and that what we call “choice” goes beyond that kind of explanation?

    If you do, then you believe in libertarian free will.

    If you don’t, you are a determinist, either a simple determinist or a compatibilist.

    I think this point is very important, and I would like to understand your position, whatever it is. Obviously, if you, like me, believe in libertarian free will, I will be specially happy. 🙂

    To next post.

  68. 68
    gpuccio says:

    Alan Fox (#58):

    Well, I dispute that it is ever possible to reset identical initial conditions, because the universe is not deterministic. I agree that humans (and other biological entities to a differing degree) are able to choose from alternative courses (of action, say) within constraints.

    This is not long, but important.

    The second phrase seems to restate your “belief” in libertarian free will, so I will refer you again to the question in my previous post.

    The second one, instead, deserves more detailed comment.

    Let’s read it again:

    “Well, I dispute that it is ever possible to reset identical initial conditions, because the universe is not deterministic.”

    I completely agree with that. Indeed, I never said anything different.

    That’s exactly the reason why I refere to the free will problem as a philosophical problem, and not a merely scientific problem.

    The fact is, a direct demonstration of free will would require some experiment where the same person, starting in exactly the same conditions, shows that he can act in at least two different ways. That, obviously, can never be done, not even in principle.

    That would mean that both a free will model and a non free will model escape direct confirmation by a scientific experiment. None of the two can be falsified by such an experiment, because such an experiment can never be done.

    Again, we seem to agree.

    I would add, however, two things:

    a) There are very strong philosophical reasons to prefer the free will model, even if the deterministic model is logically consistent too. The simple fact is that all our view of reality is based on our intuition of free will. I believe that nobody, not even the most convinced determinist, can really accept completely the simple consequences of a deterministic model of reality. That’s why compatibilism was created: a reassuring inconsistent lie whose only purpose is to avoid facing the logical consequences of a consistent belief.

    b) There is, indeed, an indirect scientific clue that points to the correctness of the free will model. It is the existence of dFSCI, and unique kind of output that only conscious intelligent being are able to generate abundantly. I have discussed it at length with all of you, and I know that you disagree. Your choice. But here my point is simply as follows. You just accept for a moment what should be obvious to all from facts: that only conscious intelligent beings (humans) seem to be able to generate dFSCI, and that we have no counterexample in all our scientific experience.

    Then, let’s reflect on the fact that, in our personal experience, the process of design that generates dFSCI is always connected with the intuition of meaning, purpose and free will (intentionality).

    So, we have all the reasons to believe that the ability of generating dFSCI is connected to our intuition that we have free will.

    The point is: we do generate dFSCI, and nothing else can. I strongly believe, therefore, that the simple fact that we have such a power, and that nothing else has it, is a string indirect scientific support for the free will model.

  69. 69
    gpuccio says:

    Alan Fox (#59):

    I think you are in danger of creating an entity by naming it. I doubt your approach to establishing “purpose” for measuring function as a scientific process will work. How does it differ from “this sure looks designed to me”?

    However I do find purpose everywhere in living things. From the simplest organism, the over-arching common element is purpose in trying to survive and reproduce. It is endemic in human society and what is what keeps us going, agnostics and atheists included. The next step towards world peace is to find a common purpose!

    I will try to keep it simple. I have defined very clearly how to use the “recognition of a function” (the conscious experience of purpose) to produce an objective definition of that function and an objective method to measure it.

    Let’s make an example. I observe that an enzyme makes some biochemical reaction happen at about 100 times the speed it has in the chemical context. So, I think: well this is interesting. Maybe the protein is a machine that performs that specific function. After all, that reaction is useful in the context where I find the protein (a cell).

    Please, note that such a reasoning is possible only because I, as an observer, have the inner experience of purpose. For all we know, the protein could just be a piece of matter with no function at all, or just with the function of increasing the cell weight. It’s only our mind that recognizes a possible specific function in the relation with the biochemical reaction.

    But that is only the start. My duty now is to give an explicit definition of the function:

    “My function here is defined as the ability of any object to speed up this particular reaction, if added to the cell environment”.

    This is an objective definition, that anyone can agree on. It can be even inserted in a non conscious algorithm.

    Ancillary to the definition is a measurement procedure:

    “The object in question must be able to increase the speed of that reaction of at least 50 times above the base level, if added to such and such laboratory setting”.

    That procedure is objective and strictly reproducible, and it gives us a binary value: function present or absent.

    Now, as I have said many times, anyone can define any function, however odd or bizarre, for any object. We can also define a lot of different functions for the same object. The important thing is that the function is objectively defined, and its measurement possible, at least in principle, in all cases.

    As I have said many times, dFSCI measures the minimal digital complexity linked to that function as defines: the minimal number of bits that can give us the function as present. It is not relative to an object, but to a specifically defined function.

    So, I definitely believe that my approach works. And it certainly differs from “this sure looks designed to me”.

    Your final phrase is very interesting:

    “However I do find purpose everywhere in living things. From the simplest organism, the over-arching common element is purpose in trying to survive and reproduce.”

    And you are right. I agree with you.

    The point is, purpose is probably not the same as free will, and is probably not enough to generate dFSCI.

    These are again philosophical problems, and we cannot probably give final answers. However, it seems very likely, form what we can observe, that a conscious representations of:

    a) meaning

    b) purpose

    c) free will (the ability to output meaningful forms to realize the purpose)

    is the subjective context where dFSCI is generated.

    And I agree with all my heart with you last note:

    “It is endemic in human society and what is what keeps us going, agnostics and atheists included. The next step towards world peace is to find a common purpose!”

  70. 70
    Alan Fox says:

    68 gpuccio June 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Do you agree that our actions are not determined completely by “deterministic inputs and probabilistic factors”, and that what we call “choice” goes beyond that kind of explanation?

    I do agree that, because the universe is not deterministic, it is impossible to “step into the same river twice” so we cannot reproduce initial conditions with sufficient accuracy to test whether this would result in identical choices. I am convinced (or deluded) that I am able to choose alternatives, constrained by physical ability, culture, economics etc etc
    and do in fact make choices that are unpredictable.

    If you do, then you believe in libertarian free will.

    If you don’t, you are a determinist, either a simple determinist or a compatibilist.

    Well, I cannot say I believe in libertarian free will because I still don’t make sense of it. I am certainly not a determinist and I don’t see the need to be a compatibilist. (That reminds me, Mark Frank was somewhat puzzled (and even a little hurt) at your seemingly visceral dislike of compatibilism.

  71. 71
    Alan Fox says:

    68 gpuccio June 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

    The point is: we do generate dFSCI, and nothing else can. I strongly believe, therefore, that the simple fact that we have such a power, and that nothing else has it, is a string indirect scientific support for the free will model.

    I have been saying for a long time that FSC and variants is a reification and I don’t think it is clearly enough (or at all) defined to enable any meaningful discussion. However, the real difficulty for me comes with the “hyperspace jump” from human abilities to an analogy involving some imaginary entity. This and the “problem” of free will just don’t have any anchor in reality for me.

  72. 72
    Alan Fox says:

    And I agree with all my heart with you last note.

    Pleased and not surprised! Abbi cura di te!
    Ciao Alan

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: Y’know what’s strange? AFTER your own example of FSCI was analysed, you are still doubting its existence or significance. That tells me, this is a pivotal and telling point that will not be acknowledged, no matter the evidence. That’s a pity in some ways, but your behaviour lets us see what we are up against. KF

  74. 74
    Alan Fox says:

    AFTER your own example of FSCI was analysed…

    Are you referring to counting letters? Triviality personified!

    …you are still doubting its existence or significance. That tells me, this is a pivotal and telling point that will not be acknowledged, no matter the evidence.

    You might consider the scenario that there is nothing of significance to acknowledge. Analogies are not convincing. You need to explain how whatever it is you think you are doing can be applied in a biological context.

  75. 75
    gpuccio says:

    Alan Fox:

    Thank you for your answers. I think I understand better your position now.

    Well, I cannot say I believe in libertarian free will because I still don’t make sense of it. I am certainly not a determinist and I don’t see the need to be a compatibilist.

    Well, I can only wish you that some day you may make sense of what your heart already seems to believe: “I am convinced (or deluded) that I am able to choose alternatives, constrained by physical ability, culture, economics etc etc
    and do in fact make choices that are unpredictable.”

    By the way, I am sorry, and even a little puzzled, that Mark Frank is hurt by my take on compatibilism: after all, he should know very well what I think of that issue. And believe me, my “dislike” of compatibilism is not at all “visceral”: it is a very strong, and convinced, intellectual disdain. Mark, you have all my friendship, but remember, you can have friendship for some person, and still really despise some of his ideas.

    I have been saying for a long time that FSC and variants is a reification and I don’t think it is clearly enough (or at all) defined to enable any meaningful discussion.

    Your choice. I have spent enough time trying to show you all the obvious. Everybody, in the end, chooses freely what to believe.

    However, the real difficulty for me comes with the “hyperspace jump” from human abilities to an analogy involving some imaginary entity. This and the “problem” of free will just don’t have any anchor in reality for me.

    This is perfectly reasonable. The inference by analogy that, as I have always stated, concludes the ID reasoning needs not be accepted by everybody. Like all scientific inferences, it’s up to each single person to accept it or not. The inference is the best available explanation, but it is nor a logic demonstration.

    I think you guys would do better to recognize the simple truths that you obstinately deny: that dFSCI exists, that it can recognize human artifacts with 100% specificity, and is therefore a reliable indicator of design. That no counterexample exists in the known universe of a single object that exhibits dFSCI and was not designed.

    That dFSCI can surely be applied to biological objects, and that a lot of biological objects do exhibit a lot of it.

    All your attempts to deny, or simply ignore, these conclusions are frankly unjustified, IMHO.

    Here you could stop, with dignity. You could just say: I know all of that is true. I know that our explanations, neo darwinism and all its derivatives, are really no explanation at all. But still I cannot accept the final “jump”, the inference of a designer that was not human for biological information. So, I will go on looking for an explanation that is different, an explanation that at present I cannot offer.

    That is fine. It would be an acceptable intellectual position. It is certainly biased and it certainly depends on some irrational commitment to a predefined worldview, but it is acceptable just the same. After all, we are humans, and therefore unavoidably biased.

    But to deny that dFSCI is a good concept, well defined and well applicable, and that it can very well be applied to biological objects, is simply folly.

    Ah, and where did you get your italian? E’ un piacere condividere tutto questo con te, amico mio! 🙂

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: Pardon, but that is just the point. The matter of symbol strings exhibiting digitally coded functionally specific complex information is obvious to the point of triviality. Absent a priori commitment that cannot acknowledge the blatant, whether present in ASCII text or DNA strings. So much the worse for such a commitment that leads to shutting one’s eyes to patent facts. I hope that, one day, you will be able to bring yourself to a point where you can see that at least. G’day. KF

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