Relinquish wrote:As for my questions, I take it that you disagree with the notion that everybody naturally wants to be happy and nobody naturally wants to be unhappy?
Absolutely I disagree. There's a considerable body of work on this in philosophy, so you'll run into counter arguements.
One of the classic thought experiments is the big pink box. Imagine I have a big pink box. If you entered into it, it directly influences your brain, making you blissfully happy for the rest of your natural life. Unfortunately, the procedure is not reversable, so you'll be stuck in there for the rest of your life, but the box will keep you safe and healthy - more so than if you were exposed to the real world.
So, given the thesis that everyone's decisions boil down to being happy, why doesn't the big pink box sounds like paradise, rather than a vaguely creepy, easily resistable, prospect?
Relinquish wrote:As for the causality versus determinism issue, if our wills are being CAUSED to be what they are by many factors that we have no control over, in what way are we freely in control of our wills? How could we have caused our wills to be different to what they are? How is this NOT a deterministic situation?
Ok, so a quick run down on the difference. Determination is absolute, causation is local. Hence:
Causation: That event B occurs at least in part because of prior event A
Determination: That given the state of the universe at t-1, every detail of event B occurs as a matter logical necessity
Note that determiniation and causation don't fit well together. In fact there may be some issues with them co-existing at all.
The conflict is between determinism and free will, because if our actions follow as a matter of logical necessity, then there is no room for free will. Between causation and free will there is no inherent conflict, because the existance of one set of possible causes doesn't rule out other contributing factors.
Science, and empericism in general, works on causation and not on determination. It measures whether one event influences the outcome of another, which is testable, rather than whether an event occurrs as a result of logical necessity due to the prior state, which is not.
-- Updated April 15th, 2017, 8:43 pm to add the following --
a) It assumes physical determinism, an a priori belief that has numerous issues in and of itself.
I'd rather avoid the concept of determinism which for some brings additional baggage, and stick with the straightforward claim the argument makes -
that physical causal interactions can apparently in principle explain all behaviour, therefore free will involving mental causative mental decisions is redundant/has no effect.
That's fine, but we'd need avoid concepts that depend upon assuming determinism. That would include not assuming that causation and determination are the same thing, and not assuming that the physical world can't support free will.
b) It assumes that physical and mental activities do not overlap. This further assumes that physical activities have no mental component, and vice versa. Given that the conclusion is the idea that physical behaviour, a subset of the physical, has no mental component, this is begging the question.
I don't see how.
Because the only evidence, emperical or otherwise, for mental acitvity not being a part of the physical activity, is your assumption that mental activity is seperate from physical activity. It certainly doesn't come from the science, or even from observation.
Gertie wrote:It's based on empiricism and science.
Here I believe that you are wrong on the facts. The sciences of human behaviour involve mental acitvity as being very much a part of physical activity. The only time they're seperated is when mental states would be irrelevent, such as in neurophysiology or neuroanatomy studies where behaviour isn't involved.
Gertie wrote:The argument says it looks like our behaviour can be fully explained in line with known physical science, without the need to invoke mental causation (mental decision-making and willing).
Yes, you can frame human decision making in this way. However, as I covered earlier with another poster, doing so doesn't demonstrate anything. Any set of outputs or behaviours can be framed as purely physical or as a mix. The ability to model something in a particular way isn't in itself evidence that it's the case.
c) It falls foul of the mind-body problem. It requires a careful coordination of (false) mental experience with actual physical behaviour. There's no obvious way to accomplish this, unless mind and body are causally connected in some way.
Do you mean it doesn't explain why our mental experience correlates with our behaviour? I agree there.
Not only that. I mean that any model that declares mental experiences to an illusion has as much to explain, if not more, in terms of how the mind and body interact, than models that involve mental causation. It's a peril of any dualist model.
And this is the point. Claiming that our mental experience of making decisions is illusory, has no causal effect, is not a suggestion that helps solve the problem. It doesn't 'do any work', it doesn't help explain anything or help predict anything. If anything it just makes the whole system more complicated.
Gertie wrote:If the physical processes interacting causally result in the behaviour, whatever types of physical processes they are and however complex, free will is redundant.
Not at all. If you have two possible routes to cause something, the both could contribute to behaviour, even if you could trigger the behaviour with just one of them. Free will only becomes redundent if you assume a determined relationship (see my reply to Relinquish), which you've said above you want to avoid doing?
Gertie wrote:Free will is only possible if mental states play a causative role in those physical processes.
Not really. What about models where mental states are physical states, in whole or in part? You're also ignoring the possibility of mental states being a red herring, and free will being entirely physical? The only thing that rules out an entirely physical free will is your assumption that the physical world is determinisitic, an assumption you said above you wanted to avoid?
Gertie wrote:It's difficult to model behaviour on this basis because of the unimaginable complexity of the physical processes involved.
If we can't model behaviour this way in practice, then how can you say there is scientific evidence for it? How do you test behaviour you can't model?
Gertie wrote:I've made the point that unless our physical systems are capable of executing our behaviour (whether mentally caused or not), something very strange is going on which we have no evidence for.
Less strange than if mental experience plays no role at all. Let's compare them:
-If both physical and mental are seperate and both involved, then we have a mind/body problem
-If physical and mental are seperate, and physical causes everything, and mental experience has no role to play, then we still have a mind/body problem in coordinating the two , but we also have a huge amount to explain in terms of why they are coordinated, given the lack of any practical role to play.
-If physical and mental aren't seperate, then there's nothing to explain at all.
It feels to me that you're insisting on the most complicated and problematical explanation here.
f) It's logically problematical. If we have a system where our impressions of how the world works are not just inaccurate, and the world secretly works in a difference way, then we can not assume that our perception of the world is accurate enough to draw meaningful conclusions about it. It's illogical to insist we have knowledge about one aspect of our experience of the world, while dismissing another.
Yep. I only see this argument as a problem to be accounted for by people positively asserting the existence of free will.
I don't see how it would apply to arguements for free will, since there's no illusion or element of us being fooled. Free will might violate your favoured ideas about how the world works, but since none of those ideas are logically necessary to our understanding of the world, it hardly matters. It would certainly apply to any arguement that our mental experieneces were illusory, though, because any arguement depends on the idea that our perceptions of our own experience are accurate.
Certainly the idea that our mental experience is illusory could be true, in the sense that we can never know whether anything is true. Descartes suggested a 'wicked demon' tricking us, but some kind of mental illusion would serve the same role, as would a CIA conspiracy armed with mind-control lasers. It doesn't really matter what reason you have for not trusting your own thinking, once you're there, it's pretty much game over as far as ever getting to the truth is concerned. For that reason, I'm inclined to regard any explanation that depends on us being fooled about our own thoughts with deep suspicion. Because once you go that far, you can insert any explanation you care to.