how are scientific beliefs caused?

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The Pixie
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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by The Pixie » Tue May 23, 2017 2:44 am

Jim B. wrote:When you wrote that you have yet to see a convincing argument for the irreducibility of consciousness, I assumed that you'd have some familiarity with the arguments. Silly me.
Really?

When you said "There are good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness..." a few posts ago, but could not be bothered to actually cite one I assumed you did NOT have any familiarity with the arguments, and I was not about to research them for you.

So yes, silly you.
How's that different from what I was saying? The "sum" of numerous contributions necessitates that the billiard ball moves in a certain way. My argument is that it's at least plausible that there's no "summing" up that bypasses my decision, my agency, at least in some decisions. I may act out of a compulsion, post-hypnotic suggestion or due to a brain chip -- for there to be a REAL difference between these 3 cases and my deciding due to reasons I've consciously and intentionally deliberated about, we need something more than a "summing" up of prior causes. It may be that something emerges, a conscious, intentional self, that can initiate causal chains and not just discharge already existing causal chains.
So why do you make choices if not from the sum of prior causes? Can you give an example? Think back over the last day, and give an example of a decision, significant or trivial, that you made for no reason, and then tell us why you made it.

Please note, I am not saying you do not have intention; you clearly do. However, they are reasons for all your intentions. And of course you deliberate, that is the decision making process and is central to what I am saying.
But that's not the way deliberation happens. When I'm considering what to do, if I'm in a dilemma, I'm not passively waiting to see how my prior mental state "tallies up" into a decision. That would be the conception of the self as a very complex device. When I'm faced with a dilemma, it's often accompanied by anxiety before and regret or satisfaction after. The active, existential aspect of decisions is entirely missed in this mechanistic view.
When you take your time to make a decision, the decision making process becomes part of the prior states. If you were trying to decide yesterday, and are still undecided, then right now your prior state includes a full day of trying to decide, plus whatever extra influences you had over that time.

Your anxiety, regret and satisfaction are because you can envisage a future in which you made a certain decision and can project good and bad outcomes - and these projections will influence your decision too of course.
But if my mental state necessitated the outcome, then I didn't really have a choice after all, only the subjective sense that I did. What would be the adaptive advantage of this subjective sense? Or for consciousness itself, for that matter?
What does that even mean? If your mental state did NOT necessitate the outcome, then that would mean you had no choice.
So you don't think there's any real differnce between me accidentally running someone over with my car through no fault of my own and my intentionally running someone down? You think that difference is just a social construct? Even social constructs track something real. In this case, I assume you think the 'something real' is better outcomes for society, ie prudentialism. But other cases of prudentialism we can 'step outside of' to temporarily suspend our engagement with it even when we're in the midst of it. Why is it so hard, I would say impossible, to truly 'step outside' of this attitude when we're in the midst of it?
The difference is that running someone over with your car through no fault of your own was NOT necessitated by your mental state, whilst deliberately doing so was.
Sure I am. There are numerous causes acting on me all the time. The billiard ball's movement resulted from innumerable causes. What I'm saying is that in some cases, I am the cause of my actions.
Okay, my bad.
Consciousness is unique and doesn't seem reducible to physical facts alone. Same for the self.
And yet the only known instances of consciousness occur in very specific physical locations with just the right environment (i.e., the brain), and when the circumstances change, consciousness is obliged to change too. When the brain moves, the attached consciousness does too. When the brain is subjected to alcohol, consciousness is affected too. All the evidence points to consciousness supervening of the physical. Same for self.
He said that final causation is the purpose for which something is created or exists. I create my actions for certain purposes. I was distinguishing between intrinsic purpose, like my actions, and extrinsic purposes, like a hammer. I'm not sure if Aristotle went into this distinction. Why would it matter? Final cause itself is still an Aristotelean idea. Ideas can change somewhat over the millennia!
Why did you even mention Aristotle? I assumed it was because you believed he gave your argument authority. It only does that if you are using the same argument as him (and frankly, not much even then, in my opinion).
I am the paart that decides which of the billions of possible outcomes I will execute, at least in some cases. ...
I am arguing that the billiard balls and the table are the decision-making process (and medium). On one level, this is just billions of balls moving around a hyper-complex table, but on a higher level, this is a decision-making process.
... Why is it so hard to entertain the possibility that something radically new can emerge within nature? The conscious emerging from the non-conscious wold already be a pretty radical emergence.
Not sure what your point is here. It is me who is arguing for the possibility that something radical emerged.
Do you think the brain of a spider has causal powers? I think so. I think a spider's brain can process events around it, and then cause the spider to act in an appropriate way. I do not see this as radical as you seem to.
No, I'm saying the self can initiate causal chains.
So you do not think a spider's brain can process events around it, and then cause the spider to act in an appropriate way? How do you think spiders survive?

Jim B.
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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by Jim B. » Tue May 23, 2017 4:18 pm

The Pixie wrote: Really?

When you said "There are good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness..." a few posts ago, but could not be bothered to actually cite one I assumed you did NOT have any familiarity with the arguments, and I was not about to research them for you.

So yes, silly you.
Here's what I wrote: "There are good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness..."

to which you wrote: "I have yet to find a convincing one..."

Your comment would suggest that you have actually found some arguments, that you might have the slightest familiarity with them. When i alluded to the most famous one, Frank Jackson's argument about Mary, the one that people with even the most superficial knowledge about the field would know about, you didn't have a clue, which is fine, but then be honest about it, mate. Why not say "I have a strong predisposition towards reductionism, including of consciousness, even though I don't know that much about it"? No one would think any less of you.

So why do you make choices if not from the sum of prior causes? Can you give an example? Think back over the last day, and give an example of a decision, significant or trivial, that you made for no reason, and then tell us why you made it.
I'm not saying it's for no reason. I'm saying that at least some decisions are not necessitated by prior conditions. "Happening for no reason" and "necessitated" don't necessarily exhaust the possibilities.
When you take your time to make a decision, the decision making process becomes part of the prior states. If you were trying to decide yesterday, and are still undecided, then right now your prior state includes a full day of trying to decide, plus whatever extra influences you had over that time.
But I am deciding which factors will have which and how much influence over me and so on ad infinitum. Of course, whatever thought I think will be realized by a set of occurent conditions, but that alone is no reason to think that those conditions are necessitating what I think and do. Common folk attitudes such as anxiety, regret and gratitude point us away from this mechanistic model and towards an emergent locus of cause action and responsibility. These attitudes alone are not determinative, but they give a strong prima facie case that there's something there that reductionism must account for and that it has so far been unable to account for. I'm not arguing for a soul or anything supernatural. A strong emergence would still be completely naturalistic. Could you at least entertain the possibility of such a thing?
Your anxiety, regret and satisfaction are because you can envisage a future in which you made a certain decision and can project good and bad outcomes - and these projections will influence your decision too of course.
But those outcomes would not be up to me but to a set of prior conditions that just happen to be associated with me. I don't have those attitudes about any other things associated with me for which i wouldn't normally feel responsibility. There are causal chains that pass through my mental states I do not have these attitudes about and other such chains that I DO have them about. What would distinguish between these two types of chains?
What does that even mean? If your mental state did NOT necessitate the outcome, then that would mean you had no choice.
That's ridiculous. If the outcome were for no reason at all then I would not have a choice. If I ask for peach pie over apple pie due to a quantum event in my brain, I had no choice. If I ask for it because of a chip in my brain, I had no choice. I have a choice only if I COULD HAVE CHOSEN DIFFERENTLY UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS. If I'm driving a tram, and the track curves left, i had no choice other than to go left ( other than stopping). You're saying that my prior conditions are tantamount to the "track" that's already been laid out for me and is being laid out for me as I decide. I have a choice only if there's a true 'branching' of the track, only if I cold have gone left or straight under the same tram conditions. Please note this is just an analogy, acrude one at that, and the tram and the track are meant to represent your decision and you, the conductor, as your conscious self.
The difference is that running someone over with your car through no fault of your own was NOT necessitated by your mental state, whilst deliberately doing so was.
But it could have been necesitated by my mental state, of course. Lots of things that are necessitated by my mental state, psychosis, trauma, PTSD, depression, obsessive compulsiveness, tourette's, etc etc, but these people are not held responsible normally. You have it turned around; if the running down was necessitated, by whatever factors either internal or external to the actor, he's not held responsible. If he had a choice, at least at some point, then he is.
And yet the only known instances of consciousness occur in very specific physical locations with just the right environment (i.e., the brain), and when the circumstances change, consciousness is obliged to change too. When the brain moves, the attached consciousness does too. When the brain is subjected to alcohol, consciousness is affected too. All the evidence points to consciousness supervening of the physical. Same for self.
That has nothing to do with what I've been saying. Correlations and counterfactuals don;t establish reduction. If my parents hadn't met, these characters wouldn't be appearing on this screen.
Why did you even mention Aristotle? I assumed it was because you believed he gave your argument authority. It only does that if you are using the same argument as him (and frankly, not much even then, in my opinion).
As a point of reference. If an idea is about eternal paradigms that condition particulars, then a point of reference would be to associate it with "Platonism"; associations are not identities. It is basically the same argument anyway, an argument for teleology, that the world is not explainable without seeing teleology as real. The point of the argument was to apply teleology and final causes to human actions. Human actions are what we're talking about, not oak trees and tigers. The part that differs with Aristotle is irrelevant to the argument. Please try to follow what's going. A big part of why Joe doesn't post on here anymore for this very reason; you get fixated on some irrelevant bit of minutiae and refuse to see the larger point and then legalistically litigate that irrelevant bit just to try to score a point.
I am arguing that the billiard balls and the table are the decision-making process (and medium). On one level, this is just billions of balls moving around a hyper-complex table, but on a higher level, this is a decision-making process.
Not sure what your point is here. It is me who is arguing for the possibility that something radical emerged.
What I'm suggesting is that this "higher level" is a conscious agent that can, at times, initiate chains of causes. Complexity can be capable of TRUE novelty on the order of consciousness emerging from non-consciousness. Your emergence is linear; but nature seems capable of non-linear radical emergence.
So you do not think a spider's brain can process events around it, and then cause the spider to act in an appropriate way? How do you think spiders survive?
Yes, I do think that. I doubt that spiders can initiate causal chains, as i think human agents can. Perhaps they can.

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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by The Pixie » Wed May 24, 2017 3:14 am

Jim B. wrote:Here's what I wrote: "There are good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness..."

to which you wrote: "I have yet to find a convincing one..."

Your comment would suggest that you have actually found some arguments, that you might have the slightest familiarity with them.
It is a topic that comes up occasionally in discussions like this, and I have seen arguments against the supervenience of consciousness, and none have been convinicing. I cannot remember any of them, and if you could be bothered to present one, I surely was not going to be bothered to look one up.
When i alluded to the most famous one, Frank Jackson's argument about Mary, the one that people with even the most superficial knowledge about the field would know about, you didn't have a clue, which is fine, but then be honest about it, mate.
Ultimately I was matching your vague claims of "good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness". Anyone can claim there are good arguments for their position, but at the end of the day, it counts for zero until you present them. What you said was entirely vacuous. I matched that with an equally vacuous response.

If you want to proceed, perhaps you could say why you think Frank Jackson's argument is a good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness, because even after reviewing it, I still do not see it.
I'm not saying it's for no reason. I'm saying that at least some decisions are not necessitated by prior conditions. "Happening for no reason" and "necessitated" don't necessarily exhaust the possibilities.
So why do you make these decision if not because of the prior conditions?

Again I will ask, can you give a real-life example?
But I am deciding which factors will have which and how much influence over me and so on ad infinitum. Of course, whatever thought I think will be realized by a set of occurent conditions, but that alone is no reason to think that those conditions are necessitating what I think and do. Common folk attitudes such as anxiety, regret and gratitude point us away from this mechanistic model and towards an emergent locus of cause action and responsibility. These attitudes alone are not determinative, but they give a strong prima facie case that there's something there that reductionism must account for and that it has so far been unable to account for. I'm not arguing for a soul or anything supernatural. A strong emergence would still be completely naturalistic. Could you at least entertain the possibility of such a thing?
In the second post of this thread I said:

"Purpose emerged from the minds that were a product of evolution. If you want to call that a new mode of causation (as seems reasonable), then I disagree with these purported naturalists.

I became an atheist because the arrangement of atoms in my brain allowed consciousness to emerge, and that allowed me to evaluate the evidence.
"

Does it now transpire that actually you agree with me?
But those outcomes would not be up to me but to a set of prior conditions that just happen to be associated with me.
But that is you!
I don't have those attitudes about any other things associated with me for which i wouldn't normally feel responsibility. There are causal chains that pass through my mental states I do not have these attitudes about and other such chains that I DO have them about. What would distinguish between these two types of chains?
Now sure I understand. Could you give a hypothetical maybe?
That's ridiculous. If the outcome were for no reason at all then I would not have a choice. If I ask for peach pie over apple pie due to a quantum event in my brain, I had no choice. If I ask for it because of a chip in my brain, I had no choice. I have a choice only if I COULD HAVE CHOSEN DIFFERENTLY UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS.
But why would you? Are your choices just arbitrary? If not, then will make the same choice every time, if the conditions are perfectly identical.
If I'm driving a tram, and the track curves left, i had no choice other than to go left ( other than stopping). You're saying that my prior conditions are tantamount to the "track" that's already been laid out for me and is being laid out for me as I decide. I have a choice only if there's a true 'branching' of the track, only if I cold have gone left or straight under the same tram conditions. Please note this is just an analogy, acrude one at that, and the tram and the track are meant to represent your decision and you, the conductor, as your conscious self.
So what is the alternative? Do you think you have a choice if the tram goes randomly left or right? Or say you can go left, into a dark tunnel, or right into a dark tunnel, and both outcomes are, as far as you know, identical. You choice, then, is entirely arbitrary. Does that make it meaningful?
But it could have been necesitated by my mental state, of course. Lots of things that are necessitated by my mental state, psychosis, trauma, PTSD, depression, obsessive compulsiveness, tourette's, etc etc, but these people are not held responsible normally. You have it turned around; if the running down was necessitated, by whatever factors either internal or external to the actor, he's not held responsible. If he had a choice, at least at some point, then he is.
So we both agreed your mental state could necessitate it in some cases at least.

Do you think the legal system is generally a good guide to the nature of consciousness?
That has nothing to do with what I've been saying.
Fir point. I had not realised you were arguing for consciousness as an emergent property.
As a point of reference. If an idea is about eternal paradigms that condition particulars, then a point of reference would be to associate it with "Platonism"; associations are not identities. It is basically the same argument anyway, an argument for teleology, that the world is not explainable without seeing teleology as real. The point of the argument was to apply teleology and final causes to human actions. Human actions are what we're talking about, not oak trees and tigers. The part that differs with Aristotle is irrelevant to the argument. Please try to follow what's going. A big part of why Joe doesn't post on here anymore for this very reason; you get fixated on some irrelevant bit of minutiae and refuse to see the larger point and then legalistically litigate that irrelevant bit just to try to score a point.
It takes two to tango, Jim. If it is trivial, why are you still arguing it?
What I'm suggesting is that this "higher level" is a conscious agent that can, at times, initiate chains of causes. Complexity can be capable of TRUE novelty on the order of consciousness emerging from non-consciousness. Your emergence is linear; but nature seems capable of non-linear radical emergence.
Read what I typed in my first post on this thread.

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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by Metacrock » Wed May 24, 2017 6:13 am

I've sort of last track of the original issue
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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by Jim B. » Thu May 25, 2017 6:34 pm

The Pixie wrote: Ultimately I was matching your vague claims of "good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness". Anyone can claim there are good arguments for their position, but at the end of the day, it counts for zero until you present them. What you said was entirely vacuous. I matched that with an equally vacuous response.

If you want to proceed, perhaps you could say why you think Frank Jackson's argument is a good arguments against the supervenience of consciousness, because even after reviewing it, I still do not see it.
Well, in a nutshell, in every other case of supervenience, we can understand the supervenience relation. It's transparent to people who investigate it, at least in principle. The properties of H2O molecules constitute liquidity at the macro-scale. This relation doesn't hold from micro-properties of brains to consciousness. There's a gap that's conceptual and not empirical in nature; at least that's the default position. If the reductionist says, "well, it will be filled in later," that's hand-waving. Without an idea of how the two levels even conceivably could relate on anything like a supervenience relation, such a statement is tantamount to a tenet of faith.
It's highly plausible that Mary learns something new. If she learns something new, that would indicate that there are new facts there that she is learning, and those new facts would not be physical 3rd person type facts. Reality therefore would not be exhausted by physical, 3rd person type facts.
So why do you make these decision if not because of the prior conditions?

Again I will ask, can you give a real-life example?
I make them based on the reasons supporting them; reasons not being identical to causes, they don't compel my decision but inform it. I make them because of the kind of person I ideally desire to become which doesn't now and will almost certainly never exist, so the content of this propositional state would not be able to exert any causal force. The actual desire I have to desire this state exists, but that doesn't capture what this state is about. When I decide, I'm actually becoming the person I ideally want to be, if even in an extremely small way. There's an element of commitment and enactment that prior conditions alone have trouble fully accounting for.

Let's say I'm trying to decide on whether to join the PeaceCorps or go to art school. There are sets of reasons supporting each choice, but those sets are not fixed. They're changing all the time depending on criteria that I choose or that occur to me all the time and so on ad infinitum. I'm not just looking at what my strongest beliefs and desires happen to be; I also have to actively prise out what it is I should desire and which beliefs i should consider and how to interpet and 'weight' those factors, etc., and then to decide on what the criteria for those decisions should be and so on. I'm not trying to determine what my actual mental state is but what it should be and so on. It's happening over an infinite number of dimensions or axes of criteria. Of course, this process will be realized by actual conditions in my brain/body, but what reasons would we have to think that they are identical with what these conditions are about, aside from a prior commitment to determinism/reductionism? Of course, whichever of the 2 I choose, there wil be that reason-set that we can look at and say "This set caused your decision": but that would be equally likely regardless of what i chose. It's self-ratifying and not very enlightening. How could it be proved wrong?

In the second post of this thread I said:

"Purpose emerged from the minds that were a product of evolution. If you want to call that a new mode of causation (as seems reasonable), then I disagree with these purported naturalists.

I became an atheist because the arrangement of atoms in my brain allowed consciousness to emerge, and that allowed me to evaluate the evidence.
"

Does it now transpire that actually you agree with me?
How is what you've been describing a "new mode of causation"? It's just a very complex version of event causation. There's nothing new about it.
But that is you!
How can that be me if my mental state is always changing? What is the basis for my identity over time? And what is the basis for the ascription of responsibility over time? How can i be charged with a murder i committed last year when the conditions that caused that decision no longer hold?
[/quote]
Now sure I understand. Could you give a hypothetical maybe?[/quote]

Let's say that the voice in my head tells me that you are trying to kill me so I kill you instead in order to save my own life, or so I believe. This has all transpired through my internal mental states, but I am not responsible for my decision because i could not have done differently under the same circumstances. my psychosis compelled me to do it. What I am and am not held responsible for tracks "choice/no choice" not "internal/external."
But why would you? Are your choices just arbitrary? If not, then will make the same choice every time, if the conditions are perfectly identical.
They're done for reasons, but i'm not compelled to consider the reasons i consider or to interpret them the way I do. These things ocur at a different level of description from necessitating causes.
So what is the alternative? Do you think you have a choice if the tram goes randomly left or right? Or say you can go left, into a dark tunnel, or right into a dark tunnel, and both outcomes are, as far as you know, identical. You choice, then, is entirely arbitrary. Does that make it meaningful?
The alternative is that I sometimes decide, I being not a set of conditions but a center of consciousness, values, meaning, intentions, responsibility. These things are conceptually different from a set of conditions. If a random quantum event in my brain compels my decision to go left, then it's not my decision any more than if a mechanical malfunction compels the tram to go left.
So we both agreed your mental state could necessitate it in some cases at least.
Yes, but those actions wouldn't be freely chosen then. Think of the distinction that people make between something a psychotic person would do and something I would do; what is it that this distinction is tracking? Is it anything important, anything 'real,' or just social constructs, and if the latter, what would those constructs be based on?
Do you think the legal system is generally a good guide to the nature of consciousness?
I don't know how good a guide it is to consciousness, but i would put more stock in it as far as 'mens rea' responsibility etc than neuroscience. Even neuroscientists admit that their field isn't ready for primetime when it comes to deciding culpability. I'd put a little more stock in a hundreds of thousands of years worth of folk attitudes, even though these aren't unimpeachable either.
It takes two to tango, Jim. If it is trivial, why are you still arguing it?
Gee, I don;t kw. There was someone else who I recall who kept bringing it up.
Read what I typed in my first post on this thread.
There it sounds like we agree but on the last two or three pages we disagree. The question is, do you agree with yourself?

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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by The Pixie » Tue May 30, 2017 7:30 am

Sorry it took so long to rep,ly. I started days ago, but life got in the way.
Jim B. wrote:Well, in a nutshell, in every other case of supervenience, we can understand the supervenience relation. It's transparent to people who investigate it, at least in principle. The properties of H2O molecules constitute liquidity at the macro-scale. This relation doesn't hold from micro-properties of brains to consciousness. There's a gap that's conceptual and not empirical in nature; at least that's the default position. If the reductionist says, "well, it will be filled in later," that's hand-waving. Without an idea of how the two levels even conceivably could relate on anything like a supervenience relation, such a statement is tantamount to a tenet of faith.
Why is consciousness not transparent in principle? It is vastly more complex than the water molecule to liquid system, so it will take a lot longer to work out, but that is just a question of scale.

I asked about the spider before, and you said it is not conscious. Do you think a spider's brain will one day be fully understood? Already scientists are modelling the nematode brain; it has only 302 neurons so is relatively simple.

A house fly has a quarter of a million (could not find a figure for spiders). Could that be modelled? Ultimately, I believe so. And why not then also model the 86 billion of a human?

Maybe one day even the 257 billion of an African elephant!
It's highly plausible that Mary learns something new. If she learns something new, that would indicate that there are new facts there that she is learning, and those new facts would not be physical 3rd person type facts. Reality therefore would not be exhausted by physical, 3rd person type facts.
I think she would learn something new. The experience of red is not the same as the analysis of red. I am somewhat colour blind, so my experience of red is almost certainly different to your own.

So what? My experience of red is due to a deficiency in my eyes; something purely physical. It all seems to come back to the physical world, which seems to reinforce my view that consciousness supervenes on the physical.
I make them based on the reasons supporting them; reasons not being identical to causes, they don't compel my decision but inform it. I make them because of the kind of person I ideally desire to become which doesn't now and will almost certainly never exist, so the content of this propositional state would not be able to exert any causal force. The actual desire I have to desire this state exists, but that doesn't capture what this state is about. When I decide, I'm actually becoming the person I ideally want to be, if even in an extremely small way. There's an element of commitment and enactment that prior conditions alone have trouble fully accounting for.

Let's say I'm trying to decide on whether to join the PeaceCorps or go to art school. There are sets of reasons supporting each choice, but those sets are not fixed. They're changing all the time depending on criteria that I choose or that occur to me all the time and so on ad infinitum. I'm not just looking at what my strongest beliefs and desires happen to be; I also have to actively prise out what it is I should desire and which beliefs i should consider and how to interpet and 'weight' those factors, etc., and then to decide on what the criteria for those decisions should be and so on. I'm not trying to determine what my actual mental state is but what it should be and so on. It's happening over an infinite number of dimensions or axes of criteria. Of course, this process will be realized by actual conditions in my brain/body, but what reasons would we have to think that they are identical with what these conditions are about, aside from a prior commitment to determinism/reductionism? Of course, whichever of the 2 I choose, there wil be that reason-set that we can look at and say "This set caused your decision": but that would be equally likely regardless of what i chose. It's self-ratifying and not very enlightening. How could it be proved wrong?
As you say, reasons inform the decision.

The reason-set is your mental state at that moment, just viewed at a higher level. And that reason-set necessarily caused that outcome. We know that because that was the outcome.

Say you could not decide. That is an outcome of a slightly different reason-set in which neither choice is a clear winner; this is a slightly different mental state.
How is what you've been describing a "new mode of causation"? It's just a very complex version of event causation. There's nothing new about it.
Because it comes from consciousness, which is a property that has emerged from that complexity.

Think of the water molecules and the liquid state. The molecules in the liquid are not behaving in a new mode, the new mode emerges from them interacting as a whole.
How can that be me if my mental state is always changing? What is the basis for my identity over time? And what is the basis for the ascription of responsibility over time? How can i be charged with a murder i committed last year when the conditions that caused that decision no longer hold?
How similar are you to the teenager version of you? How similar to the toddler version? The reality is that we are changing. Sometimes we feel happy, sometimes angry, sometimes we sleep. Our mental states change significantly even over the course of a day.
Let's say that the voice in my head tells me that you are trying to kill me so I kill you instead in order to save my own life, or so I believe. This has all transpired through my internal mental states, but I am not responsible for my decision because i could not have done differently under the same circumstances. my psychosis compelled me to do it. What I am and am not held responsible for tracks "choice/no choice" not "internal/external."
I would be curious to know how your own beliefs handle the morality there, as that looks problematic whichever way you look at it.

I am not saying we do not make choices, I am saying our decision, when presented with a choice, is determined by our mental state, which in turn comes from our experiences, beliefs, etc.
They're done for reasons, but i'm not compelled to consider the reasons i consider or to interpret them the way I do. These things ocur at a different level of description from necessitating causes.
Right, it is happening at a different level. On one level, it is a necessary consequence of your mental state. On a high level, that mental state is what you are thinking, your reasons, and at that level, this emergent level, you are making a choice.
The alternative is that I sometimes decide, I being not a set of conditions but a center of consciousness, values, meaning, intentions, responsibility. These things are conceptually different from a set of conditions. If a random quantum event in my brain compels my decision to go left, then it's not my decision any more than if a mechanical malfunction compels the tram to go left.
If going right led to the tram going off a cliff, would you say you had a choice? Or a compelling reason to choose left? Or no choice?
Yes, but those actions wouldn't be freely chosen then. Think of the distinction that people make between something a psychotic person would do and something I would do; what is it that this distinction is tracking? Is it anything important, anything 'real,' or just social constructs, and if the latter, what would those constructs be based on?
I do not know. I think this is very shaky ground. I would guess mental illness is a spectrum, and people range along it from (for example) 0% psychotic to 100% psychotic. Someone has decided upon an arbitrary value, above which you are considered insane and not responsible. Do decisions suddenly stop being freely chosen in that case?
I don't know how good a guide it is to consciousness, but i would put more stock in it as far as 'mens rea' responsibility etc than neuroscience. Even neuroscientists admit that their field isn't ready for primetime when it comes to deciding culpability. I'd put a little more stock in a hundreds of thousands of years worth of folk attitudes, even though these aren't unimpeachable either.
Okay... Do not remember saying anything about culpability with respect to neuroscience.
Gee, I don;t kw. There was someone else who I recall who kept bringing it up.
I responded when you mentioned it, you responded when I mentioned it. How it works in these discussions. Neither one of us "kept bringing it up", and if at any time you had not mentioned in in a post, it would then have been absent from my response. So maybe your recall is showing some bias here?

Jim B.
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Re: how are scientific beliefs caused?

Post by Jim B. » Tue May 30, 2017 2:06 pm

The Pixie wrote:
Why is consciousness not transparent in principle? It is vastly more complex than the water molecule to liquid system, so it will take a lot longer to work out, but that is just a question of scale.
Because it really seems to be a conceptual rather than an empirical gap. Nothing personal but I really don't feel like rehashing all of that again. Here's a link to a previous discussion:[/quote]


viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2642
I asked about the spider before, and you said it is not conscious. Do you think a spider's brain will one day be fully understood? Already scientists are modelling the nematode brain; it has only 302 neurons so is relatively simple.

A house fly has a quarter of a million (could not find a figure for spiders). Could that be modelled? Ultimately, I believe so. And why not then also model the 86 billion of a human?

Maybe one day even the 257 billion of an African elephant!
I didn't write that the spider was not conscious. I said it processed information from its environment and that it probably doesn't initiate causal chains the way humans do, but i said maybe they do. This topic of teh supervenience of consciousness isn't related to understanding or modelling brains and neural functioning.
I think she would learn something new. The experience of red is not the same as the analysis of red. I am somewhat colour blind, so my experience of red is almost certainly different to your own.
It sounds like we agree then that not all facts are reducible to 3rd person, physical facts. Her new knowledge could not have been gotten through even a completed neurosicence. When all is known about neuroscience, there will still be something more to know about redness.
So what? My experience of red is due to a deficiency in my eyes; something purely physical. It all seems to come back to the physical world, which seems to reinforce my view that consciousness supervenes on the physical.
But we don't say that H2O causes water; we say it constitutes water. Reductionists like Dennett aren't content with saying that physical events cause experience; they make the bolder claim that the two are the same.

As you say, reasons inform the decision.

The reason-set is your mental state at that moment, just viewed at a higher level. And that reason-set necessarily caused that outcome. We know that because that was the outcome.

Say you could not decide. That is an outcome of a slightly different reason-set in which neither choice is a clear winner; this is a slightly different mental state.

Informing doesn't equal necessitating. There don't seem to be the constraints there when I deliberate that we associate with causation. It could be that "I" emerge as a center of consciousness and agency, and that this "I" is deciding, at least in some cases. I can initiate causal chains, informed by reasons but not necesitated by them. We don;t know enough empirically to say whether your scenario or mine or some other, like causal indeterminism, is the most likely, but there is ample evidence for strong emergentism in nature. What is incoherent about either agency theory or causal indeterminism, ie that the brain generates indeterminacy at times when whatever outcome is generated will be supported by the reasons I consciously and intentionally hold? Some form of libertarianism comports much better with our own experiences of deliberation as well as wit ascriptions of responsibility, regret, angst, gratitude etc than your theory does. These things don't mean free will is right but that there's a greater explanatory burden for determinists.
Because it comes from consciousness, which is a property that has emerged from that complexity.
Why would consciousness be necessary if it's all a complex deterministic process? What would consciousness be selected for? If it's all event causation (event 1 at time 1 necessitates event 2 at time 2, and so on) how does consciousness make it a new type of causation?
How similar are you to the teenager version of you? How similar to the toddler version? The reality is that we are changing. Sometimes we feel happy, sometimes angry, sometimes we sleep. Our mental states change significantly even over the course of a day.
We did a couple of threads on this topic too. I'll link to them:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2682


Sure, we psychologically change all the time, from second to second actually. But is there anything underlying this constant flux that might unite them, any 'youness' that's perhaps more durable than your moment by moment psychological changes, other than your physical body/ brain? And if one day it's possible to upload 'you' to a computer, even your physical body would not be necessary for maintaining your 'youness.' And if what you say is right, it wouldn't make any sense to hold me responsible today for what i did yesterday if I am no more than whatever cocktail of states happens to bubble to the surface at the moment.
I would be curious to know how your own beliefs handle the morality there, as that looks problematic whichever way you look at it.
The psychotic person would normally not be held morally or legally responsible for the action. Their illness necessitated them to do it.
I am not saying we do not make choices, I am saying our decision, when presented with a choice, is determined by our mental state, which in turn comes from our experiences, beliefs, etc.
Sure, but why is your scenario any more likely or coherent than mine, besides being in line with a prior commitment to reductionism?
If going right led to the tram going off a cliff, would you say you had a choice? Or a compelling reason to choose left? Or no choice?
I may make a choice to end my life, assuming I'm alone on the tram, due to consideration of reasons. But aside from that extraordinary circumstance, the will to survive is usually so strong, instincitive you might say, that I wouldn't have chosen to go left any more than I chose to give money to someone with a gun to my head.
I do not know. I think this is very shaky ground. I would guess mental illness is a spectrum, and people range along it from (for example) 0% psychotic to 100% psychotic. Someone has decided upon an arbitrary value, above which you are considered insane and not responsible. Do decisions suddenly stop being freely chosen in that case?
It's a gradation, like so many things (When exactly does someone become "bald"?). I was assuming the extreme case of absolute full-on psychosis for the sake of argument. There are gray areas, but that doesn't mean there aren't such things as 'psychosis' or 'baldness.'.
Okay... Do not remember saying anything about culpability with respect to neuroscience.
We were talking about accountability and how I thought that your theory has trouble making sense of that. Moral responsibility is generally thought to be a crucial factor in the free will debate.

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