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Old 08-14-2019, 12:53 PM
begbert2 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
In order to be falsifiable, a claim must be open to refutation through physical evidence. Assuming you cannot directly or indirectly observe ghosts, the above premisses are contradictory but not falsifiable.
Falsifiable claims are just claims that can be proven wrong one way or the other. The term tends to be associated with physicality because the bulk of important non-falsifiable statements in common parlance are about things that nobody can show to exist, but the term is not limited to the non-material, and being nonmaterial doesn't mean that statements about you are nonfalsifiable.

Being a theorized nonmaterial entity/object doesn't make something immune from being logic'd about and even disproven, no matter how much people might wish that was the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
First, the only mind I can actually observe is my own. I assume the existence of other minds but I cannot observe them; I can only observe their physical brains and only then in the hypothetical. We can mark the existence of other minds as another assumption made.
Naah, my argument is fine with my mind being the only mind in existence. I'm only making an argument about all the minds that work the way that I observe my mind to work. If solipsism happens to be true, my argument is content to merely prove that my mind (the only mind!) operates in a functionally deterministic way such that free will and choice cannot sensibly rely on nondeterministic factors.

I mean, if I have the only mind in existence, then that's all the free will there is to talk about, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I agree with you that mental states are stable - based on my own memory, my own emotions do not change with "wild randomity", nor do my beliefs, opinions, or knowledge. I agree that the mind "is not suffused with static". The part I disagree with is that all changes in mental state flow from causes. You say this is supported by observation, but I don't think it is. I will admit that there are some changes in mental state which have causes.
Tell you what - I'm willing to be entirely unconcerned with cases where small random perturbations damage the stability of any part of mental state, because I recognize that logically it makes no damn sense to consider any introduction of randomity as an addition of will. It doesn't matter if randomity is slightly screwing with your ability to make decisions, or if it's slightly screwing with your ability to remember things, or if it's slightly screwing with your ability to clearly read your senses. There could be small random perturbations all over the place - we just know that for most people (which is to say me, since as you say we're all solipsists here) the amount of randomity isn't sufficient to upend the entire apple cart. I mean, I'm not senile, not yet anyway.

And we are talking about damage here. In a discussion like this one where I'm not restricting myself to minds located in the physical universe, non-determinism only comes in one flavor: not determined by anything, be it physics, souls, or gods. Pure randomity. That's what non-determinism means: randomity. Pure mindless randomity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
What I can't say is that, based on observation, thoughts are always caused by physical events. Certainly physical events can cause sensations, as demonstrated by the wristwatch band giving me a sensation of numbness in my pinky finger. Certainly thoughts can cause or influence physical events, as demonstrated when I thought to touch my pinky and thumb together, then did so. I cannot say with certainly that thoughts are caused by sensations, because the mechanisms of the non-material mind are unobservable and possibly not causal. I cannot observe that tightening my wristwatch band necessarily causes me to touch my thumb and pinky finger together, although there is a logical reason for me to do so (to test whether my finger is numb). If you were to ask me why I picked my thumb instead of the table-top or some other object, I would not necessarily have an answer and might resort to post-hoc justification, or just say it was the first thing that came to my mind. But what process, if any, determined what came to my mind? It is certainly not wildly random, but I could not say whether or not my thoughts are a little random, with consequence.
Since when are we talking about physical stuff? My argument is still intended to cover wherever the mind is living, be it a physical brain, some spiritual thing, or a curiously aware tomato. I'm extrapolating back from observable behaviors of the mind, so these conclusions reach back to whatever mechansim or medium is causing the mind.

Which brings us to your "the mechanisms of the non-material mind are unobservable and possibly not causal" comment. It's nonsense. You seem to be presupposing that if you talk about a nonmaterial thing it can do any silly thing you want it to, but when you start talking about a non-material thing we can observe that ceases to be the case. And if this non-material stuff is causing the minds I'm observing the effects of, then the effects of the non-material thing in question are observable.

If I like strawberries, and I choose to eat strawberries because I like them, then whatever is making that decision clearly and demonstratively is working in a causal fashion. The magical ghost mind is holding the preference for strawberries, and that preference within the magical ghost mind caused the magical ghost mind to choose to eat the strawberries. That's causation. Which means that minds operate in a causal manner, whether they are physical minds or magical ghost minds or some other kind of minds. Doesn't matter what they are; we can plainly see that causation is going on.

I mean, sure, there could be some magical ghost randomity messing with the magical ghost mind, the same way that there could be physics-based randomity messing with physical minds, but in both cases the randomity is equally irrelevent to will, because it's randomity. Randomity doesn't have will by definition. (And it didn't stop me from choosing the strawberries anyway.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
It may be that there is a physical explanation, but the current state of science does not come close to explaining the physiology of an individual thought. Indeed, science often works on the assumption that there is a physical explanation, and not a stochastic one unless we work in the correspondence principle. If you are unwilling to make the basic assumption of physicalism, I don't think you can conclude that all mental states flow from causes.
I've already conceded that randomity can crap around with with minds in various ways; while holding firm that any such randomity has minimal/controlled effect and can't possibly add to will in any case. Whether the mind is physical or magical or whatever has literally nothing to do with it; I'm talking about how it observably works.

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Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I agree with all of this.
Yay!

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Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I don't agree with this at all and have no idea how you got came to this conclusion. Random is not the same as equiprobable.
And I have no idea why you thing I'm talking about equprobablity. I'm quite confident I never mentioned the term; I can't even spell it.

In any case I'm willing to ratchet back my assertions about where randomity is in the mind - I'm willing to allow that there is a constant hiss of random static all throughout the mind everywhere, conditioned on the realization that its effect on cognition is contained and very close to nil. The static doesn't wipe out the thoughts, it doesn't erase the emotions, it doesn't fuzz out the opinions, it doesn't snow away all the knowledge and memories. Not immediately, anyway.

And of course it doesn't contribute will, because it's frickin' randomity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I might agree with you, if we define cognition as the physical behavior caused by the mind. But then all you've done is make a tautology. I had a different definition of cognition in mind, I won't bother trying to make a good written definition but I would want "cognition" to include pure thinking, even the parts that are normally private and unobservable to others.
Dude, I've been trying very hard (and imperfectly) to keep the physicalness out of it. I'm talking about how minds observably work, regardless of where they're housed. And when I define "cognition" I only mean "that thing that's doing the thinking and decision-making that I'm clearly observing to be happening". If your definition is incompatible with that, then I'm not sure what discussion we're even having.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
That's not what I said. Are you familiar with the pigeonhole principle? The output of a surjective function says nothing about the domain of its input. I concurred with your statement that brains are in a sense limited by their prior states, that the past matters, and that is still the extent of my agreement.
And that's all the agreement I need, really.

The things that can influence your mind's behavior are exclusively limited to:
1) Your mental state, which is a major factor in your subsequent mental states.
2) Randomity messing around with your developing mental state.
3) Things that are not part of your mental state, influencing it from the outside.

That's the entire possible list. Anything you might mention: gods, souls, the enticing aroma of strawberries - those all fall into one of those categories, because A ∨ ČA covers all bases by definition. (The randomity also falls under either A or ČA by defintion, and I don't particularly care where you put it, because it can't possibly impart will anyway because randomity isn't willful.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I didn't quote the rest of the paragraph, but maybe I should have.The implication is that "something that's not what you know, feel, or want, like randomity or control signals from an outside god or something" is different from "your mental state". Otherwise your rhetorical question seems out of place. Maybe you are right and I am reading too much into your post.
A ∨ ČA, yo. In that sentence I considered randomity to be in the ČA category, because it totally is; random perturbations can't be part of your mental state because they only occur as perturbations in the advancement from one mental state to another. A given fixed snapshot of a mental state doesn't have chunks of 'determined randomity' sitting in it; the closest you could get is a chunk of the mental state that has a value that is completely not determined by anything about the mental state immediately prior.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
We haven't established that all mental states have nonrandom causes, nor that random causes lead to random outcomes, so how can you say the mental state is nonrandom a priori?

Regarding the observations you allude to, what observations? My allegory of the pinky in this post basically says I don't always know why I think one way or another. Just a few sentences prior, you wrote "it would be more accurate to say that mind is using the randomity ... to determine cases where its determinations are so close to being a tie that random perturbations are the only difference between one choice being ahead and the other". I don't agree with that statement and it sounds like you don't agree, either.
A mental state, by definition, is a state. A state, by definition, has a state. Things that are random don't have a state while they're being random; they only have a state once they've resolved out to one outcome or another. Even if you have some kind of nexus of randomity it will produce an actualized outcome at some point; whatever its outcome happens to be at the moment the state is examined can be taken as the static condition of that part of the state at that moment.

Randomity, if it's occurring, can only be perturbing things as you change from one state to the next. That's literally the only place it can be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
You are mixing up "brain state" and "mental state" again, but without making any further assumptions I believe your statement does not follow either way. A brain state in a single instant might really be described with a wave function. If you subscribe to a hidden variable theory that's fine, but it is another assumption to add to the list.

With a mental state, the rules are off - you can't rule out the possibility of a nonmaterial "perturbation" affecting the mental state, and you can't really pinpoint which instant such a thing occurred.
Yeah, yeah, I messed up again. The problem is that I have a 100% certainty that brains cause minds which is burned deep into my consciousness, so holding this discussion without talking about brains is like talking about walking decaying brain-eating undead without ever saying "zombie".

And the rules most certainly aren't off - there is a rule that the thing that is causing the minds is causing the minds, and so examination of the behavior of the mind constitutes examination of the behavior of the thing that is causing the minds. Which means that while we can't rule out various small perturbations, we can most certainly rule out that perturbations (rather than preferences) are a driving force of my will. Regardless of where that will is residing.


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Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I have yet to be convinced, but it's been an interesting debate so far.
I love debates like this!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
Conversely, libertarians might assume your mind is influenced but not determined by physical actions. They would deny that every change in mental state flows from a cause. As I understand it, libertarianism empowers the mind with the godly power of being a prime cause. The mind is free to make a choice without any physical reason at all, even in contradiction to logic built on physical evidence; but this is unlikely, because physical things are influential.
Actually in my experience proponents of libertarian free will never, ever talk about godly power or souls. Maybe because the don't want to get laughed out of the discussion, but more probably because libertarian free will isn't about gods, it's about randomity.

As best I can tell, libertarian free will was created to operate completely within the framework of physical reality. Prior to physicalism people didn't frame the free will discussion as one about how minds worked; they assumed that minds were magic soul things that worked by magic. The bigger concern was whether gods of fate were screwing around with us. So whether or not our will was free had nothing to do with how we worked; it had everything to do with what other things were doing to us, whether they were predetermining our futures for us.

The introduction of physicalism handily wiped away the concerns about being externally controlled because we clearly don't have strings physically attached to our limbs. (They didn't know about radio and the martian mind control beams back then.) Instead the big concern was that once the mind actually lived in the brain it seemed fair to wonder how the stupid thing worked. And since reality, by and large, seems to run on cause, what would it be like if our minds ran on causes. And they noticed that if minds ran completely on causes, then a given mind and thought process would cause the same outcomes each time, predictably. We'd just got rid of the fates controlling us, do we now have to worry about physics controlling out every move??

Predictably, people freaked out at the idea of being predictable; it's long been thought that our actions would only be predictable if we were being externally controlled, and "physics", being a giant universal thing, sounds a lot like a giant uncaring god puppeting you. (Well it does if you don't think too hard anyway.) So some people came up with the idea of leaning very hard on randomity, because introducing randomity, non-determinism, at least reintroduces the idea of unpredictability. Which seemed to matter a lot.

Compatiblist free will is what happened when people said, "Wait a minute, this is stupid. The problem was never whether we were unpredictable; it was whether something else is controlling us. And our own brains aren't 'something else'." And then everybody the world over slapped their foreheads, admitted they'd been being dumb, and then nobody ever discussed free will again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
Also, to like strawberries is a mental preference, and we could say "it caused you to eat strawberries", but the Libertarian would say this is only a manner of speaking. The consumption of strawberries was only by the grace of the mind which had the power to reject both logic and the strawberries, and could have effected an alternate reality where strawberries were not eaten. It does not follow that the decision to eat strawberries is made without free will just because it makes sense.

Neither must the mind always have free will; I doubt any libertarian would deny that some of the time, the mind is unable to physically effect its decisions; and I'm sure some libertarians consume mind-altering drugs for the express purposes of forcibly altering the mind. Libertarianism is not necessarily incompatible with the concept of a mental disease restricting free will, either.
A libertarian free will proponent most certainly wouldn't say anything about the grace of the mind. Remember, libertarian free will argues from a presumed materialist framework where the mind is located in the physical brain and isn't graceful at all. The libertarian would simply say "but thanks to random perturbation we could never have known that you would have chosen strawberries; it's definitely possible that random influences on the deterministic parts of your mind could have caused you to eat that cow pie instead. Unpredictablity for the win! Woo!"

Libertarian free will, at its core, maintains that people's future actions can't be predicted, due to randomity existing in the physical world and perturbing the decision-making process. It's not overly concerned with whether the alternative options make sense; it's more concerned (very concerned) with always maintaining unpredictability. Since, again, that's the whole reason it was invented: to preserve the unpredictability that determinism was threatening to take away. They mistakenly believe that free will = unpredictability and thus logicked that if free will means unpredictable and determinism means unpredictable, we clearly must be driven by nondeterminism because clearly we have free will. Nondeterminism! Randomity! Woo!

Or at least, that's how libertarian free will was always explained to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
If by magic you mean antimaterialism, I disagree and assert that libertarianism does require antimaterialism. Libertarianism and antimaterialism are not the same, but it's like the rectangle and the square: libertarianism is a form of antimaterialism.
Libertarian free will has always been explained to me as operating within a materialistic framework, every time I've heard it mentioned or discussed. (You excepted). It's very very explicitly about randomity, not souls or whatever.

People discussing souls usually just say "but souls!" and stand there smugly, without bothering to acknowledge that we can totally examine the behavior of souls by examining the behavior of the people they allegedly control. They certainly don't consider the fact that the souls' preferences doubtlessly are a controlling factor in determining the souls' decision-making processes; they prefer to pretend that souls have no moving parts, despite the fact that they obviously function somehow, and clearly aren't random. (Again, presuming the things exist.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
When I said "hard determinism", I actually meant the view that determinism is true and incompatible with free will. Hard determinism is mutually exclusive with compatibilism by definition. But I agree with you that hard determinists and compatibilists are using different words to describe the same thing. There is no real debate to be had between philosophers of those two groups.
Hmm, turns out upon doing further research, you're right that that's how that term is used. How stupid, using two terms about determinism to describe the exact same physical deterministic world with all the exact same behaviors and events at every level and having the separate 'determinism' terms designate differing opinions about something entirely unrelated to the determinism of the world itself (whether people have free will, specifically).

Okay, I'll concede that I do indeed reject hard determinism. You were absolutely right about that and I was wrong.