Could our actions be decided by our conscious mind?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Dec 23, 2018.

  1. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    My premises are both statements of facts. Or else explain why they are not.
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  3. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    Why can't you just address the OP? Your "example" here is just very bad logic. If you think my example is bad logic, just explain why.
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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Your formulation (please correct me if you think I'm wrong):
    P1: A may be B
    P2: C is the result of B
    C: C may be the result of A

    This seems at first glance to be valid.
    However there is the assumption that A, B and C always refer to the same thing.
    However, consider the following:
    P1: A may be B1
    P2: C is the result of B2
    C: C may be the result of A

    This is clearly invalid, yet both B1 and B2 are written as "the state of a group of neurons" while referencing different things.

    So there may be some fallacy here, although I can't for the life of me think of the official name for it, and I'm not actually entirely convinced that there is.
    Just a nagging feeling.

    I'm also not sure I could say whether it is sound or not, even if valid:
    Premise 1: no issue - for all we know this could be the case (afaik), thus premise 1 seems to be sound.
    Premise 2: what do you mean by "determined"?
    Where would you see the indeterministic/probabilistic nature of QM fitting in, for example?
    Also, are there some things that we do that are not the result of brain activity?
    Is the brain the seat of all our actions?
    Perhaps it is, I just don't know, so can't comment on the soundness here.
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  7. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for a sensible post at last. I was starting to think I'm in the madhouse.
    They're all good points and they all concern aspects that I deliberately put in the wording. So, no problem to explain. However, just now I have to go for a Christmas meal (it's 19:22 here) and my brain is low on calories. I'll come back as soon as I can.
    Please try to look at it so as to understand by yourself why your points are no problem at all. Perhaps you could try a consideration of the meaning of "some" and "may".
    Thanks again, I'll have a better Christmas eve for that!
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Easily done around here, it seems.
    That would depend on your purpose, surely?
    Only you can say whether my points are a problem or not, and based on what the agenda is behind the OP?
    Or are you dismissing them as irrelevant?
    No worries.
    After this post I'm off for a couple of days, so won't be responding for a while... but to consider what you suggested:

    "Some" - the only place this is used is as part of "somebody" - so presumably you are meaning not any person specifically.
    And I am assuming that by "this person" you are referencing the same "somebody" in the sentence?
    "may" - it sets up a conditional with no assertion as to truth value, and applies whether that lack of assertion includes a claim of theoretical possibility or not.
    E.g. If I say "X may lead to Y, or Z, but I know it is one of the two" then I am claiming that there is a non-zero chance that X can lead to Y.
    But contrast that with "X may lead to Y, but I don't even know if it is possible" then there is no actual claim that there is a non-zero chance.

    Is that what you were looking for?

    Hope you enjoyed your meal.
  9. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    Broadly, yes, excellent.
    Yes, it certainly does.
    That has to be absolutely fundamental. Anything different would absolutely preclude any kind of formal logic and indeed any kind of linguistic communication.
    Yes, your example is clearly invalid.
    You have the formal argument at your disposal for consideration and still you can't make up your mind? What am I suppose to do, breast-feed you?!

    Alright, suckle it:

    1 - Premise 1
    A1 = "somebody's conscious mind"
    B1 = the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain​
    2 - Premise 2
    B2 = "the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain"
    C2 = "What somebody does"​
    3 - Conclusion
    A3 = "the conscious mind of this person"
    C3 = "what somebody does"​

    So, you have a "nagging feeling" there may be a "fallacy"?!
    Are we in a madhouse?
    How can you go about any kind of professional activity if you're unsure of the sense in which I used "determined" there?
    It's the usual sense: A group of neurons determine the actions of somebody.
    I have no idea but that's obviously irrelevant. I'm using the word "determine" in the ordinary, dictionary, sense, as it is in usage in Great Britain. If you can't have a rational conversation with somebody French speaking top-of-the-shelf British English, then butt off and go talk to Trump and his mignons.
    Yes, bodily movements are considered actions of a person if and only if they are controlled by the brain of this person. Just falling in space due to gravity is no action of a person. Dying because of accident or illness is no action of a person.
    There is a distinction between voluntary actions and involuntary actions, but both are controlled by the brain.
    Bodily movements include actions, but if you use the expression "bodily movement", you're considering the movement independently of the control of the brain.
    OK, good marks for the logic, but could do better in the English department.
    Still, I hope that's good enough for you.
    I post this now so it will serve as a tutorial for any group of macaques that may lurk in the Silver Springs State Park of around here despite the sudden apparent quiet.
  10. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Not only do I have internet connection where I am, I have even found some "me time"
    Two things:
    1. Don't be an arse, because
    2. So far I seem to be the only engaging with your OP as you had intended.

    What I suppose you would do is have a convivial discussion so as to assuage any concerns I have.
    Do you want to be?
    Is it mad to express doubt?
    If I see two formulations, one valid and one invalid, but both ultimately worded exactly the same way, would you consider the formulation as worded to be valid or invalid?
    I.e. rather than simply telling me how surprised you are at an expression of doubt, how about you provide reasoning for viewing it one way or the other?
    Because this is the philosophy forum and words need to be understood carefully.
    I see nothing wrong with seeking clarification.
    Why do you seem to?
    Not really, as that still alludes to the philosophical notions of causation and to determinism.
    They are not synonymous.
    If you simplymean "cause" then okay.
    If you wish to stipulate the nature of that causation (I.e. deterministic) then this impacts upon the soundness of your premise,
    Your manner is unwarranted.
    Can you not understand why using the word "determine" in a philosophy forum might require clarification when it alludes to a notion that can make your premise unsound?
    What was the actual point of your OP, though?
    Just to get your homework marked?
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Your much-vaunted logic is in error here. One possibility is that there is no proper critique because nobody here is up to it. However another possibility exists: that nobody wants to talk to someone like you.

    Ask yourself who would want to carry on a discussion with someone who treats them in a rude and patronising manner, right from the start. If you want a decent discussion, a good tip is to try to make it a positive experience for someone to converse with you, rather than an unpleasant one. Just look at your posts on this thread.
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It is off on the wrong foot, an error marked by the word "just". You are starting from a confusion of substrate (the state of the neurons) with pattern (the "state" of the patterns formed by the firing of the neurons over time).

    Illustration: the pattern of a snowflake is not made of ice, not a "state" of water molecules. It's made of angles and geometric forms and so forth.
    These patterns are partly constrained by the properties or "state" of their water molecule substrate, but not determined by it.

    These patterns in turn partly determine the behavior of other patterns on their logical level of existence or physical reality. The role of the state of the water molecules is left behind - the behavior of the patterns influenced by the pattern "snowflake" (especially human reaction patterns, say) would be similarly influenced by a snowflake pattern in a wide variety of substrates (plastic, cardboard, glitter, ammonia compounds on Ganymede, electrical discharges in thin films on circuit boards, road salt and sand accumulations, etc).
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  13. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    You're really something. I already told you, I didn't use the word "substrate". You did. My argument relies on the idea that the conscious mind is the state of a group of neurons, not anything like any a "substrate".
    Please address my argument as phrased and worded or don't
  14. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    "Right from the start" there's only my OP. Explain what's rude and patronising there according to you?
    Then I reply to comments, which is only courteous. So, clearly it's nothing like "right from the start". So, your post is just a gross fallacy.
    Now, please explain to me how you reply nicely to idiotic posts? Go on, explain that.
  15. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    Sorry, your meaning here is unclear. There's just one formulation to consider and that's the one I used. If you think there is a problem with it, you have explain where it is, something you haven't done yet.
    You actually haven't identified any substantial difference in the terminology used between the premises and the conclusion. What difference there is is not significant. If you think otherwise, please provide the specifics.
    No allusion, only your interpretation. Nothing I can do anything about.
    I used the word "determined", not "causation". You need to address the argument as worded.
    What I may mean is irrelevant. I'm using ordinary words in the English language and only the dictionary can possibly be the reference as to what these word should be interpreted as meaning.
    I didn't say "cause". I said "determined". If you think there is a problem with "determined", you need to explain what this problem is. Something you haven't done so far.
    I'm unaware of the possible philosophical understanding of these terms and I doubt that there would be just a unique one as you seem to suggest.
    I used the word "determined" because it's the more general of the possible terms. If you think there is a problem with the term "determined" as I use it in the argument, you need to explain what it is, something you haven't done yet.
    I would expect that's where you make explicit your overall assessment of the OP's argument... Just for clarity's sake, something you clearly value.
  16. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    The first response to you was in post 2, to which you replied, already in rude and patronising mode, in post 4. In other words, as soon as somebody replied, you were rude and patronising towards them, at the very first opportunity you had.

    As you ought to be aware, given your immense powers of logic, it is pretty hard to be rude and patronising to an interlocutor before you've even got one.
  17. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    "For all we know, and as far as I can tell" there is nothing to argue about. For all we know you may be correct.
    Certainly the OP is so vague that it could be, but then again it might not be for all we know.
  18. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    Vague?! Whoa. No, definitely not.
    Either it's true or it's false that for all we know the conscious mind may be the state of a group of neurons.
    If you think this could be false, please explain.
    Same for the rest of it.
    And if you can't fault the argument, you should admit to it.
  19. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I provided the alternative formulation (the one with B1 and B2) and showed how the two formulations could/would be worded exactly the same way.
    Hence I see a problem with it: two formulations worded exactly the same way but with different interpretations.
    Thus I see a problem with it - although I'm not entirely convinced this makes it invalid rather than being just an informal fallacy.
    I have shown how the wording you used could lead to an invalid conclusion.
    To restate:
    P1: A may be B1
    P2: C is caused by B2
    C: C may be caused by A.
    You agreed that this is invalid, yet the wording of both B1 and B2 would be the same as you have used ("the state of a group of neurons").
    The wording in your formulation I thus see as ambiguous: your initial formulation and this alternative are worded the same yet one is valid and the other not.
    Do you not see this as a concern?
    Well, you could opt for an alternative word that does suggest (unintentionally) a rather specific philosophical notion, which when considered renders your premise false and thus your argument unsound.
    I did, yet you had issue with it.
    The universe is not deterministic.
    It is indeterministic.
    So your premise seems false - the action is not necessarily determined by the state of the neurons.
    If you had the same set of neurons in exactly the same state, you might not get the same result.
    My apologies, raising the issue of "indeterminism" and QM I thought would be sufficient to highlight the concern.
    I have since provided further clarification of the concern.
    Now done, and I hope to your satisfaction.
    I think while arguably valid it suffers from the informal fallacy of ambiguity that could render it invalid, and it is unsound - specifically premise 2 - as currently worded, due to the use of the word "determined".
  20. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    I replied exactly as it should be. These posts were moronic. The posters pretended to address the OP but instead just suggested to rewrite it out of recognition to make it to their taste. That's not the way to discuss a logical argument.Would you rewrite Aristotle's syllogisms just to make them look good in your eyes?!
    And if you do that, then it's no longer the same argument and hence you can't do that and address the OP.
    If you want to address the OP, you have to take the argument as worded and phrased. If you think there is something wrong with it, you have to explain what it is. Changing any word in the argument is just refusing to address the OP while pretending you are addressing it.
    And that is unacceptable.
    Interlocutor? Whoa. Words are cheap, isn't it? None of them addressed the OP. Full stop. If you can't make yourself address the OP, butt off.
    These posts have been just a waste of my time.
  21. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    No, you didn't. You provided an abstract example to explain what you thought could conceivably be a problem with my argument. You never actually exhibited any evidence that there was an actual problem with my argument.
    You didn't provide an alternative formulation. Only an abstract argument that has nothing to do with my own argument.
    Second, if you had argued anything from an alternative formulation, your point would have applied only to this alternative argument, not to mine, and it would therefore be a derail.
    This doesn't make sense. "Two formulations worded exactly the same", that doesn't exist. If they are worded the same, it's the same formulation.
    Second, if you think it's possible to interpret the argument so that it would become invalid, it's up to you to explain how it would go. I can't second-guess what you may have in mind.
    If you see a problem, you haven't said where it is. For the moment, you're the only one to see it.
    No, you haven't. You haven't even addressed the wording I used.
    Yes, your argument is invalid. Not mine.
    No. I didn't used different wordings in the two premises. Both have the same wording, i.e. "the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain".
    The example you used to explain yourself is not any alternative formulation to my argument. It's a completely different type of argument.
    Your own argument doesn't use the same formulation at all. Your premises have the terms B1 and B2 which are different. My premises don't have different formulations. Both have the same wording, i.e. "the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain".
    No, I don't. In fact, I'm definitive that there's no concern except in your imagination. You have identified a problem there is with your own example argument. You haven't explain how my own argument would suffer from the same problem.
    This bit is incoherent. It just doesn't make any sense.
    No and the premise doesn't say that it is. So your claim here that my premise is false remains unsupported.
    Please also note that your assumption that an action is not necessarily determined by the state of a group of neurons does not entail that if is false that the action may be determined by the state of a group of neurons. That A is not necessarily true doesn't entail that it is false that A may be true.
    That's a good point but it is irrelevant.
    I accept there may be the same state at different times with different actions. Yet, this doesn't entail that the state of the group of neurons concerned doesn't determined the action. So, even if it is possible to have the same state with different actions at different times, it is still true that what somebody does is determined by the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain, at least according to all the scientific evidence that is available. If you disagree that it's what the scientific evidence says, please explain.
    No, you haven't supported any of your claims, as I explained in detail here.
    Also, most of your post is incoherent or contrary to the facts of what has already been said, by you or by me. If you don't shape up, I will have to ignore you.
    I hope this is civil enough as a response.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  22. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    In cognitive therapy, of which I practice in my own laymen way on myself, you consciously hold onto your thoughts instead of having your emotions run away with you.

    A sleep deprived person is less consciously able to do this.

    I've heard about a man one night got into his car, drove to another city and killed his mother in law. He was never charged because he was "sleepwalking" suffering somnambulism.
  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Yes, the abstract example being the alternative formulation, that could be worded in exactly the same manner that you initially offered up.
    Other than showing how your argument, as worded, can be both valid and invalid, due to the ambiguity of premise 2, you mean?
    The abstract argument IS the alternative formulation.
    One form is valid, and you agreed that the form that I offered up was not.
    Two formulations.
    It has everything to do with your argument as it highlights the ambiguity in your premise 2.
    Yet since it highlights an ambiguity in your argument (since the same wording can result in both a valid an invalid argument) it is very much relevant.
    I summarised your initial argument - which you accepted as being a good summary.
    I then showed how the wording you used could result in an invalid form.
    If one can take the same wording to arrive at an invalid form as well as a valid one, I see that as a concern.
    Do you not?
    I did.
    I explained quite clearly in fact how the wording can be seen as ambiguous.
    What you then do with that information is entirely up to you.
    I have clearly explained where it is.
    You mean other than where I say that in the "abstract argument" I presented, using the exact same form as yours, the same wording that you used could be used for both B1 and B2.
    This thus introduces ambiguity.
    Yet my example argument can be written with the exact same wording you used in your initial formulation.
    If you don't see that as a concern then okay.
    I can only lead a horse to water.
    Yes, and as I have explained, that exact wording can be used in the argument I offered up, which you agreed was invalid.
    Both B1 and B2 could be written as "the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain."
    So you end up with the same wording yet, as you have agreed, an invalid form.
    It would certainly seem to be a different type of argument than you intended.
    Yet, quite clearly, your wording can also be used to describe an invalid form.
    And, as I have now repeated many times, both B1 and B2 can be written as "the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain".
    Thus you end up with two formulations (yours and mine) that would be worded exactly the same way, but one would be valid and the other not.
    Again, if you see no problem with this...
    If you see no concern that the language you used is ambiguous then okay, you don't see it.
    Stare at the trough and don't drink if you don't want to.
    You asked for comments on your OP, and I have offered what I see as a concern, and despite your clarifications and lack of justification for your view, I still see as a concern.
    Because both your argument and the one I offered can be worded exactly the same way.
    Apologies, I missed out the word "not" - as in "you could opt for a word that does not (unintentionally)..." etc.
    So when you wrote: "What somebody does is determined by the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain;" you didn't mean that the action (what somebody does) is determined by the state of a group of neurons?
    Because that is what is false: it is simply not true that the action is determined by the state of a group of neurons.
    If it was then the same state of those neurons would always result in the same action.
    This, per the current understanding of the way the universe works, is not true.
    You didn't say that it "may be determined" though.
    You said "is determined".
    This is false, as already explained.
    If the same state results in different actions, the state of those neurons by definition do not determine the action.
    The difference in action would be the result of something other than the state of those neurons.
    If the same state results in different actions then the state does not determine the action.
    You can't accept the possibility that they don't and then claim that they do.
    It is for you to provide the evidence that it is the case.
    You are, after all, the one making the claim that the premises are sound.
    You haven't explained in detail.
    You have simply asserted, incorrectly, that I have not supported anything.
    I have provided ample explanation such that you should be able to comprehend the issue.
    More incorrect assertion on your part, one omission of "not" on my part aside.
    But if you want to ignore me, that's fine; it won't alter the issues with the argument in your OP.
    But I have replied.

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