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Old 08-12-2019, 01:16 PM
begbert2 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
This being your intention, I will gladly point out some of the assumptions you have made.

It does not follow. Just because minds do not change with "wild randomity", doesn't mean every change in state flows from a cause. For example, a nonmaterial mind may change randomly for no cause, but still never change with wild randomity. How could you know? Nonmaterial claims are nonfalsifiable. This marks the first assumption: every change in mental state flows from a cause.

Also note that the causes themselves can be random or otherwise nondeterministic, regardless of whether the causes are physical or nonphysical in nature.
Firstly, the phrase "Nonmaterial claims are nonfalsifiable" is nonsense. The claim "Ghosts are always able to pass through walls, and also they're never able to pass through walls" is definitely falsifiable (and false). One can absolutely logic about the immaterial.

And one can determine that the mental state is not suffused with static by observation. As I noted random perturbation could be occurring within the mind, but it clearly doesn't have notable effect. Emotions don't change randomly, beliefs don't change randomly, opinions don't change randomly, knowledge doesn't change randomly. These are observable facts about minds.

If you wish to assert that being nonmaterial means that the mind can't have consistent state that doesn't change randomly, then what you're actually doing is forwarding a proof that minds aren't driven by anything nonmaterial.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
We must assume that the mind is nothing more than the brain, which rules out all of the ancient treatments on philosophy and many of the classical philosophical treatises. If you had said "the mind changes based on causes", this assumption would be unnecessary. I think this may have been a Freudian slip, and I won't include this assumption as I think it is unnecessary for your arguments.
Yep, it was a slip. Sorry.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
This does not follow either. In the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics there is a correspondence principle, and in probability theory we have the law of large numbers. Even then, it only follows that the function constrains the outputs when given random inputs. It does not follow that random inputs will lead to nonrandom outputs. Luckily that is the conclusion you draw.

The assumption here is that a sample average converges in probability towards the expected value.
You misunderstand - I merely am stating that if the mind is being influenced by randomity (which is possible), that the mind isn't allowing randomity to influence it randomly (so to speak). Any randomity that is influencing the mind is extremely limited in the effects it has on the mental state, to the point that it would be more accurate to say that mind is using the randomity in the way a computer program might use a random number generator, and only 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.

Again, this conclusion is based on observation of behavior - we know randomity is not a major part of human cognition because minds don't act random. Or put another way, we know the mind doesn't use many random inputs because there aren't random outputs.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
I concur.
I should hope so!

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
Right, but remember that the causes could be random.
Except, as you said, they can't be, not to any significant degree, because mental states observably doesn't fluctuate randomly. There could be a trivial amount of randomity being accessed to break exact ties, but the massive, massive bulk of cognition cannot possibly be based on randomity.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
It seems that you are defining "mental state" as "what you know, feel, and want" exclusively. This is another assumption.
You're affirming the consequent here (a fallacy). I actually make no such limiting assumption.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
This is another assumption, because we did not establish that your mental state is nonrandom. We said it was not "changing wildly without cause", but we did not establish that one's mental state is fixed at every given instant.
Okay there are two things here:
1) I totally did establish that the mental state is nonrandom, based on observation of how it behaves combined with your statement "It does not follow that random inputs will lead to nonrandom outputs". Brain state observably doesn't fluctuate randomly, so clearly randomity is not a consequential factor in its function.

2) In any given instant the brain state must be constant, because it's a single instant. Even something that is fluctuating completely randomly will have a fixed state at each single instant. This part is actually axiomatically true - to say otherwise is to say that there's no such thing as a brain state. (Material or not.)

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
Undoubtedly, if that influence is both nondeterministic and is one's self, eg: one's nonmaterial soul, such an influence on the mental state would constitute free will. Were it God in the traditional sense, that would constitute free will (on the part of God; as in 'God has free will'). Such a philosophy is non-deterministic by definition.

But you gave a rhetorical question, with an implied answer of "no". In order to join your answer I will need to deny the possibility of a nonmaterial soul or any other nondeterministic self-influence on one's mental state. This makes another assumption.
Firstly, while it's true that when you condition your statement with "if that influence is [...] nondeterministic]" that that philosophy is "non-deterministic by definition", there's actually nothing about a nonmaterial soul that implies non-determinism on its own. A nonmaterial soul could totally be deterministic. Why wouldn't that be possible?

Secondly, the entire argument to this point was repeatedly pointing out the readily observable fact that humans simply don't behave in a random way. They simply don't. The mind clearly doesn't make choices randomly, so it's clearly not being jerked around by randomity in any significant way. That's pretty much the point.

If your position is that non-material souls must be significantly driven by randomity, then I see that as you arguing that humans can't possibly have non-material souls because humans clearly aren't significantly driven by randomity. But that's you saying that - at this point I'm leaving open the possibility of a nonmaterial souls - they simply have to be mostly or completely deterministic, to match what we observe.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
If I agree to a number of assumptions listed above, I can join your opinion. For convenience, here is the running list:
  • Every change in mental state flows from a cause.
  • A sample average converges in probability towards the expected value.
  • Mental state is what one knows, feels, and wants, and nothing more.
  • One's mental state is fixed at every given instant.
  • There are no nondeterministic self-influences on one's mental state (such as a nonmaterial soul).
  • By observation.
  • This flowed from your misundertanding.
  • This flowed from your fallacy of affirming the consequent.
  • This is axiomatically true, being pretty much the definition of a "state".
  • Not any significant ones anyway. By observation.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
This last item in particular rules out all forms of libertarianism, which is by definition the only philosophy that allows for free will without a compatibilist definition of free will. Libertarianism lends itself to god-of-the-gaps style logic (magic), but it is still a philosophy.
YES! That's exactly my point! I'm arguing that by observation of how minds work at an external level we can conclude with certainty that libertarian free will is nonsense. That's exactly what I'm arguing.

So-called libertarian free will is the argument that our choices are made in defiance of our mental state. It argues that the important part of our choices is the part that's made for no reason whatsoever - if you are eating strawberries because you like strawberries the libertarian argument says that that's not you eating them of your own free will. Only if you spastically flail about and randomly shove the strawberries in your mouth is that a freely-made decision.

Libertarian free will is stupid. It's a stupid reaction to panic about the fact that minds might exist in a deterministic universe, when any sensible person can see that minds function in a deterministic way anyway.

And libertarian free will doesn't presuppose magic - that's what nonmaterialism offers, but libertarian free will doesn't have anything to do with nonmaterialism. A non-material mind could be fully deterministic and the libertarians wouldn't like it either; all they care about is that decisions be made without being determined by your mental state. Which, again, is stupid.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
It does not follow. You could very well leave the definition of choice alone and conclude that choice does not exist in reality. This is another assumption, which is that choice is the illusion of having the power to effect an alternative; when you say choice (your def.) exists, it is really the illusion of choice (my def.) that exists.
What I'm saying is that your definition of choice doesn't match with the common definition of choice. By the common definition of choice it's entirely possible for choices to be made deterministically.

Choice, by the common use of the term, is when there are multiple options to choose from and one of them is chosen. This absolutely can be done in a deterministic way, and the fact that there were multiple options being considered was no illusion.

My argument is that claiming that a given mental state has to be able to end up preferring more than one outcome simultaneously is a nonsensical way to define "choice" - it doesn't match up with reality.

Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
You didn't bring the argument to full circle, because you did not make the jump from the "existence" of choice to the existence of free will. I must point out that free will implies "free" choice, and it is a misnomer at best to freely decide when one is given the illusion of choice. If you had made that jump you would rule out hard determinism.

In making your argument you ruled out by assumption libertarianism. You are one step away from dismissing hard incompatibilism and hard determinism out of hand. It is no surprise that you come across with a compatibilist vibe, because you have assumed the conclusion.
I am dismissing nothing out of hand; I am examining the way minds work and based on those observations concluding that certain definitions of "choice" and "free will" must be wrong, at least if they're trying to describe the reality that our minds clearly are operating in.

Oh, and:
I dismiss "illusion of choice", based on observed evidence.
I dismiss libertarianism, based on observed evidence.
I dismiss hard incompatiblism, based on observed evidence.
I am totally cool with hard determinism, based on observed evidence. (Though I'm also cool with randomity existing, keeping in mind it clearly has little influence on mental function.)
I am totally cool with compatiblism, not because I assumed the conclusion, but because observation of mental behavior reveals that minds work in a way that is compatible with hard determinism.