Free Will

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Re: Free Will

#11521  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 5:24 pm

John Platko wrote:
archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:What exactly do you mean by consciousness being an illusion? Why that choice of word?


So, it seems wrong to say that consciousness is an illusion, because it seems indisputable that we experience a sensation we call consciousness.

But, what may warrant the term illusion is the idea that consciousness is not what it seems to be, that it doesn't do what we think it does. This is consciousness as epiphenomenon. I'm not saying it necessarily is, but I tend to think it might be, to at least an extent (in that it may not 'do' as much as we think it does, even if it's not fully an epiphenomenon).


Perhaps Peter Tse will give you some ideas about how to think of these things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OJSbwP-GnY&t=966s


I watched quite a bit of that.

Gosh, I think it's confused. I'm not sure what type of free will he is saying we have but my guess is it's a version of compatibilism. Which is a sort of free will that is compatible with determinism which is why I call it pseudo.

But anyway. We can agree to disagree about terms and I don't have too many objections to listening to people talk about free will so long as I know which sort they mean. Moving on..

He talks about human ability to imagine and deliberate and then he says other animals such as lions stalking prey, have the same capacity. Eeek that's controversial.

On the plus side, he elucidated the different versions of free will quite nicely, I thought, and it's the first time I've really considered a third type (to compatibilism and libertarian) which is essentially a second type of libertarian. He calls it metalibertarian. So that was interesting.

The part I was most interested in though was when he felt he'd debunked the idea (via Libet) about the role of readiness potential (RP) in decision-making. This started at 17:40 in the video. Oddly, when he described the experiments he did which he thought debunked Libet, I ended up thinking the results suggested the opposite! Lol.

So he hypnotised subjects (to tell them that when they saw a certain image on a screen they would move a certain finger) so that after they came out of hypnosis and took part in a Libet-style experiment, and the triggering image appeared, they did indeed move their finger (or let's say it moved) but could not explain it, that is to say had no reason available to their conscious as to why it happened. But, he says, the readiness potential was still there (and he accepts that unconscious readiness potentials prior to action are a real phenomenon and one which is a precursor to action) and his conclusion is that RP's were irrelevant.

So, I'm asking... why was there an RP? He's associating it with being prior to the action and triggered by the hypnotical suggestion, so he personally is not saying that it's unrelated or coincidental. So, I'm thinking, it appeared after the image was shown but before (indeed in this case entirely without) any conscious awareness of intent.

Doesn't that support the idea that decisions are unconscious rather than conscious? Am I missing something?
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Re: Free Will

#11522  Postby GrahamH » Nov 14, 2017 5:29 pm

archibald wrote:


I watched quite a bit of that.

Gosh, I think it's confused. I'm not sure what type of free will he is saying we have but my guess is it's a version of compatibilism. Which is a sort of free will that is compatible with determinism which is why I call it pseudo.


I didn't watch it all but my impression was that he rejected determinism, what with all the talk of random noise in the neurons.
In that case it's not compatibilism.
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Re: Free Will

#11523  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 5:31 pm

GrahamH wrote:
archibald wrote:


I watched quite a bit of that.

Gosh, I think it's confused. I'm not sure what type of free will he is saying we have but my guess is it's a version of compatibilism. Which is a sort of free will that is compatible with determinism which is why I call it pseudo.


I didn't watch it all but my impression was that he rejected determinism, what with all the talk of random noise in the neurons.
In that case it's not compatibilism.


I see. So...is it more like one of the Free Will Theorems where quantum indeterminacy is involved, or some other form of indeterminacy?

If so, I don't see how that provides actual free will. Though it is, I think, another variety of pseudo free will. I confess to be slightly unsure as to why anyone prefers it over compatibilism, which I think is the best pseudo free will explanation, but there you go.
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Re: Free Will

#11524  Postby GrahamH » Nov 14, 2017 5:33 pm

archibald wrote:
Doesn't that support the idea that decisions are unconscious rather than conscious? Am I missing something?


Some people are happy with unconscious will. More a case of free xxx. See Conway defining it as no more than "not a function of the past". Nothing about will at all. To the extent he attributes it to electrons.
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Re: Free Will

#11525  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 5:35 pm

GrahamH wrote:
archibald wrote:
Doesn't that support the idea that decisions are unconscious rather than conscious? Am I missing something?


Some people are happy with unconscious will. More a case of free xxx. See Conway defining it as no more than "not a function of the past". Nothing about will at all. To the extent he attributes it to electrons.


Yeah, but, that's not what he's saying. He's saying the opposite, that RP's are a red herring and irrelevant. If he were happy with unconscious free will, he'd be saying ok, that's RP's for you. On the contrary, he's into telling us that it's the conscious deliberations that are at the heart of free will!
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Re: Free Will

#11526  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 6:28 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:
archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:What exactly do you mean by consciousness being an illusion? Why that choice of word?


So, it seems wrong to say that consciousness is an illusion, because it seems indisputable that we experience a sensation we call consciousness.

But, what may warrant the term illusion is the idea that consciousness is not what it seems to be, that it doesn't do what we think it does. This is consciousness as epiphenomenon. I'm not saying it necessarily is, but I tend to think it might be, to at least an extent (in that it may not 'do' as much as we think it does, even if it's not fully an epiphenomenon).


Perhaps Peter Tse will give you some ideas about how to think of these things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OJSbwP-GnY&t=966s


I watched quite a bit of that.

Gosh, I think it's confused. I'm not sure what type of free will he is saying we have but my guess is it's a version of compatibilism. Which is a sort of free will that is compatible with determinism which is why I call it pseudo.


:nono: Peter argues for Libertarianism free will



But anyway. We can agree to disagree about terms and I don't have too many objections to listening to people talk about free will so long as I know which sort they mean. Moving on..

He talks about human ability to imagine and deliberate and then he says other animals such as lions stalking prey, have the same capacity. Eeek that's controversial.

On the plus side, he elucidated the different versions of free will quite nicely, I thought, and it's the first time I've really considered a third type (to compatibilism and libertarian) which is essentially a second type of libertarian. He calls it metalibertarian. So that was interesting.

The part I was most interested in though was when he felt he'd debunked the idea (via Libet) about the role of readiness potential (RP) in decision-making. This started at 17:40 in the video. Oddly, when he described the experiments he did which he thought debunked Libet, I ended up thinking the results suggested the opposite! Lol.

So he hypnotised subjects (to tell them that when they saw a certain image on a screen they would move a certain finger) so that after they came out of hypnosis and took part in a Libet-style experiment, and the triggering image appeared, they did indeed move their finger (or let's say it moved) but could not explain it, that is to say had no reason available to their conscious as to why it happened. But, he says, the readiness potential was still there (and he accepts that unconscious readiness potentials prior to action are a real phenomenon and one which is a precursor to action) and his conclusion is that RP's were irrelevant.

So, I'm asking... why was there an RP? He's associating it with being prior to the action and triggered by the hypnotical suggestion, so he personally is not saying that it's unrelated or coincidental. So, I'm thinking, it appeared after the image was shown but before (indeed in this case entirely without) any conscious awareness of intent.

Doesn't that support the idea that decisions are unconscious rather than conscious? Am I missing something?


I don't believe he thinks that all this free will processing happens on the conscious level. He has a notion of critical causality where neurons are firing when some criteria is met - which has a flavor of Deutsch's counterfactuals. The neurons can change the criteria - this is where much of his secret sauce is.

Here's a formal lecture he gave on his ideas. He got hammered pretty hard by the questions at the end.

https://vimeo.com/25237729
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Re: Free Will

#11527  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 6:42 pm

John Platko wrote:
Peter argues for Libertarianism free will


Really? I must watch the rest of the video. Or, do you happen to at know what point he does that? Don't worry if you don't, I accept it's up to me to find it. :)

I can't remember the last time I heard anyone arguing for Libertarian Free will.


John Platko wrote:I don't believe he thinks that all this free will processing happens on the conscious level. He has a notion of critical causality where neurons are firing when some criteria is met - which has a flavor of Deutsch's counterfactuals. The neurons can change the criteria - this is where much of his secret sauce is.

Here's a formal lecture he gave on his ideas. He got hammered pretty hard by the questions at the end.

https://vimeo.com/25237729


What do you mean he doesn't think that all this free will processing happens on the conscious level. Do you mean that he thinks some free will happens unconsciously? If so, that's....well I didn't realise there was a version of unconscious Libertarinism. Seems like almost a contradiction and more to the point, seems to be at odds with what most people think of free will as. And also appears to be at odds with him saying that it is our imaginings/deliberations which are at the heart of free will.

Anyhows, thanks again for posting. Interesting. I'm enjoying it.
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Re: Free Will

#11528  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 6:48 pm

Oh and john, I thought I'd google 'is consciousness an epiphenomenon?' on your behalf. Sadly, for me, this led to me leaning well away from thinking it is.

If epiphenomenalism is the idea that (a) consciousness is a mental, unphysical phenomenon which is caused by the brain but which can't act causally upon it (like the analogy of the steam engine's whistle) then I'm inclined to reject that on the grounds that I don't believe in substance dualism, which would still leave (b) that consciousness (whether physical or mental) does not or cannot have a causal effect, which I'm also inclined to reject after considering an objection involving the Placebo Effect, which seems to involve information/knowledge/beliefs entering via consciousness, yet still having an effect.

I'm going to stick with saying that consciousness does not have as much of a role as we often think it does, on the grounds that there are numerous examples of non-conscious decision-making processes which don't enter consciousness (and yet which we sometimes take conscious credit for, often mistakenly), but I would move away from the word epiphenomenal.
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Re: Free Will

#11529  Postby GrahamH » Nov 14, 2017 7:02 pm

Tse rejects computational theory of mind on the basis that brains are not algorithmic, not UTMs, but goes on to talk about criteria systems handling large numbers of inputs in parallel that handle non explicit rules. Now that the sort of thing deep learning systems are getting very good at so his rejection may be premature and overly simplistic.
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Re: Free Will

#11530  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 7:12 pm

GrahamH wrote:Tse rejects computational theory of mind on the basis that brains are not algorithmic, not UTMs, but goes on to talk about criteria systems handling large numbers of inputs in parallel that handle non explicit rules. Now that the sort of thing deep learning systems are getting very good at so his rejection may be premature and overly simplistic.


Cool. When I listen further to him, I'll watch out for that. I'll also be wondering if he's essentially proposing some sort of two (or multi) stage free will process in which the randomness (via 'noise') you say he cites provides a decoupling from determinism, follwed by a stage in which the agent makes choices.

If so, I'll be wondering how that isn't just shunting the key problem, unresolved, into the second (or final) stage, which is what I think is the shortcoming of the QM two-stage models.
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Re: Free Will

#11531  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 7:40 pm

archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
archibald wrote:


I watched quite a bit of that.

Gosh, I think it's confused. I'm not sure what type of free will he is saying we have but my guess is it's a version of compatibilism. Which is a sort of free will that is compatible with determinism which is why I call it pseudo.


I didn't watch it all but my impression was that he rejected determinism, what with all the talk of random noise in the neurons.
In that case it's not compatibilism.


I see. So...is it more like one of the Free Will Theorems where quantum indeterminacy is involved, or some other form of indeterminacy?

If so, I don't see how that provides actual free will. Though it is, I think, another variety of pseudo free will. I confess to be slightly unsure as to why anyone prefers it over compatibilism, which I think is the best pseudo free will explanation, but there you go.


Because if non determinism is part of the secret sauce that makes free will then there's no need to go the compatibilist route.

He has a unique flavor on what makes free will.

1) He simply accepts that we are not in a deterministic universe - I think he takes that as a given from QM.

2) After 1) he doesn't need any more special sauce from QM

3) Free will needs a bit of random to grease its' wheels. brownian motion at synaptic junctions supplies that, and there are other ways randomness creeps into neural functioning.

4) criterial causality is where neurons get to exercise their free will. They have a criteria, which they can change, which is their will and then a random fitting of that criteria provides the free.

It's good to see neuroscience provide evidence for libertarian free will. ;)
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Re: Free Will

#11532  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 7:43 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:
Peter argues for Libertarianism free will


Really? I must watch the rest of the video. Or, do you happen to at know what point he does that? Don't worry if you don't, I accept it's up to me to find it. :)

I can't remember the last time I heard anyone arguing for Libertarian Free will.


John Platko wrote:I don't believe he thinks that all this free will processing happens on the conscious level. He has a notion of critical causality where neurons are firing when some criteria is met - which has a flavor of Deutsch's counterfactuals. The neurons can change the criteria - this is where much of his secret sauce is.

Here's a formal lecture he gave on his ideas. He got hammered pretty hard by the questions at the end.

https://vimeo.com/25237729


What do you mean he doesn't think that all this free will processing happens on the conscious level. Do you mean that he thinks some free will happens unconsciously? If so, that's....well I didn't realise there was a version of unconscious Libertarinism. Seems like almost a contradiction and more to the point, seems to be at odds with what most people think of free will as. And also appears to be at odds with him saying that it is our imaginings/deliberations which are at the heart of free will.

Anyhows, thanks again for posting. Interesting. I'm enjoying it.


He's a neuroscientist. He talks about how neurons have free will. He seemed a bit stumped when a questioner asked how that related to a person having free will.
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Re: Free Will

#11533  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 7:49 pm

archibald wrote:Oh and john, I thought I'd google 'is consciousness an epiphenomenon?' on your behalf. Sadly, for me, this led to me leaning well away from thinking it is.

If epiphenomenalism is the idea that (a) consciousness is a mental, unphysical phenomenon which is caused by the brain but which can't act causally upon it (like the analogy of the steam engine's whistle) then I'm inclined to reject that on the grounds that I don't believe in substance dualism, which would still leave (b) that consciousness (whether physical or mental) does not or cannot have a causal effect, which I'm also inclined to reject after considering an objection involving the Placebo Effect, which seems to involve information/knowledge/beliefs entering via consciousness, yet still having an effect.

I'm going to stick with saying that consciousness does not have as much of a role as we often think it does, on the grounds that there are numerous examples of non-conscious decision-making processes which don't enter consciousness (and yet which we sometimes take conscious credit for, often mistakenly), but I would move away from the word epiphenomenal.


I'm good with saying consciousness is only the tip of the mental processing iceberg. :hand: That's why it's so important to try to work on understanding and developing our unconscious. If free will need be completely conscious then I doubt anyone has it.
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Re: Free Will

#11534  Postby GrahamH » Nov 14, 2017 7:54 pm

archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Tse rejects computational theory of mind on the basis that brains are not algorithmic, not UTMs, but goes on to talk about criteria systems handling large numbers of inputs in parallel that handle non explicit rules. Now that the sort of thing deep learning systems are getting very good at so his rejection may be premature and overly simplistic.


Cool. When I listen further to him, I'll watch out for that. I'll also be wondering if he's essentially proposing some sort of two (or multi) stage free will process in which the randomness (via 'noise') you say he cites provides a decoupling from determinism, follwed by a stage in which the agent makes choices.

If so, I'll be wondering how that isn't just shunting the key problem, unresolved, into the second (or final) stage, which is what I think is the shortcoming of the QM two-stage models.


I think he is proposing the sort thing I was discussing a few days ago in relation to evolution, that fits with James' two-step. Random noise mixes things up a bit and amore deterministic sort of process filters what comes up so that you may turn left or right or no particular reason, because random effects accumulated to cross some threshold on a neuron here and there and what resulted "met the criteria" as Tse puts it. If it's fit for purpose, acceptable, better than the other stirred up options of the moment then action it. It's a bit more like a free won't that a free will. It says we have a veto and we can connect the dots but the impetus is random, like evolution by natural selection. What mutations or crosses happen is chaotic but only results that are viable and survive natural selection to reproduce carry on in the gene pool.

{ETA}
Tse describes the requirements for a "strong" free will that resembles the requirements for two-stage models of free will, but he does not think of criterial causation as a two-stage model.


http://www.informationphilosopher.com/s ... tists/tse/
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Re: Free Will

#11535  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 7:56 pm

archibald wrote:
GrahamH wrote:Tse rejects computational theory of mind on the basis that brains are not algorithmic, not UTMs, but goes on to talk about criteria systems handling large numbers of inputs in parallel that handle non explicit rules. Now that the sort of thing deep learning systems are getting very good at so his rejection may be premature and overly simplistic.


Cool. When I listen further to him, I'll watch out for that. I'll also be wondering if he's essentially proposing some sort of two (or multi) stage free will process in which the randomness (via 'noise') you say he cites provides a decoupling from determinism, follwed by a stage in which the agent makes choices.


He doesn't need to decouple from determinism because he sees the world as non deterministic. Other than that, you've described his idea. But he has a unique twist on how the 2 stage process works.

And he has a book on all this: https://www.amazon.com/Neural-Basis-Fre ... nskepti-20

The review comments give a good idea of what he's talking about.



If so, I'll be wondering how that isn't just shunting the key problem, unresolved, into the second (or final) stage, which is what I think is the shortcoming of the QM two-stage models.
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Re: Free Will

#11536  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 8:24 pm

Jerry Coyne's critique of Tse's book here. Hmmm. Jerry seems to be a bit more open minded about free will and non determinism than I've seen before.
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Re: Free Will

#11537  Postby archibald » Nov 14, 2017 9:35 pm

John Platko wrote:Jerry Coyne's critique of Tse's book here. Hmmm. Jerry seems to be a bit more open minded about free will and non determinism than I've seen before.


Ok, I've had time to read that and the article it refers to (I think it's a New Scientist article and not the book itself).

Coyne says the article is behind a paywall, but I've found a free pdf copy:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~peter/pdf/AA.pdf

Sadly, I haven't yet had time to watch all the Tse videos yet. So I'm just going to comment on what the article says and what Coyne says about it.

I confess I see nothing much new in the article. There's a new neuroscientific mechanism for what we might call 'stage 1' indeterminacy, but near the end of the article (in the middle of the thought experiment about spinach lasagne, about halfway down the last - right hand - column, to be exact just when he uses the phrase 'intentional manipulation') there's what I see as an unsubstantiated jump to a free will conclusion that imo just isn't warranted. I'm not even sure it's warranted for pseudo free will, though I might have to read it again. What exactly is 'intentional'? It can't be anything subconscious. He's already said just above that if consciousness plays no part then it's not a sort of free will worth having.

I think I agree with everything Jerry Coyne said.

(by the way Jerry has been open to the possibility of indeterminism for quite a while, in fact I personally don't remember when he wasn't, but it might have been before I came across him).

I'm actually disappointed. I genuinely hoped that Tse might have opened the door for Libertarian free will or at least something like it, or closer to it. Obviously, I wasn't expecting him to go all the way.

I'm still puzzled by how or why so many experts seem determined (no pun intended) to call what they've 'discovered' (or explained) free will. It's as if it's about wanting to be the first to discover how to turn base metals into gold, or maybe there's funding and/or publicity exposure to be gained by using the term. Whatever the reasons, and I'd be speculating about them, why they can't just describe and explain the rather amazing and sophisticated capacities they think we might have and admit it's not really gold, I don't know. :scratch:
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Re: Free Will

#11538  Postby romansh » Nov 14, 2017 10:07 pm

And what are your responses to Coyne's critique?

Also I hear term non-determinism being banded about a bit. Can we have a definition please? Or is it simply a synonym for indeterminacy?
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Re: Free Will

#11539  Postby GrahamH » Nov 14, 2017 10:18 pm

John Platko wrote:Jerry Coyne's critique of Tse's book here. Hmmm. Jerry seems to be a bit more open minded about free will and non determinism than I've seen before.


Coyne's criticisms seem fair.
Tse doesn't seemt have anything really new there.
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Re: Free Will

#11540  Postby John Platko » Nov 14, 2017 10:29 pm

archibald wrote:
John Platko wrote:Jerry Coyne's critique of Tse's book here. Hmmm. Jerry seems to be a bit more open minded about free will and non determinism than I've seen before.


Ok, I've had time to read that and the article it refers to (I think it's a New Scientist article and not the book itself).

Coyne says the article is behind a paywall, but I've found a free pdf copy:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~peter/pdf/AA.pdf

Sadly, I haven't yet had time to watch all the Tse videos yet. So I'm just going to comment on what the article says and what Coyne says about it.

I confess I see nothing much new in the article. There's a new neuroscientific mechanism for what we might call 'stage 1' indeterminacy, but near the end of the article (in the middle of the thought experiment about spinach lasagne, about halfway down the last - right hand - column, to be exact just when he uses the phrase 'intentional manipulation') there's what I see as an unsubstantiated jump to a free will conclusion that imo just isn't warranted. I'm not even sure it's warranted for pseudo free will, though I might have to read it again. What exactly is 'intentional'? It can't be anything subconscious. He's already said just above that if consciousness plays no part then it's not a sort of free will worth having.


He explains the role consciousness plays in that article. You imagine serving steak, that's a conscious activity. Then a memory constraint about your guest sends a message to your consciousness - he's a salad muncher. Then your consciousness sets further constraints on the meal.



I think I agree with everything Jerry Coyne said.

(by the way Jerry has been open to the possibility of indeterminism for quite a while, in fact I personally don't remember when he wasn't, but it might have been before I came across him).

I'm actually disappointed. I genuinely hoped that Tse might have opened the door for Libertarian free will or at least something like it, or closer to it. Obviously, I wasn't expecting him to go all the way.

I'm still puzzled by how or why so many experts seem determined (no pun intended) to call what they've 'discovered' (or explained) free will. It's as if it's about wanting to be the first to discover how to turn base metals into gold, or maybe there's funding and/or publicity exposure to be gained by using the term. Whatever the reasons, and I'd be speculating about them, why they can't just describe and explain the rather amazing and sophisticated capacities they think we might have and admit it's not really gold, I don't know. :scratch:
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