Compatibilism is impossible

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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bahman
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Compatibilism is impossible

Post by bahman » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:47 pm

I think we can agree on the fact that brain is a set of neurons which they interact with each other. Any mental state, physical state of brain, leads into another mental state by following laws of physics. This is a deterministic chain of causality. Free will in another hand is the ability to initiate or terminate a chain of causality. This is true since we are dealing with two options in an undecided situation which this requires an agent to choose one of the options and initiate a chain of causality. This, initiating or terminating a causal chain, is impossible in a physical/deterministic world. Therefore compatibilism is impossible.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:03 pm

"initiating or terminating a causal chain, is impossible in a physical/deterministic world"

Since you and me and every one else does 'that' all the time, there must be sumthin' 'off' about the current definition of 'physical/deterministic world', yes?

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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by thought addict » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:07 pm

If the physical world is completely deterministic (most scientists currently think it isn't) then no-one can truly initiate a new chain of causality. Rather, the decision is just another step in the already existing chain of events.

I personally think that Compatibilism works because we have a sense that the physical events that unfold within our brains belong to us and are part of us. Once a decision is made, that path becomes fixed but whilst making a decision we are free to choose for ourselves and change our mind as many times as we want, often without any influence outside our skull overriding the result. In a deterministic universe, someone could theoretically build a perfect simulation of my brain and exactly predict a future decision I will make but that doesn't mean that the decision will not be a free one. Freedom does not entail unpredictability. As present turns into past, there is always one outcome of a decision that is chosen. Why should the capability to predict that take away freedom?

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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by davidm » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:39 pm

bahman wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:47 pm
I think we can agree on the fact that brain is a set of neurons which they interact with each other. Any mental state, physical state of brain, leads into another mental state by following laws of physics. This is a deterministic chain of causality. Free will in another hand is the ability to initiate or terminate a chain of causality. This is true since we are dealing with two options in an undecided situation which this requires an agent to choose one of the options and initiate a chain of causality. This, initiating or terminating a causal chain, is impossible in a physical/deterministic world. Therefore compatibilism is impossible.
It sounds as if what you are trying to refute here is not compatibilist free will but libertarian free will. The compatibilist concept of free will requires determinism. But I agree with Henry that we terminate and initiate causal chains (whatever those are, exactly) all the time so something is off in our metaphysics if we deny free will. A clue to me is that causal determinism (which is not supported at the quantum level of description) is an artifact of a classical description of physics but minds are far more complex than what is described by elementary physics and free will is therefore likely to be an emergent property of much simpler states of affairs. One can also philosophically object to the alleged threat of causal determinism to free will by adopting a neo-Humean concept of the “laws” of nature.

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bahman
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Re:

Post by bahman » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:41 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:03 pm
"initiating or terminating a causal chain, is impossible in a physical/deterministic world"

Since you and me and every one else does 'that' all the time, there must be sumthin' 'off' about the current definition of 'physical/deterministic world', yes?
Yes, there is something off about our current understanding of the world.

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bahman
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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by bahman » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:50 pm

thought addict wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:07 pm
If the physical world is completely deterministic (most scientists currently think it isn't) then no-one can truly initiate a new chain of causality. Rather, the decision is just another step in the already existing chain of events.
Yes, no-one can initiate a new chain of causality.
thought addict wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:07 pm
I personally think that Compatibilism works because we have a sense that the physical events that unfold within our brains belong to us and are part of us. Once a decision is made, that path becomes fixed but whilst making a decision we are free to choose for ourselves and change our mind as many times as we want, often without any influence outside our skull overriding the result. In a deterministic universe, someone could theoretically build a perfect simulation of my brain and exactly predict a future decision I will make but that doesn't mean that the decision will not be a free one. Freedom does not entail unpredictability. As present turns into past, there is always one outcome of a decision that is chosen. Why should the capability to predict that take away freedom?
Compatibilism is wrong if we accept that one cannot initiate a chain of causality. That is true because one is in undecided situation unless s/he makes a decision. Decision requires the ability to create the a chain of causality since the system is on holt because two options are available and one needs to decide to start a chain of causality at one of the option.

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bahman
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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by bahman » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:03 pm

davidm wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:39 pm
It sounds as if what you are trying to refute here is not compatibilist free will but libertarian free will.
Not really. I have issue with determinism and compatibilism.
davidm wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:39 pm
The compatibilist concept of free will requires determinism. But I agree with Henry that we terminate and initiate causal chains (whatever those are, exactly) all the time so something is off in our metaphysics if we deny free will. A clue to me is that causal determinism (which is not supported at the quantum level of description) is an artifact of a classical description of physics but minds are far more complex than what is described by elementary physics and free will is therefore likely to be an emergent property of much simpler states of affairs. One can also philosophically object to the alleged threat of causal determinism to free will by adopting a neo-Humean concept of the “laws” of nature.
Hmm. Yes. I think mind could be a quantum state.

thought addict
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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by thought addict » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:11 pm

bahman wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:50 pm
Compatibilism is wrong if we accept that one cannot initiate a chain of causality. That is true because one is in undecided situation unless s/he makes a decision. Decision requires the ability to create the a chain of causality since the system is on holt because two options are available and one needs to decide to start a chain of causality at one of the option.
No. It only appears to an outside observer that a person's brain has halted when the person is making a decision. Inside the person's brain, the causal chain continues to operate on the level of individual neurons as they fire as part of the decision making process.

Under Compatibilism, our brains are a part of a deterministic universe and our thoughts operate by deterministic physics yet it all works out so that the decisions we arrive at are always exactly the ones we wanted to make. There is no conflict of interest, we do what we want. Determinism just means it can be predicted - but to do that you would basically have to make an exact simulation of someone's brain and that simulated brain would feel freely able to make choices also - and would make the same choices as the other person. But there is no denial of freedom because the brain is not being constrained or overridden by any external player.

Of course, if the original person was told about their simulated clone and told what their predicted behavior will be, then their brain can then use that new information to alter the decision, so their choice remains free and can still divert from the prediction when it matters.

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bahman
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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by bahman » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:21 pm

thought addict wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:11 pm
No. It only appears to an outside observer that a person's brain has halted when the person is making a decision. Inside the person's brain, the causal chain continues to operate on the level of individual neurons as they fire as part of the decision making process.
I agree that the process keep going while we are in undecided situation but our mental state halts.
thought addict wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:11 pm
Under Compatibilism, our brains are a part of a deterministic universe and our thoughts operate by deterministic physics yet it all works out so that the decisions we arrive at are always exactly the ones we wanted to make. There is no conflict of interest, we do what we want. Determinism just means it can be predicted - but to do that you would basically have to make an exact simulation of someone's brain and that simulated brain would feel freely able to make choices also - and would make the same choices as the other person. But there is no denial of freedom because the brain is not being constrained or overridden by any external player.
Determinism says more than that. A chain of causality for example cannot fork when we are up to decision. Chain of causality is unique and has no branch.
thought addict wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:11 pm
Of course, if the original person was told about their simulated clone and told what their predicted behavior will be, then their brain can then use that new information to alter the decision, so their choice remains free and can still divert from the prediction when it matters.
There is no branching in deterministic world therefore the person cannot alter his decision.

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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by thought addict » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:28 pm

bahman wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:21 pm
Determinism says more than that. A chain of causality for example cannot fork when we are up to decision. Chain of causality is unique and has no branch.
That is absolutely true. The point of Compatibilism is that there are never any forks needed to make a decision. Compatibilism works with only one dimension of time. Every decision only has one eventual outcome so there is no branching. Branching is not needed for the Compatibilist free will.
bahman wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:21 pm
thought addict wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:11 pm
Of course, if the original person was told about their simulated clone and told what their predicted behavior will be, then their brain can then use that new information to alter the decision, so their choice remains free and can still divert from the prediction when it matters.
There is no branching in deterministic world therefore the person cannot alter his decision.
There was no branching in my example. The person changed their mind because they were given new information. That information was not present in the simulation.

As davidm said, you are arguing against libertarian free will, not Compatibilist free will. The whole point of Compatibilism is it defines free will in terms compatible with determinism. All choices can be predicted (though it is almost impossible to do) and there is never any branching.

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bahman
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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by bahman » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:22 pm

thought addict wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:28 pm

That is absolutely true. The point of Compatibilism is that there are never any forks needed to make a decision. Compatibilism works with only one dimension of time. Every decision only has one eventual outcome so there is no branching. Branching is not needed for the Compatibilist free will.
Compatibilism therefore is the greatest coincidence.
thought addict wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:28 pm
There was no branching in my example. The person changed their mind because they were given new information. That information was not present in the simulation.

As davidm said, you are arguing against libertarian free will, not Compatibilist free will. The whole point of Compatibilism is it defines free will in terms compatible with determinism. All choices can be predicted (though it is almost impossible to do) and there is never any branching.
There should exist a fork if the new information is given otherwise the person cannot do otherwise.

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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by Viveka » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:13 pm

Determinism and predestination are equivalent in some ways. Here's what I said in a previous thread dealing with predestination and free-will that is tantamount to compatibilism:

Similar to the question of free-will and foreknowledge, if God could make a rock so heavy he couldn't lift it, then he would simply make it too heavy, and then lift it! Likewise, God could know all that we are going to do, yet still change our future according to what we choose. This is the paradox of infinity, such as the paradox of the infinite hotel.

thought addict
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Re: Compatibilism is impossible

Post by thought addict » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:46 pm

Everything people do they do for a reason, even if that reason is emotions, a whim, or deciding to deliberately behave oddly (perhaps to prove they have free will). The reasons are all based on information from the senses combined with feedback loops in the brain. As long as there's no randomness, it can all be deterministic. No branching.

Quantum mechanics makes me think maybe there is randomness involved however, so I'm not necessarily a Compatibilist myself.

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