Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#1  Postby kennyc » Nov 13, 2014 12:51 pm

.....They conclude that the integrator threshold might even reflect the boundary between unconscious and conscious neural processes:

Crossing the threshold from unawareness to awareness [could be] a reflection of bound crossing [in the integrator].

In this way, the integration-to-bound theory may help to resolve the contradiction between the subjective report of free will and the requirement for causal antecedents to non-capricious, willed actions.

…our results provide a starting point for investigating mechanisms underlying concepts such as self, will and intention to act, which might be conserved among mammalian species.


http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuro ... GShnvnF98E

Paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25262496
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Photo Gallery - Writing&Poetry
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama
User avatar
kennyc
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: Kenny A. Chaffin
Posts: 8698
Male

Country: U.S.A.
United States (us)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#2  Postby minininja » Nov 13, 2014 1:45 pm

I don't get how any of this relates to the concept of free will, or how free will is being defined in the article. :scratch:
[Disclaimer - if this is comes across like I think I know what I'm talking about, I want to make it clear that I don't. I'm just trying to get my thoughts down]
User avatar
minininja
 
Posts: 1539

United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#3  Postby kennyc » Nov 13, 2014 2:02 pm

minininja wrote:I don't get how any of this relates to the concept of free will, or how free will is being defined in the article. :scratch:


as it says in the article:

....What does this have to do with free will? Well, it all goes back to 1983, when a neuroscientist called Benjamin Libet found, using EEG, that a certain pattern of brain activity – a “readiness potential” – occurs in the human brain just before ‘spontaneous’ actions. In fact, this brain event happens even before we are aware of deciding to act.

Libet’s much-discussed finding has been seen as evidence against free will because it seems to suggest that ‘the brain decides to act before we do’.

But what if the readiness potential is somehow the equivalent of the rat “integrator”? That would be a big deal, say Murakami et al.
....
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Photo Gallery - Writing&Poetry
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama
User avatar
kennyc
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: Kenny A. Chaffin
Posts: 8698
Male

Country: U.S.A.
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#4  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 13, 2014 3:18 pm

It's a funny concept to conceive of the brain acting before 'we' do. What is the 'we' supposed to mean there? The consciousness of the act? Is free will just the conscious act? Is it the deciding element? Does it have to be recursive so what we are conscious of deciding?

I think there's a much simpler answer to this than people want to see; much like the 'hard' problem of consciousness.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
 
Posts: 28001
Age: 44
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#5  Postby minininja » Nov 13, 2014 3:55 pm

kennyc wrote:
minininja wrote:I don't get how any of this relates to the concept of free will, or how free will is being defined in the article. :scratch:


as it says in the article:
But what if the readiness potential is somehow the equivalent of the rat “integrator”? That would be a big deal, say Murakami et al.


Yeah I read that, - would you be able explain it in you own words for me? As I read it they've discovered some further details of how brain processes work. But it eludes me as to how this alters the argument that brain processes lead to behaviours and there's no 'I' controlling the brain processes therefore no free will.
[Disclaimer - if this is comes across like I think I know what I'm talking about, I want to make it clear that I don't. I'm just trying to get my thoughts down]
User avatar
minininja
 
Posts: 1539

United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#6  Postby surreptitious57 » Nov 13, 2014 6:07 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
Is free will just the conscious act? Is it the deciding element? Does it have to be recursive so what we are conscious of deciding?

Infinitesimal time differences that are so small so as not to be noticed have been measured between a decision being made and it being known. The fact it cannot be noticed is what allows free will to be assumed in the first place even though it is obviously an illusion. There are also physical and legal and moral and psychological restrictions to what we can think or do
A MIND IS LIKE A PARACHUTE : IT DOES NOT WORK UNLESS IT IS OPEN
surreptitious57
 
Posts: 10195

Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#7  Postby ughaibu » Nov 14, 2014 12:18 am

minininja wrote:I don't get how any of this relates to the concept of free will, or how free will is being defined in the article.
Freely willed actions are those actions which an agent undertakes consistent with and as a consequence of a conscious choice made from amongst realisable alternatives.
ughaibu
 
Posts: 4391

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#8  Postby Steve » Nov 14, 2014 1:16 am

I would expect there to be a learning curve where the rats became more patient over time, switching from running for a sip to waiting until they could have a drink. And I would call that learning free will. I know - this isn't really free will, but for how I think of free will in my own life it matches. I simply want to get a bit better. The idea of being free to act as I like has no meaning for me - I can't even grasp what that concept actually amounts to. But being able to change my behavior seems to fit what I experience.

In other words I set a goal - in this case to get a good drink - and then modify my behavior accordingly. Meanwhile my mind can go nuts in frustration and excuses wrt the achievement of that goal. That thinking is just junk thinking. The good stuff is the thinking that helps me get there.

So yes - there is some recursion. Has to be. And while some people are more adaptable than others, everyone has the potential. Some just have tougher obstacles, like stronger cravings.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny
Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
User avatar
Steve
RS Donator
 
Posts: 6908
Age: 66
Male

New Zealand (nz)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#9  Postby ughaibu » Nov 14, 2014 2:47 am

Steve wrote:The idea of being free to act as I like has no meaning for me - I can't even grasp what that concept actually amounts to.
It's pretty fucking simple and of course you can grasp it, as you, like every healthy human adult, unavoidably assume the reality of free will and consistently demonstrate the validity of that assumption.
For example, presumably you have a preference, on some occasions, for one of either beer or cider, being free to choose the one that you prefer and to then drink it, in accordance with that choice, is what "being free to act as [you] like" amounts to.
ughaibu
 
Posts: 4391

Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#10  Postby Steve » Nov 14, 2014 4:03 am

ughaibu wrote:
Steve wrote:The idea of being free to act as I like has no meaning for me - I can't even grasp what that concept actually amounts to.
It's pretty fucking simple and of course you can grasp it, as you, like every healthy human adult, unavoidably assume the reality of free will and consistently demonstrate the validity of that assumption.
For example, presumably you have a preference, on some occasions, for one of either beer or cider, being free to choose the one that you prefer and to then drink it, in accordance with that choice, is what "being free to act as [you] like" amounts to.

OK, but that is so trivial I can like either one and there is no real will involved. What about choosing your sexuality, to be homosexual or straight. You will have some natural tendencies there that will require some effort to overcome. Personally I don't think you can switch, though some are bisexual so for those it would be like beer or cider for me. My point being I think will power has a role to play, and I think that needs motivating. Hence drinks versus sips. And then the whole organism goes to work and the thinking will do whatever it does, and while the mind definitely has its place I would be surprised if it was first except in sorting out how to achieve the goal. I think the goals are pretty much innate.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny
Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
User avatar
Steve
RS Donator
 
Posts: 6908
Age: 66
Male

New Zealand (nz)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#11  Postby Willie71 » Nov 14, 2014 4:22 am

The idea if free will being anything more than an illusion is a bit bizarre. We exist in the universe and are bound by its laws that are predictable, once the mechanisms are discovered. We are no different, just a bunch of chemicals and proteins suspended in water, following predictable reactions, although the patterns are too complex for us to predict with accuracy at this time.
We should probably go for a can of vegetables because not only would it be a huge improvement, you'd also be able to eat it at the end.
User avatar
Willie71
 
Name: Warren Krywko
Posts: 3247
Age: 49
Male

Country: Canada
Canada (ca)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#12  Postby ughaibu » Nov 14, 2014 4:46 am

Steve wrote:OK, but that is so trivial I can like either one and there is no real will involved.
An agent has free will on any occasion on which that agent makes and enacts a conscious choice from amongst realisable alternatives. The "will" part comes in because such actions are consciously chosen and undertaken, they're not reflexes, unconsidered actions, somnambulism, etc. The "free" part comes in because the agent selects from amongst possible alternative courses of action.
That's all there is to it, free will isn't some weird mystical piece of supernaturalism, is a description of the world as we experience it to be, everyday. This is why free will denial is such a minority stance, because free will is obviously the case. As you put it, the existence question is "trivial", some agents on some occasions, have free will.
Steve wrote:I think the goals are pretty much innate.
For there to be free will there must be 1. a conscious agent, 2. a set of realisable alternatives and 3. a means by which the agent evaluates the options against each other.
Stuff like instincts, neuroses, habits, preferences, etc, all come under condition 3. So, that an agent has these innate or learned tendencies is a requirement for free will, not a reason to doubt that they have free will.
Consider if this were not the case, and that in order to have free will, an agent would need to choose who they are, what their evaluation system consists of and the set of alternative actions available. Given an agent, yourself, and an agent who fulfills the above requirements by choosing all the things listed, that agent could choose to be exactly as you are, in exactly your world. In short, there could be an agent both with and without free will, if this were a genuine requirement for free will. By the principle of non-contradiction the claim that there is such a requirement is refuted by reductio ad absurdum.
ughaibu
 
Posts: 4391

Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#13  Postby Steve » Nov 14, 2014 5:16 am

OK - I don't think that accords with observation of how the world is. It isn't "think choose act" as you suggest, it is "want think act", and the want is what drives it. The thinking and acting will modify the wanting, but the wanting is the key. Choosing will fall under the thinking.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny
Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
User avatar
Steve
RS Donator
 
Posts: 6908
Age: 66
Male

New Zealand (nz)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#14  Postby ughaibu » Nov 14, 2014 5:48 am

Steve wrote:I don't think that accords with observation of how the world is. It isn't "think choose act" as you suggest
So, when you're in an unfamiliar restaurant, you don't look at the menu, think about which dish you'd like to order, choose a dish and then order it? Seriously?!?
ughaibu
 
Posts: 4391

Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#15  Postby Steve » Nov 14, 2014 6:28 am

ughaibu wrote:
Steve wrote:I don't think that accords with observation of how the world is. It isn't "think choose act" as you suggest
So, when you're in an unfamiliar restaurant, you don't look at the menu, think about which dish you'd like to order, choose a dish and then order it? Seriously?!?

First I get hungry (want) then I look at the menu (think) which modifies my want to what is on the menu. Or maybe I want something not on the menu and I leave. My choice is driven by desire, not thinking. The thinking just tweaks the desire.

As an aside I may well have conflicting desires as in something looks really yummy but I would like to lose some weight so I have to exercise some will power in choosing what I want now versus what I want most. I exercise that choice by putting attention (thinking) on the options. If my will is strong I will be able to modify my immediate desire away from what is yummy but less healthy. I think it is an extremely rare person who does not have conflicting desires.

Back to the rats. I think my "want think act" fits what is observed, and I think your "think choose act" is not as evidenced by neuron activity.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny
Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
User avatar
Steve
RS Donator
 
Posts: 6908
Age: 66
Male

New Zealand (nz)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#16  Postby ughaibu » Nov 14, 2014 6:37 am

Steve wrote:My choice is driven by desire, not thinking.
To repeat, your "desire" is a part of your evaluation system, such a system is required for free will.
ughaibu
 
Posts: 4391

Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#17  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 24, 2014 3:25 am

Willie71 wrote:The idea if free will being anything more than an illusion is a bit bizarre. We exist in the universe and are bound by its laws that are predictable, once the mechanisms are discovered. We are no different, just a bunch of chemicals and proteins suspended in water, following predictable reactions, although the patterns are too complex for us to predict with accuracy at this time.


While I am not taking the position that there necessarily is such a beastie as free will, I don't think your argument above is good reasoning to disclude the concept - free will could be an emergent property of a certain arrangement of chemicals and proteins just as thought or consciousness is.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
 
Posts: 28001
Age: 44
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#18  Postby Willie71 » Nov 24, 2014 4:23 am

Spearthrower wrote:
Willie71 wrote:The idea if free will being anything more than an illusion is a bit bizarre. We exist in the universe and are bound by its laws that are predictable, once the mechanisms are discovered. We are no different, just a bunch of chemicals and proteins suspended in water, following predictable reactions, although the patterns are too complex for us to predict with accuracy at this time.


While I am not taking the position that there necessarily is such a beastie as free will, I don't think your argument above is good reasoning to disclude the concept - free will could be an emergent property of a certain arrangement of chemicals and proteins just as thought or consciousness is.


In the end it would still be an illusion, as the chemical reactions could all be predicted ahead of time, if the variables were all known. Fire doesn't choose to burn, it just does, with fuel and heat. Potassium and calcium will cross membranes at certain thresholds that don't choose when to do so, they just do at the moment they are supposed to. No matter how many connections in concert there are, each could ultimately be predicted in advance with enough awareness and processing capability. Since each moment is novel to us, we believe we are choosing, but all the networks laid down in our brains are the result of every moment before that, through nutrition, insult, growth and development, and experience. It's a lot of data, but not more than the data that makes up a solar system, or Galaxy. Everything functions in a finely tuned way, and I fail to see any compelling argument to the contrary. Theoretical physics has uncertainty, but these physicists state that this idea is misused by those claiming free will is supported by uncertainty. Considering time is an illusion, and that everything that has or could happen likely already exists, the only way free will could exist is with multiple simultaneous realities, where every subatomic probability exists. I am nor opposed to that concept as an idea, but it's not something I would claim is true, based on the current evidence.
We should probably go for a can of vegetables because not only would it be a huge improvement, you'd also be able to eat it at the end.
User avatar
Willie71
 
Name: Warren Krywko
Posts: 3247
Age: 49
Male

Country: Canada
Canada (ca)
Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#19  Postby ughaibu » Nov 24, 2014 5:03 am

Willie71 wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:
Willie71 wrote:The idea if free will being anything more than an illusion is a bit bizarre. We exist in the universe and are bound by its laws that are predictable, once the mechanisms are discovered. We are no different, just a bunch of chemicals and proteins suspended in water, following predictable reactions, although the patterns are too complex for us to predict with accuracy at this time.
While I am not taking the position that there necessarily is such a beastie as free will, I don't think your argument above is good reasoning to disclude the concept - free will could be an emergent property of a certain arrangement of chemicals and proteins just as thought or consciousness is.
In the end it would still be an illusion, as the chemical reactions could all be predicted ahead of time, if the variables were all known.
It is impossible to take an adequate description or to perform the calculation required to make the prediction, so your claim that such a prediction could be made is no more than a piece of blind faith. Worse, it's quite obviously false. Imagine that you want to meet a friend for a beer, according to you the best way to do this would be to take a full description of chemicals and perform a calculation which predicts where your friend will be at some time, perhaps 7:00pm. However, you can't make the prediction by taking descriptions and performing calculations, but you can make it by arbitrarily selecting 216 pubs from the phone book, rolling three dice and telling your friend to meet you in the pub indicated by the dice.
Do you see how utterly ridiculous your stance is? We can perform this calculation reliably and accurately by rolling dice, not by using descriptions and calculations. If you want to stand in a rational relationship with the world, you will now abandon free will denial.
ughaibu
 
Posts: 4391

Print view this post

Re: Do Rats (and everyone else) have free will

#20  Postby Willie71 » Nov 24, 2014 6:25 am

ughaibu wrote:
Willie71 wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:
Willie71 wrote:The idea if free will being anything more than an illusion is a bit bizarre. We exist in the universe and are bound by its laws that are predictable, once the mechanisms are discovered. We are no different, just a bunch of chemicals and proteins suspended in water, following predictable reactions, although the patterns are too complex for us to predict with accuracy at this time.
While I am not taking the position that there necessarily is such a beastie as free will, I don't think your argument above is good reasoning to disclude the concept - free will could be an emergent property of a certain arrangement of chemicals and proteins just as thought or consciousness is.
In the end it would still be an illusion, as the chemical reactions could all be predicted ahead of time, if the variables were all known.
It is impossible to take an adequate description or to perform the calculation required to make the prediction, so your claim that such a prediction could be made is no more than a piece of blind faith. Worse, it's quite obviously false. Imagine that you want to meet a friend for a beer, according to you the best way to do this would be to take a full description of chemicals and perform a calculation which predicts where your friend will be at some time, perhaps 7:00pm. However, you can't make the prediction by taking descriptions and performing calculations, but you can make it by arbitrarily selecting 216 pubs from the phone book, rolling three dice and telling your friend to meet you in the pub indicated by the dice.
Do you see how utterly ridiculous your stance is? We can perform this calculation reliably and accurately by rolling dice, not by using descriptions and calculations. If you want to stand in a rational relationship with the world, you will now abandon free will denial.


It's impossible to calculate with our current knowledge and technology. Strawman. I said if we could know and calculate the variables. Your examples are incoherent. Rolling dice, arbitrarily selecting from the phone book. I considered that you were joking, but it doesn't appear that you are.

Ridiculous? Oh, man.....
Take a look at the knowledge we now have in neuroscience. To claim free will as obvious is the ridiculous idea.

Maybe you misread what I posted?
We should probably go for a can of vegetables because not only would it be a huge improvement, you'd also be able to eat it at the end.
User avatar
Willie71
 
Name: Warren Krywko
Posts: 3247
Age: 49
Male

Country: Canada
Canada (ca)
Print view this post

Next

Return to Psychology & Neuroscience

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest