Brain workings and freedom

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kordofany
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Brain workings and freedom

Post by kordofany » April 28th, 2018, 10:42 pm

Do you think we control the way the brain works to think? If the answer is no.. Do you think we're free?

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Atreyu
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Atreyu » April 29th, 2018, 3:09 pm

Of course we don't have control over our brains, any more than we do with any other instinctive function.

So no, we are not in control of our thoughts, and therefore are not free....

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » April 29th, 2018, 4:17 pm

So when I experience agency what am I experiencing? And what is I. And what is an experience?

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » April 29th, 2018, 7:17 pm

kordofany wrote:
April 28th, 2018, 10:42 pm
Do you think we control the way the brain works to think?
Hume observed that when we introspect, we do not detect the self. He inferred that there was no such thing as the self, but this is an unsound inference, because 'I cannot detect the self' does not entail 'there is no self'.

If there is no self apart from the brain, then ultimately the answer to your question must be 'no', because even if the brain can control some of its thinking, it could not control all of its thinking, since this would create an infinite regress. However, if there is a self apart from the brain, then in theory this self could control the brain.

There is no empirical evidence for a self other than the brain, so as things stand, it looks as if the answer to your question is 'no.' This is not a definitive proof, but it's where the smart money is.
Eduk wrote:
April 29th, 2018, 4:17 pm
So when I experience agency what am I experiencing? And what is I. And what is an experience?
1) Perhaps merely the lack of any external factors that would prevent you acting, such as having your hands tied.
2) Perhaps a construct of the brain. I once had the experience of having two selves at once, presumably because my brain was failing to construct a single self properly. I don't recommend it, it's extremely unpleasant.
3) That's the hard problem of consciousness, and I think it is insoluble.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by kordofany » April 30th, 2018, 12:45 am

So.. There is a question that emerges from this answer: do we have the right to punish the perpetrator of a crime if we too would commit it if we had the same brain?

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » April 30th, 2018, 4:24 am

Would you imprison a hurricane if you could?

Belindi
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » April 30th, 2018, 10:53 am

Kordofany wrote:
Do you think we control the way the brain works to think? If the answer is no.. Do you think we're free?
There is no Free Will in the sense of completely uncaused thoughts/brain configurations. Men's freedom relates to degree of reason that's brought to bear on problems and decisions. The more the reason the more the freedom.

Personal responsibility relates to autonomous freedom. The more the individual is autonomous the more he is responsible, and that seems to me to be reflected in the law. It's reflected in those judges who seek mitigating circumstances for crimes.

We find that with few exceptions belief in absolute Free Will accompanies punitive judgements.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Fooloso4 » April 30th, 2018, 11:54 am

I decided I would respond to this topic.

CIN
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 1st, 2018, 2:58 am

kordofany wrote:
April 30th, 2018, 12:45 am
So.. There is a question that emerges from this answer: do we have the right to punish the perpetrator of a crime if we too would commit it if we had the same brain?
Does gravity have the right to make an apple fall to the ground?

If there is no free will, then all such questions are futile. The punishers are no more free to refrain from punishing than the perpetrator is free to refrain from perpetrating.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » May 1st, 2018, 6:12 am

CIN wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 2:58 am
kordofany wrote:
April 30th, 2018, 12:45 am
So.. There is a question that emerges from this answer: do we have the right to punish the perpetrator of a crime if we too would commit it if we had the same brain?
Does gravity have the right to make an apple fall to the ground?

If there is no free will, then all such questions are futile. The punishers are no more free to refrain from punishing than the perpetrator is free to refrain from perpetrating.

But "the punishers" are as a matter of fact those who have the power to punish. Those who have the power to punish are more free than those they punish. It's to do with elites and the others. However in free societies laws constrain the punishers from acting unjustly. Those very laws were made by reasoning not by faith in 'Free Will'.

I don't know where you hail from, CIN, but both the UK and the USA have laws founded upon Magna Carta.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by CIN » May 1st, 2018, 8:43 am

Belindi wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 6:12 am
CIN wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 2:58 am


Does gravity have the right to make an apple fall to the ground?

If there is no free will, then all such questions are futile. The punishers are no more free to refrain from punishing than the perpetrator is free to refrain from perpetrating.

But "the punishers" are as a matter of fact those who have the power to punish. Those who have the power to punish are more free than those they punish. It's to do with elites and the others. However in free societies laws constrain the punishers from acting unjustly. Those very laws were made by reasoning not by faith in 'Free Will'.

I don't know where you hail from, CIN, but both the UK and the USA have laws founded upon Magna Carta.
You and I, Belindi, are using the word 'free' in quite different ways. You are using it to refer to legal freedom. I am using it to refer to metaphysical freedom. If we understand 'free' in the first of these ways, then I pretty much agree with you (I hail from the UK), but that was not my meaning.

The metaphysical sense is captured in the question, 'Assuming that I was not in any way coerced, could I have acted differently from the way I did?' If I could not - and the apparent fact that we live in a causally closed universe suggests that I could not - then my action was not free (in the metaphysical sense). My action was 100% determined by earlier causes, and so I could not have acted other than as I did.

Kordofany was asking about the right to punish. I was merely pointing out that if no-one has freedom in the metaphysical sense, all such moral questions are redundant. If my robbing a bank was 100% caused by earlier events, right back to the beginning of the universe, then it is absurd to suggest that I am morally to blame for the robbery. You might as well say the Big Bang was morally to blame for the robbery. Of course I may be held legally to blame, and the punishers may punish me for it, but if none of us have metaphysical freedom of action, then the actions of the legislators in passing the laws, and the actions of the punishers in punishing me for breaking them, are actions they are not (metaphysically) free to desist from, and it is therefore redundant to ask whether they have the right to perform them: they have no choice about whether they perform them or not.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » May 1st, 2018, 9:58 am

CIN wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 8:43 am
Belindi wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 6:12 am



But "the punishers" are as a matter of fact those who have the power to punish. Those who have the power to punish are more free than those they punish. It's to do with elites and the others. However in free societies laws constrain the punishers from acting unjustly. Those very laws were made by reasoning not by faith in 'Free Will'.

I don't know where you hail from, CIN, but both the UK and the USA have laws founded upon Magna Carta.
You and I, Belindi, are using the word 'free' in quite different ways. You are using it to refer to legal freedom. I am using it to refer to metaphysical freedom. If we understand 'free' in the first of these ways, then I pretty much agree with you (I hail from the UK), but that was not my meaning.

The metaphysical sense is captured in the question, 'Assuming that I was not in any way coerced, could I have acted differently from the way I did?' If I could not - and the apparent fact that we live in a causally closed universe suggests that I could not - then my action was not free (in the metaphysical sense). My action was 100% determined by earlier causes, and so I could not have acted other than as I did.

Kordofany was asking about the right to punish. I was merely pointing out that if no-one has freedom in the metaphysical sense, all such moral questions are redundant. If my robbing a bank was 100% caused by earlier events, right back to the beginning of the universe, then it is absurd to suggest that I am morally to blame for the robbery. You might as well say the Big Bang was morally to blame for the robbery. Of course I may be held legally to blame, and the punishers may punish me for it, but if none of us have metaphysical freedom of action, then the actions of the legislators in passing the laws, and the actions of the punishers in punishing me for breaking them, are actions they are not (metaphysically) free to desist from, and it is therefore redundant to ask whether they have the right to perform them: they have no choice about whether they perform them or not.
I was too brief. I agree that nobody has freedom in the metaphysical sense of so-called 'Free Will' as you well explain.

I also agree with what you wrote in your second paragraph. What I want to point out is that all this has ethical and political manifestations and is not merely an academic exercise. In an ideal world there would be no blame allocated to anybody, and therefore nobody would be punished or required to change their ways.I say "an ideal world" and by this I mean a world in which everybody is totally reasonable.Obviously this is not the case and so there has to be legal intervention which involves rehabilitation and deterrence. Retribution would of course not be a rationale for punishment. A corollary of this rather left-wing point of view is that if there were 'Free Will' then retribution would be the only rationale for punishing criminals.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 1st, 2018, 1:50 pm

Belindi I don't understand your last reply to CIN.
CIN is saying if there is no free will then there are no ethical ramifications. As ethical ramifications require free will? Correct me if I am wrong CIN.

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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Belindi » May 2nd, 2018, 4:49 am

Eduk wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 1:50 pm
Belindi I don't understand your last reply to CIN.
CIN is saying if there is no free will then there are no ethical ramifications. As ethical ramifications require free will? Correct me if I am wrong CIN.
I think CIN is saying that if there is no free will then there are no metaphysically absolute ramifications. I gather that CIN and I agree that human freedom does not reside in metaphysical Free Will.

Eduk
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Re: Brain workings and freedom

Post by Eduk » May 2nd, 2018, 4:53 am

Ah so you are saying we are free but not metaphysically free?
To be honest I've heard arguments along those lines but I'm not 100% sure I get the distinction. Could you perhaps elaborate a little?

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