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Thread: Compatibilism: What's that About?

  1. Top | #271
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by none View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    Nicely put. But the "determined system" exists only as the whole set of the individual objects and forces in the universe, interacting with each other to cause all of the chains of events. In other words, I am not a passive part of the unfolding, but rather I am one of the agents that is actually doing the unfolding. You are poetically speaking of the forest, and I am suggesting that you notice the trees.

    Within a causal chain, intelligent species show up as control links. Unlike the behavior of physical objects, like the Earth and the Sun, which are totally governed by physical forces, intelligent species literally have skin in the game. We choose to do things, for purposes and reasons and interests, that exist solely within us.

    That which is actually choosing what will actually happen next is exerting control.





    Appearances can be deceptive. But sometimes things are precisely as they appear.



    It was causally necessary, from any prior point in time, that I would have to choose between A and B before I could continue. The choosing operation requires that "I can choose A" must be true. The choosing operation also requires that "I can choose B" must be true. The choosing operation, being guaranteed to occur due to causal necessity, in turn guarantees the ability to do otherwise. This is how the causal mechanism works.



    And yet we humans exercise all kinds of regulative control within determinism. All of the control we exercise is, of course, causally necessary from any prior point in time. Yet it is validly called regulative control because our choices regulate our actions and our actions causally determine what happens next.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Compabilism is based on the ability to act without coercion or compulsion...which is problematic for the given reasons.
    Well, seeing as how reliable cause and effect, in itself, is neither coercive nor undue, causal necessity poses no threat to free will at all.
    Besides the bullshit narrative you have been pushing..., this bolded comment made me lose faith..
    I guess this amount of arrogance is the basis of your thesis.
    Geesh, aren't you special because you have declared your special and nobody can take that away from you...geesh.
    Maybe you should get into the politics discussion forum, there are plenty of apes presenting as if they are not rabid. uck
    On a side note you are very handsome aren't you? blah..
    What's your problem?
    You should have used quotes to qualify the word "problem."
    First I told my imaginary friend about Jesus, then I told Jesus about my imaginary friend.
    Jackass Forever February 4, 2022..

  2. Top | #272
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    And yet, since it was a new restaurant, I had to consciously open and read the menu before my unconscious mind could perform its calculation and report the choice back to my conscious awareness. Otherwise, how could the unconscious functions have the information required to make the choice.
    That's not how it works. The brain must first acquire information before it is processed and presented in conscious form. Conscious experience must necessarily follow acquisition and processing of information. What you experience has already been decided by prior processing;

    Decision making
    ''Decision-making is such a seamless brain process that we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we may look back and wonder, “Why did I choose that option?” In recent years, neuroscientists have begun to decode the decision-making process. What they’re learning is shedding light not only on how the healthy brain performs complex mental functions, but also on how disorders, such as stroke or drug abuse, affect the process.''

    ''Recent findings: Voluntary, willed behaviours preferentially implicate specific regions of the frontal cortex in humans. Recent studies have demonstrated constraints on cognition, which manifest as variation in frontal lobe function and emergent behaviour (specifically intrinsic genetic and cognitive limitations, supervening psychological and neurochemical disturbances), and temporal constraints on subjective awareness and reporting. Although healthy persons generally experience themselves as 'free' and the originators of their actions, electroencephalographic data continue to suggest that 'freedom' is exercised before awareness.
    It makes no difference if "'freedom' is exercised before awareness" as noted in your excerpt from the abstract. If the choice is made unconsciously, and then presented to awareness as a dinner already cooked, then the choosing is still being performed by that same brain. And the only explanation we have for the choice is how it is described by the conscious experience of events, the part of the brain that Michael Gazzaniga calls the "interpreter", the part that explains our behavior to ourselves and others.

    So, if deciding what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence, is happening consciously or unconsciously, it makes no difference. Free will is not freedom from one's own brain. That's an impossible freedom. Free will is a question of whether the decision making performed by that brain is free of coercion and undue influence.

    As the abstract notes, neuroscience is studying how volition works. Volition is will. Will is chosen. Hopefully, neuroscience will continue to increase our understanding of how the brain performs this function. But explaining how something works does not "explain it away", it simply explains how it works.

    The notion of "free will" references both internal (mental health) and external (coercion) influences upon our process of choosing what we will do. The neuroscientist provides information to the psychiatrist as to any physical causes behind a mental illness. The psychiatrist addresses mental illness due to both physical and psychological factors.

    In any case, free will remains what it has always been, choosing what we will do when free of coercion and undue influence.

    But within a deterministic system there is no actual ''freedom is exercised before awareness'' either. Some use that figure of speech to convey the meaning that the results are determined before awareness, that it is not consciousness itself that processes information and produces response.

    Freedom simply means the attributes and abilities of a brain to perform its function according to architecture, inputs and memory.

    The same freedom that a planet orbits a star, water cascades down a gorge, the same freedom that trees grow and birds fly.... abilities that have nothing to do with 'will' or 'free will.'


    For compatibilism to select behaviour that is uncoerced, unforced, and call this an example of 'free will' fails for that reason.

    The only true freedom within a determined system would be the possibility to have done otherwise within any moment in time. But of course determinism does no allow multiple selections at any moment in time, and this essentially kills the possibility of free will.

    Feelings can be deceptive. We simply have ''will.''

    Will is not free.

  3. Top | #273
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    Not always, and especially not when it comes to brain function.


    Feelings of free will;
    ''When it comes to the human brain, even the simplest of acts can be counter-intuitive and deceptively complicated. For example, try stretching your arm. Nerves in the limb send messages back to your brain, but the subjective experience you have of stretching isn't due to these signals. The feeling that you willed your arm into motion, and the realisation that you moved it at all, are both the result of an area at the back of your brain called the posterior parietal cortex. This region helped to produce the intention to move, and predicted what the movement would feel like, all before you twitched a single muscle.

    Michel Desmurget and a team of French neuroscientists arrived at this conclusion by stimulating the brains of seven people with electrodes, while they underwent brain surgery under local anaesthetic. When Desmurget stimulated the parietal cortex, the patients felt a strong desire to move their arms, hands, feet or lips, although they never actually did. Stronger currents cast a powerful illusion, convincing the patients that they had actually moved, even though recordings of electrical activity in their muscles said otherwise.''



    For the reasons given above, we have the perception of conscious regulative control. The perception of conscious regulative control, as shown in the given examples is an illusion formed by a disconnect (absence of a feedback loop) between the means of experience and the experience itself, which lacks awareness of the underlying production activity.

    Of course, once the drive and desire to act is formed, there is no impediment to action;

    ''Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes (and perhaps a dash of true chance). Now that the desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X.
    I would suggest that Michel Desmurget is simply overstating his case. Explaining how something works does not explain it away, it only explains how it works. The fact that certain areas of the brain function to provide a given experience is not a surprise. The key fact here is that the experience explains the behavior: I was told to stretch out my arm. I decided to actually do that. And then I did that. There is nothing inaccurate about my description of what happened. Desmurget provided additional facts about what parts of the brain were involved in doing what. But none of these facts contradict the objective observation that "I was told to stretch out my arm. I decided to actually do that. And then I did that."

    The second paragraph describes the experiment where Desmurget's team manipulated a patient's brain to produce the feeling that he had performed some movement that he did not actually do. Whenever a person is effectively manipulated they are not acting of their own free will. Their own free will would involve their posterior parietal cortex being altered only by their own brain as part of its normal process of deciding what it will do.

    The experiment did nothing to falsify the objective observation that "I was told to stretch out my arm. I decided to actually do that. And then I did that." It was my own brain that exercised regulatory control of the movement of my arm.

    Now if someone else's brain, say the brain of Desmurget, was experimenting upon me to see what manipulating my posterior parietal cortex would do, and he made my arm move, such that it punched someone in the face, then he would be responsible for that act, and not me.

    But if my own brain decided to stretch out my arm and punch someone in the face, then I would be held responsible. Because I did so deliberately, of my own free will.

    I would suggest that Desmurget is not overstating his case. I would point out that he is describing his experiments on the human brain and their results.

    He is not the only one. The evidence coming out of neuroscience supports everything that has been said: basically, that the brain is a modular system which acquires and processes information and generates output based on architecture, condition, inputs and memory, a failure in any of these elements disrupting or destroying consciousness.

    Will has no say in the matter.

    Mark Hallet is a specialist;


    How Can There Be Voluntary Movement Without Free Will?

    ''Humans do not appear to be purely reflexive organisms, simple automatons. A vast array of different movements are generated in a variety of settings. Is there an alternative to free will? Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction.

    Muscle contraction is under the complete control of the alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord. When the alpha motoneurons are active, there will be movement. Activity of the alpha motoneurons is a product of the different synaptic events on their dendrites and cell bodies. There is a complex summation of EPSPs and IPSPs, and when the threshold for an action potential is crossed, the cell fires.

    There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control. Such a situation likely holds also for the motor cortex and the cells of origin of the corticospinal tract. Their firing depends on their synaptic inputs. And, a similar situation must hold for all the principal regions giving input to the motor cortex.

    For any cortical region, its activity will depend on its synaptic inputs. Some motor cortical inputs come via only a few synapses from sensory cortices, and such influences on motor output are clear. Some inputs will come from regions, such as the limbic areas, many synapses away from both primary sensory and motor cortices. At any one time, the activity of the motor cortex, and its commands to the spinal cord, will reflect virtually all the activity in the entire brain.

    Is it necessary that there be anything else? This can be a complete description of the process of movement selection, and even if there is something more -- like free will -- it would have to operate through such neuronal mechanisms.

    The view that there is no such thing as free will as an inner causal agent has been advocated by a number of philosophers, scientists, and neurologists including Ryle, Adrian, Skinner and Fisher.(Fisher 1993)''

  4. Top | #274
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    But within a deterministic system there is no actual ''freedom is exercised before awareness'' either. Some use that figure of speech to convey the meaning that the results are determined before awareness, that it is not consciousness itself that processes information and produces response.
    Yes, I agree that most of the time we view "self" as our current conscious experience, and free will has often been assumed to be a choice that is made with the conscious mind. But if neuroscience informs us that some decisions happen below conscious awareness, then, that's where it happens. Facts are facts.

    This does not mean that free will disappears. It simply explains to us that a freely chosen will may first be decided below conscious awareness and only then be bumped up into our awareness. And I suspect that the guy with the gun will enter into that decision even at the unconscious level. We know this for a fact (one of those facts that are facts) because we observe that it alters the behavior that is chosen.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Freedom simply means the attributes and abilities of a brain to perform its function according to architecture, inputs and memory.
    Right. Freedom is the general ability to do something. But freedom always implies "freedom from" some meaningful and relevant constraint upon that ability. For example, a brain injury that impairs the ability to reason removes our freedom to make choices. Specific causes can impair or remove an ability to "perform a function".


    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The same freedom that a planet orbits a star, water cascades down a gorge, the same freedom that trees grow and birds fly.... abilities that have nothing to do with 'will' or 'free will.'
    Ah, but all objects do not have the same abilities/freedoms. A planet orbiting a star does not have the ability to choose to do something else. The planet can only respond passively to the force of gravity. A tree is a living organism with the ability to defy gravity by biological drives that grow branches upward to expose its leaves to the sunlight. But a tree also lacks the ability to choose what it will do. An intelligent species, on the other hand, has the ability to choose what it will do. And it is here, in the choosing of the will, that we find the notion of a freely chosen will versus a coerced or unduly influenced choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    For compatibilism to select behaviour that is uncoerced, unforced, and call this an example of 'free will' fails for that reason.
    If free will is nothing more exciting than simply deciding for ourselves what we will do, without coercion and undue influence, it does not fail. The notion makes a significant empirical distinction between a choice of our own versus a choice imposed upon us by someone or something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The only true freedom within a determined system would be the possibility to have done otherwise within any moment in time. But of course determinism does no allow multiple selections at any moment in time, and this essentially kills the possibility of free will.
    Well, possibilities do not show up in empirical reality. Look around and point one out. There are things that used to be possibilities before they were actualized. But all the things we see are actualities. Possibilities exist solely within the imagination, the same place where choosing happens. Possibilities are mental constructs that we manipulate to imagine alternative futures, so that we can choose which future we want to make real.

    Whenever we have a choosing event, there will be at least two real possibilities, two different things that we can do. This "ability to do otherwise" is built into the choosing operation itself. At the end of the choosing event, we will have the single inevitable thing that we "will" do, plus at least one other thing that we "could have" done, but didn't do.

    The choosing process is deterministic. And those two possibilities showing up will be just as causally necessary as any other event. So, any philosopher or scientist who repeats the myth that "determinism does not allow multiple possibilities" is clearly mistaken. There is but one "actual" future, but it is chosen from multiple "possible" futures. There is one thing that "will" happen but there are multiple things that "can" happen. The conflation of "can" and "will" creates a fallacy.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Feelings can be deceptive.
    Yes. That is why free will cannot be defined as a "feeling". Free will is the empirical event where the will is chosen by us, while free of coercion and undue influence. Either it happened one way or it happened the other. Feelings have nothing to do with it.


    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    We simply have ''will.''
    Will you buy this car or will you buy that car? If we "simply have will" then the will would already be there, and there would be no question to answer. But the question is there, and we must either answer it, or go without a car.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Will is not free.
    Ironically, free will has nothing to do with the will being free. Free will refers to the freedom we had when choosing our will.

  5. Top | #275
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    Not always, and especially not when it comes to brain function.


    Feelings of free will;
    ''When it comes to the human brain, even the simplest of acts can be counter-intuitive and deceptively complicated. For example, try stretching your arm. Nerves in the limb send messages back to your brain, but the subjective experience you have of stretching isn't due to these signals. The feeling that you willed your arm into motion, and the realisation that you moved it at all, are both the result of an area at the back of your brain called the posterior parietal cortex. This region helped to produce the intention to move, and predicted what the movement would feel like, all before you twitched a single muscle.

    Michel Desmurget and a team of French neuroscientists arrived at this conclusion by stimulating the brains of seven people with electrodes, while they underwent brain surgery under local anaesthetic. When Desmurget stimulated the parietal cortex, the patients felt a strong desire to move their arms, hands, feet or lips, although they never actually did. Stronger currents cast a powerful illusion, convincing the patients that they had actually moved, even though recordings of electrical activity in their muscles said otherwise.''



    For the reasons given above, we have the perception of conscious regulative control. The perception of conscious regulative control, as shown in the given examples is an illusion formed by a disconnect (absence of a feedback loop) between the means of experience and the experience itself, which lacks awareness of the underlying production activity.

    Of course, once the drive and desire to act is formed, there is no impediment to action;

    ''Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes (and perhaps a dash of true chance). Now that the desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X.
    I would suggest that Michel Desmurget is simply overstating his case. Explaining how something works does not explain it away, it only explains how it works. The fact that certain areas of the brain function to provide a given experience is not a surprise. The key fact here is that the experience explains the behavior: I was told to stretch out my arm. I decided to actually do that. And then I did that. There is nothing inaccurate about my description of what happened. Desmurget provided additional facts about what parts of the brain were involved in doing what. But none of these facts contradict the objective observation that "I was told to stretch out my arm. I decided to actually do that. And then I did that."

    The second paragraph describes the experiment where Desmurget's team manipulated a patient's brain to produce the feeling that he had performed some movement that he did not actually do. Whenever a person is effectively manipulated they are not acting of their own free will. Their own free will would involve their posterior parietal cortex being altered only by their own brain as part of its normal process of deciding what it will do.

    The experiment did nothing to falsify the objective observation that "I was told to stretch out my arm. I decided to actually do that. And then I did that." It was my own brain that exercised regulatory control of the movement of my arm.

    Now if someone else's brain, say the brain of Desmurget, was experimenting upon me to see what manipulating my posterior parietal cortex would do, and he made my arm move, such that it punched someone in the face, then he would be responsible for that act, and not me.

    But if my own brain decided to stretch out my arm and punch someone in the face, then I would be held responsible. Because I did so deliberately, of my own free will.

    I would suggest that Desmurget is not overstating his case. I would point out that he is describing his experiments on the human brain and their results.

    He is not the only one. The evidence coming out of neuroscience supports everything that has been said: basically, that the brain is a modular system which acquires and processes information and generates output based on architecture, condition, inputs and memory, a failure in any of these elements disrupting or destroying consciousness.

    Will has no say in the matter.

    Mark Hallet is a specialist;


    How Can There Be Voluntary Movement Without Free Will?

    ''Humans do not appear to be purely reflexive organisms, simple automatons. A vast array of different movements are generated in a variety of settings. Is there an alternative to free will? Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction.

    Muscle contraction is under the complete control of the alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord. When the alpha motoneurons are active, there will be movement. Activity of the alpha motoneurons is a product of the different synaptic events on their dendrites and cell bodies. There is a complex summation of EPSPs and IPSPs, and when the threshold for an action potential is crossed, the cell fires.

    There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control. Such a situation likely holds also for the motor cortex and the cells of origin of the corticospinal tract. Their firing depends on their synaptic inputs. And, a similar situation must hold for all the principal regions giving input to the motor cortex.

    For any cortical region, its activity will depend on its synaptic inputs. Some motor cortical inputs come via only a few synapses from sensory cortices, and such influences on motor output are clear. Some inputs will come from regions, such as the limbic areas, many synapses away from both primary sensory and motor cortices. At any one time, the activity of the motor cortex, and its commands to the spinal cord, will reflect virtually all the activity in the entire brain.

    Is it necessary that there be anything else? This can be a complete description of the process of movement selection, and even if there is something more -- like free will -- it would have to operate through such neuronal mechanisms.

    The view that there is no such thing as free will as an inner causal agent has been advocated by a number of philosophers, scientists, and neurologists including Ryle, Adrian, Skinner and Fisher.(Fisher 1993)''
    One of the things missing in Hallet's narrative is the events external to the brain, you know, the ones providing the external inputs. A guy says, "Raise your hand". Then, back inside the brain, we hear what he said, and then we decide "What the heck, I'll raise my hand", and then we act upon that intention by actually raising our hand.

    Another thing missing is where the decision making takes place. Mark says, "Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction." That may be sufficient to explain a twitch, but it does not explain me deliberately raising my hand.

    Mark finally points out, "There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control." If it is a deliberate act, then the origin of the signal has to come from neural mechanisms that actually decide if I want to bother to raise my hand or not. "Raise your hand" is not understood by the motor neurons. They cannot act directly upon that until it gets through auditory sensation, word interpretation, and deciding what to do about it.

    Fortunately, the brain comes with the neural functionality required to choose what the organism will do, and then to initiate that intention through the motor neurons.

    Where's the free will? Well, as long as the brain is functioning well, and no one is pointing a gun at it, then the brain is free to decide for itself what it will do. But if there's a guy with a gun, then these are additional sensory inputs that must be converted into useful information so that the neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex can decide what to tell the motoneurons to do.

    Apparently, other neuroscientists have identified where the decision making takes place. That's where the will is formed. Whether it was formed in the absence of coercion and undue influence is how we decide whether the choice was freely made.

  6. Top | #276
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post


    I would suggest that Desmurget is not overstating his case. I would point out that he is describing his experiments on the human brain and their results.

    He is not the only one. The evidence coming out of neuroscience supports everything that has been said: basically, that the brain is a modular system which acquires and processes information and generates output based on architecture, condition, inputs and memory, a failure in any of these elements disrupting or destroying consciousness.

    Will has no say in the matter.

    Mark Hallet is a specialist;


    How Can There Be Voluntary Movement Without Free Will?

    ''Humans do not appear to be purely reflexive organisms, simple automatons. A vast array of different movements are generated in a variety of settings. Is there an alternative to free will? Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction.

    Muscle contraction is under the complete control of the alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord. When the alpha motoneurons are active, there will be movement. Activity of the alpha motoneurons is a product of the different synaptic events on their dendrites and cell bodies. There is a complex summation of EPSPs and IPSPs, and when the threshold for an action potential is crossed, the cell fires.

    There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control. Such a situation likely holds also for the motor cortex and the cells of origin of the corticospinal tract. Their firing depends on their synaptic inputs. And, a similar situation must hold for all the principal regions giving input to the motor cortex.

    For any cortical region, its activity will depend on its synaptic inputs. Some motor cortical inputs come via only a few synapses from sensory cortices, and such influences on motor output are clear. Some inputs will come from regions, such as the limbic areas, many synapses away from both primary sensory and motor cortices. At any one time, the activity of the motor cortex, and its commands to the spinal cord, will reflect virtually all the activity in the entire brain.

    Is it necessary that there be anything else? This can be a complete description of the process of movement selection, and even if there is something more -- like free will -- it would have to operate through such neuronal mechanisms.

    The view that there is no such thing as free will as an inner causal agent has been advocated by a number of philosophers, scientists, and neurologists including Ryle, Adrian, Skinner and Fisher.(Fisher 1993)''
    One of the things missing in Hallet's narrative is the events external to the brain, you know, the ones providing the external inputs. A guy says, "Raise your hand". Then, back inside the brain, we hear what he said, and then we decide "What the heck, I'll raise my hand", and then we act upon that intention by actually raising our hand.

    Another thing missing is where the decision making takes place. Mark says, "Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction." That may be sufficient to explain a twitch, but it does not explain me deliberately raising my hand.

    Mark finally points out, "There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control." If it is a deliberate act, then the origin of the signal has to come from neural mechanisms that actually decide if I want to bother to raise my hand or not. "Raise your hand" is not understood by the motor neurons. They cannot act directly upon that until it gets through auditory sensation, word interpretation, and deciding what to do about it.

    Fortunately, the brain comes with the neural functionality required to choose what the organism will do, and then to initiate that intention through the motor neurons.

    Where's the free will? Well, as long as the brain is functioning well, and no one is pointing a gun at it, then the brain is free to decide for itself what it will do. But if there's a guy with a gun, then these are additional sensory inputs that must be converted into useful information so that the neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex can decide what to tell the motoneurons to do.

    Apparently, other neuroscientists have identified where the decision making takes place. That's where the will is formed. Whether it was formed in the absence of coercion and undue influence is how we decide whether the choice was freely made.
    So when was all this decided?
    First I told my imaginary friend about Jesus, then I told Jesus about my imaginary friend.
    Jackass Forever February 4, 2022..

  7. Top | #277
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post


    I would suggest that Desmurget is not overstating his case. I would point out that he is describing his experiments on the human brain and their results.

    He is not the only one. The evidence coming out of neuroscience supports everything that has been said: basically, that the brain is a modular system which acquires and processes information and generates output based on architecture, condition, inputs and memory, a failure in any of these elements disrupting or destroying consciousness.

    Will has no say in the matter.

    Mark Hallet is a specialist;


    How Can There Be Voluntary Movement Without Free Will?

    ''Humans do not appear to be purely reflexive organisms, simple automatons. A vast array of different movements are generated in a variety of settings. Is there an alternative to free will? Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction.

    Muscle contraction is under the complete control of the alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord. When the alpha motoneurons are active, there will be movement. Activity of the alpha motoneurons is a product of the different synaptic events on their dendrites and cell bodies. There is a complex summation of EPSPs and IPSPs, and when the threshold for an action potential is crossed, the cell fires.

    There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control. Such a situation likely holds also for the motor cortex and the cells of origin of the corticospinal tract. Their firing depends on their synaptic inputs. And, a similar situation must hold for all the principal regions giving input to the motor cortex.

    For any cortical region, its activity will depend on its synaptic inputs. Some motor cortical inputs come via only a few synapses from sensory cortices, and such influences on motor output are clear. Some inputs will come from regions, such as the limbic areas, many synapses away from both primary sensory and motor cortices. At any one time, the activity of the motor cortex, and its commands to the spinal cord, will reflect virtually all the activity in the entire brain.

    Is it necessary that there be anything else? This can be a complete description of the process of movement selection, and even if there is something more -- like free will -- it would have to operate through such neuronal mechanisms.

    The view that there is no such thing as free will as an inner causal agent has been advocated by a number of philosophers, scientists, and neurologists including Ryle, Adrian, Skinner and Fisher.(Fisher 1993)''
    One of the things missing in Hallet's narrative is the events external to the brain, you know, the ones providing the external inputs. A guy says, "Raise your hand". Then, back inside the brain, we hear what he said, and then we decide "What the heck, I'll raise my hand", and then we act upon that intention by actually raising our hand.

    Another thing missing is where the decision making takes place. Mark says, "Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction." That may be sufficient to explain a twitch, but it does not explain me deliberately raising my hand.
    If the whole picture of cognition is considered, it must include inputs.

    Nobody denies the role of input. That is what I have been pointing out, that there is no single factor like 'free will' at work, that brain output/behaviour is based on a number of factors, brain architecture and state (someone may be drunk, a chemical imbalance, lesion etc) inputs interacting with memory and so on....memory function (if severe) disintegrates consciousness, loss of recognition, loss of self awareness.


    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Mark finally points out, "There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control." If it is a deliberate act, then the origin of the signal has to come from neural mechanisms that actually decide if I want to bother to raise my hand or not. "Raise your hand" is not understood by the motor neurons. They cannot act directly upon that until it gets through auditory sensation, word interpretation, and deciding what to do about it.
    It's not a matter of ''finally'' - not everything can be said in a limited time frame. The role of each function can be explored in detail if need be;

    As an outline of the systems of the brain and their functions:

    perceptual processing
    • Superior colliculus

    Modulation of cognition
    (memory, attention)
    • Cingulate cortex
    • Hippocampus
    • Basal forebrain

    Representation of emotional response
    • Somatosensory-related
    cortices

    Representation of perceived action
    • Left frontal operculum
    • Superior temporal gyrus

    Motivational evaluation
    • Amygdala
    • Orbitofrontal cortex

    Social reasoning
    • Prefrontal cortex


    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Fortunately, the brain comes with the neural functionality required to choose what the organism will do, and then to initiate that intention through the motor neurons.
    As can any sufficiently complex information processor. Not as a matter of free will, just function enabled by architecture; the ability to acquire information, process it and proceed with an action based on a given set of criteria/algorithms.

    No free will needed.

    ''I don't think "free will" is a very sensible concept, and you don't need neuroscience to reject it -- any mechanistic view of the world is good enough, and indeed you could even argue on purely conceptual grounds that the opposite of determinism is randomness, not free will! Most thoughtful neuroscientists I know have replaced the concept of free will with the concept of rationality -- that we select our actions based on a kind of practical reasoning. And there is no conflict between rationality and the mind as a physical system -- After all, computers are rational physical systems! - Martha Farah, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and a prominent neuroethicist.

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