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People = biorobots

  1. Sep 8, 2006 #1
    all morning i've been looking through the topics about reality and meaning of life itself . and i finally i find that most of us seek universal truth that can not be created by anyone. truth lies somewhere else , somewhere that non of us could reach. that may seem slightly odd , but i attach my own feelings to the topic of existence and life.enough brainstorming .

    to the real topic ... look around you , look at your own daily life. how can u describe the surrounding people and atmospere. my work is strictly attach with ppl and i alredy distinguish the daily life and troubles of most of them. the thing is that i find the world that surrounds only as a mechanism, that main purpose is self-improvement. what i'm speaking about is how the world go round . we have nature, we have knowledge, we have recources so we can go on, and of cource we have people that expand and develop this realm. but what are those "people"? as for me i find that human beings are the clockwork of this "mechanism". time is estimated by them, development is estimated by them. and they are not much of a robots that make so the realm prosper.
    enough talking from third view. my point is that yes,we feel, dream,desire and have lots of stuff that make us humans, but as you think about it, all this things exists so we can go on , so we can find some purpose in living itself, otherwise the "mechanism" would just collapse. what is more to the topic is, do you really think that all your memories and desires are really yours. do you find yourlsef free to choose what you want and what you'll do or is just the world and all the factors surounding you who make the choice instead of you.
    p.s. free-will doesn't exist ... or is it really so ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2006 #2
    Depends on what exactly you mean by "free will". If by "free will" you mean that one can possess ultimate responsibility for one's actions, then the idea is incoherent. Ultimate responsibility requires infinite regress (or at best it requires something miraculous or supernatural which is outside the realms of logic and rationality).

    See http://www.geocities.com/alex_b_christie/Swamp.pdf

    Best Regards
  4. Sep 9, 2006 #3


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    I reread the Christie paper and am not now convinced he makes his case. I put it to you; does not the case against naturalistic UR rest on the same legs as that against naturalistic (by which I mean physicalistic, pace Chalmers) consciousness?

    Christie is able to rebut the Darwinian UR model of Jones, just as consciousness philosophers are able to rebut the claims of top down AI. But you and I believe, finger, that just rebutting one technology doesn't overthrow the need to assume consciousness is naturalistic. Can not a determined libertarian make the same assertion about UR? Aren't both arguments just from ignorance, God of the gaps type of discourse?

    But I seem to hear you saying, "I have personal evidence for consciousness, and none for UR". But of course personal witness is the weakest of all reeds. Any of us might mistake what we experience for a Truth, when it is merely a contingent figment.
  5. Sep 9, 2006 #4
    The difference is that we can propose a naturalistic mechanism for the emergence of consciousness (a la Metzinger, here http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/symposia/metzinger/precis.pdf#search="metzinger being no one"), whereas the same cannot be said of UR.

    UR is in a completely different category to consciousness - to draw an analogy between the two is incorrect.

    Because of the nature of ultimate responsibility, UR requires an infinite regress of intentional states (I can be ultimately responsible for my state at time T only if it was caused by another state at time T-1 for which I am also ultimately responsible). This leads to a never-ending chain of intentional states, because ultimate responsibility for state T must always be preceded by ultimate responsibility for the prior state T-1 which gives rise to the state at T. There is no naturalistic escape from this regress.

    But the emergence of consciousness does not necessarily require any prior conscious state. In principle, consciousness can arise (emerge) where there was no prior consciousness, because there is no requirement for a chain of "consciousness supervening on consciousness" like there is in the chain of "ultimate responsibility supervening on ultimate responsibility".

    Comparing the emergence of UR with the emergence of consciousness is thus a simple example of a category error.

    Of course, not everyone accepts Metzinger's arguments that consciousness is an emergent property of complex systems - some members of this forum believe that consciousness must exist as some kind of primordial entity (a primordial consciousness) which has been around since before the Big Bang. I have no problem if someone wants to suggest that UR also exists as some kind of "primordial UR-stuff", in existence since before the Big Bang - this also gets around the infinite regress problem. Any takers for this theory?

    Interestingly, the "infinite regress" problem of UR is mirrored in the infinite regress problem of free will (not surprisingly, since free will entails UR), as highlighted in the humorous paper recently published by Conway & Kochen on their "Free Will Theorem" (http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0604079) which shows that if humans have free will, then so too do fundamental particles - in other words, free will is not an emergent property of systems, if it exists then it exists as an inherent property of matter. And that's also the only (naturalistic) way that UR could exist.

    Best Regards
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  6. Sep 9, 2006 #5


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    What is amusing to me, finger, is that I was the one who brought both Metzinger's Psyche summary and Conway & Kochen's arxiv paper to the attention of folks here, and here they are quoted back at me! And well done too! Veering around like a weather vane in a cold front, I wonder if we can't do this infinitiie regress formally as an excercise in mathematical induction, using [tex]\omega^* [/tex] orderiing instead of [tex]\omega[/tex].

    Thus: It is proposed the UR exists.

    Then a consciousness with UR lexists now (call it causal level 0).

    Now we have to show that if UR exists in a consciousness at level i, then UR must also exist at the prior causal level i-1. I leave the details to you.

    Assuming you can assemble thos details then we apply mathematical induction and conclude that UR exists at causal level i for every [tex]i \in \omega^*[/tex].
  7. Sep 9, 2006 #6
    it amused me too :wink:

    but I'm lousy at maths

    Best Regards
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2006
  8. Sep 9, 2006 #7
    thanx for the pdf files . i'll try to read all of em and come with some conclusion. although that my senses can be lying i'm still confident about the theory that i posted (i don't know if i'm dublicating someone's thoughts, i'm just expressing myself)
    edit : about the case with ur (and the never ending chain connected with it) i can quite say that this is ultimate truth for the imposibility of having free fill. in the end we depend on all those T, T-1, T-2 etc. and we can't control them. this is the evidence that there are too much factors that make every decision even before we come to the situation , where we need to take step. so my point of view is proven.
    p.s. now i'll start reading the pdf files and see if i can find more on the topic
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2006
  9. Sep 9, 2006 #8
    that people = biorobots? I agree.

    Best Regards
  10. Sep 9, 2006 #9
    MovingFinger's "infinite regress" argument is an exampe of what Daniel
    Dennett calls the "Prime Mammal" fallacy, whcih is summarised here:-


    I am far form being caught unawares by this line of reasoning. II
    was already familiar with Dennett's criticism of Kane's naturalistic
    libertarianism when I fomrulated my own version, (http://www.geocities.com/peterdjones) and
    the difference between my approach and Kane's were specifically
    formulated to avoid Prime Mammals.

    In real evolutionary theory , mammalhood simply tapers off or fades
    away -- it neither regresses infinitely nor stops dead at a Prime
    Mammal. That is the approach I adopt about rational

    MF thinks a regress must be entailed because he thinks
    that an action is only free if it is entirely devoid of
    outside influnce, with the corollary that you are only
    responsible for your future state at all if you are 100% responsible
    for it.

    I don't make either assumption. and I quite deliberately and
    consciously don't make them in order to avoid that kind of problem.
  11. Sep 9, 2006 #10
    so then what ? people are biorobots , statement is proven and we have ultimate truth :surprised . also we are like mindless zombies spread on the earth surface.
    the idea of the topic was to prove that it's wrong. because if it's really so then life itself is purposeless, which can lead to total annihilation to the "mechanism" of life, if everyone become aware of that fact.
    may be the subject can be changed to "why we go on?" and why we have so strong sense of self-preservation, that stops us from taking extreme measures
    that's exactly the point .
    no offence, but that's why there is the saying "ignorance is bliss" . the less knowledge , the greater bliss. but that state just don't satisfy me.
    there was an interesting scene in an anime (eva) that i think most precisely showed the full state of free will : in it they just showew that you must be surrounded by nothing so that you are not limited by things like gravitation , media , random desires , etc. i think that's the only state when you can be truly not a biorobot. and then come the question that everything that surrounds us make the desire to live, because we attach to the daily life we have and altough we don't have full control of it , we still want it. that somehow is like a pun for me , like a tricky game that everyone plays because he want part of it .
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2006
  12. Sep 9, 2006 #11
    Whose point ?

    well, no one is omniscient os everybody is ingorant, so you might
    as well put up with it. Or are you going to argue that nothing less
    than omniscience will satisfy you ?

    IOW anything is impossible if you define it in terms of absolutes.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2006
  13. Sep 9, 2006 #12
    the point that free-will = an action is only free if it is entirely devoid of
    outside influnce, with the corollary that you are only
    responsible for your future state at all if you are 100% responsible
    for it.
    well i have no other choice than put up with it , but you can say that i really seek some kind of omniscience , that can satisfy me
    so the opposite statement will be that everything is possible if you truly believe in it ? i don't think so .
    we have gone offtopic . just tell me , do you find that people are biorobots or not ?
  14. Sep 9, 2006 #13
    So you say. I don't see the point in defining something
    in such a ways as to make it impossible. We don't
    define knowledge as omniscience.

    Thing's don't become possible just because you believe in them.
    But you can define words realistically.
  15. Sep 9, 2006 #14
    the point is that we could define knowledge as omniscience, in which case it would be (naturalistically) impossible.

    In the same way, we could define free will as the kind that requires ultimate responsibility (UR) for actions (the kind of free will that libertarians would like us to have), in which case this makes free will (naturalistically) impossible.

    Agreed!!!!! This is certainly true in the case of UR!

    And the "realistic" definition of free will is either the compatibilist or the free will skeptic definition (which latter incidentally is effectively the same as your definition), which does not entail UR.

    Best Regards
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2006
  16. Sep 10, 2006 #15
    Hi Tournesol
    I suggest this is a false analogy, based on a category error. Whereas UR is supervenient on UR (UR cannot be created naturalistically within a system where there is no UR already present), the theory of the evolution of species does not posit that “every mammal is descended from a mammal”, or that “every human has human parents”. Speciation boundaries are often, in the limit, the result of arbitrary human judgements. If one was to follow my own ancestry back through the generations until one came to the primate ancestors of homo-sapiens, at what point (in which generation) would we say “aha, this generation is no longer homo-sapiens, it is something else”. The point in the family tree at which we say “this generation is homo-sapiens, but the immediately prior generation is not” is in effect an arbitrary judgement-call.

    With respect, you are deluding yourself if you think the emergence of species is in any way analagous to the “emergence” of UR. You have not established that your model possesses UR, you simply assume it does.

    Sorry, but this is not an accurate summary of my reason for postulating infinite regress. A regress is entailed because to be ultimately responsible for what you do, you must also be ultimately responsible for the way you are (because the way you are, in absence of mere caprice, determines what you do). But to be ultimately responsible for the way you are, you would have to have intentionally brought it about that you are the way you are. Intentionality is a fundamental aspect of UR (if what we do is not what we intend to do, how can we be held ultimately responsible for what we do?). But to intentionally bring about a certain state N, you must have had a prior state N-1 which led to the intentional development of your state N (if N is an arbitrary state in the sense that you had no state prior to N which intentionally brought about state N, then you can hardly be responsible for state N, can you?). But this also means that state N-1 must have been brought about intentionally in a similar fashion, which means there must have been some prior intentional state N-2…… and so on ad infinitum. UR thus entails an infinite regress of intentional states. The only escape from such regress is to postulate either some arbitrary intentional starting state, or that the self is somehow magically and mystically able to pull itself up by its own bootstraps, the original causa sui (cause of itself).

    I am open to any explanation or suggestion as to how this infinite regress can be avoided.

    The so-called Darwinian model in particular does not show how UR can emerge from the overall system where there is no UR in any of the components of the system.

    You avoid the problem by avoiding any inclusion of, or reference to, UR both in your definition of free will, and in your description and explanation of your so-called Darwinian mechanism for free will. The kind of free will defined by you would be quite acceptable to a free will skeptic such as myself, because it does not include UR as a necessary condition. But without UR, your kind of free will also does not meet the libertarian requirement of self-determination.

    Best Regards
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