Could Have Done Otherwise - What does it mean exactly?

  • #26
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Tournesol said:
The Basicness Assumption.

Tournesol - I have no problem with your suggestion that human decision-making may involve various mixtures of determinism and indeterminism - this may very well be true, and your Darwinian model may be a good approximation to how some parts of the brain work.

Having said this - the Darwinian model does not give rise to anything that can be distinguished from a simple mixture of determinism and random behaviour, and certainly the vast majority of libertarians (I believe) would reject the notion that free will can emerge simply by combining determinism with indeterminism - most libertarians seem to think that free will arises from some mystical realm which is beyond the simple ideas of determinism and indeterminism - it is neither, but they cannot say what it is.

Best Regards
 
  • #27
Q_Goest
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Hi MF. Thanks for going to the trouble of reading all the way through that paper. I'll try and get back to you in the next few days.
 
  • #28
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MF

So my naturalistic theory is wrong becasue it is a *naturalistic* theory,
and only a supernatural theory is acceptable ? It would
have saved a lot of trouble if you had said that at the outset.
 
  • #29
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After all, the point is whether FW can be defined
coherently, not whether it can be defined so as
to keep mystics happy.
 
  • #30
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Tournesol said:
MF

So my naturalistic theory is wrong becasue it is a *naturalistic* theory,
and only a supernatural theory is acceptable ? It would
have saved a lot of trouble if you had said that at the outset.
Hi Tournesol

I never said your theory is wrong *because* it is naturalistic. I do not believe any theory of free will can be both coherent and complete, because I do not believe the concept of free will itself is a coherent notion.

I believe the main problem with your theory is that it is not in fact a theory of free will - it does not explain how free will differs from a simple mix of determinism and indeterminism.

Let me try to explain below :

Does Free Will entail indeterminism?

Most supporters of libertarian Free Will claim that Free Will is incompatible with determinism, on the grounds that Free Will entails “could have done otherwise”. In principle, indeterminism allows the ability to have done otherwise. The problem is that indeterminism alone simply gives rise to random (arbitrary) behaviour – and that is not a kind of Free Will that anyone really wants.

Undaunted, some supporters of libertarian Free Will claim that a suitable combination of indeterminism and determinism, linked and operating in just the right way in certain agents, can give rise to Free Will. One such example is the Darwinian model, explained in your paper.

Your model uses an indeterministic Random Idea Generator (RIG) coupled with a Sensible Idea Selector (SIS). The RIG is essentially a genuinely indeterministic random number generator, with each random output being linked to (generating) a different ”idea”, which is then forwarded to the SIS. The SIS operates either completely or mostly deterministically, evaluating the relative merits of different ideas according to some rational algorithm. In this way, random ideas can be presented for analysis by the SIS, and an unpredictable but rational or near-rational overall output from the Darwinian model is guaranteed.

Depending upon the parameters used in your model, we can generate deterministic, indeterministic, or an indeterminable combination of deterministic and indeterministic behaviour – the model can certainly appear under certain circumstances to act both rationally yet unpredictably.

But is all “rational yet unpredictable behaviour” necessarily indicative of Free Will? You clearly do not think so, but you provide no way of testing the output of your model to enable us to distinguish between genuine Free Will (whatever that might be) and any arbitrary combination of deterministic and indeterministic behaviour. Indeed, you do not even attempt to analyse what you think might be the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for Free Will – therefore there is no way apart from “blind faith” that we can be sure your model is operating according to Free Will. The model simply seems to mimic some of the Free Will properties which libertarians presume some agents do possess (ie humans) – viz the model can act under certain circumstances both rationally yet unpredictably. It seems that this behaviour is enough (at least for you) to safely lead to the conclusion that the model does indeed possess Free Will.

But what happens if we replace your indeterministic RIG (iRIG) with a deterministic RIG (dRIG)?

A dRIG would be something similar to the random number generator (RNG) on your computer – for all practical purposes this RNG produces a sequence of “random” numbers which are (in principle) indistinguishable from the sequence of random numbers that would be produced by an indeterministic RNG. The one key difference is that if we reset the deterministic RNG, then it produces exactly the same series of “random” numbers all over again (this is why it is called deterministic). Apart from this, there is absolutely no in principle difference between the output of an iRIG and a dRIG.

Thus, we could remove the iRIG from your Darwinian model, and replace it with a similarly configured dRIG, and the model would operate in exactly the same way as it did before. The dRIG would produce deterministically “random” ideas which are evaluated and selected by the SIS. In operational terms, and in terms of the behaviour and output of the model, the model with the dRIG would be literally indistinguishable from the original model incorporating the iRIG.

But the new model, with the dRIG, is now a deterministic model. It acts both rationally and unpredictably, in exactly the same way as the original model, but if we reset the dRIG and start all over again, the new model will behave identically to the way that it behaved the first time. Apart from this, there is absolutely nothing anywhere in the operation, behaviour or output of the model which is in any way different to the original model with the iRIG. Aside from resetting the dRIG, neither the model itself (if it could express an opinion), nor anyone else external to the model, would be able to tell whether the model was operating deterministically or not.

If the original model (with the iRIG) possesses Free Will, as you claim, then on what rational basis can we claim that the new model (with the dRIG), which is internally and externally operationally indistinguishable from the original model, does not possess Free Will?

The libertarian would doubtlessly claim that only the model with the iRIG has access to “alternate possibilities”, the model with the dRIG (being completely deterministic) “cannot do otherwise” than what it does, and it is this difference (according to the Libertarian) which ensures that the iRIG version is acting with Free Will, whereas the dRIG version is not. But the two models are completely indistinguishable, both to external observers and internally to the models themselves! If both models were operating side by side, and you did not know which was which, there is absolutely no test of their operation, behaviour or output that you could perform that would allow you to say “this one has Free Will, and this one does not”. Indeed, if the models were somehow able to report on their own “perceptions” of their internal decision-making processes, their reports would be indistinguishable. There would be no rational operational basis at all for discriminating between the two models. If one of the models possesses Free Will and the other does not, then it would seem that this Free Will is purely epiphenomenal, in other words it is totally ineffective in terms of its influence on the operation, behaviour or output of the model which possesses it.

If there is no rational operational basis for discriminating between the two models, then it seems clear that at least one of the following three statements must be true in the context of the kind of Free Will as defined by you :

1) Both models possess Free Will, or
2) Neither model possesses Free Will, or
3) Free Will is purely an epiphenomenon, with absolutely no causal efficacy at all

Conclusion : Free Will (if it exists at all in the Darwinian model) is either ineffectual, or does not entail indeterminism (and is therefore compatible with determinism), or both.

Best Regards
 
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  • #31
Q_Goest
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Hi MF. I posted a responce here, but decided I may have made some errors in interpretation of the paper. I'll have to get back to this later.
 
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  • #32
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moving finger said:
I never said your theory is wrong *because* it is naturalistic. I do not believe any theory of free will can be both coherent and complete, because I do not believe the concept of free will itself is a coherent notion.

The naturalistic concept of free will, or the supertnatural one ?

I believe the main problem with your theory is that it is not in fact a theory of free will - it does not explain how free will differs from a simple mix of determinism and indeterminism.


I don't see why I should have to. I am also not in the habit of explaining
why steel differs from a mixture of iron and carbon.

Your only reason for rejecting the "mixture" approach is the
supernaturalism -- which neither of us actually
believes in.



But is all “rational yet unpredictable behaviour” necessarily indicative of Free Will?

Yes. why not ?

You clearly do not think so, but you provide no way of testing the output of your model to enable us to distinguish between genuine Free Will (whatever that might be) and any arbitrary combination of deterministic and indeterministic behaviour.


I am using the following definition of free will

"the power or ability to rationally choose and consciously perform actions, at least some of which are not brought about necessarily and inevitably by external circumstances".

And everything in my model of FW fulfils the conditions implicit in that.

If "coherent" means anythig, it mean *internally* consistent.

Bringing in *external* defintiions of FW does *not* demosntrate
incoherence.

Indeed, you do not even attempt to analyse what you think might be the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for Free Will

Yes I do: AP. UR, rationality.


The libertarian would doubtlessly claim that only the model with the iRIG has access to “alternate possibilities”, the model with the dRIG (being completely deterministic) “cannot do otherwise” than what it does, and it is this difference (according to the Libertarian) which ensures that the iRIG version is acting with Free Will, whereas the dRIG version is not. But the two models are completely indistinguishable, both to external observers and internally to the models themselves!

That doesn't follow


Real Randomness and Pseudo-randomness: objectivity
Some people claim it is impossible in principle to empirically detect the difference between real, intrinsic randomness and pseudo-randomness. Whilst initially plausible, this is in fact doubtful as sophisticated procedures like the Aspect experiment show. Even if it is true, the main thrust of the argument is that a free will is possible if determinism is possible, not that indeterminism-based free will is actually true. The possibillity of indeterminism-based free will is thus established even if the truth of indeterminsim based free-will is epistemically inaccessible. "it is not necessarily true" is no rebuttal to "it is possible".

Real Randomness and Pseudo-randomness: subjectivity
A variation on that argument has it that substituting pseudo-randomness for real randomness in the brain would make no subjectively detectable difference. It is difficult to see how anyone could be sure at the time of writing. There is considerable disagreement about how and to what extent subjective consciousnes relates to the physical. Whether a physical system is random or deterministic has a physical basis -- it is part of the total physical situation. Physicalism requires only that consciousness supervenes on the physical, not that it supervenes on any particular aspect of the physical, so it is physicalistically allowable for the difference between real- and pseudo-randomness to be subjectively detectable. As ever, it should be born in mind that the claim "naturalistic libertarian free will is possibly true" is not contradicted by scenarios the claim naturalistic libertarian free will is possibly false", only be the claim that it is actually false.

Real Randomness and Pseudo-randomness: necessity
Yet another variation on the same objection has it that real randomness is not actually necessary to solve the "engineering" problem -- that pseudo-randomness would have been just as good. As stated that is true, buit it is not very relevant. Nature might have evolved a pseudo-random-number generator in the brain, but that doesn't mean She did. It might have been "easier" to take afvantage of the thermal noise present in all systems. In any case, the usual response applies. The modality is wrong. To say that our thesis might not have been true does not mean it is actually false. And in any case, it is only a claim to the effect that something is possible
 
  • #33
Q_Goest
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Hi MF.

MF said: A world may be 100% deterministic (ie determinism is true in that world) without being determinable (even in principle). Limits to determinability in our own world include chaos, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and the in-principle indeterminability of self-referential systems - but none of these in-principle limits to determinability implies that determinism is necessarily false in our world.
Yes, I agree completely.

MF said: If the mental event is itself caused, then move the question back to the cause of the mental event.
You've said this and many things like this. I was trying to imagine some way that determinism and random causal actions might be seen as inapplicable to nature in some way. If that were the case, CHDO might take on a new meaning. It might be that CHDO is the mental state acting in some downward causal way on the physical state. Perhaps the physical state is ontically indeterminate, which I believe means it is genuinely random, not just unknowable. Feel free to correct my terminology there. So if the mental state or domain is the cause to the physical state, is there any reason to suspect these states are separate and distinct?

For some reason, I intuitively feel there must be some way around the issue of CHDO or 'free will' being based solely on deterministic and random causal actions. The paper by Campbell & Bickhard is really a critique of J. Kim's book and in so doing, it does a decent job of reviewing some of the arguments for and against downward causation and also ties in mental and physical domains. It seems as if these concepts would have something to do with rephrasing the determinism/random argument and 'free will' or CHDO but I can't yet put my finger on what it is.

One interesting issue the paper does raise, is if a mental state can equal a physical state. I don't think they're equal, though I don't think even a computationalist thinks they're equal. So this says, that any subjective experience, any thought, at any time, can not be determined by the physical state. I think this means that the mental and physical states are independent of each other to a very large degree. So if a mental state can equal an exceedingly large, potentially infinite number of physical states, and if a mental state can have some kind of causal influence over the physical state, it almost sounds as if a mental state is in some kind of domain, just like a physical state. In this case, I'm using the word "domain" to mean a set of dimensions. The physical dimensions are the three of length and one of time. If there were a true mental domain then it might be defined as existing in some other set of dimensions. These dimensions then might have some limited access to each other through strongly emergent phenomena.

The only strongly emergent phenomena that can be taken seriously in any way though must emerge at a molecular level. Being a reductionist I can't see any way complexity on a classical scale can give rise to anything that might be defined as 'strongly emergent'. The reason is not so clear unfortunately, but in short, any classical system is affected only by local causal actions. In engineering for example, I can't think of a single phenomena which can't be modeled that way, and of course they are modeled that way - as small, local chunks known as control volumes, finite elements, free body diagrams, and many other terms.

To get back to the point, if strongly emergent phenomena exist, the substrate they emerge from is a molecular level chunk of matter (ex: DNA). If a molecular chunk of matter is affected in any way by the phenomena it produces, and if we can say this affect is 'downward caused' (which seems more like 'upward caused given the strongly emergent phenomena is based at a molecular level) then it seems that if we want to maintain any kind of physicalism <not sure if that's the correct term> then we need to postulate additional dimensions that are in principal, not measurable from the physical domain and would appear random, and similarly from the mental domain, affects in that domain might appear random, but if one were to cause the other in some way, is that deterministic? I think at that point, determinism and random depend on what basis you are using. Both the physical and mental domains would have random elements from the perspective of their own domains, but when viewed from the opposite domain they may be deterministic. The problem with all this is one could still ask (as you have), is the entire system deterministic or random? Anyway, seems like a difficult question to try and think clearly about, perhaps because it is entirely counterintuitive to our own experience.
 
  • #34
An event cannot be proven random, to my knowledge, because to suggest something is random is to suggest it has no cause. If it has no cause, how to you prove it is random when it is occuring? Magic?

Premise 1: Random events occur.
Premise 2: Events are caused.

Result: If an event is occuring, it cannot be random because it must be caused.

No alternative explanation to causation has been given as I doubt there can be an alternative explanation. Perhaps one can refute causation, but I am lost when it comes to how.
 
  • #35
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VI. Does Physical Indeterminism actually exist ?
The "Law of Large Numbers"
Quantum Amplification and Instrumentation
Chaos and Classicism
The Macroscopic Evidence for Indeterminism
The Myth of the "Heisenberg Cut"
The "Law of Large Numbers"
A common reaction to QM is that it doesn't matter since quantum randomness will never manifest itself at the macroscopic level -- that is, in the world of sticks and stones we can see with the naked eye. An appeal is usually made to the "law of large numbers", according to which random fluctuations at the atomic (or lower level) will cancel each other out in a macroscopic object, so that what is seen is an averaged-out behaviour that is fairly predictable.

Something like this must be happening in some cases, assuming QM is a correct description of the micro-world, or there would not even be an appearance of a deterministic macro-world. Since deterministic classical physics is partially correct, there must be a mechanism that makes the QM micro-world at least approximate to the classical description.

Quantum Amplification and Instrumentation
However, it it were the case that all macroscopic objects behaved in a 100% deterministic fashion, there would be no evidence for QM in the first place -- since all scientific apparatus is in the macro-world ! A geiger-counter is able to amplify the impact of a single particle into an audible click. Richard Feynman suggested that if that wasn't macroscopic enough, you could always amplify the signal further and use it to set off a stick of dynamite! It could be objected that these are artificial situations. This is rather desperate, however, because there is a well-known natural mechanism that could do the same job: classical chaos.

Chaos and Classicism
A classically chaotic system is by definition one that is critically sensitive to its initial conditions. "critically" sensitive means that any variation in initial conditions, no matter how slight, can bring about a change in the macroscopic behaviour of the system, no matter how large. Since there is no lower limit to critical sensitivity, it must extend all the way "down" to me microscopic world of quantum physics. Thus, hurricanes need not be started by butterfly wings, they can be started by electrons!

The term "classical" misleads some people. Chaos can be defined within the framework of classical physics, which is strictly deterministic. This is sometimes taken to mean any chaotic system encountered in nature (such as a weather system) is classical and deterministic. However, when we tall about ordinary, non-chaotic systems being classical, we mean they are *approximately* classical. Classical physics is not entirely wrong; it worked for 100's of years after all. But it is not entirely right either. "Classical" systems are quantum systems that approximate classical behaviour.

Thus any chaotic system that you can actually encounter, such as a weather system, is only approximately classical. It has no underlying determinism. At the most fundamental level it is a quantum system -- because everything is.

So we can have classical system that behave predictably (ordinary Newtonian physics), quantum systems that behave predictably on the macroscopic level (through the Law of Large Numbers), classical systems that behave unpredictably (through classical chaos) and quantum systems that unpredictably on the macroscopic as well as microscopic level (chaos and other "quantum amplifiers").

The macroscopic Evidence for Indeterminism
In fact, this is not just theoretical. Conventional big-bang theories generally require an input of quantum indeterminism to provide the large-scale structure of the universe. A singularity exploding according to classical laws would expand evenly in every direction, leading to a boring universe consisting of an evenly dispersed cloud of gas. So when you look at the night sky, you are seeing evidence for macroscopic randomness!

The Myth of the "Heisenberg Cut"
One last word: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does include a constant "h", and it is very small. But is is not an upper limit that prevents uncertainty from leaking into the macroscopic world. In fact, the mathematical form of the Uncertainty principle:
delta_x . delta_p >= h_bar
is an inequality. It sets a lower limit on the amount of uncertainty but no upper limit.
 
  • #36
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moving finger said:
I never said your theory is wrong *because* it is naturalistic. I do not believe any theory of free will can be both coherent and complete, because I do not believe the concept of free will itself is a coherent notion.
Tournesol said:
The naturalistic concept of free will, or the supertnatural one ?
As I said, I do not believe the concept of free will is coherent. By this I mean libertarian (as opposed to compatibilist) free will, free will which entails UR. UR is an incoherent notion. The supernatural “explanation” for free will avoids the incoherency by pushing the explanation beyond the bounds of rationality and logic (basically “and then a miracle happens”). The naturalistic “explanation” cannot do this, thus it fails to be either complete or coherent or both.

moving finger said:
I believe the main problem with your theory is that it is not in fact a theory of free will - it does not explain how free will differs from a simple mix of determinism and indeterminism.
Tournesol said:
I don't see why I should have to. I am also not in the habit of explaining why steel differs from a mixture of iron and carbon.
The important issue is that steel DOES differ from a simple mixture of iron and carbon, and no metallurgist would suggest that we could create steel by simply stirring together carbon granules and iron filings in a bowl.

Of course you don’t have to explain your model at all. But if you want anyone to take your model seriously then you will need to go to some trouble to explain why you think it qualifies as a mechanism for free will, and defending those ideas. If you don’t wish to go to that trouble, then you shouldn’t be surprised if people like myself dismiss your ideas as idle flights of fancy.

Tournesol said:
Your only reason for rejecting the "mixture" approach is the supernaturalism -- which neither of us actually believes in.
Untrue. I reject any approach to explaining libertarian free will because I do not believe in UR. I believe the notion of UR is incoherent. And without UR you cannot have (libertarian) free will.

moving finger said:
But is all “rational yet unpredictable behaviour” necessarily indicative of Free Will?
Tournesol said:
Yes. why not ?
I can (in principle) easily program a computer which behaves rationally yet unpredictably. Does it follow that the computer necessarily possesses free will?

Tournesol said:
I am using the following definition of free will

"the power or ability to rationally choose and consciously perform actions, at least some of which are not brought about necessarily and inevitably by external circumstances".
This definition does not explicitly include UR. (Rational and conscious behaviour does not entail UR, and indeterministic processes do not entail UR). Are you suggesting that free will does not entail UR?

Tournesol said:
And everything in my model of FW fulfils the conditions implicit in that.
Your model does not include consciousness. Your model only addresses the “rational” and “indeterministic” criteria – but it does not follow that an entity which includes rational and indeterministic criteria necessarily possesses either free will or UR.

Tournesol said:
If "coherent" means anythig, it mean *internally* consistent.
Which causa sui is not

As Nietzsche said :

The causa sui is the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far, it is a sort of rape and perversion of logic. But the extravagant pride of man has managed to entangle itself profoundly and frightfully with just this nonsense. The desire for ‘freedom of the will’ in the superlative metaphysical sense, which still holds sway, unfortunately, in the minds of the half-educated; the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one’s actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance and society involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui and, with more than Baron Munchhausen’s audacity, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the swamps of nothingness……

Tournesol said:
Bringing in *external* defintiions of FW does *not* demonstrate incoherence.
What external definition of free will are you referring to?

Do you deny that UR is a necessary condition for libertarian free will? If we agree it is, then it surely must figure in any definition of free will.

moving finger said:
Indeed, you do not even attempt to analyse what you think might be the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for Free Will
Tournesol said:
Yes I do: AP. UR, rationality.
UR I agree with – but you missed this critical component from your above definition. And I think UR is not only necessary, but by itself is sufficient for free will. But that simply begs the question : What are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for UR? In your Darwinian model you do not show that the model possesses either UR or free will.

moving finger said:
The libertarian would doubtlessly claim that only the model with the iRIG has access to “alternate possibilities”, the model with the dRIG (being completely deterministic) “cannot do otherwise” than what it does, and it is this difference (according to the Libertarian) which ensures that the iRIG version is acting with Free Will, whereas the dRIG version is not. But the two models are completely indistinguishable, both to external observers and internally to the models themselves!
Tournesol said:
That doesn't follow
Please could you show why you think it doesn’t follow? I am claiming the two models are indistinguishable – if you consider that my claim is incorrect then please do show how we might be able to distinguish between the two models.

Tournesol said:
Some people claim it is impossible in principle to empirically detect the difference between real, intrinsic randomness and pseudo-randomness. Whilst initially plausible, this is in fact doubtful as sophisticated procedures like the Aspect experiment show.
The Aspect experiment shows nothing of the kind.

Tournesol said:
Even if it is true, the main thrust of the argument is that a free will is possible if determinism is possible, not that indeterminism-based free will is actually true.
No, the thrust of the argument is EITHER free will does not entail indeterminism, OR free will is epiphenomenal.

Tournesol said:
The possibillity of indeterminism-based free will is thus established even if the truth of indeterminsim based free-will is epistemically inaccessible. "it is not necessarily true" is no rebuttal to "it is possible".
Anything that does not entail logical contradiction is logically possible – but that is no reason to believe that things exist in our world simply because they do not entail logical contradiction – on this basis I would believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, Tokoloshes and all manner of weird and wonderful things.

Tournesol said:
As ever, it should be born in mind that the claim "naturalistic libertarian free will is possibly true" is not contradicted by scenarios the claim naturalistic libertarian free will is possibly false", only be the claim that it is actually false.
Naturalistic libertarian free will, if it entails UR, entails an infinite regress. An infinite regress is certainly “possibly true”, but would not be given much credibility as an explanatory theory of anything.

Tournesol said:
To say that our thesis might not have been true does not mean it is actually false. And in any case, it is only a claim to the effect that something is possible
I could suggest a thesis which says leprechauns (but only green ones) are psychic, except in the presence of Santa Claus, but their psychic powers are boosted when in the presence of the Tooth Fairy. My thesis might not be true, but you cannot prove it false – and that places my thesis in the same category as your thesis. But I wouldn’t expect anyone to take me seriously.

Q_Goest said:
You've said this and many things like this. I was trying to imagine some way that determinism and random causal actions might be seen as inapplicable to nature in some way. If that were the case, CHDO might take on a new meaning. It might be that CHDO is the mental state acting in some downward causal way on the physical state. Perhaps the physical state is ontically indeterminate, which I believe means it is genuinely random, not just unknowable. Feel free to correct my terminology there. So if the mental state or domain is the cause to the physical state, is there any reason to suspect these states are separate and distinct?
Depends on whether one believes physicalism, or some version of physicalism, is true of not. But even if mental states are distinct and different from physical states, we can still ask whether mental states are internally regular (ie mental states cause mental states) or irregular (ie some mental states arise in an indeterministic fashion ).

I am not saying that indeterminism is false, I am saying that indeterminism does not create ultimate responsibility.

Q_Goest said:
For some reason, I intuitively feel there must be some way around the issue of CHDO or 'free will' being based solely on deterministic and random causal actions. The paper by Campbell & Bickhard is really a critique of J. Kim's book and in so doing, it does a decent job of reviewing some of the arguments for and against downward causation and also ties in mental and physical domains. It seems as if these concepts would have something to do with rephrasing the determinism/random argument and 'free will' or CHDO but I can't yet put my finger on what it is.
Neither can I. The paper focuses on emergent phenomena and downward causation, but it does not (as far as I can see) claim that either of these phenomena imply or entail either indeterminism or lack of determinism.

Q_Goest said:
One interesting issue the paper does raise, is if a mental state can equal a physical state. I don't think they're equal, though I don't think even a computationalist thinks they're equal. So this says, that any subjective experience, any thought, at any time, can not be determined by the physical state.
I disagree. But it’s a very long paper – can you point to where in the paper it says this?

Q_Goest said:
The only strongly emergent phenomena that can be taken seriously in any way though must emerge at a molecular level. Being a reductionist I can't see any way complexity on a classical scale can give rise to anything that might be defined as 'strongly emergent'. The reason is not so clear unfortunately, but in short, any classical system is affected only by local causal actions. In engineering for example, I can't think of a single phenomena which can't be modeled that way, and of course they are modeled that way - as small, local chunks known as control volumes, finite elements, free body diagrams, and many other terms.
Let me give one example. Think of the “effect” that the appearance of a gleaming new red Ferrari has on a crowd of onlookers. The impact (effect) that this car has on the crowd has nothing to do with the micro-physical make-up of the vehicle (it could be made from a number of different materials), and it has nothing to do with local causal actions. The impact on the crowd is an emergent property of the vehicle which is based on the large-scale structure and organization of the components, and is largely independent of microphysical structure and local interactions. I used to be a reductionist too – and I think reductionism is very powerful for understanding local effects – but emergent properties are all about global or long-range effects which are not linked directly to any particular local properties.

Q_Goest said:
To get back to the point, if strongly emergent phenomena exist, the substrate they emerge from is a molecular level chunk of matter (ex: DNA). If a molecular chunk of matter is affected in any way by the phenomena it produces, and if we can say this affect is 'downward caused' (which seems more like 'upward caused given the strongly emergent phenomena is based at a molecular level) then it seems that if we want to maintain any kind of physicalism <not sure if that's the correct term> then we need to postulate additional dimensions that are in principal, not measurable from the physical domain and would appear random, and similarly from the mental domain, affects in that domain might appear random, but if one were to cause the other in some way, is that deterministic?
I don’t see that we need postulate additional random dimensions. The impact (effect) that the red Ferrari has on the crowd is in a way an example of “downward causation” (it is not an effect that can be analysed in simple reductionist terms of breaking down the Ferrari into it’s individual components), but it does not involve any other dimensions, and there is no reason to think that the effect is not deterministic.

Q_Goest said:
I think at that point, determinism and random depend on what basis you are using. Both the physical and mental domains would have random elements from the perspective of their own domains, but when viewed from the opposite domain they may be deterministic. The problem with all this is one could still ask (as you have), is the entire system deterministic or random? Anyway, seems like a difficult question to try and think clearly about, perhaps because it is entirely counterintuitive to our own experience.
I just do not see what additional explanatory power we get by postulating indeterminism. Libertarians are committed to believing that indeterminism is their salvation (because they believe that free will is a coherent notion which entails alternate possibilities) – but if you ask any libertarian to explain just HOW indeterminism is supposed to “create” free will where free will does not exist in absence of indeterminism, they cannot do it. Either they appeal to a supernatural “explanation” (which is not an explanation), or they indulge in simple hand-waving of the kind that Tournesol does, without actually showing (in the end) that free will emerges at all from their explanation.

Dooga Blackrazor said:
An event cannot be proven random, to my knowledge, because to suggest something is random is to suggest it has no cause. If it has no cause, how to you prove it is random when it is occuring? Magic?
But if we cannot prove an event is random, then it also follows that we cannot necessarily distinguish between an entity which is operating randomly and one which is operating deterministically. If a deterministic entity can perfectly imitate a random entity, then randomness provides no effective advantage to the entity – randomness would be an epiphenomenon, making no discernable difference to the operation/properties/behaviour of the entity. The notion that we need randomness in order to be free is thus hollow and incoherent. The only value of randomness to the libertarian is that it allegedly allows “alternate possibilities”, but if there is no way to tell the difference between a random entity and a deterministic entity, what possible use is randomness?

Dooga Blackrazor said:
Premise 1: Random events occur.
Premise 2: Events are caused.

Result: If an event is occuring, it cannot be random because it must be caused.

No alternative explanation to causation has been given as I doubt there can be an alternative explanation. Perhaps one can refute causation, but I am lost when it comes to how.
I would say that Premise 2 may be false. I don’t think we can know either way. My argument against indeterminism is not that indeterminism is necessarily false, but that adding indeterminism to the world adds nothing in particular – everything can be explained on the basis of determinism. So why add indeterminism?

Tournesol said:
Something like this must be happening in some cases, assuming QM is a correct description of the micro-world, or there would not even be an appearance of a deterministic macro-world. Since deterministic classical physics is partially correct, there must be a mechanism that makes the QM micro-world at least approximate to the classical description.
You are assuming that the quantum world is indeterministic. This is an assumption, and may be false.

Tournesol said:
However, it it were the case that all macroscopic objects behaved in a 100% deterministic fashion, there would be no evidence for QM in the first place -- since all scientific apparatus is in the macro-world ! A geiger-counter is able to amplify the impact of a single particle into an audible click. Richard Feynman suggested that if that wasn't macroscopic enough, you could always amplify the signal further and use it to set off a stick of dynamite! It could be objected that these are artificial situations. This is rather desperate, however, because there is a well-known natural mechanism that could do the same job: classical chaos.
None of this shows that the quantum world is indeterministic, only that it is indeterminable, which is a different thing altogether.

Tournesol said:
Thus any chaotic system that you can actually encounter, such as a weather system, is only approximately classical. It has no underlying determinism. At the most fundamental level it is a quantum system -- because everything is.
Again, you are assuming quantum indeterminism, which is not necessarily true.

Tournesol said:
In fact, this is not just theoretical. Conventional big-bang theories generally require an input of quantum indeterminism to provide the large-scale structure of the universe. A singularity exploding according to classical laws would expand evenly in every direction, leading to a boring universe consisting of an evenly dispersed cloud of gas. So when you look at the night sky, you are seeing evidence for macroscopic randomness!
Unsound. You are assuming that determinism entails the Big Bang singularity must have been perfectly uniform, this does not follow at all. Determinism does not exclude the possibility of boundary conditions.

Best Regards
 
  • #37
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CHDO is a claim based on imaginative possibilities. For every case that moving finger mentioned, the one making the claim CHDO is working from a reality model consisting of options that one could have done and the circumstances that would have permitted them.

CHDO works from after the fact and not before or during. Therefore, it's meaning should be interpreted in this imaginative context independent of the actual event. CHDO claims are useful for imagining similar options in similar circumstances that could occur again. They may also be useful for making other imaginative models more cohesive and creating new ones altogether.

Rather than being a claim of free will, CHDO is primarily an act of theorizing.
 
  • #38
Q_Goest
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MF said to Tournsel: Anything that does not entail logical contradiction is logically possible – but that is no reason to believe that things exist in our world simply because they do not entail logical contradiction – on this basis I would believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, Tokoloshes and all manner of weird and wonderful things.
Similarly, because determinism does not entail a logical contridiction does not mean it is impossible. Determinism and cause and effect are models of the world, not necessarily real world phenomena.

Regarding mental state = physical state. If one believes seeing red for example is a subjective experience brought about by some mental state which can only be created from a single physical state, then since my brain's physical state is different than yours, different than it is tomorrow or yesterday, and different from any computer's physical state, then I must assume the mental state when seeing red does not have a 1 to 1 correspondence with some physical state. There is no 1 to 1 correspondence between a computer's physical state, my physical state, your physical state, etc… so if we all see a color 'red', and if we call this subjective experience a mental state, then there is no 1 to 1 correspondence between a mental and physical state.

I think this can be gotten around if we avoid assuming symbols are all that are necessary to produce a subjective experience. The result would be a 1 to 1 correspondence between a physical state and a subjective experience.

MF said: Let me give one example. Think of the “effect” that the appearance of a gleaming new red Ferrari has on a crowd of onlookers. The impact (effect) that this car has on the crowd has nothing to do with the micro-physical make-up of the vehicle (it could be made from a number of different materials), and it has nothing to do with local causal actions. The impact on the crowd is an emergent property of the vehicle which is based on the large-scale structure and organization of the components, and is largely independent of microphysical structure and local interactions. I used to be a reductionist too – and I think reductionism is very powerful for understanding local effects – but emergent properties are all about global or long-range effects which are not linked directly to any particular local properties.

The impact (effect) that the red Ferrari has on the crowd is in a way an example of “downward causation” (it is not an effect that can be analysed in simple reductionist terms of breaking down the Ferrari into it’s individual components),
Here is what bothers me about the philosophy of emergence and especially strong emergence and downward causation. Let's assume computationalism for this example. The automobile is not an example of a strongly emergent phenomena. It is made of and operates at the local causal level. The light reflecting off the vehicle enters the eyes of the crowd. Up to this point, there is no strongly emergent phenomena, only weakly emergent. The people in the crowd however have subjective experiences of the vehicle. If computationalism is true, then those subjective experiences can be reduced to the actions of the computer's components which also only interact at the local level.

Note also that a computer's components don't need to be explained in terms of strong emergence. Certainly there is no downward causation anywhere within this system of car and crowd, even the subjective experience is alleged to occur because of the local interaction between computational elements within the computer. There is no room for downward causation anywhere in this system. If anything can be said to be strongly emergent in the entire system, we would have to claim that subjective experiences are. Unfortunately, such a strongly emergent phenomena, if it exists, has no causal efficacy and no ability for downward causation. The ability is only upward in the sense that each computational element is deterministically controlled at the local level. No portion of the computer can 'act' because of the red Ferrari, they only act at the local level because of an interaction with some immediate causal action. (ex: a switch in a computer only acts when power is applied, they act for no other reason.)

My appologies for that paper I proposed you read, I had my head up my ass. I don't like the paper much and find the examples he gives of strong emergence to have the same fault as you've made above. Anyway, I WOULD however suggest reading Bedau on weak emergence. I'll attach the paper. I found it on the net but I'm having a hard time locating it so I'll just attach it instead. I'm sure its on the net somewhere. I think it does a much better job of defining emergence and shows that weak emergence is all that is necessary to understand such things as a crowd looking at a red Ferrari.

I just do not see what additional explanatory power we get by postulating indeterminism.
I would agree.
but if you ask any libertarian to explain just HOW indeterminism is supposed to “create” free will where free will does not exist in absence of indeterminism, they cannot do it.
I'd agree that indeterminism hasn't shown any more promise than determinism in it's ability to "create" free will. Determinism doesn't "create" it either though. I think what has come out of all of these discussions is that you can't argue for or against the existance of any phenomena such as free will, or any subjective experience for that matter, based only on determinism or indeterminism.
 

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  • #39
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Q_Goest said:
Regarding mental state = physical state. If one believes seeing red for example is a subjective experience brought about by some mental state which can only be created from a single physical state, then since my brain's physical state is different than yours, different than it is tomorrow or yesterday, and different from any computer's physical state, then I must assume the mental state when seeing red does not have a 1 to 1 correspondence with some physical state. There is no 1 to 1 correspondence between a computer's physical state, my physical state, your physical state, etc… so if we all see a color 'red', and if we call this subjective experience a mental state, then there is no 1 to 1 correspondence between a mental and physical state.
It seems that you believe “your mental state of seeing red” is identical with “my mental state of seeing red”. But why? How do you know that your mental state of seeing red is anything at all like my mental state of seeing red? How could we possibly find out? If your mental state of seeing red is simply similar to, but not identical with, my mental state of seeing red then there is no problem with mental states being associated 1 to1 with physical states.

Q_Goest said:
I think it does a much better job of defining emergence and shows that weak emergence is all that is necessary to understand such things as a crowd looking at a red Ferrari.
I have no problem with the idea that this is an example of weak emergence. What exactly was the problem we were discussing?

Q_Goest said:
I'd agree that indeterminism hasn't shown any more promise than determinism in it's ability to "create" free will. Determinism doesn't "create" it either though. I think what has come out of all of these discussions is that you can't argue for or against the existance of any phenomena such as free will, or any subjective experience for that matter, based only on determinism or indeterminism.
To my mind, free will entails ultimate responsibility. But ultimate responsibility is an incoherent notion – it’s an impossibility (except via some supernatural realm).

Best Regards
 
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