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Thread: Free Will And Free Choice

  1. Top | #191
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    If the puppet doesn't have free will, then the puppet doesn't matter - it may as well not even exist.
    There is only the free will of the Puppet Master.
    Puppet is not the right analogy.

  2. Top | #192
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Which "we"? Some of us do ascribe "free will" to animals also, if they show signs of wavering between alternatives. With a lower level of consciousness, they might be considered as having less free will than humans. And possibly for insects and less primitive life forms we speculate that they have no free will. That's a judgment call.
    As pointed out, simply pasting the label 'free will' onto the decision-making ability of a brain does not establish the proposition that decision making is in fact free will.
    Congratulations! you're about 1/3 or maybe even 1/2 right.

    You're assuming that non-human animals by definition cannot have free will, and that this is the common understanding of free-will believers you're trying to refute; and that to assign "free will" to animals is artificial, or is just "pasting" this onto the selecting process of a brain in violation of the popular belief that it's only human brains which possess the free-will component, and not a NON-human animal's brain.

    You're right if your point is to discredit that notion of free will which insists that no entity lower than humans can have free will. To exclude all brains but human brains from having free will is arbitrary, and it cannot be defended scientifically, or rationally.

    What about our human ancestors half a million or a million or 2 or 3 million years ago? Did they have free will or not?

    At some point we must recognize that "free will" cannot be an absolute fixed quality we ascribe to modern humans, back to 100,000 years ago (or 500,000), at which point suddenly this free will quality appeared in the human species, while the predecessors a generation earlier had no free will. There's no one point in human evolution where we can say it began, and that earlier it was non-existent.

    Rather, the free will must be something which emerged gradually, as part of the selecting process happening in brains -- in ALL brains -- of animals, and it has reached a level of complexity which perhaps is exclusive to humans but still exists more simply in other animals also. And we can't assume that ALL humans have this quality without exception, though we can speculate that there is a considerable gap between humans and the animals just below us. In some humans the free will capacity might be deformed or dysfunctional to the point that those individual humans are at the same level as apes or other lower animals.

    Many humans don't want to think of this comparison, even considering it dangerous, and so they make humans into a special class set way apart from all other creatures, and they assign a religious "free will" to humans as a total separate class with no possible comparison to any other animals having higher brain capacities. In setting up this artificial separation, even denying evolution from lower creatures, they create a false "free will" concept which somehow might be a non-biological spirit entity in humans, and so "free will" becomes something unscientific and unverifiable.

    So it's reasonable to debunk this idea of free will, showing instead that all elements in human life processes are a natural part of the same cause-and-effect universe other creatures or entities are subject to. And for humans we can only say that the degree of complexity has increased to a much higher level. It's not unreasonable, for practical purposes, to generally assign "free will" to humans only, but for more precise understanding, we have to recognize that it's only a higher degree of complexity in the case of humans, and not something absolutely separate from the biology of other creatures.

    But your refutation is at least half wrong, because it unnecessarily excludes animals absolutely from having any free will. Rather, they may also exhibit some (lower-level) choosing ability, having a degree of consciousness and having desires and selecting process in their system, similar to our own. The basic biology of this is probably the same as in humans, with only the degree of complexity being different.

    Assuming we recognize such ability in non-human animals also, then you're wrong to say this is just "pasting on" free will to something which does not have it. We're entitled to assign "free will" to anything which makes choices or exercises selection, and which has desires and has time to reflect on what it will do in the next few seconds or minutes, etc. Regardless whether all this has earlier causes behind it.


    The reasons why the cognitive process of selecting options is not free will have been thoroughly explained.
    No they've not been. The only reasons given are that the process involves causes, i.e., biological features like brain impulses or nerve actions, and it's assumed that as long as these causes exist, the resulting "choices" of the subject cannot be that of free will. Which is an arbitrary dogma that causality and free will are mutually exclusive. They are not.

    As long as it's possible for the causes to be there as part of the free will process, then this causality and free will are not mutually exclusive. They can both be the case, and the process of selecting options is free will, or the two are both involved in the choosing. They are possibly even identical, as the whole process of choosing, along with the causes, IS the free will (absent coercion imposed by an intruder whose presence makes a victim worse off than was the case without this intrusion).


    To recap;

    Movement] Intention After Parietal Cortex Stimulation in Humans;
    ''Parietal and premotor cortex . . .
    All this recapping changes nothing. This is just repeating the same claim again and again that there are biological causes going on, and just assuming dogmatically that this causality element precludes free will. Which it does not. So despite the fancy jargon and impressive scientific and technical display, nothing about it refutes free will as playing its assumed role in human decision-making (and maybe that of some nonhuman animals also, in less complex forms).

    But if it makes you feel good, you can go on and on repeating the impressive and mesmerizing scientific presentations which in no way refute the reality of free will.

    "Parietal and premotor cortex regions are serious contenders for bringing motor intentions and motor responses into awareness. We used electrical stimulation in seven patients undergoing awake brain surgery. Stimulating the right inferior parietal regions triggered a strong intention and desire to move the contralateral hand, arm, or foot, whereas stimulating the left inferior parietal region provoked the intention to move the lips and to talk. When stimulation intensity was increased in parietal areas, participants believed they had really performed these movements, although no electromyographic activity was detected. Stimulation of the premotor region triggered overt mouth and contralateral limb movements. Yet, patients firmly denied that they had moved.
    At most you might have evidence that unusual subjects (brain surgery patients) have an "illusion" of free will in some cases where a brain surgeon (or other scientists) induced an artificial probe into the brain, causing the "illusion" to take place. Even if this is so, it does not refute free will, other than in such very specific instances where there is this artificial outside stimulus intended by someone else trying to fool the subject. We might admit that such deception is possible, where outside agents intentionally try to fool someone. But other than such cases of intended deception by outside intelligent intervening entities, there is no such "illusion" of free will which is induced into humans, and such "illusion" is not a normal part of human experience.


    Conscious intention and motor awareness thus arise from increased parietal activity before movement execution.''

    A parietal-premotor network for movement intention and motor awareness
    ''It is commonly assumed that we are conscious of our movements mainly because we can sense ourselves moving as ongoing peripheral information coming from our muscles and retina reaches the brain. Recent evidence, however, suggests that, contrary to common beliefs, conscious intention to move is independent of movement execution per se.
    If so, it's only in those extremely rare instances where an outside scientist or brain surgeon is intentionally inducing an artificial probe into the brain to cause a deception to the subject. Except for that rare deviation from the norm, it's not true that conscious intention to move is independent of movement execution per se. It can happen only when intelligent action is performed with the intention to induce a perception by the subject.


    We propose that during movement execution it is our initial intentions that we are mainly aware of.
    Even so, we become aware of the actual movement a short time after, maybe only a microsecond after the movement. The phrase "mainly aware of" is deceptive, because our awareness of the actual movement can easily become the main focus of our awareness, if later choices are also to be made. The conscious awareness and "free will" are not a one-time instantaneous flash happening, but is something ongoing, changing, and adjusting continually.


    Furthermore, the experience of moving as a conscious act is associated with increased activity in a specific brain region: the posterior parietal cortex. We speculate that movement intention and awareness are generated and monitored in this region. We put forward a general framework of the cognitive and neural processes involved in movement intention and motor awareness.''
    It's irrelevant to the free will question where exactly in the brain the processes are happening. The scientists want to know these technical specifics, but none of that answers or refutes popular beliefs about free will (though it might refute bizarre beliefs which locate the "soul" in a particular spot, like the thymos or epithemitikon, etc., according to this or that offbeat theory or ancient superstition).

  3. Top | #193
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    So, what's the point? You want something that you won't get. The free will doesn't always get what it wants. We want some things we won't ever get. When we adjust to this, maybe we put our attention toward the desired objects which are more reachable. Nothing about "free will" says we have to get everything we desire.




    It's "free" if the "that" which follows is something which is wanted by the subject, and this subject is conscious and selects the "that" regardless what drove the selecting process.

    Put in all the interveners you can muster. Not going to free up that from this ever.
    In some cases we want the "that" and in other cases we don't want it. That it's predetermined doesn't mean it's contrary to our free will. If we wanted it and it happened and we were conscious and selected it -- then it was a free-will choice that was satisfied. But if we wanted it not to happen and it happened anyway, then our free will was not satisfied, or it was frustrated by the reality.

    Our selecting it can be one of the causes which determined the "that" -- regardless what may have caused the selecting it or our desire which led to the selecting. So our selecting per se does make a difference, as one of the causes.

    Throw in all the intervening "causes" you can muster -- that does not erase the choosing and consciousness happening, even if the desiring and choosing etc. itself was driven by earlier causes.

    "Free will" does not mean we must eradicate all causes and produce a result which had no causes making it happen. I.e., it does not mean our producing the result was not caused by anything.
    Oh. It's psychology. Actually it isn't. Psychology is as derivative as is "free will". Believe me I know. I was trained as one of those. If you're going to have an argument with yourself you aren't talking about free will you are talking about individual uncertainty given the state of the way things are in your mind which isn't the condition of things are at time=0. Your consciousness is a near time history of what you believe, given what you can't know which is how things are at time t=0.

    We explicitly cannot have free will because we can't know the way things are at time=0. Ergo we can't know how things are thereafter as a matter of natural law.

    You are working in a subjective mode when you construct your 'free will' in your consciousness. A recent personal, mostly internal, status of your available information for inclusion in conscious experience from those wonderful fantasy subjective things you believe - another big meaningless subjective word to human understanding of material existence which you probably call reality - exist.

    Doubling down on subjective explanation does not rise to the level of material evidence.

    Here's a clue. Replace all those words you use as reason with materially defined operations. If you have anything left, that is the starting point for providing empirical material argument.

    Ah jeez. I just read your 'argument' to DBT. You didn't do anything except take you current position and justify it by adding uncertainty to where humans might have achieved free will. Animals are behaving beings. If a modern construct is appended to such being there need evidence for that appending. Coming up with a supreme being isn't going to get you to it. Since that is all that anyone has suggested as rationale then man has destroyed it by materially showing no being created man.

    "Aware" is not an element of the time = 0 argument for determinism. There is no place to put aware between t = 0 and thereafter. Whatever comes thereafter is included in thereafter. Believe me including debunked beliefs doesn't make your argument any better. It just confirms you are trying to wedge a fiction into reality.

  4. Top | #194
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Like being fixated on the belief that free will and causality are mutually exclusive, which is disproved by the free-will debunker's own logic, which offers nothing to show how free will must contradict causality. A strong case can be made for causality, or cause and effect, meaning that a phenomenon must have a cause, and it seems impossible to give an example of anything that is not caused by something else (even if the cause is not known), so we can always assume something must have caused it, whatever it is.

    Yet why does that preclude free will, as the free-will debunker dogmatically insists without any reason? The free will makes choices, acting as a cause, while this free will itself might also be caused by something. That x is caused by something else does not mean somehow that the x doesn't exist.

    So why is the free-will debunker blind to the alternative that the free will does exist and causes some things to happen and yet is itself also caused by something? Why does the anti-free-will crusader's cognitive filter go up and make this alternative invisible?

    Nothing the free-will denier has to offer is disregarded by someone's cognitive filter. All the research cited to show that nerve impulses cause free will in no way undermines the normal understanding of free will as also a cause -- i.e., causing actions -- A causes B and then B causes C, etc. -- the normal pattern of everyday decision-making as people choose to do this or that, etc. It only shows that the free will making these choices is itself also caused. We can easily assume that something happens somewhere which determines the free will to be as it is, and also that this free will does its own influence on other objects to cause something to happen. This simple reality is what is made "invisible" by the anti-free-will fanatic's cognitive filter.

    . . . and any and every alternative become invisible, thus disproving the very thing they believe in and argue for.
    That's the free-will debunker, actually proving that free will does exist, by establishing that there are influences or causes which act on one's mind and consciousness and motor nerves, so as to establish the connection between the desire and the acts influenced by the desire, showing how something decided is put into action as a result of the decision-making process. Thus proving free will and refuting the free-will debunker's blind prejudice and dogmatic refusal to see any alternative.
    Will is not free for the given reasons. Your conscious will is nothing more than a prompt or urge to act once the real underlying work for that specific action is completed.
    No. Let's not obfuscate by combining "consciousness" and "will" unnecessarily. Separate them, in order to clarify. The consciousness is not a prompt or urge, but is passive awareness of something, of an object, of something perceived. Then the "will" also happens at some point, and might be an "urge" or "prompt" toward an action to take.

    So "conscious will" might be an urge happening after the consciousness has given some input which then initiates the urge.

    The urge can come later (maybe a second or two), after the consciousness happens. It does not matter what all the causes are which produce this urge -- the result of it is a free-will act as long as it happens after there is consciousness of it (and as long as coercion is not one of the causes).

    It doesn't matter that there is the "real underlying work for that specific action" separate from the urge or the consciousness. That doesn't change the action into a NON-free-will act -- "that specific action" is a free will choice the subject makes, as long as it happens along with consciousness, or after the consciousness has taken place, so the subject knows what's happening, such as knowing what the action is that is taken.

    You aren't giving any reason why "that specific action" is not a free will choice, as long as it is accompanied by the consciousness happening along with it.


    Consciousness is an ongoing activity being generated and fed information by underlying information processing activity.
    Yes, that agrees with my point, i.e., that the action is a free will act as long as it is accompanied by consciousness. That this consciousness is "generated and fed information" as you describe does not change this. No matter what generates and feeds the consciousness, still it is the case that any action chosen by the subject is a free will act as long as it is accompanied by consciousness -- which is "generated and fed information" as you say.


    That is the agency of decision making and why - being unconscious information processing by neural networks - decision making is not 'free will.'
    No, the decision-making is free will (selecting an option + consciousness), and the information is known by the consciousness, no matter how it's produced or processed. As long as the consciousness is there, receiving the information -- no matter what produced the information -- that action selected while there is consciousness is a free will act. Calling the information "unconscious" does not mean the subject is unconscious of the information, and calling the processing or the neural networks "unconscious" does not mean the subject was unconscious.

    So despite something being "unconscious" -- the information, the processing, the neural networks, etc. -- regardless of that, the action chosen and taken by the individual who is conscious of the information and the action is a free choice, or is a free-will act. Nothing you've said shows otherwise.


    Brain interpreter function:
    ''Experiments on split-brain patients reveal how readily the left brain interpreter can make up stories and beliefs. In one experiment, for example, when the word walk was presented only to the right side of a patient’s brain, he got up and started walking. When he was asked why he did this, the left brain (where language is stored and where the word walk was not presented) quickly created a reason for the action: “I wanted to go get a Coke.”
    All this proves is that you can fool the subject. When a subject is being fooled by a researcher, being deceived by having probes inserted into the brain, etc., then it's true that you can fool that subject and create an "illusion" of a conscious choice. Maybe in that case it is not truly a free act, or a free choice. It's debatable, but let's just assume that when the subject's brain is being probed by a scientist trying to play a trick on the subject, this can then create the "illusion" of a free choice when there is no free choice really happening.

    So what? That's not what is usually happening to us when we make our choices. There is no researcher probing our brains every day, in all situations when we make choices. Such tricks being played on us are not the norm. In fact, these cases are so rare as to be irrelevant to anything, other than to show that it is possible to fool us by artificially probing our brains.

    This is interesting research, and it's OK for it to continue and for the scientists to do this all they want in order to learn more about how the brain functions. Maybe it has to be restricted to only subjects who volunteer to serve this role. But there might be much valuable information to learn from these probing experiments -- just not anything which refutes free will, which is what goes on normally, 99.999% of the time when our brains are not being probed by these scientists playing this deception onto the subjects.


    Even more fantastic examples of the left hemisphere at work come from the study of neurological disorders. In a complication of stroke called anosognosia with hemiplegia, patients cannot recognize that their left arm is theirs because the stroke damaged the right parietal cortex, which manages our body’s integrity, position, and movement.
    Let's assume the extreme: in some cases of stroke, the subject loses free will, maybe even permanently in some cases, and it's never recovered. Perhaps, though there's often reasonable hope of partial recovery and regaining normal consciousness and free will. There's no proof that free will is permanently canceled. Free will exists normally in humans, but it is subject to being damaged, and we can test any subject to determine if they have the ability to make free choices or if normal conscious choice has been damaged or destroyed (probably due to brain damage).

    Such a test has to be much more than just probing the brain to fool the subject into having "illusions" of free choice. Just because such illusions can be artificially induced does not mean there has been brain damage or any loss of normal conscious ability to make free choices.


    The left-hemisphere interpreter has to reconcile the information it receives from the visual cortex—that the limb is attached to its body but is not moving—with the fact that it is not receiving any input about the damage to that limb. The left-hemisphere interpreter would recognize that damage to nerves of the limb meant trouble for the brain and that the limb was paralyzed; however, in this case the damage occurred directly to the brain area responsible for signaling a problem in the perception of the limb, and it cannot send any information to the left-hemisphere interpreter. The interpreter must, then, create a belief to mediate the two known facts “I can see the limb isn’t moving” and “I can’t tell that it is damaged.” When patients with this disorder are asked about their arm and why they can’t move it, they will say “It’s not mine” or “I just don’t feel like moving it”—reasonable conclusions, given the input that the left-hemisphere interpreter is receiving.
    OK, you can go on and on giving these examples of brain damage. But these false impressions happen only when there is brain damage, or in some other way there is an abnormal experience imposed onto the brain. Free will is the NORM, not the abnormal condition of the brain. It is the normal process of making choices every day, when you get up in the morning and do your normal choosing and acting on your choices.

    You can produce the above bizarre results ONLY in abnormal conditions, such as in patients with damaged brains, or in patients having brain surgery, or other conditions where they are artificially fed inputs by researchers trying to deceive them -- which shows this is not about normal free will activity we all engage in every day. It can give useful information on how the mind functions, but it does not refute normal free will as something happening all the time in our decision-making.


    A Real Test of Free Will

    So can there be a real test of free will / free choice other than the above cases of brain-damaged patients or of surgeons inserting artificial probes into a patient's brain? There has to be at least a hypothetical test, even if there's no practical way to do it.

    Such a test has to be done on a normal subject only, who is not brain-damaged and is not having a probe inserted into the brain.

    Maybe in the future it will be possible to insert a "probe" into someone's brain as they are going about their normal activities. Probably not a normal medical object, but some kind of scan which can be done without any disruptive intrusion into the subject's body, something that's done without any change noticed by the subject, with nothing detracting from their normal experience. Maybe they would even consent to allowing this, but not knowing when it's being done, so they don't do anything different from their normal behavior.

    In such a case of a normal healthy subject, engaging in the normal activities they do every day, could it be determined by the researcher that this person does acts which are not free will acts, such as we see in these cases of patients with damaged brains?

    You have no case against free will until you can describe such a procedure, maybe in the future when the subjects can be "probed" while going about their normal activities and doing their normal actions and choices. You must explain what you observe about their choices that verifies that their choice was not free even though they did a selection process while having normal consciousness, including awareness of the choice and the action chosen and taken.

    To prove your case you must show how the subjects make mistakes similar to the above examples of patients with damaged brains, believing they are at some location where they are not, or giving a reason why they raise their hand when you know the real reason is different than what they claim in a story they make up to explain their action.

    When you can show such results as this with subjects in a normal setting of decision-making, then you might be able to demonstrate that there really is no free will, at least none in those cases. And maybe you can extrapolate that the same is true of all of us in our everyday decision-making.

    You have to get beyond just proving that there are mechanisms in our bodies which cause movement. Just because there is a physiological mechanism behind our particular movement does not mean our behavior is not free or that we don't really make free choices. The "free choice" is the selected action happening along with the consciousness of it, which are verifiable.

    Your claim requires a metaphysical spiritual essence as the meaning of free will which is unverifiable and unrelated to the normal "free will" term as we apply it in the practical world, where it refers to the normal process of decision-making we engage in throughout every day, not restricted to extremely rare special cases of researchers putting probes into our brain to try to trick us. Until you can apply your research examples to everyday experience, they are irrelevant to what "free will" is about.


    The left-hemisphere interpreter is not only a master of belief creation, but it will stick to its belief system no matter what. Patients with “reduplicative paramnesia,” because of damage to the brain, believe that there are copies of people or places. In short, they will remember another time and mix it with the present. As a result, they will create seemingly ridiculous, but masterful, stories to uphold what they know to be true due to the erroneous messages their damaged brain is sending their intact interpreter. One such patient believed the New York hospital where she was being treated was actually her home in Maine. When her doctor asked how this could be her home if there were elevators in the hallway, she said, “Doctor, do you know how much it cost me to have those put in?” The interpreter will go to great lengths to make sure the inputs it receives are woven together to make sense—even when it must make great leaps to do so. Of course, these do not appear as “great leaps” to the patient, but rather as clear evidence from the world around him or her.''
    Why are you omitting the most important part?

    Why aren't you telling us what happened when they showed the patient the whole building, took her outside where she could see she was not at home? It's dishonest to give us only part of the story and omit the part that contradicts your theory. The reason you don't give us that part of the report is that it refutes what you're claiming, when the patient finally has to admit that her earlier illusion had been mistaken. Taking her outside, showing her still further evidence, even taking her home to see how far she had been from there -- all this is a necessary part of the test to determine if she could distinguish between the illusion and the reality. That we can distinguish between them is the proof that reality is the norm, and the illusions -- artificially induced free will and consciousness "illusions" -- are not the norm.

    In fact, why is it that all these research examples you give consistently (and conveniently) leave out more tests which would show the truth conclusively? So far the evidence is that these examples are fraudulent, maybe even quackery, because of obvious testing which should have been done but was omitted. But you could prove otherwise by finally showing us an example having more follow-up tests to complete the experiment instead of leaving it incomplete, as all your examples are so far.

    Our free will is about the norm, not about the artificially induced illusions which can be generated by means of damaged brains or by artificial probes inserted into a patient's brain.

  5. Top | #195
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Two subjectives were in a boat. Free will fell out and Norm was left. What was left. Nothing. Do you agree?

  6. Top | #196
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post

    Congratulations! you're about 1/3 or maybe even 1/2 right.

    You're assuming that non-human animals by definition cannot have free will, and that this is the common understanding of free-will believers you're trying to refute; and that to assign "free will" to animals is artificial, or is just "pasting" this onto the selecting process of a brain in violation of the popular belief that it's only human brains which possess the free-will component, and not a NON-human animal's brain.

    You're right if your point is to discredit that notion of free will which insists that no entity lower than humans can have free will. To exclude all brains but human brains from having free will is arbitrary, and it cannot be defended scientifically, or rationally.

    What about our human ancestors half a million or a million or 2 or 3 million years ago? Did they have free will or not?

    At some point we must recognize that "free will" cannot be an absolute fixed quality we ascribe to modern humans, back to 100,000 years ago (or 500,000), at which point suddenly this free will quality appeared in the human species, while the predecessors a generation earlier had no free will. There's no one point in human evolution where we can say it began, and that earlier it was non-existent.

    Rather, the free will must be something which emerged gradually, as part of the selecting process happening in brains -- in ALL brains -- of animals, and it has reached a level of complexity which perhaps is exclusive to humans but still exists more simply in other animals also. And we can't assume that ALL humans have this quality without exception, though we can speculate that there is a considerable gap between humans and the animals just below us. In some humans the free will capacity might be deformed or dysfunctional to the point that those individual humans are at the same level as apes or other lower animals.

    Many humans don't want to think of this comparison, even considering it dangerous, and so they make humans into a special class set way apart from all other creatures, and they assign a religious "free will" to humans as a total separate class with no possible comparison to any other animals having higher brain capacities. In setting up this artificial separation, even denying evolution from lower creatures, they create a false "free will" concept which somehow might be a non-biological spirit entity in humans, and so "free will" becomes something unscientific and unverifiable.

    So it's reasonable to debunk this idea of free will, showing instead that all elements in human life processes are a natural part of the same cause-and-effect universe other creatures or entities are subject to. And for humans we can only say that the degree of complexity has increased to a much higher level. It's not unreasonable, for practical purposes, to generally assign "free will" to humans only, but for more precise understanding, we have to recognize that it's only a higher degree of complexity in the case of humans, and not something absolutely separate from the biology of other creatures.

    But your refutation is at least half wrong, because it unnecessarily excludes animals absolutely from having any free will. Rather, they may also exhibit some (lower-level) choosing ability, having a degree of consciousness and having desires and selecting process in their system, similar to our own. The basic biology of this is probably the same as in humans, with only the degree of complexity being different.

    Assuming we recognize such ability in non-human animals also, then you're wrong to say this is just "pasting on" free will to something which does not have it. We're entitled to assign "free will" to anything which makes choices or exercises selection, and which has desires and has time to reflect on what it will do in the next few seconds or minutes, etc. Regardless whether all this has earlier causes behind it.


    The reasons why the cognitive process of selecting options is not free will have been thoroughly explained.
    No they've not been. The only reasons given are that the process involves causes, i.e., biological features like brain impulses or nerve actions, and it's assumed that as long as these causes exist, the resulting "choices" of the subject cannot be that of free will. Which is an arbitrary dogma that causality and free will are mutually exclusive. They are not.

    As long as it's possible for the causes to be there as part of the free will process, then this causality and free will are not mutually exclusive. They can both be the case, and the process of selecting options is free will, or the two are both involved in the choosing. They are possibly even identical, as the whole process of choosing, along with the causes, IS the free will (absent coercion imposed by an intruder whose presence makes a victim worse off than was the case without this intrusion).


    To recap;

    Movement] Intention After Parietal Cortex Stimulation in Humans;
    ''Parietal and premotor cortex . . .
    All this recapping changes nothing. This is just repeating the same claim again and again that there are biological causes going on, and just assuming dogmatically that this causality element precludes free will. Which it does not. So despite the fancy jargon and impressive scientific and technical display, nothing about it refutes free will as playing its assumed role in human decision-making (and maybe that of some nonhuman animals also, in less complex forms).

    But if it makes you feel good, you can go on and on repeating the impressive and mesmerizing scientific presentations which in no way refute the reality of free will.

    "Parietal and premotor cortex regions are serious contenders for bringing motor intentions and motor responses into awareness. We used electrical stimulation in seven patients undergoing awake brain surgery. Stimulating the right inferior parietal regions triggered a strong intention and desire to move the contralateral hand, arm, or foot, whereas stimulating the left inferior parietal region provoked the intention to move the lips and to talk. When stimulation intensity was increased in parietal areas, participants believed they had really performed these movements, although no electromyographic activity was detected. Stimulation of the premotor region triggered overt mouth and contralateral limb movements. Yet, patients firmly denied that they had moved.
    At most you might have evidence that unusual subjects (brain surgery patients) have an "illusion" of free will in some cases where a brain surgeon (or other scientists) induced an artificial probe into the brain, causing the "illusion" to take place. Even if this is so, it does not refute free will, other than in such very specific instances where there is this artificial outside stimulus intended by someone else trying to fool the subject. We might admit that such deception is possible, where outside agents intentionally try to fool someone. But other than such cases of intended deception by outside intelligent intervening entities, there is no such "illusion" of free will which is induced into humans, and such "illusion" is not a normal part of human experience.


    Conscious intention and motor awareness thus arise from increased parietal activity before movement execution.''

    A parietal-premotor network for movement intention and motor awareness
    ''It is commonly assumed that we are conscious of our movements mainly because we can sense ourselves moving as ongoing peripheral information coming from our muscles and retina reaches the brain. Recent evidence, however, suggests that, contrary to common beliefs, conscious intention to move is independent of movement execution per se.
    If so, it's only in those extremely rare instances where an outside scientist or brain surgeon is intentionally inducing an artificial probe into the brain to cause a deception to the subject. Except for that rare deviation from the norm, it's not true that conscious intention to move is independent of movement execution per se. It can happen only when intelligent action is performed with the intention to induce a perception by the subject.


    We propose that during movement execution it is our initial intentions that we are mainly aware of.
    Even so, we become aware of the actual movement a short time after, maybe only a microsecond after the movement. The phrase "mainly aware of" is deceptive, because our awareness of the actual movement can easily become the main focus of our awareness, if later choices are also to be made. The conscious awareness and "free will" are not a one-time instantaneous flash happening, but is something ongoing, changing, and adjusting continually.


    Furthermore, the experience of moving as a conscious act is associated with increased activity in a specific brain region: the posterior parietal cortex. We speculate that movement intention and awareness are generated and monitored in this region. We put forward a general framework of the cognitive and neural processes involved in movement intention and motor awareness.''
    It's irrelevant to the free will question where exactly in the brain the processes are happening. The scientists want to know these technical specifics, but none of that answers or refutes popular beliefs about free will (though it might refute bizarre beliefs which locate the "soul" in a particular spot, like the thymos or epithemitikon, etc., according to this or that offbeat theory or ancient superstition).

    Your walls of text don't help you establish the reality of free will. Your whole foundation rests on nothing more than asserting that the ability to make decisions - choose options based on sets of criteria - which any information processor with sufficient capability is able of doing regardless of it being a unconscious activity.

    Even worse for your assertion, the brain itself processes information prior to conscious representation in the form of thought. Thought being fed information by underlying processing milliseconds before being experienced in conscious form.

    Neither consciousness or conscious will being the driver of the brain, how it acquires or processes information or the thoughts and decisions that are brought to conscious attention.

    You are spruiking an idealistic belief, a term that has no real basis beyond common usage, meaning that someone is not forced to make a decision. Not being forced doesn't take the nature of decision making in terms of brain function.

  7. Top | #197
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    The only knowledge we have about consciousness are our subjective experiences of having it.

    There is no scientific understanding of consciousness.

    Nobody has a clue what it is.

    And therefore nobody has a clue what it can do.

    Our experience is that we move the hand with our "will".

    If not true then we are being deceived.

    Deceived for no reason.

    A consciousness that cannot move the arm is a consciousness totally unneeded.

    But a brain that is the only thing that can "will" does not explain human advancement.

    Transferring all the features of consciousness onto a reflexive brain is avoiding the issue entirely and pretending you have done something.

    It is the height of self-delusion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Not ALL the conscious activity happens AFTER the brain's activity to acquire information. That act of acquiring information continues on and on, for seconds or even minutes later, so that some of it (or further information) is acquired by the brain AFTER the conscious activity has begun. Nothing prevents that earlier conscious activity from influencing the further brain activity of acquiring information.
    Brain activity is both episodic and continuous, depending on . . .
    My above point about conscious activity is a normal common-sense remark like "rain is usually preceded by clouds in the sky" etc. -- an observation any ordinary bloke is qualified to make and has a proper place in describing how decisions are made. Though the observation is consistent with science, it has nothing to do with any special scientific research by certified experts (in climatology or neurology etc.). There's nothing in any neurology research contradicting the simple observation that some conscious activity happens prior to some of the information-acquiring activity (and also prior to some decision-making activity or selecting from options). So some such conscious activity can influence some of the information-acquiring activity (the later influenced by the earlier), and the earlier can also influence the final selecting activity.

    the point: conscious activity can have influence on the decisions we make, and it's ludicrous to insist that there's no consciousness contribution to the decision-making and to claim there's research proving such a thing. It even borders on dementia to dogmatically insist that there is research proving that conscious activity is excluded from playing any role because choices are all subconscious information-gathering nerve impulses only which are totally independent of any consciousness and unknown by consciousness, so that all decision-making is performed with no consciousness of it playing any role.

    E.g., the following says nothing to suggest that consciousness has no influence on decision-making.

    . . . both episodic and continuous, depending on what is processing and through whichever modality it occurs. Yeah, pretty inclusive and meaningless unless there is some context.

    I'll provide two or three. But first I'm going to say using models for finding such factors is critical as are some conditions under which such study is performed.

    Factors. Brain is evolving which was can be reflected in other comparable species with some caveats. There need be genetic and behavioral linkage among the several species where similarities of activity and function have been established. These are at the core of such study. We need to be satisfied there is analogous structure and function among the models and structures and behaviors.

    Normally the above would be presumed but this is a special place where these basics need be explicitly specified.

    In the present instance I'm going to compare structure and function among mammals ranging from rodents through to human progenitors such as possum, lemurs, prosimians, and apes, as well as man both sexes and many cohorts.

    I'm going to concentrate on studies in which either I or a team in which I participated did work. And most of the work I describe is supportive of the basics of either learning or perception and is used to characterize the bases under which those behaviors arise within the NS.

    I'm going to concentrate on neural and behavioral studies concerned with learning, perception, showing general behavior along ascending and descending neural tracts, primarily auditory and visual from just after receptor to primary cortical loci and some associative loci. These studies all had the objectives of determining parameters of sensation and learning activity.

    In a study conducted following paradigms and protocols established by James Olds we examined multi-cellular electrical activity along ascending and descending auditory and visual tracts in attempts to determine either the engram or other defining locus of learning behavior within the sensory systems. In my particular study I chose to examine influences of sensory input on the acquisition of this behavior within the sensory tracts at several nuclei along both the visual and auditory sensory tracts and the accessory areas in lateral hypothalamus where chemical arousal and attentional sites and sources have been identified.

    I went about these tasks by placing electrodes and cannula in the lateral hypothalamus in rats and at sensory waystations then recording data while having the rats learn choice and reverse choice In Olds proven methods. This data was acquired while performing a study on the effects of enkephalin and reinforcing action of electrical stimulation in the posterior lateral hypothalamus.

    What we found were obvious after reflection on the structure of these systems.

    Onset of activity corresponded with distance from receptor and change in receptor activity was also modulated with descending activity as the learning process proceeded. In the end the learning is seen as a continuous neural process using the entirety of ascending and descending processes. There is no engram or locus of learning. Rather, learning is achieved by the entire structure of the sensory systems.

    As has since been found in the late nineties there are cells within sensory systems that respond both to direct stimulation and to response to such stimulation observed in others.

    As for other sense stimulation influences most was seen in descending neural influences. These studies have been repeated in other species with similar results.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    It comes out that we deceive ourselves into the fiction that we 'decide'.
    You can't claim "it comes out that . . ." if there's no consciousness or experience.
    You can't claim that there is conscious[ness] or experience until you've established they are material IAC natural law.
    Yes I can claim it as anyone can, based on normal experience without particular theories about matter and natural law. The possibility to "establish" something makes no sense unless you assume PRIOR that consciousness exists. Consciousness must come first, and then it makes sense to speak of "establishing" something, based on the prior consciousness which "establishes" stuff.

    How can anyone "establish" something unless first they have consciousness, and unless there are other conscious entities to whom something is to be "established"?

    "establish" means nothing if there are no conscious entities who do the establishing and/or to whom it is established.


    The phrase "it comes out that . . ." means someone with consciousness is aware of it, or that there's a consensus among such conscious beings that this has been demonstrated to them and other conscious beings. So you can't say "it comes out that . . ." unless there are already conscious entities before "it" came out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Yes, and then there is more information processing which begins AFTER the "activity in conscious form" happens. So the conscious activity then has an impact on the later brain activity, or adds further information to the brain, which then is influenced further. So the brain acquiring information is acted upon by earlier conscious activity.

    Not ALL the conscious activity happens AFTER the brain's activity to acquire information. That act of acquiring information continues on and on, for seconds or even minutes later, so that some of it (or further information) is acquired by the brain AFTER the conscious activity has begun. Nothing prevents that earlier conscious activity from influencing the further brain activity of acquiring information.


    Your thoughts are made conscious.
    Yes, and that consciousness in turn stimulates still further brain activity. You keep ignoring this. You keep imagining that the consciousness can't ever influence new brain activity. How are you hung up on the platitude that no conscious impulse can ever have an influence on later brain activity?
    You ignore a critical point: nothing is conscious before information is acquired, processed and made conscious.
    Yes there is consciousness before some of the information acquired.

    Aren't you acquiring information now, and didn't you yesterday, and a week ago? And yet isn't it also true that you were conscious a month ago, and a year ago, and 10 years ago?

    So how can you say that no consciousness can ever precede the acquiring information?

    Both the consciousness and information-acquiring are ongoing activities, with some of the consciousness happening EARLIER than some of the information-acquiring. Isn't that obvious?

    So how can you dogmatically insist that none of the later information-acquiring could not be influenced by the consciousness which happened earlier? seconds or minutes or hours or days or weeks earlier?


    It is not consciousness that acts, it is the brain acquiring/processing information and informing consciousness.
    Yes, when the consciousness is later. But in cases where consciousness is earlier, why can't that earlier consciousness have an influence on later information-acquiring, and also on the decision-making happening later? You're not giving any reason why that earlier consciousness cannot influence the later information-processing and selecting.


    It is always brain agency.

    You appear to imply that consciousness is the source of 'free will' in the face of evidence to the contrary.
    What evidence? None from you. Not any of the research you've cited over and over.

    We never call something "free will" unless we mean the subject choosing was conscious of it. This means consciousness must be a requirement in order for "free will" to be happening. When there's no consciousness and yet a selection happened, then that "choice" was not a "free will" choice. E.g., it was a reflexive muscle impulse, or other subconscious action.

    How is that not a main difference between a "free will" act and a non-"free will" act?


    Consciousness is whatever a brain is doing in any given instance in time.
    Yes, and sometimes that's BEFORE a later decision, or before an information-acquiring activity, and those later actions could have been influenced by that earlier consciousness.

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