Author Topic: Compatibilism/Soft Determinism  (Read 10444 times)

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May 13, 2009, 04:07:23 PM
Reply #30

Faijer

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Quote from: Vilhjalmr
Morality provides a greater survivability for the species as whole. Presumably. Every part of a situation contributes toward its deterministic outcome, even other mental parts: the illusion of free will is what makes me always choose to save a fellow human from a fire. Organisms without the illusion may be predetermined to decide a different way, since their "mental machine" doesn't have that component.
But, by your own admission this isn't a concern. Because they would all make the choices regardless of any perceived choice or morality.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
I can agree with this, except in one particular: that the list of desired actions isn't singular. A chain of cause and effect can only have one outcome in any other situation, after all.
Question begging. You are assuming that the deterministic chain for humans is equivalent to the deterministic chain for pool balls.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
This mental list might have multiple items, but if so, how does one choose between them? Again, I can't even conceive of a mechanism for choice in that sense; I guess because I'm a materialist.
There are other phenomena that we cannot yet explain. The difficulty in determining the explanation for why x/e/p exists/occurs/is true is not sufficient reason to assume it false.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
"Choice" exists only in that there is no external agent stopping us from dropping/catching the ball
The lack of an agent does not make it choice. For all intents and purposes, hard determinism could be the agent. Not to mention the fact that it has been many years since the Milgram study, people now know how to resist the pressure of external agents. ;)

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
we are constrained by our own personalities
I would re-word this as 'we constrain ourselves to our own personalities'. But, whichever way you word it, you presuppose your conclusion, so it's really a moot point.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
Well, I'd say that the human just has different, and more complex, programming. A certain human may be more likely to favor the underdog; the statistics, over a larger period of time, will end up being able to predict the likely result again. A perfect understanding of the person and game may be able to predict the outcome 100% of the time.
Kind of missed the point of the analogy.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
I don't want to derail the thread, but any thoughts you could offer on this would be interesting.
I simply find reductive materialism to be an unsatisfactory explanation of mental phenomena. While I don't deny that the brain certainly affects the mind, nor do I claim to be a proponent of substance dualism, I do not think that the mind and brain are the same thing. I like the computer analogy somewhat, in that you can't open up a computer hard disk and see your GUI. I.e. there is a difference between hardware and software. For more on the problems, start your journey here, and make a pit stop here.
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May 13, 2009, 04:38:57 PM
Reply #31

Vilhjalmr

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But, by your own admission this isn't a concern. Because they would all make the choices regardless of any perceived choice or morality.
No, that's what I was trying to say with "every part of a situation contributes toward its deterministic outcome." I would not be predetermined to save the person from the fire if I didn't have that illusion: it's one of the things that makes the particular outcome happen.

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Question begging. You are assuming that the deterministic chain for humans is equivalent to the deterministic chain for pool balls.
You're correct. My reasoning is that pool balls and humans are governed by the same rules, being composed of the same stuff. It doesn't prove determinism; but before I reject my position, you'd need to tell me what makes humans different. If I told you I had a rock that wouldn't fall, you'd ask for an explanation of what makes the rock different from all the other rocks!

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There are other phenomena that we cannot yet explain. The difficulty in determining the explanation for why x/e/p exists/occurs/is true is not sufficient reason to assume it false.
Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, as they say; but if there is no evidence for proposition A, why believe it? I assume it is false until I have reason to believe otherwise, or else I'd be believing in everything that could be!

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The lack of an agent does not make it choice. For all intents and purposes, hard determinism could be the agent. Not to mention the fact that it has been many years since the Milgram study, people now know how to resist the pressure of external agents. ;)
Ha! Actually, I recently read an article talking about a repeat of that experiment... people still administered the shocks. We never learn. More evidence for determinism! (I kid.)

It makes it a choice in all meaningful ways, I think. You are able to do what you want to do. That you only want one item is irrelevant.

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I would re-word this as 'we constrain ourselves to our own personalities'. But, whichever way you word it, you presuppose your conclusion, so it's really a moot point.
How so? I don't believe I do.

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Kind of missed the point of the analogy.
Enlighten me. :p

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I simply find reductive materialism to be an unsatisfactory explanation of mental phenomena. While I don't deny that the brain certainly affects the mind, nor do I claim to be a proponent of substance dualism, I do not think that the mind and brain are the same thing. I like the computer analogy somewhat, in that you can't open up a computer hard disk and see your GUI. I.e. there is a difference between hardware and software. For more on the problems, start your journey here, and make a pit stop here.
Excellent. Thanks for the links :)
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May 13, 2009, 10:16:21 PM
Reply #32

Watchtower

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I'm still taking some time to mull over the last few posts, and read up on the links, but a few things I wanted to add:

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but before I reject my position, you'd need to tell me what makes humans different.

Awareness.  Pool balls are not aware, they get hit and they move according to how physics says they should move.  Our bodies are made of the same stuff, and if you hit my body exactly the same way in the same situation twice, it will be moved in the exact same way both times.  But with choices, awareness and a will to act are involved in the outcome, and that's the difference.

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Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, as they say; but if there is no evidence for proposition A, why believe it?

But there is evidence for proposition A.  Free will is an observed phenomenon, and you are effectively accepting this by proposing that it is an illusion.  It already seems to be a certain way, and if you want to argue that it is a different way, the burden of evidence is on you.  The problem, I think, is that you want a purely mechanistic explanation for how it works, one that can be compared to coins and pool balls, when such an explanation might not exist. 

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I can agree with this, except in one particular: that the list of desired actions isn't singular. A chain of cause and effect can only have one outcome in any other situation, after all.

You're assuming that if the same choice is made every time, the other choices didn't exist or were not available for consideration.  But just because a certain choice is always made, doesn't mean that the other choices never existed or were never considered, and that therefore the list is/was singular.  You're looking at it solely from the perspective of an outside observer, and from that sole perspective it is possible to reject the existence of the other choices within the subject's mind, because they are effectively irrelevant and unnecessary, especially if you already know what the outcome is going to be.  It is not possible, however, to reject the existence of the other choices from the perspective of the subject.  It's fairly obvious to anyone who has ever made a choice that the other options did exist.  As both observers and subjects, we cannot reject the existence of the other choices, even if we are aware of the predictability of the outcome.  Oy, that was convoluted, I hope you get my point.

You stated that you could not conceive of how choice would work in that situation, but the situation does happen, and choices are made, so the fact that you can't explain or understand how it would work that way doesn't mean it didn't work that way (meaning with the normal definition of "choice" that you claim is impossible).  I think that was the point of his "There are other phenomena we can't explain" statement.  The normal definition of choice seems to be the way it works, but you are rejecting it simply because you have trouble wrapping your head around it.

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Well, I'd say that the human just has different, and more complex, programming.

So you think it's different programming, but it still works in a comparable fashion as the computer?  Where does the phenomenon of awareness fit in here?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 10:36:43 PM by Watchtower »
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May 14, 2009, 04:18:16 AM
Reply #33

Faijer

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Quote from: Vilhjalmr
No, that's what I was trying to say with "every part of a situation contributes toward its deterministic outcome." I would not be predetermined to save the person from the fire if I didn't have that illusion: it's one of the things that makes the particular outcome happen.
This seems to be self-contradictory. You cannot say, "You can choose between A and B. But you must choose A." This reduces it from a choice to a problem. See this video for a video game parallel.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
You're correct. My reasoning is that pool balls and humans are governed by the same rules, being composed of the same stuff. It doesn't prove determinism; but before I reject my position, you'd need to tell me what makes humans different. If I told you I had a rock that wouldn't fall, you'd ask for an explanation of what makes the rock different from all the other rocks!
I would like to add a bit more to Watchtower's response to this. In the philosophy of identity when we talk about self-awareness, we talk of animals that are able to interact with causal systems. Being self-aware requires that a creature be aware that it is an object that is distinct from its surroundings. Animals make choices as humans do, however those choices are obviously limited by their limited cognitive function. Which brings us to humans, whose higher cognitive functioning gives them self-consciousness, which is a more reflective awareness of your self-awareness, a.k.a. second-order awareness. The choices available to humans are increased due to this circumstance of our being, and as I'm sure you can agree, being self-conscious certainly separates us from pool balls.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, as they say; but if there is no evidence for proposition A, why believe it? I assume it is false until I have reason to believe otherwise, or else I'd be believing in everything that could be!
Guilty until proven innocent? Do you assume that all guilty criminals are therefore guilty, or do you believe that some of them could have been falsely accused? Certainly later evidence shows some to be falsely accused, and they are acquitted based on certain circumstances. But, actually believing until then that all people charged as being guilty are so is a bit strong. There's no need to say that you would believe in everything that could be, merely that you would believe in the possibility that everything could be. The difference between the two statements is important, because I fit into the latter, not the former.

Quote from:
It makes it a choice in all meaningful ways, I think. You are able to do what you want to do. That you only want one item is irrelevant.
Keep in mind that there is a school of thought that likes to take about causation in terms of counterfactuals, and thus while you only choose to consume one item, a piece of cake, you are also choosing to not consume other items, crackers, chips, lemonade, etc. You could view these as a series of binary ons and offs (dos and do nots), but really this is a bit of a superficial issue because it doesn't really provide an answer between compatibilism and incompatibilism. See above for that.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
How so? I don't believe I do.
I'm of the opinion that most people, if not all, decide whether they believe in free will or not before they ever begin arguing it. People who are swayed by one side had a belief prior. Given the abundant lack of conclusive evidence, it's not unreasonable that people do this, just like people have religious beliefs. But, there are probably relatively few, if any people who extensively go through all sides of the argument before making up their mind which they believe. Ask around, I could be wrong.

Quote from: Vilhjalmr
Enlighten me.
Well, it was an analogy, not meant to be taken too literally. The computer players were meant to be metaphors for determinism, while the human players were meant to be metaphors for free will. The point was that human interference rebalances (not unbalances) the way the events unfold, much the way free will and choice rebalance the way deterministic events play out. The problem for most incompatibilists is that they have difficulty getting their head around the idea of softer determinism, where deterministic events will play out one way if no free agent interferes, but would simply play out another if a free agent rebalanced the deterministic process. Such notions of rebalance to a hard determinist tend to be more akin to unbalance, and this notion seems inconsistent to them due to the supposedly inviolate nature of determinism under the hard model.
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May 14, 2009, 07:07:01 PM
Reply #34

Tsumaru

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Just want to quickly throw in that I'll reply eventually. Just don't have the time (or clarity of mind) to get through everything right now. So yeah. I shall return though!
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