Could our actions be decided by our conscious mind?

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

  1. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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  3. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Last time. You have to address the argument as formulated. Any reformulation makes any comment a comment about a different argument.
    EB
     
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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    indeed, last time: I have addressed the argument as formulated, and explained in detail and multiple times the concerns I have with it.
    Whether you choose to drink or not, you've been led to the water.
     
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  7. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    You don't know that.
    No scientific experiment could possibly ascertain that a group of neurons was effectively in the exact same state at different times. No scientific experiment could even specify completely the state of even one neuron. So, proving that the same state of neurons could produce different consequences is completely out of reach for current science.
    As to current scientific evidence, there is absolutely none to show that the same state of a group of neurons can result in different consequences.
    Still, this is irrelevant. While it is legitimate for you to believe that what a person does is not determined by a group of neurons, I am in no doubt that it is nonetheless what most scientists believe.
    It's up to you to identify what the scientific evidence would be that would falsify this belief. If you don't want to do that, that's fine. Most people, including scientists, would accept premise 2.It's up to you to produce the evidence or argument that you think show they are wrong.
    EB
     
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I do.
    It's the meaning of the word "determine".
    If X determines Y then whenever you get X you get Y following.
    If you get something other than Y then X is not determining the outcome.
    First, practical considerations do not alter what it means to determine something.
    Second, if you admit that you can't know the state of even of one neuron, on what basis are you claiming premise 2 to be sound?
    Yet you have evidence to show that the same state of the neurons leads to the same output, even though you admit that no scientific experiment can even establish the state of a single neuron?
    If you don't, on what grounds do you claim premise 2 to be sound?
    Then you should have no problem in providing supporting links to support the soundness of your premise, I assume?
    You make the claim, so you support it.
    Relying on what you consider most scientists to believe I find in and of itself insufficient to consider the premise sound.
    Unfortunately that's a burden of proof fallacy on your part.
    If you think most people accept it then it should be a simple matter for you to provide some supporting evidence for it.
    However, you must excuse me if I don't take your word for it.
     
  9. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    There are several issues to be clarified, so I'll start a separate discussion for each.

    First, there is your claim that the same state of a group of neurons can produce different outcomes.

    You seem to believe this is scientific knowledge. As I see it, it is at best a theoretical possibility. If that possibility was real, scientists couldn't possibly measure anything. The process of measuring is to observe the state of a measuring apparatus which is assumed determined by the state which is assumed to exist in the object supposedly measured. In effect, the observed state of the measuring apparatus is the measure of the assumed state of the object. There are several important aspects to this.

    First, this process only makes sense to scientists because they assume, correctly or not, that the state of the object is effectively determining the state of the measuring apparatus. This process also makes sense to scientists only because they assume, correctly or not, that the same state of the object will always produce the same state in the measuring apparatus. If that wasn't the case, measuring an object would give no reliable indication as to the state of the object and would therefore be a waste of time and money. Yet, I observe that scientists keep spending a lot of time and money on measuring objects, from the very small like neurons to the very large like stars and the CMBR.

    Second, as already indicated, measuring effectively involves several distinct states. First, there is the assumed state of the object measured, but there is also the state of the measuring apparatus itself. Measuring objects makes sense because scientists assume they know the state of the measuring apparatus by direct visual observation of it. However, they don't actually know the state of the apparatus itself. All they know is their own visual perception state when they observe the apparatus. If your claim was true, for the same state of the measuring apparatus, scientists would experience different visual perception states, and would in effect be unable to settle on any definitive result. Measuring anything would be all but impossible. However, scientists keep spending a lot of time and money on measuring objects, from the very small like neurons to the very large like stars and the CMBR.

    More generally, if your claim was true, nature would only be a chaos. We wouldn't exist because atoms could not exist, life could not exist, evolution could not exist, our brains could not exist. There would be no sentient being to observe nature. Yet, here we are, observing nature. I can open my fridge and observe pretty much what I expected to find in there, day after after day.

    So, your claim is just falsified by our everyday experience of our material environment as sentient beings and by scientists' insistence on measuring things.

    There may be other interesting things worthy of notice, but that wouldn't be the point of this discussion.

    Thank you to try to keep your response, if any, a short as possible.
    EB
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  10. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    First, my claim is that the same state of neurons might be able to produce different results.
    I do not know for sure, but it is a reasonable query, and for me to accept your premise as sound you must show that it is.

    Second, noone disputes that to measure something we must be able to rely on the same state of the measured object giving rise to the same state in the measuring object - or at least sufficiently accurately for desired purposes.
    While your response concentrates on this undisputed matter, it fails to address the matter of correlation between two measured objects, being the input and output of a system.
    E.g. one can accurately measure whether the input to a system is 0 or 1, and one can accurately measure whether the output of that system is 1 or 0.
    The ability to measure both input and output does not mean that the relationship between input and output is such that the same input must always lead to the same output.
    This would only be true if the system between input and output is deterministic.
    If the system is indeterministic then the output may be probabilistic, for example - e.g. if the input is 1 then there is a % chance the output will be 1.
    You seem to be saying that the action is the measurement of the neuron states.
    It isn't, but is instead the output of a system, with the neuron states being the, or at least an, input.

    So your response is unfortunately irrelevant.
     
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    30,994
    They alter it from your description.
    Look at this, for example:
    There is a practical consideration buried in the word "following". You are resting on a temporal sequence whose practical considerations you have overlooked: the conscious decision is an action, a physical event, and it determines the subsequent behavior - if you take the word "following" seriously.
    The "system" that you then identify as rendering the decision predetermined is then a consequence, its "state" is afterwards a product of the decision. The decision module or subsystem or whatever, itself , had - prior to acting as it subsequently must - several degrees of freedom (ability to do otherwise),
    as observed by the conscious mind and as a consequence of being observed by the conscious mind (a physical event),

    which establishes the existence of the conscious mind as an entity, physically present, a causal and determining physical thing.
     
  12. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Then remove the word "following".
    It is not significant to what I said and is clearly distracting you.
    I'm sure this means something to you, and that you think it is relevant.
     
  13. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    That's what you say now but not what you said in a previous post, here:
    You are what I would call an unreliable poster as there are unreliable witnesses. Most of what you say is incoherent or contrary to the fact of what has already been said. And now, you change your story while pretending you're not.

    I could rephrase premise 2 to solve your metaphysical objection as follows:

    Premise 2 - What somebody does may, for all we know, be determined by the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain;​

    But I won't.
    This modification would not change the substance of my argument. However, as rephrased, it would look needlessly problematic to most people, and sciencey people in particular. I don't need that kind of distraction.
    As it turns out, I don't myself believe that we would know that what somebody does is determined by the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain. I only accept that it is our best guess and the best formulation for it from the perspective of accepting the reality of a physical universe as we usually think of it. But I am in no doubt that the reality is substantially different. However, I phrased the argument with in mind the perspective of those what believe in the reality of a physical universe as we usually think of it. I would call that perspective "naive realism". We all believe it's true. It's our default worldview. It's naive.
    Your earlier claim that one state of neurons can result in different outcomes at different times is not supported by any evidence. You yourself haven't provided any justification and indeed no explanation as to how that could happen except in terms too vague to be worthy of notice. You now change your story: you claim now that the same state of neurons might be able to produce different results. Sorry, in the context, I don't know what that "might" really corresponds to. You don't justify. You don't explain. And crucially, you couldn't produce any evidence that this is true, or that it is part of any valid scientific theory, or that it is the mainstream view among scientists. So, in effect, if we believe you, premise 2 might be false and my argument might therefore be unsound. But current science itself might be wrong, and if my argument is unsound then all arguments with premises based on science are unsound. Current science might well be wrong but you actually don't know that it is. As current science stands, there is no doubt that what a person does is determined by a group of neurons in the person's brain. If you ever can motivate yourself, you could try to come back with evidence that this is actually not true. I am confident that nearly everybody reading this will agree with premise 2 as phrased, which is why I phrased it this way to begin with, even though I don't buy it myself. I can live with you having metaphysical doubts that premise 2 might be false. I still have no idea despite your long posts, how it could happen exactly. All I seem to know on the subject of Quantum Physics tells me your claim that one state of a group of neurons can result in different outcomes at different times is wrong on substance. Without evidence to the contrary, I have no reason to rephrase premise 2, and something tells me you won't come back with any evidence, except quite possibly irrelevant evidence.
    I think it's more likely you won't come back with evidence than it is that premise 2 is actually false.
    EB
     
  14. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    What I said previously is entirely consistent with what I have subsequently said, although the latter tempered the surety of the former.
    If such an adjustment upsets you, feel free not to respond.
    Because there are unreliable witnesses you call me an unreliable poster?
    Um... okay... I guess.
    If it is incoherent to you then simply ask for clarification rather than throwing a rather juvenile hissy fit.
    Okay, don't.
    But it would no longer be unsound, unless of course it was established that what somebody does is not determined by the state of a group of neurons, etc.
    You have already used such a qualifiers in the first premise and the conclusion.
    What additional problem do you think most people would have, and "sciency people" in particular?
    If you are confident in the soundness of the premise, provide the support for it, please.
    So you admit that the soundness of the premise cant be established, yet you have issue with adjusting the wording of your premise to potentially make it sound?
    Are you actually taking your own argument, and your desire to have it critiqued, seriously?
    Okay, so you're not actually interested in a crunique, or in whether the premises are sound.
    Okay.
    Fair enough.
    If you can't be bothered to support your own claims....
    Then prove your premise true and the issue disappears.
    Or alter the wording, as you proposed, and the issue disappears.
    You clearly want to be taken seriously, yet for some reason you don't want to do either.
    Prove your premise true, or even provide some evidence in support of it.
    If you're unwilling then there is no reason to take you seriously.
    You keep asserting this, yet I see no evidence forthcoming from you when asked.
    Provide or be revealed for the charlatan you are currently portraying yourself to be.
    You are making the claim.
    You provide the support to that claim.
    It is that simple.
    So you're not really being serious, are you?
    So you don't agree with your own premise, as worded, but you have issue with someone raising similar doubt (even if worded a tad more strongly), and you would rather appeal to what you think is popular, and to your own confidence that that is what is popular, than actually support your premise?
    I think it more likely that you are just wasting people's time.
    You're certainly not taking your own argument seriously.
    So why should anyone else.
    Farewell.
     
  15. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Here is the OP again, if anyone is interested.

    Thank you to discuss the following argument, its two premises and its validity.
    Thank you to restrict yourself to facts and logic.
    EB
     
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    there is nothing to argue...for all we know you may be correct....
     
  17. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks, that's to the point but sometimes simple things need to be articulated, however briefly.
    EB
     
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    And the word "then", the word "subsequent", the modifier "pre" from "predetermined", and all similar references to chains of cause and effect over time - which have been distracting, yes, especially when they go around in circles and overlook logical levels and so forth.

    What we would have left is what is significant to you. Do you have any idea what that would be?
    Yep.
    It's dealing with something you by turns describe as an illusion and as a brick.
     
  19. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    I'm sure one day you might actually put an argument together that takes into account such things, rather than the mere handwaving toward them that you seem to have done thus far.
    Or if you don't want to put forward your own argument, perhaps, one day, somewhere, you might actually explain why such things are relevant to the arguments presented that you seem to be complaining about.
    'Cos at the moment... well... you have offered so very little.
    I know what is significant to the argument I put forth.
    It's a pity you don't.
    Methinks you are confusing this thread with another, iceaura.
    You know, the one where you have complained much but offered little?
    But heck, I look forward to where you are actually relevant, and even when you possibly explain the relevance of your complaints.
    Any idea when that will be?
     
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for making my point for me.

    [click]
     
  21. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Cheap.
    Chip.
    EB
     
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Can you give us a hint?
    It isn't temporal chains of cause and effect, you say. But "predetermined" seems to be a central matter. So - - - - ?
    If conscious decisions of the mind that influence actions are - in your opinion - a separate matter unrelated to that other thread, I do apologize.
    The attempt, in 2 and 7, to turn a misstep inherent in describing a conscious mind as a "state" of some neurons - any neurons, grouped or scattered - is still on the table.
     
  23. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Rephrased to be a bit more accurate:

    Premise 1 - For all SP knows, somebody's conscious mind may be the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain;
    Premise 2 - SP believes that what somebody does is determined by the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain;
    Conclusion - Therefore, for all SP knows, what somebody does may be determined by the conscious mind of this person.

    Discussion:

    Premise 1 - "consciousness" is what we call a state of self-awareness that some higher animals possess; a mind consists of much more than consciousness, and thus is not that relevant in terms of predicting what a person will do. (Consider sleepwalking.) "State" as applied here is a term derived from computer science; the "state" of a computer is the stored logic levels in every storage element. The statement may be accurate if "state" is changed to reflect every aspect of the neural network that supports our minds (which consists of far more than what neurons are firing when.) For example, neuron polarization, neurotransmitter levels, O2 levels, hormonal levels, temperature, stimulus (i.e. the environment they are in) genetics etc all make up the "state" of someone's brain.

    Premise 2 - What someone does is determined by:
    a) The polarization state of the neuron's in someone's mind
    b) The input from his environment as perceived by all the senses
    c) The many biological/chemical influences mentioned above

    Premise 3 - if you knew all the above, you would have a good idea (not perfect) of what someone is likely to do next.
     

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