Half a second to consciousness

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Sciborg_S_Patel

Addendum to, well, every post I've made in this thread:

Causation is Not Your Enemy

We argue in this paper that an aspect of causation has been misunderstood over a long period,especially in its connection with issues of modality, and this error has had a particularly significantand damaging influence on the direction of the free will debate. A tight connection has been drawn between causation and necessity, for instance, and this has been highly problematic to thoseseeking any kind of credible libertarian stance on free will. It is necessity that is the threat, we claim. Causation is seen as part of the problem of free will when really we should be looking to it as part ofthe solution.
If there is a straight choiceto be made between determinism and indeterminism, it looks like there can be no free will. Part of the difficulty has been to see how there is any other option than these two. There is one, we insist,but the key to it is getting causation right, in particular the proper modality that holds between causes and effects. To see this, we should first motivate the connection between our freedom and causation and thus how we need to be causes in order to act. The free will problem is then seen as a problem of causation and a modal problem, produced when they are not conceived accurately
 
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S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Addendum to, well, every post I've made in this thread:

Causation is Not Your Enemy
Some more on this idea - that causation is better seen as disposition toward a set of outcomes rather than wholly random or determined - for the interested reader from Esser's Guide to Reality blog:

Power Property Papers Perused

In later sections of the paper the authors deal with various potential objections and place their theory in a historical context of the difficulties faced by causal models, showing again that the unwarranted assumption of necessitation was the key stumbling block.

While the vector model was interesting, my favorite section of the paper (section 5) deals with explaining probabilistic causation. Here Anjum and Mumford endorse a propensity (propensity=probabilistic power) interpretation for a single disposition. I myself think this is the key to understanding how powers can have the right modal strength “all the way down”; it also has the virtue of fitting with our best physical theory of how the actual world works (quantum mechanics).

I eagerly look forward to a forthcoming book from Mumford and Anjum called Getting Causes from Powers – this will elaborate upon the theory in greater detail. Also note that a podcast and slides from a recent talk by Stephen Mumford from the PhilSci forum at UMB (Norwegian University of Life Sciences) are available here (scroll down for previous talks). It is a very nice introduction to powers, and focuses on contrasting a powers approach with a laws-based theory of causation.

Some quick takes on other papers.
Also liked this comment from another post with Anjum:

Rani Lill Anjum (@ranilillanjum) nicely tweeted me some comments:

Thanks for your interest in our papers! An important aspect of dispositionality is the tendency that can be counteracted.

Natural possibility can be derived from dispositionality, not vice versa. Tendency comes in degrees. Extremely weak ~ contingency

A tendency that is rarely counteracted gives the idea of natural necessity. But it's derived from dispositionality.

I asked:

So ideas of both contingency and necessity are derived from worldly experience with dispositionality?

And she responded:

Yes! Yes!
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Well if there is no imposition that demands things conform, determinism isn't a problem for free will. And since randomness is nonsensical, as it suggests things happen for no reason at all, that also isn't a concern.
As I've said, let's discard determinism and randomness. Now can you explain how an agent makes a free decision, even in the simplest form?

Computers as abstractions are completely predictable, as devices they are not. Even then their predictability is due to the causal power of humans rather than a general causal power imposing itself on humans.
Are you suggesting that there is a different model of causal power for humans than for the rest of nature?

Where do you even begin though? How could we ever get to the point where there were scientists if every event was seen as genuine possible cause to every succeeding event?
I don't understand what you are saying here.

Free will as a possibility depends on how one thinks causality works. I've already linked to possible models before.
But you haven't discussed them. Could you pick one and explain what you think is going on?

So you'd agree causation depends on effective properties (the nature of the brick that is thrown) and receptive properties (the nature of the window that is impacted)?
I would agree the causation depends on the properties and behaviors of the participating objects and forces.

~~ Paul
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Addendum to, well, every post I've made in this thread:

Causation is Not Your Enemy
It appears that this is an overview of the paper (which I cannot get):

http://www.power-structuralism.ox.a...ot_Your_Enemy_handout_Durham_and_Konstanz.pdf

Nowhere in the overview can I find an explanation of how a decision is made in the context of "causation in terms of power, tendency, influence, counteraction and mutual manifestation partners" or "causation as incompatible with necessity" or the "dispositionality of causation." I would love to be enlightened.

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

As I've said, let's discard determinism and randomness. Now can you explain how an agent makes a free decision, even in the simplest form?
I've never said I held to a particular model, but one can read up on the ones I provided if interested or go look seek out their own.

To me the interesting question, rooted in causation, is whether free will is possible at all. If there can be processes that aren't random or determined that would seem to be enough for free will to exist [in immaterialist paradigms at least].

Are you suggesting that there is a different model of causal power for humans than for the rest of nature?
Possibly - I was thinking of the argument Dupre makes, that causal power is strong in humans but diffuse in the surrounding environment. It may be the case that in any metaphysics that approaches an Animist type structure/dynamics - as I would say Whitehead's Occasions and Leibniz Monads do - that all causation is best understood by looking at our own sense of agency within a progression of time [and extrapolating to the rest of reality as a society of agents].

OTOH, as one possible alternative, it might be the case that a Prime Mover, the non-composite pure Actuality that is the First Cause of all present causation, has given final causes to the non-conscious parts of the reality but provided a limited version of Its own power to each deciding conscious agent.

In any case, if the aspects of human consciousness under "Fodor's Trinity" - Having an Aboutness to Thought, Having Subjective Experience, Having the Ability to Reason - are not found all the way down then yes human causation is different than causation in at least the non-conscious aspects of nature.

I don't understand what you are saying here.
If every state in S@T1 would have an equal chance of being the cause of a subset of states in S@T2 it would take an incredibly long, if not infinite, amount of time to figure out what constitutes a cause for a particular effect.

But you haven't discussed them. Could you pick one and explain what you think is going on?
As I've noted before, we would right back to discussing causation since they are examining different questions of causality - How does it work? Is mental causation of a human being different from causation in the surrounding environment?

I would agree the causation depends on the properties and behaviors of the participating objects and forces.
Where do you see the the outcome being a necessity rather then a disposition?

Also, what is a force? How do we know of a force's existence?

It appears that this is an overview of the paper (which I cannot get):

http://www.power-structuralism.ox.a...ot_Your_Enemy_handout_Durham_and_Konstanz.pdf

Nowhere in the overview can I find an explanation of how a decision is made in the context of "causation in terms of power, tendency, influence, counteraction and mutual manifestation partners" or "causation as incompatible with necessity" or the "dispositionality of causation." I would love to be enlightened.
They do offer a sketch, but they've written a few papers and at least one book on the subject. The primary question they wanted to answer in that text, however, was whether reality was one in which there were only deterministic or random processes. If causation is about dispositions rather than necessity it seems that, as they conclude, free will is possible in some metaphysical pictures.

This then brings the question of what paradigms genuine humanists should seek support for but that too is beyond a conversation about causality.
 
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Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
I've never said I held to a particular model, but one can read up on the ones I provided if interested or go look seek out their own.

To me the interesting question, rooted in causation, is whether free will is possible at all. If there can be processes that aren't random or determined that would seem to be enough for free will to exist [in immaterialist paradigms at least].
Assuming the third process is a free-ish type of process, yes.

If every state in S@T1 would have an equal chance of being the cause of a subset of states in S@T2 it would take an incredibly long, if not infinite, amount of time to figure out what constitutes a cause for a particular effect.
Agreed.

Where do you see the the outcome being a necessity rather then a disposition?
First of all, I don't understand exactly what a disposition is. Second of all, some decision is actually made, so a mere disposition is not enough to make the final decision. What else is going on?

Also, what is a force? How do we know of a force's existence?
I think it's fair to say we know of four forces and there might be more. Again, a "force" is just a model of what we see happening.

They do offer a sketch, but they've written a few papers and at least one book on the subject. The primary question they wanted to answer in that text, however, was whether reality was one in which there were only deterministic or random processes. If causation is about dispositions rather than necessity it seems that, as they conclude, free will is possible in some metaphysical pictures.
I guess, if they can present a model of how my dispositions translate into my decisions. Otherwise they've said "I made my decisions freely in a way that is incompatible with determinism," which is just the definition of libertarian free will.

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Assuming the third process is a free-ish type of process, yes.
Well disposition would suggest there are no deterministic nor random processes, so the "third" process would be in line with the rest of causality.

Additionally some might see all causality as free-(ish?) process, whether that's the Prime Mover acting or an Animist type reality with free willing agents.

So causation, you agree, is more than merely a specified set of events preceding another set of events at a later time slice?

First of all, I don't understand exactly what a disposition is. Second of all, some decision is actually made, so a mere disposition is not enough to make the final decision. What else is going on?
I see disposition as a tendency to a limited set of events. Some set of states A = {a1, a2...., aN} suggests but doesn't necessitate an outcome. Where the outcome is strongly suggested it seems like determinism, and where it is weakly suggested it seems like randomness.

As for what is going on depends on how one answers the question about causal power - for example does a person ascribe to the four types of causes? Do they think that there are aspects to mental causation that would make it different from non-mental causation? That disposition is the correct way to describe causation isn't really an account for why causality is a matter of dispositions or how one would see free will fitting into a particular metaphysical picture.

But here's one idea using the ideas of French philosopher Ravaisson.

Now, if this were the only way in which nineteenth-century French philosophy was relevant for our purposes, we would be led to the wholly negative response that in action there is no direct experience of inclination or tendency, of any kind of dispositional modality irreducible to necessity and possibility. However, in the work of Félix Ravaisson, Maine de Biran’s principal successor and inheritor in the ‘spiritualist’ tradition of French philosophy, we find grounds for a more positive response to Mumford and Anjum’s claims. For in his 1838 De l’habitude Ravaisson argues that there is a direct experience of tendency or inclination – a direct experience, thus, of a ‘dispositional modality’. Yet this experience is not available in purely voluntary action, Ravaisson argues, but rather in the principle that we have just seen Biran invoke, in a Humean fashion, to account for the origin of our ideas of ‘laws’ of nature, namely habit.
So there logically exist models of causation where, at the least, determinism and randomness don't describe all processes can conceivably have free will. And dispositional causality doesn't have either of the two.

I think it's fair to say we know of four forces and there might be more. Again, a "force" is just a model of what we see happening.
So forces don't actually do anything, they just provide a description for observed instances of what we commonly think of as causation?

I guess, if they can present a model of how my dispositions translate into my decisions. Otherwise they've said "I made my decisions freely in a way that is incompatible with determinism," which is just the definition of libertarian free will.
But if there's no such thing as determinism or randomness in a causal account - or at least that the dichotomy is not a closure - why would anyone worry about metaphysical determinism? The exact model will likely differ, but once someone accepts not every process must be deterministic/random then they can look into different causal models (which may or may have a separation between mental & non-mental causation) and see which they think best accounts for their experience of reality.

Or they may not really care, and are satisfied that their belief in free will isn't logically contradicted by assertions about a deterministic/random dichotomy. After all the immaterialist by definition already thinks consciousness is fundamental, adding the capacity for free will would just be another fundamental part of reality as a quality of at least some kinds of consciousness.
 
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Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Well disposition would suggest there are no deterministic nor random processes, so the "third" process would be in line with the rest of causality.
You have to understand that I have no idea what it means to make a decision according to "disposition." I might have a prevailing tendency to choose A over B, but that still doesn't explain how I choose A.

So causation, you agree, is more than merely a specified set of events preceding another set of events at a later time slice?
I'm not sure what this has to do with the difficulty of determining which prior events produce a given subsequent event.

I see disposition as a tendency to a limited set of events. Some set of states A = {a1, a2...., aN} suggests but doesn't necessitate an outcome. Where the outcome is strongly suggested it seems like determinism, and where it is weakly suggested it seems like randomness.
And when it isn't completely suggested, what else is involved in making the decision?

But here's one idea using the ideas of French philosopher Ravaisson.

So there logically exist models of causation where, at the least, determinism and randomness don't describe all processes can conceivably have free will. And dispositional causality doesn't have either of the two.
Sorry, that quote means nothing to me. Seems like just repeating words such as "disposition" and "tendency" without explaining how the disposition resolves into a final decision. I may experience "tendency," but that convinces me not in the slightest that such tendency is distinct from determinism and randomness.

So forces don't actually do anything, they just provide a description for observed instances of what we commonly think of as causation?
Whether you want to say the force "does something" or just "models something" is up to you. I have no idea how to decide whether it's one or the other.

But if there's no such thing as determinism or randomness in a causal account - or at least that the dichotomy is not a closure - why would anyone worry about metaphysical determinism? The exact model will likely differ, but once someone accepts not every process must be deterministic/random then they can look into different causal models (which may or may have a separation between mental & non-mental causation) and see which they think best accounts for their experience of reality.
Yes, I would like to see someone do this without just repeating the rejection of the deterministic account. So far, I haven't seen it.

Or they may not really care, and are satisfied that their belief in free will isn't logically contradicted by assertions about a deterministic/random dichotomy. After all the immaterialist by definition already thinks consciousness is fundamental, adding the capacity for free will would just be another fundamental part of reality as a quality of at least some kinds of consciousness.
But why would they be satisfied with simply declaring the issue a fundamental and then moving on, without trying to discover a model for it?

As far as dispositional decisions are concerned, I haven't read anything that convinces me that determinism and randomness do not exhaust the logical possibilities. If you can find a concise statement that is compelling in this regard, I'd love to see it. Nevertheless, I'm happy to assume that it is not a dichotomy for purposes of discussion.


~~ Paul
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

As far as dispositional decisions are concerned, I haven't read anything that convinces me that determinism and randomness do not exhaust the logical possibilities.
I've asked for a proof this exhaustion - do you have one now?

Because I still fail to see why you would think there are deterministic processes - where the effect is absolutely necessitated by the cause - or random processes - where something happens for no reason at all. Logically it seems odd that randomness would have a place in a picture of causation - in fact if I understand you the reason you think there are processes that are random is because the causes fail to completely determine the observed effect.

But isn't that also the case with deterministic processes - the set of causes don't explain why something else doesn't happen?

AFAICTell [you're] telling me that reality has a bunch of arbitrary processes, but arbitrary in particular patterns, that then sometimes resolve themselves into deterministic processes for no reason.

It seems to me that it's much more logical to think of causes as dispositions that do not necessitate a particular outcome but can predispose results toward one state out of a set of states. That's all I mean by "dispositional causation".
 
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Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
I've asked for a proof this exhaustion - do you have one now?
I have no formal logical proof. The informal proof is that if an event is not determined by previous events then it is independent of those events, therefore uncaused, therefore arbitrary. So random means not deterministic.

Because I still fail to see why you would think there are deterministic processes - where the effect is absolutely necessitated by the cause - or random processes - where something happens for no reason at all. Logically it seems odd that randomness would have a place in a picture of causation - in fact if I understand you the reason you think there are processes that are random is because the causes fail to completely determine the observed effect.
I think this because I have never heard a coherent description of a third sort of process. That's all I keep saying in these conversations. I have heard just-so claims that there is a third sort, but nothing that contains any details.

But isn't that also the case with deterministic processes - the set of causes don't explain why something else doesn't happen?
The causes do explain why something else doesn't happen if you take physics as a description of the world. Granted, there is no "ultimate explanation," but I don't think we can find that for anything in the world. In particular, any ultimate explanation would need a meta-ultimate explanation, and so on.

AFAICTell [you're] telling me that reality has a bunch of arbitrary processes, but arbitrary in particular patterns, that then sometimes resolve themselves into deterministic processes for no reason.
The reason is an open question that scientists are investigating.

https://phys.org/news/2014-01-quantum-to-classical-transition-fuzziness.html

It seems to me that it's much more logical to think of causes as dispositions that do not necessitate a particular outcome but can predispose results toward one state out of a set of states. That's all I mean by "dispositional causation".
But that story is incomplete. Let's say there are six choices and I narrow them down to two by completely deterministic methods. Now I have choices A and B left. I'm disposed toward B, but A isn't so bad, either. How do I choose?

It seems to me that the disposition idea only makes sense if I never actually make a decision.

~~ Paul
 
You have to understand that I have no idea what it means to make a decision according to "disposition." I might have a prevailing tendency to choose A over B, but that still doesn't explain how I choose A.

As far as dispositional decisions are concerned, I haven't read anything that convinces me that determinism and randomness do not exhaust the logical possibilities. If you can find a concise statement that is compelling in this regard, I'd love to see it. Nevertheless, I'm happy to assume that it is not a dichotomy for purposes of discussion.

~~ Paul
Here is a relatively concise statement by H. Stapp. At its basis, it addresses how creatively structured information enters the environment. Free choices designed by experimenters (even single-celled organisms working on a trial and error basis) change possibilities in their environments and therefore change real-world local states. Plans - as communicative mental states - are a variable in reality. The intentions of the living things in a local area are needed to map future states. The state of this subsystem of the universe assumes self-reference and predictable behaviors. The state of a system changes with the structured information that is developing.

Von Neumann quantum theory is a formulation in which the entire physical universe, including the bodies and brains of the conscious human participant/observers, is represented in the basic quantum state, which is called the state of the universe. The state of a subsystem, such as a brain, is formed by averaging (tracing) this basic state over all variables other than those that describe the state of that subsystem.

The dynamics involves three processes. Process 1 is the choice on the part of the experimenter about how he will act. This choice is sometimes called “The Heisenberg Choice,” because Heisenberg emphasized strongly its crucial role in quantum dynamics. At the pragmatic level it is a “free choice,” because it is controlled, at least in practice, by the conscious intentions of the experimenter/participant, and neither the Copenhagen nor von Neumann formulations provide any description of the causal origins of this choice, apart from the mental intentions of the human agent. Each intentional action involves an effort that is intended to result in a conceived experiential feedback, which can be an immediate confirmation of the success of the action, or a delayed monitoring the experiential consequences of the action.
Paul, I don't think you have offered any real resistance to Sci's probing. You cannot effectively communicate the ladder of steps that lead to the "excluded-middle" of Physicalist belief in determinism. You grant the stochastic nature of our observations of nature, yet think it not direct counter-factual evidence to your stance.

Your view conflates uncertainty in a real-world environment, with randomness. Determinism is not an empirical fact - it is an abstraction only in defined logical environments. Determinism is not a magic core to the physical essences of matter/energy/space/time! Determinism is an element of infospace and measured in terms of uncertainty. Uncertainty being a variable of information science.
 
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Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Here is a relatively concise statement by H. Stapp.

"At the pragmatic level it is a "free choice," because it is controlled, at least in practice, by the conscious intentions of the experimenter/participant, and neither the Copenhagen nor von Neumann formulations provide any description of the causal origins of this choice, apart from the mental intentions of the human agent."
That statement is absurd. All it says is that we don't understand how mental intentions work. Of course we don't expect any QM formulation to magically answer that question. But that doesn't mean our intentions are somehow indeterminstic yet nonrandom.

Paul, I don't think you have offered any real resistance to Sci's probing. You cannot effectively communicate the ladder of steps that lead to the "excluded-middle" of Physicalist belief in determinism. You grant the stochastic nature of our observations of nature, yet think it not direct counter-factual evidence to your stance.
And you can't effectively communicate the ladder of steps that lead to the included middle. At least I can give an explanation using a flowchart that illustrates how a deterministic decision does not employ an indeterministic yet nonrandom mechanism. And I can point to beta decay as an apparently random process with no evidence whatsoever that something else is going on underneath.

Your view conflates uncertainty in a real-world environment, with randomness. Determinism is not an empirical fact - it is an abstraction only in defined logical environments. Determinism is not a magic core to the physical essences of matter/energy/space/time! Determinism is an element of infospace and measured in terms of uncertainty. Uncertainty being a variable of information science.
You continue to ignore my willingness to eject both determinism and randomness in this discussion. Let's do it. Now can you give any hint of how an indeterministic yet nonrandom decision is made? A few vague steps in the process? Simply saying "my intention is indeterministic yet nonrandom" is just a restatement of the definition of libertarian free will.

~~ Paul
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

That statement is absurd. All it says is that we don't understand how mental intentions work. Of course we don't expect any QM formulation to magically answer that question. But that doesn't mean our intentions are somehow indeterminstic yet nonrandom.
He's simply saying free will is a fundamental part of reality. Hardly absurd, it doesn't even require the something-from-nothing miracle New Atheist horseman Sam Harris notes materialism needs to even get off the ground or "laws" that somehow avoid the Interaction Problem while being completely of a different substance than matter/energy.

And you can't effectively communicate the ladder of steps that lead to the included middle. At least I can give an explanation using a flowchart that illustrates how a deterministic decision does not employ an indeterministic yet nonrandom mechanism. And I can point to beta decay as an apparently random process with no evidence whatsoever that something else is going on underneath.
But the flow chart doesn't explain why those supposed causes don't make something else happen. It seems if one accepts no mental qualities at the fundamental level it comes down to forces or laws of physics. But both are extrapolations from watching change happen, there are a part of the math but it's not clear how they make things happen. Forces to me are just a place holder word that even Feynman has noted ends up leading to circular definitions.

And physical laws don't make things happen.

So we can hardly find coherence in the rather dualistic notion that physical laws reside, ghost-like, in some detached, abstract realm from which they impinge upon matter. But if, contrary to our initial assumption, we take laws to be in one way or another bound up with the world's substance — if we take them to be at least in part an expression of this substance — then the difficulty in the conventional view of law becomes even more intense. Surely it makes no sense to say that the world's material phenomena are the result — the wholly explained result — of matter obeying laws which it is itself busy expressing. In whatever manner we prefer to understand the material expression of the laws, this expression cannot be a matter of obedience to the laws being expressed! If whatever is there as the substance of the world at least in part determines the laws, then the laws cannot be said to determine what is there.
Regarding beta-decay - if there is randomness, then what holds the world together? Of course this arbitrary-ness still exists under determinism because "random" is an indeterminism where the causes under-determine the final result. But without laws - which we can see from above don't do anything - even the supposed determinism is under-determined. So then in this model of reality things happen for no reason at all, which seems doubtful given the stability of the world around us.

Finally on the physicalist assumption side it's arguable physicalist empiricism itself has disproved determinism:

Farewell to determinism

It is a fantastic achievement of human knowledge when it becomes apparent that a set of experiments can conclusively resolve an ontological question. And moreover that the resolution turns out to be in sharp contrast to the intuition of most people. Outside of superconspiracy theories and “brain in a vat”-like scenarios (which can be dismissed as cognitively unstable), experimental results tell us that the world around us is not deterministic. Such a conclusion, in addition to being fascinating in itself, has a multitude of consequences. For one, it answers the question “Is the whole Universe just one big computer?” with a definite “no.” Also, it opens the door for the compatibility between the laws of physics on one side, and a whole plethora of concepts like free will, strong emergence, qualia, even religion — on the other. But these are all topics for some other articles.
OTOH if consciousness is fundamental, then a flow chart - which is really just an after-the-fact abstraction anyway - is complicated by the inability to map vectors for mental causes like desires, inhibitions, etc. (If we could assign quantitative values to mental forces there would be no Hard Problem.)

There's also the question of whether consciousness is the carrier of causation, or something bound by causal chains.

Or, from another perspective, if consciousness has the power to actualize potency which gets us into the reality of possibilities as distinct from the actualized state of things in the present.

Notes for interested readers:

I mention some stuff about a "thick present" in another thread. Makes one think about the importance of Now and how Time itself could tie into Consciousness.

Some stuff about the reality of possibility:

 
That statement is absurd. All it says is that we don't understand how mental intentions work. Of course we don't expect any QM formulation to magically answer that question. But that doesn't mean our intentions are somehow indeterminstic yet nonrandom.
The (absurd) statement is based on the logical worldview of John Von Neuman. And since John VN wrote the book on quantum logic - literally - he is at least an expert opinion. As a programmer - VM architecture is surely known to you; as the first primitive step toward digital processing on the first hardware. I just read an excellent book about J VM and the Institute in Princeton.

Random: is a math term describing the state of affairs when two or more variables show no correlation at all. Intentions - by definition - are non-random to the the agent and typically non-random to the agents environment. Self-reference in intentional states makes non-random variables implicitly true. Intents are specific target states for an agent in specific environments and are measurable in their past, current and future linkage. Intent is structured information in the Infospace of a an agent. All structured information - such as entanglement - is by definition non-random.

I am afraid you have blurted out your feelings and they are exposed, as intentions are a tying together of information objects in manner that science can measure. As soon as your metaphysics crossing into the real-world the actual effects of negentropic creative planning stands as the actual evidence against philosophical determinism. Science measures the connectivity from intentional behavior and real-world change. We measure the productivity of these efforts. We measure the beliefs in the possible outcomes of intentions.

Pragmatically, all sensible intentions are non-random, but are from the senses or from the creative understanding.

 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

as intentions are a tying together of information objects in manner that science can measure.
You might find this of interest:

ON THE NATURE OF CAUSATION IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS

One of the major reasons for use of equivalence classes is that it enables reliable behaviour to emerge from noisy or unreliable components together with statistical fluctuations and irreducible quantum uncertainty at the bottom levels. A key issue is that there are effective higher level variables (equivalence classes of phenomena) that cannot be obtained by aggregation of lower level variables. These will usually in some sense convey information. Examples are the folding patterns of RNA and proteins, sensory data such as smells and images, information coded in languages, and theories of physics such as the theory of the laser. These underlie top-down causation that clearly cannot be reduced to any lower level functions (although they are based in such functions) for the relevant control variables simply are not expressible in lower level terms, or even in aggregations of lower level variables.

Information control occurs when there is top-down causation that fulfils some higher level purpose or goal: that is, the outcome is causally affected by, and indeed predictable in terms, of that higher level goal. Here goals are by definition conceptual or potential states that control lower level action through feedback control loops. The higher level goals cannot be described in terms of lower level goals or concepts, and indeed often cannot be obtained by coarse graining of lower level variables. It is in this case that it entails a higher level meaning. Attractors of a dynamical system are not goals. A control system has an aim or purpose, whereas attractors in dynamical system do not: they are just probable outcomes of a large variety of initial conditions. There is no associated goal or purpose. Goals entail information use of some kind (needed for the feedback signal).

Information is causally effective view feedback control loops, because without the checks of outcome involved in such loops (taking into account the actual situation) the attainment of desired goals will be unreliable. It has syntactic, semantic and pragmatic aspects (Kuppers 1990, Roederer 2005) A pre-requisite is reliable recognition and classification of information, hence pattern recognition is important. Patterns are by definition abstract classes, not the same as any physical state. They may be realized mathematically (algebraically or geometrically), physically, temporally, or functionally. They underlie coding and language. They are causally effective via pattern recognition mechanisms, used to interpret the pattern in a context of meaning. This is a form of topdown causation from an abstract space of patterns to the physical world. Through abstract characterizations on the one hand (e.g. symmetry classes) and alternative codings or languages on the other, patterns come in equivalence classes, which then define higher level patterns (e.g. symmetric and asymmetric patterns). Thus there are Recursive patterns: one pattern may be an element in a higher order pattern, giving a hierarchical structure. A key ability is to recognize this, treating a whole set of elements as a unit in a higher order pattern. This enables hierarchical complexity to be built up.

Information selection is a key feature of higher level feedback systems: they must ignore what is irrelevant and attend to what is not.78 How this happens is different at each level and each timescale. In simple control systems, it happens because the system only responds to what is relevant and is not affected by the rest (a thermostat responds only to temperature, for example). Lower level processes that select information are acting as filters of signals (they select polarisation angles or energy ranges or frequency ranges, for example). They do not have an explicit goal, but do process signals in a well-defined manner. Signals become information when related to purpose in some context (Roederer 2005). In conscious beings, it is a key component of attention: we discard most of the data coming in and pay attention only to that which is relevant to our immediate safety and purposes. Thus we test it against a matrix of relevance and take notice only of the significant, discarding the rest; in particular the ability to recognize novelty is a key feature of animal brains (Greenspan 2007). In evolutionary history, it is in terms of survival value: we develop genetically-based systems that retain information that will help survival, e.g. a genetic code, plus genes for basic physiological and sensory systems and primary emotional systems. In biochemistry, the binding and recognition of specific molecules is the way molecular information is read (Lehn 1995). This identifies chemical signals as they come along as relevant or not, e.g. specific neuro-modulators and proteins are recognised by specific receptors. But overall in living systems it is via Darwinian processes at all timescales and physical scales, whereby in effect different interpretations of data are tried and most discarded, but the relevant ones (in terms of some higher level selection criteria) are retained and stored in some form or other (Roederer 2005).
 
Patterns are by definition abstract classes, not the same as any physical state. They may be realized mathematically (algebraically or geometrically), physically, temporally, or functionally. They underlie coding and language. They are causally effective via pattern recognition mechanisms, used to interpret the pattern in a context of meaning. This is a form of top-down causation from an abstract space of patterns to the physical world. - Ellis
Ellis says it so well. In my bumpy wording - minds create "objects" made of structured information. Intentions carry the structural context of the the agent (or group of agents). The agents' very viewpoint is a vector and the environment where their intention could possibly take place is the locus. Nothing is random about an intention.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Ellis says it so well. In my bumpy wording - minds create "objects" made of structured information. Intentions carry the structural context of the the agent (or group of agents). The agents' very viewpoint is a vector and the environment where their intention could possibly take place is the locus. Nothing is random about an intention.
For me there are likely only free-willed processes, in the sense of some events being born of expressions of will as per Ravaisson's On Habit. I say this because as per Gregg Rosenberg's A Place for Consciousness I see consciousness as the carrier of causality. This is in like with Sheldrake noting there are Natural Habits, rather than Laws, though one might say the Habits are through the will of "God" (I remain agnostic on this, though I question whether the God of Movement is really the God of Meaning). A tendency toward Harmony may suffice without a "God" lynchpin...

The main question to me at present is whether the causal decision power of consciousness is distributed across all reality (Whitehead, Animism) or limited to the subsets of the Real which might be "alters" of Mind@Large, ensouled humans where the soul is the Form of the body, the mental entities that Nobel winner Josephson suggests preceded the instantiation of this particular universe, the "players" in the Peer to Peer simulation who made the lower frame of the physical world from their higher frame, etc....

One alternative that doesn't bring in Animistic ideas nor God nor Simulation Hypothesis is Tallis' idea (if I understand him) that it is the instantiation of consciousness in brains that makes possible Intentionality which runs on a causal arrow counter to the direction of the physical world. Of course this idea - which is really about Intentionality rather than brains IMO - can fit into the aforementioned possibilities - Feser mentions the discussion between Popper and Hayek of how Intentionality can't be explained in forward-causal terms.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
He's simply saying free will is a fundamental part of reality. Hardly absurd, it doesn't even require the something-from-nothing miracle New Atheist horseman Sam Harris notes materialism needs to even get off the ground or "laws" that somehow avoid the Interaction Problem while being completely of a different substance than matter/energy.
I don't see why you would infer from his statement that free will is fundamental. But let's say it is. How does it work? Why does it avoid something-from-nothing and laws?

But the flow chart doesn't explain why those supposed causes don't make something else happen. It seems if one accepts no mental qualities at the fundamental level it comes down to forces or laws of physics. But both are extrapolations from watching change happen, there are a part of the math but it's not clear how they make things happen. Forces to me are just a place holder word that even Feynman has noted ends up leading to circular definitions.
But this problem of deep explanations pertains to everything. Why don't I make a different decision when using my will? At least we have laws that do a good job of allowing us to predict what will happen in the deterministic/random world. Apparently there are no laws pertaining to decisions made using my will.

And physical laws don't make things happen.
I agree. They just describe what does happen.

~~ Paul
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
Random: is a math term describing the state of affairs when two or more variables show no correlation at all. Intentions - by definition - are non-random to the the agent and typically non-random to the agents environment. Self-reference in intentional states makes non-random variables implicitly true.
I do not know what it means for non-random variables to be true.

Intents are specific target states for an agent in specific environments and are measurable in their past, current and future linkage. Intent is structured information in the Infospace of a an agent. All structured information - such as entanglement - is by definition non-random.
What does this have to do with free will?

I am afraid you have blurted out your feelings and they are exposed, as intentions are a tying together of information objects in manner that science can measure. As soon as your metaphysics crossing into the real-world the actual effects of negentropic creative planning stands as the actual evidence against philosophical determinism. Science measures the connectivity from intentional behavior and real-world change. We measure the productivity of these efforts. We measure the beliefs in the possible outcomes of intentions.
I have no idea what you are talking about here.

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

I don't see why you would infer from his statement that free will is fundamental. But let's say it is. How does it work? Why does it avoid something-from-nothing and laws?
Well something from nothing is simply illogical, how can something happen for no reason at all. As for laws, as noted above even if laws exist there has to be something in the fundmental that is in accordance with rule following.

I don't see how it would make sense to ask how fundamentals work if by "work" we mean explaining them in terms of other fundamentals - isn't this like asking how laws would work in the physicalist ontology?

Though, for example, there could a metaphysical argument on how a fundamental like the Pure Actuality of the Prime Mover is given over, in a limited sense, to agents in Its creation. In this example the Prime Mover, who is the First Cause in the Now rather than the first point in a temporal chain, decides the final causes (telos) of non-conscious entities* allows beings created in Its image to determine - in a more limited manner - their own telos. So free will would follow from a causal model that is derived from elements of metaphysics which starts from accepting Act (Reality of what exists Now) & Potency (Reality of Possibility).

One possible model, though this is skipping a lot of discussion about causation. Another would be Gregg Rosenberg's idea that something like consciousness would be needed to have any causation at all, and thus consciousness is the carrier of causality rather than bound within causality....All this is why I think there's good reason to start with causation...

*Assuming any such entities exist, which Animism & Process Philosophy might deny.

But this problem of deep explanations pertains to everything. Why don't I make a different decision when using my will? At least we have laws that do a good job of allowing us to predict what will happen in the deterministic/random world. Apparently there are no laws pertaining to decisions made using my will.

I agree. They just describe what does happen.
But if the laws just describe what happens, they aren't enforcing that any cause necessitates its outcome. Which just brings us back to causes as dispositions.

And if there's a little bit of randomness, isn't this like feces in a barrel of wine - it contaminates the whole? It seems with a bit of randomness you just have a random - meanign arbitrary - universe. (Though without laws, which we know can't simply impose themselves on reality, even a deterministic universe is "random" in that it's arbitrary nothing changes given the causes always under-determine the outcome.)

In fact even the laws, if accepted, would seem to be limiting cases on seeming randomness. As noted by physicist Haisch in Is the Universe a Vast, Consciousness-created Virtual Reality Simulation? ->

"We can think of no way to hardwire the behavior of photons in the glass reflection or the two-slit experiments into a physical law. On the other hand, writing a software algorithm that would yield the desired result is really simple."

What kind of law gives a stochastic average? The limiting case doesn't seem to be very coherent in a physicalist reality? Of course if the simulation is Consciousness Created, it would seem Consciousness is the "actualizer" deciding on what possibilities are made real as well as underlying Time.

So it wouldn't really be a problem for free will to exist, which was the only position I've been advocating in this particular thread.
 
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