Free will and determinism

266 Replies, 7934 Views

Quote:The claim that neuroscience has debunked free will has become fairly widespread and Rationality Rules, one of the most prominent atheist YouTubers, is at the forefront preaching this exact message. He proclaims that “science is telling us loud and clear and unequivocally that while our feelings of free will are real free will itself is an illusion.” His case is based on what are arguable the two most often-cited studies in neuroscience which presumably showed that determinism is true and free will doesn’t exist (which means that by watching my video you’ll not only get to see my response to @Rationality Rules but you’ll learn about the nuts and bolts that are behind the popular claim that neuroscience has debunked free will). The first one is the work of Benjamin Libet, a pioneering neuroscientist who published a groundbreaking study in the early 1980s. The second one is the work of Chun Siong Soon. This video is part #1 of my response to Stephen’s case (part #2 will follow later) and it deals exclusively with Stephen’s treatment of Libet’s work. One of the most eye-opening lessons you will learn is that Benjamin Libet himself never thought of his work as providing evidence for determinism and against free will. Quite the opposite, actually. This means that Rationality Rules has essentially hijacked and abused Libet’s work for a case that Libet himself would never have supported. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg… I hope you will enjoy this video which deals with a key theme in Christian apologetics and in debates between skeptics and Christians.






(This post was last modified: 2022-07-22, 10:40 AM by Brian. Edited 1 time in total.)
[-] The following 4 users Like Brian's post:
  • Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel, Valmar, tim
I'm sick of these assh*les denying free will and therefore our free will on their behalf. The experiments (Libet's for example) they trumpet, are open to much interpretation and they always leave out the important point that even if the brain did preselect something, the conscious will can still say no, I'm not doing it because it's wrong. As in strangling someone. 

They're a bunch of patronising inconsistent hypocrites. None of them would be prepared to overlook it when someone broke into their house and stole their possessions, let alone someone who god forbid raped their wife or attempted to kill them. 

Would Sam Harris, pompous ass as he is in my opinion, disregard someone who did the above or even spat in his face? Would he just say, oh well, it was his neurons that did it, he's not responsible, so I won't press charges or even complain. Rubbish !

Note they always his/her neurons. Who is the he or her that possesses the neurons ? Sorry, but this really winds me up.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-22, 02:03 PM by tim. Edited 1 time in total.)
[-] The following 7 users Like tim's post:
  • Obiwan, Brian, Sciborg_S_Patel, Raimo, stephenw, nbtruthman, Valmar
(2022-07-22, 10:37 AM)Brian Wrote:



What were the findings in the Libet experiment?
Quote:Libet showed consistently that there was unconscious brain activity associated with the action—a change in EEG signals that Libet called “readiness potential”—for an average of half a second before the participants were aware of the decision to move

Unconscious brain activity is still bio-information processing.  Libet's results corroborate the idea that mind described as subconscious information processing is the source of intent and will.  The whole debate is based on the linguistic trick that conflates subconscious bio-informatic processes not being natural and instincts are without mind as a source.

Libet's results bolster informational realism.  Intent is found in instinct.  And like Darwin said instincts can be brought to mind and adapted to environmental challenges.  Just think -- its good for an athletic performance to be called "unconscious," where the wisdom of the body and mind can be integrated.  (conscious thought suppressed)  Do we then say: because they were "in the zone" they were not exerting will?  No - we deduce that it was intensely expressed will that took them to the next level preformance.
[-] The following 4 users Like stephenw's post:
  • tim, Brian, Sciborg_S_Patel, Ninshub
This is a different question, spurred on by stephenw's post: how should we understand metapsychologically and philosophically "intent and will". Are they part of a "self"?
[-] The following 2 users Like Ninshub's post:
  • Brian, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2022-07-22, 06:34 PM)stephenw Wrote: What were the findings in the Libet experiment?

Unconscious brain activity is still bio-information processing.  Libet's results corroborate the idea that mind described as subconscious information processing is the source of intent and will.
  The whole debate is based on the linguistic trick that conflates subconscious bio-informatic processes not being natural and instincts are without mind as a source.

Libet's results bolster informational realism.  Intent is found in instinct.  And like Darwin said instincts can be brought to mind and adapted to environmental challenges.  Just think -- its good for an athletic performance to be called "unconscious," where the wisdom of the body and mind can be integrated.  (conscious thought suppressed)  Do we then say: because they were "in the zone" they were not exerting will?  No - we deduce that it was intensely expressed will that took them to the next level preformance.

Not so. Mind can't anywhere adequately be described as information processing. The essence of mind is conscious subjective awareness, qualia, thought, which are existential worlds apart from information processing in their basic nature. That's the "Hard Problem". 

The real findings:

Libet's experiments indicated that when you made a decision to push the button based on some inclination or feeling, you had a measurable brain wave electrical impulse that unconsciously preceded the conscious decision by half a second. Apparently indicating that the "free will" decision was actually the result of brain information processing.

But he was skeptical that that was the whole story. He elaborated the experiment to immediately follow up the initial button push decision with the instruction to the subject to immediately consciously decide to veto pushing the button. When the subject decided to veto pushing the button, there was no new brain wave at all. It was silent in terms of brain waves.

Libet could see from this experiment that you have the ability to decide whether or not you are going to comply with what your brain is urging you to do. And that that willed decision for compliance or not is not material. It’s not brain processing and brain electrical impulses. It’s immaterial. It might be called "free won't". And, he said, that’s the soul. That’s free will.

So Libet actually considered that really he had demonstrated scientifically that we have an immaterial power of mind, of will to make the decision to override our, you might say, material inclinations. 

This of course is conveniently forgotten and ignored by the materialists in their claim that Libet showed that we are entirely deterministic machines of admittedly immeasurable complexity. And this thinking is really self-defeating. We should ask them how they are really responsible for their decision that the truth is that they have no free will and their decision to proclaim this - it was actually the deterministic activity of brain neurons processing information. They then can't really be given credit for anything - it was their brain neurons that did it. The leading practitioners of this crazy doctrine of course also proclaim that there actually is no "they" at all, as conscious entities, since consciousness itself is an illusion. Self-defeating and self-contradicting again.

And of course the materialists ignore a boatload of empirical evidence for the existence of an immaterial center of self, of mind, that can't possibly be the deterministic activities of brain neurons. This data is especially from investigated and verified veridical NDEs.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-23, 10:27 AM by nbtruthman. Edited 8 times in total.)
[-] The following 5 users Like nbtruthman's post:
  • Valmar, tim, Ninshub, Raimo, Typoz
A bit off topic but related to the videos, Stephen (Rationality Rules) was raised in a Mormon family and it is very common for people raised under oppressive religion to go all-out atheist/materialist when they get free.  Another example is Cosmic Skeptic who was raised Roman Catholic.


(2022-07-22, 02:02 PM)tim Wrote: Would Sam Harris, pompous ass as he is in my opinion, disregard someone who did the above or even spat in his face? Would he just say, oh well, it was his neurons that did it, he's not responsible, so I won't press charges or even complain. Rubbish !
I suppose they would argue that they have no choice but to believe it is wrong and they would involuntarily do something about it.  It's all determined that way apparently, as are their opinions - just random, meaningless electrical signals in the brain.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-23, 11:14 AM by Brian. Edited 1 time in total.)
[-] The following 4 users Like Brian's post:
  • Obiwan, tim, Sciborg_S_Patel, Ninshub
(2022-07-23, 10:01 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Not so. Mind can't anywhere adequately be described as information processing.

I [think] this depends on what "Information" actually is? 

I've posted this elsewhere but it has some relevance here - I don't pretend to grasp all of it but I do feel like the IIT guys have made me less resistant to their conception of information w/ this paper:

Only what exists can cause: An intrinsic view of free will

Quote:This essay addresses the implications of integrated information theory (IIT) for free will. IIT is a theory of what consciousness is and what it takes to have it. According to IIT, the presence of consciousness is accounted for by a maximum of cause-effect power in the brain. Moreover, the way specific experiences feel is accounted for by how that cause-effect power is structured. If IIT is right, we do have free will in the fundamental sense: we have true alternatives, we make true decisions, and we - not our neurons or atoms - are the true cause of our willed actions and bear true responsibility for them. IIT's argument for true free will hinges on the proper understanding of consciousness as true existence, as captured by its intrinsic powers ontology: what truly exists, in physical terms, are intrinsic entities, and only what truly exists can cause.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-07-23, 07:18 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
[-] The following 2 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • stephenw, Brian
(2022-07-23, 07:18 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I [think] this depends on what "Information" actually is? 

I've posted this elsewhere but it has some relevance here - I don't pretend to grasp all of it but I do feel like the IIT guys have made me less resistant to their conception of information w/ this paper:

I don't think so, unless IIT has a completely new definition not yet in the English dictionary.

"Information" is defined as "what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things". The basic nature of these physical "things" and the molecular motions of these logic gate operations of the processing are physical and therefore existentially fundamentally different from the qualia of consciousness. The information that is processed by a computer or presumably by structures of brain neurons is ultimately immaterial but real, but has no causal efficacy by itself in the physical world.   

Or maybe the key is the definition of "processing".

But "processing" is defined as (to) "perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it", or "operate on (computer data) by means of a program". In both cases these activities or actions are physical and therefore also existentially fundamentally different from the qualia of consciousness. And this "processing" by arrays of logic gates in some form of physical implementation either in computers or the human brain is inherently algorithmic computation and therefore impossibly, fundamentally, different and apart from consciousness and thought, since mind is basically non-algorithmic and non-computational.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-23, 08:23 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 2 times in total.)
[-] The following 1 user Likes nbtruthman's post:
  • Typoz
(2022-07-23, 10:01 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Not so. Mind can't anywhere adequately be described as information processing. The essence of mind is conscious subjective awareness, qualia, thought, which are existential worlds apart from information processing in their basic nature. That's the "Hard Problem". 
Mind definition
Quote: n. 1. broadly, all intellectual and psychological phenomena of an organism, encompassing motivational, affective, behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive systems; that is, the organized totality of an organism's mental and psychic processes and the structural and functional cognitive components on which they depend.

Information sciences can quantify all of the above.  C'mon you-all know that is not what the the Hard Problem is?  I am glad to go over what Chalmers is saying currently about how physical processes (not information) cannot address life's ability to think and feel.

Mind, since the beginning of history, is the source of perception from the senses and the meanings they bring.  These useful meanings evolved mind as skills.  Meaningful subjective information comes from mental work.  Mind is the equal to physical forces, in its own informational environment, especially communication skills.  It is active in making the immaterial changes to the ecological environment that are characterized as will.  Willful intent and motivation change real world probabilities.  Mind is exactly this action.

And importantly, it is science and math modeled and open to methodology.

How does mind changing probabilities in the environment get measured? Enter dissipative structures fighting entropy.
 
Quote: In his 1996 book, La Fin des certitudes, written in collaboration with Isabelle Stengers and published in English in 1997 as The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature, Prigogine contends that determinism is no longer a viable scientific belief: "The more we know about our universe, the more difficult it becomes to believe in determinism." This is a major departure from the approach of Newton, Einstein and Schrödinger, all of whom expressed their theories in terms of deterministic equations. According to Prigogine, determinism loses its explanatory power in the face of irreversibility and instability. - Wikipedia
Here is an informational view stating that it not physical.
Quote: Prigogine was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contributions to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of what he called "dissipative structures." These are physical or chemical systems in far from equilibrium" conditions that appear to develop "order out of chaos" and look to be "self-organizing." Like biological systems, matter and energy (of low entropy) flows through the "dissipative" structure. It is primarily the energy and negative entropy that is "dissipated."

This similarity to biological systems (in just one very important thermodynamic respect) was exploited by Prigogine to say he had discovered "new laws of nature" that could connect the natural sciences to the human sciences. Dissipation also implies irreversibility, a very important characteristic of life.

Prigogine had no physical explanation for irreversibility - beyond the fact that his physical "dissipative structures" and biological systems - exhibited it. 
https://www.informationphilosopher.com/s...prigogine/

My humble take is --the difference in systems that can create their own order and organization is the action of MIND.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-25, 07:25 PM by stephenw. Edited 3 times in total.)
[-] The following 2 users Like stephenw's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel, Brian
(2022-07-25, 07:19 PM)stephenw Wrote: Mind definition

Information sciences can quantify all of the above.  C'mon you-all know that is not what the the Hard Problem is?  I am glad to go over what Chalmers is saying currently about how physical processes (not information) cannot address life's ability to think and feel.

Mind, since the beginning of history, is the source of perception from the senses and the meanings they bring.  These useful meanings evolved mind as skills.  Meaningful subjective information comes from mental work.  Mind is the equal to physical forces, in its own informational environment, especially communication skills.  It is active in making the immaterial changes to the ecological environment that are characterized as will.  Willful intent and motivation change real world probabilities.  Mind is exactly this action.

And importantly, it is science and math modeled and open to methodology.

How does mind changing probabilities in the environment get measured? Enter dissipative structures fighting entropy.
 
Here is an informational view stating that it not physical.
https://www.informationphilosopher.com/s...prigogine/

My humble take is --the difference in systems that can create their own order and organization is the action of MIND.

Various definitions of "mind":

- The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.

- The part of a person that thinks, reasons, feels, understands, and remembers.

- The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.

- In a human or other conscious being, the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.

- (In psychology): all intellectual and psychological phenomena of an organism, encompassing motivational, affective, behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive systems; that is, the organized totality of an organism's mental and psychic processes and the structural and functional cognitive components on which they depend.

The first four of these are different versions of the standard English meaning, and center on the basic, intuitive human conception of "spirit", which is immaterial and the core of consciousness, and is key to comprehending the "Hard Problem" and the fundamental existential difference between qualia and objective physically measurable phenomena.

The fifth and last of these definitions is the one you offer, the specialized one of psychology. This tries (in order to be as "scientific" as possible) to couch itself as much as possible in objective measurement and physical observation-related terminology rather than mushy terms that can't be related to anything physically real and observable. This is Psychology trying in vain to ape its "betters" in physics and the other "hard" sciences.

Therefore, the essence of what "psychology" is supposedly studying actually completely escapes it by its own self-definition. That is intentional on the part of the many psychologists who are fervent reductive materialists, deny the reality of spirit, and even deny the reality of consciousness as anything but an illusion.

Sure, information science can quantify most of the elements of psychology's own self-definition, but these components are deliberately chosen to be objectively measurable (unlike conscious awareness, the core of mind), intentionally leaving out the central and essential essence of what is consciousness, which is immaterial.

My impression is that your information sciences are trying (ultimately unsuccessfully) to straddle both completely contradictory camps. To "have their cake and eat it too". The fact remains that "information" in itself is immaterial but still real (like mathematics). By itself information is completely causally impotent. It's lack of causal efficacy makes it impossible for information in itself to be any basis for consciousness. Information is manifested or instantiated in the physical world by means of arrangements and configurations and structures of physical things in general, with examples being synapse connections in the brain and logic gates in computers, or the coded base pair configurations of DNA, but as the Hard Problem recognizes, it is also impossible for this to be the basis for consciousness.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-26, 01:24 AM by nbtruthman. Edited 8 times in total.)
[-] The following 2 users Like nbtruthman's post:
  • Valmar, Ninshub

  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)