compatibilism

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iambiguous
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compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

From Free Will and Determinism: A Dialogue by Clifford Williams.
Frederick [Mr. Free Will]: Can you explain why in your sense a person can be both free and determined?

Carolyn [Ms. Compatibilist]: Yes. A person can be free and determined because what he does can be caused by something that goes on inside him even though he is not forced by some circumstances outside of him to act as he does. If he is not forced by circumstances outside of himself to act as he does, then he acts freely. Yet his action could nonetheless be caused by something inside him, such as an unconscious motive or a brain state.

Frederick: ...a person could have freedom in your sense even though he had no control over anything he does. Let me explain. If everything a person does is caused by unconscious motives, as you say, then he would have no control over anything that he does. Unknown to him, he would be buffeted about by the workings of his unconscious mind. Yet such a person would have freedom in your sense of freedom because no external circumstances would prevent him from doing what he consciously wants to do. That means your conception of freedom is a sham --- a person who has freedom in your sense does not have control over what he does.
Yep, that is basically my own reaction to compatibilism. We have "conceptual"/"theoretical" freedom, but, for all practical purposes, we have no control over what we do because "internal" and "external" are seamlessly intertwined re the laws of matter.

As Frederick notes...
"You can call that freedom if you want to, but it is a psuedofreedom."
And that, in my view, is often where the compatibilists go: letting it all revolve around what you call something, name something, define something. As though the inner "I" here was not the equivalent of all that is out in the world able to compel you to "choose" this instead of that.

Here I always come back to "I" in our dreams. The "freedom" we are convinced we have all the way up to the point when we wake up. The waking "I" no less a manifestation of the laws of matter. Only, far, far, far more inexplicably.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Terrapin Station »

"even though he is not forced by some circumstances outside of him to act as he does"

--Then determinism isn't the case and we don't have compatibilism after all.

Of course, we'd need to explain on this view why decisions are "determined" by internal states but internal states aren't determined by external states (why would the ontology in this situation amount to causal determinism within a person while the person is immune to causal forces external to their body? Why would we think that's what physics/ontology in general is like?), but it's not really compatibilism because determinism is the view that there is no ontological freedom period.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

What I like to do in regard to discussions such as this is to bring them "down to Earth".

For example, suppose you have a friend who is pregnant but doesn't want to be. She has decided to have an abortion. In fact, she has the abortion.

What then of her behavior given the manner in which you understand free will, determinism and compatibilism?

From my frame of mind, if the human brain is entirely in sync with the laws of matter, then there was never any possibility of this friend not choosing the abortion.

Whether that is as a result of someone putting a gun to her head and compelling her to have it or as a result of her brain chemically and neurological compelling her to have it, externally or internally, she is going to abort the zygote, embryo or fetus.

There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.

In a way we simply don't understand. Yet. Or, for some, can be attributable to God.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."

But "how" is the problem. How does anything that was once entirely composes of "mindless matter" suddenly generate a "mind"? That sure looks like the kind of explanation that badly needs some filling-in...or is a complete bluff.

I'm a Theist, and not a Determinist. But if I were a Materialist, I see that logically I would also have to be a Determinist -- not that "logic" would actually be the cause of my decision, since "logic" is an operation of the mind, and the mind, according to Determinism, is nothing but the manifestation of some prior material cause. But logically, one who presupposes Materialism has to be a Determinist, too.

My own criticism of Compatibilism is this. That nearly all of its advocates seem to rely on making some division between being predetermined (by material forces) and knowing that you are predetermined (by material forces or by God). They seem to think that so long as one remains ignorant of his own being predetermined, he somehow isn't predetermined.

Instead of "Ignorance is bliss," their axiom might be, "Ignorance is freedom." :wink:

It's a confusion of the ontological with the epistemological. And it's obviously not adequate, too.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pm
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."
Well, as with most of us here, I am not a neuroscientist. I don't have either the education or the experiential/experimental background to grasp how the human brain, given the evolution of life on Earth, did come to acquire actual volition/autonomy/free will. What else is there really [for those like me] but "somehow" it happened.

Only I have no way of pinning down if even the words I am typing now I was ever able to opt not to type. Here I often come back to dreams. About a week ago I had this particular vivid dream -- a "work dream" -- in which I'm back at my old job. I'm about to be fired in the dream and there I am writing this letter to Will my boss. When I woke up I was astonished at how I was there in the dream writing this letter...as real to me then as my typing these words now. I still remember some of what I "wrote" about others I felt were responsible for the fate of the company.

Yet all of this "unfolded" by way of my brain alone.

Though, sure, I am no less convinced as most are that my "waking brain" is different. But, again, only different "somehow".

Mindful matter in the human brain has got to be one of the most profound mysteries of all.
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmBut "how" is the problem. How does anything that was once entirely composes of "mindless matter" suddenly generate a "mind"? That sure looks like the kind of explanation that badly needs some filling-in...or is a complete bluff.
Yes, but, alas, I suspect that I will almost certainly "go to the grave" none the wiser.
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmI'm a Theist, and not a Determinist. But if I were a Materialist, I see that logically I would also have to be a Determinist -- not that "logic" would actually be the cause of my decision, since "logic" is an operation of the mind, and the mind, according to Determinism, is nothing but the manifestation of some prior material cause. But logically, one who presupposes Materialism has to be a Determinist, too.
I am an atheist myself. Well, "here and now" as I like to say. And to the extent that God is involved here two points...

1] did God Himself create the laws of matter or are the laws of matter such that even God Himself is compelled to abide by them
2] if God is thought to be omniscient then how is human autonomy squared with that? How can God "know all" and that not include everything that we think, feel, say and do?

Logic is tricky because it revolves around the rules of language. And language revolves around the human species. Or so it seems unless there are other intelligent life forms "out there". But, from the perspective of most atheists, human beings have only been around for a tiny sliver of time cosmologically. Then back to how mindless matter evolved into living biological matter evolving into us.
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmMy own criticism of Compatibilism is this. That nearly all of its advocates seem to rely on making some division between being predetermined (by material forces) and knowing that you are predetermined (by material forces or by God). They seem to think that so long as one remains ignorant of his own being predetermined, he somehow isn't predetermined.
Yes, that's the deep mystery. But for me it's how compatibilists make this crucial distinction [for them] between external and internal compulsion. That just doesn't make sense to me. That you know or do not know something that you were never able to know or not know other than in accordance with the only possible reality...?
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmInstead of "Ignorance is bliss," their axiom might be, "Ignorance is freedom." :wink:

It's a confusion of the ontological with the epistemological. And it's obviously not adequate, too.
Well here I always come back to two assumptions:

1] "the gap". The gap between what we think we know about determinism and all that would need to be known about the existence of existence itself.
2] "Rummy's Rule". Donald Rumsfeld conjecture that...

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

And the assumption that's no less applicable to human autonomy.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Age »

iambiguous wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 6:22 pm From Free Will and Determinism: A Dialogue by Clifford Williams.
Frederick [Mr. Free Will]: Can you explain why in your sense a person can be both free and determined?

Carolyn [Ms. Compatibilist]: Yes. A person can be free and determined because what he does can be caused by something that goes on inside him even though he is not forced by some circumstances outside of him to act as he does. If he is not forced by circumstances outside of himself to act as he does, then he acts freely. Yet his action could nonetheless be caused by something inside him, such as an unconscious motive or a brain state.

Frederick: ...a person could have freedom in your sense even though he had no control over anything he does. Let me explain. If everything a person does is caused by unconscious motives, as you say, then he would have no control over anything that he does. Unknown to him, he would be buffeted about by the workings of his unconscious mind. Yet such a person would have freedom in your sense of freedom because no external circumstances would prevent him from doing what he consciously wants to do. That means your conception of freedom is a sham --- a person who has freedom in your sense does not have control over what he does.
Yep, that is basically my own reaction to compatibilism. We have "conceptual"/"theoretical" freedom, but, for all practical purposes, we have no control over what we do because "internal" and "external" are seamlessly intertwined re the laws of matter.
So, if 'you' end up living in a Truly peaceful, harmonious, AND pollution free world, then it would be of absolutely NO doing on and from 'you', human beings.

Or, if 'you' end up living in a Truly pollution riddled world, which then leads to the extinction of 'you', human beings, was of absolutely NO 'freedom' of 'you' being able to CHOOSE what to do or what NOT to do.

'you' just do what you do without absolutely ANY 'freedom' at all to do otherwise.

To you, if 'you' and 'your' fellow human beings, end up creating a 'world' or 'way of life' that leads to ALL of 'you' going extinct, then 'you' had absolutely NO control over ANY of this AT ALL, correct?
iambiguous wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 6:22 pm As Frederick notes...
"You can call that freedom if you want to, but it is a psuedofreedom."
And that, in my view, is often where the compatibilists go: letting it all revolve around what you call something, name something, define something. As though the inner "I" here was not the equivalent of all that is out in the world able to compel you to "choose" this instead of that.

Here I always come back to "I" in our dreams. The "freedom" we are convinced we have all the way up to the point when we wake up. The waking "I" no less a manifestation of the laws of matter. Only, far, far, far more inexplicably.
And ANY one can call 'that' "freedom" if they want to. Just like the one known as "frederick" here has ALSO DONE.

As "frederick" has done people call 'things' like 'that' "freedom" in order to 'try to' fit their OWN views AND beliefs in what is ACTUALLY True. But, on just about EVERY occasion, they FAIL TREMENDOUSLY.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Age »

iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm What I like to do in regard to discussions such as this is to bring them "down to Earth".

For example, suppose you have a friend who is pregnant but doesn't want to be. She has decided to have an abortion. In fact, she has the abortion.

What then of her behavior given the manner in which you understand free will, determinism and compatibilism?

From my frame of mind, if the human brain is entirely in sync with the laws of matter, then there was never any possibility of this friend not choosing the abortion.

Whether that is as a result of someone putting a gun to her head and compelling her to have it or as a result of her brain chemically and neurological compelling her to have it, externally or internally, she is going to abort the zygote, embryo or fetus.

There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.

In a way we simply don't understand. Yet.
But, some of us do ALREADY UNDERSTAND.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm Or, for some, can be attributable to God.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Age »

Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pm
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."

But "how" is the problem. How does anything that was once entirely composes of "mindless matter" suddenly generate a "mind"?
Here is WHY 'you', human beings, were STILL SO LOST and CONFUSED, back in those days when this was being written.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm That sure looks like the kind of explanation that badly needs some filling-in...or is a complete bluff.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm I'm a Theist, and not a Determinist.
What 'you' are EXACTLY is NEITHER. But this is ANOTHER MATTER.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm But if I were a Materialist, I see that logically I would also have to be a Determinist -- not that "logic" would actually be the cause of my decision, since "logic" is an operation of the mind, and the mind, according to Determinism, is nothing but the manifestation of some prior material cause.
Wrong AGAIN, and AGAIN WHY there were SO LOST and CONFUSED.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm But logically, one who presupposes Materialism has to be a Determinist, too.
BUT 'presupposing' 'things' is just ILLOGICAL to begin with. So, NONE of what 'you' wrote and said here is 'logical' AT ALL.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm My own criticism of Compatibilism is this. That nearly all of its advocates seem to rely on making some division between being predetermined (by material forces) and knowing that you are predetermined (by material forces or by God). They seem to think that so long as one remains ignorant of his own being predetermined, he somehow isn't predetermined.

Instead of "Ignorance is bliss," their axiom might be, "Ignorance is freedom." :wink:
And, BELIEVING some 'things' are true, without ANY ACTUAL PROOF AT ALL like 'you', "immanuel can", do, could be referred to as just being IGNORANT as well, but more correctly, doing that is just STOPPING and PREVENTING one from SEEING and UNDERSTANDING what thee ACTUAL Truth IS.
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm It's a confusion of the ontological with the epistemological. And it's obviously not adequate, too.
LOL

'you' speak as if you KNOW what thee ACTUAL Truth IS.

Yet, most of the time, you could NOT be ANY FURTHER AWAY from what thee ACTUAL Truth IS, EXACTLY.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Age »

iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pm
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."
Well, as with most of us here, I am not a neuroscientist. I don't have either the education or the experiential/experimental background to grasp how the human brain, given the evolution of life on Earth, did come to acquire actual volition/autonomy/free will. What else is there really [for those like me] but "somehow" it happened.
What has ACTUALLY happened and occurred is REALLY VERY SIMPLE to EXPLAIN and VERY EASY to UNDERSTAND.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Only I have no way of pinning down if even the words I am typing now I was ever able to opt not to type.
WHY can you NOT work out if what you are doing is your choice or not?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Here I often come back to dreams. About a week ago I had this particular vivid dream -- a "work dream" -- in which I'm back at my old job. I'm about to be fired in the dream and there I am writing this letter to Will my boss. When I woke up I was astonished at how I was there in the dream writing this letter...as real to me then as my typing these words now. I still remember some of what I "wrote" about others I felt were responsible for the fate of the company.

Yet all of this "unfolded" by way of my brain alone.
Did it?

How do you KNOW this but do NOT KNOW if you can choose or not.

By the way who and/or what is the 'you', and, who and/or what is the one that has "its" 'brain'?

Work out all of this and then 'you' will be CLOSER to what it is that you are SEEKING here.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Though, sure, I am no less convinced as most are that my "waking brain" is different. But, again, only different "somehow".

Mindful matter in the human brain has got to be one of the most profound mysteries of all.
LOL If you LOOK AT 'things' like you are here, then 'that' will REMAIN a MYSTERY forever.

There is NO 'mystery' here AT ALL, to some of us.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmBut "how" is the problem. How does anything that was once entirely composes of "mindless matter" suddenly generate a "mind"? That sure looks like the kind of explanation that badly needs some filling-in...or is a complete bluff.
Yes, but, alas, I suspect that I will almost certainly "go to the grave" none the wiser.
Thinking or BELIEVING that there was "mindless matter" but somehow 'now' there is NOT will LEAVE 'you', people, completely AND utterly LOST and CONFUSED here.

'you' talk like you KNOW what you are saying but if questioned about your CLAIM of "mindless matter" 'you' would, literally, be COMPLETELY UNABLE to EXPLAIN ANY thing AT ALL that matches in with what is ACTUALLY True.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmI'm a Theist, and not a Determinist. But if I were a Materialist, I see that logically I would also have to be a Determinist -- not that "logic" would actually be the cause of my decision, since "logic" is an operation of the mind, and the mind, according to Determinism, is nothing but the manifestation of some prior material cause. But logically, one who presupposes Materialism has to be a Determinist, too.
I am an atheist myself. Well, "here and now" as I like to say.
These people could NOT be MORE Wrong.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am And to the extent that God is involved here two points...

1] did God Himself create the laws of matter or are the laws of matter such that even God Himself is compelled to abide by them
Define what God is or refers to EXACTLY? Question WHY 'you' would call God, Itself, a "him", and then 'you will UNDERSTAND MORE how the 'laws of Nature' are related to God, Itself.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am 2] if God is thought to be omniscient then how is human autonomy squared with that?
VERY, VERY SIMPLY, and VERY, VERY EASILY.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am How can God "know all" and that not include everything that we think, feel, say and do?
LOL
LOL
LOL

WHY is there some PRESUMPTION that those things are NOT included?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Logic is tricky because it revolves around the rules of language.
AND, it is the WORDS you USE and the WAY you USE them WHY you have been 'tricked' or 'fooled' the way you HAVE BEEN.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am And language revolves around the human species.
Well human language does, but this is just PLAIN OBVIOUS, and REALLY would NOT need saying, would it?

This would be like saying, 'Dolphin language revolves around the dolphin species'. Or, are you saying that ALL animal languages revolve around the human species?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Or so it seems unless there are other intelligent life forms "out there".
Then they would have their OWN language, correct.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am But, from the perspective of most atheists, human beings have only been around for a tiny sliver of time cosmologically. Then back to how mindless matter evolved into living biological matter evolving into us.
WHERE is this ASSUMPTION that there was "mindless matter" coming from EXACTLY?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmMy own criticism of Compatibilism is this. That nearly all of its advocates seem to rely on making some division between being predetermined (by material forces) and knowing that you are predetermined (by material forces or by God). They seem to think that so long as one remains ignorant of his own being predetermined, he somehow isn't predetermined.
Yes, that's the deep mystery.
LOL AGAIN, there is NO 'mystery' AT ALL. Well to me anyway.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am But for me it's how compatibilists make this crucial distinction [for them] between external and internal compulsion. That just doesn't make sense to me.
OF COURSE it would NOT make sense, to you. This is because of the BELIEFS that you currently have and are MAINTAINING.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am That you know or do not know something that you were never able to know or not know other than in accordance with the only possible reality...?
But, if as some CLAIM absolutely EVERY thing HAPPENS because of 'determinism", then that 'I' KNOW 'things' that 'you' do NOT YET KNOW is because this is what WAS going to happen ALL ALONG.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmInstead of "Ignorance is bliss," their axiom might be, "Ignorance is freedom." :wink:

It's a confusion of the ontological with the epistemological. And it's obviously not adequate, too.
Well here I always come back to two assumptions:
And here is a PRIME EXAMPLE of WHY this one is STILL so LOST and STILL so CONFUSED. That is; ASSUMING will only lead you ASTRAY.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am 1] "the gap". The gap between what we think we know about determinism and all that would need to be known about the existence of existence itself.
2] "Rummy's Rule". Donald Rumsfeld conjecture that...

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

And the assumption that's no less applicable to human autonomy.
ALL just MORE DISTRACTION.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pm
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm There is either the reality unfolding only as it ever can, or "somehow" when mindless matter evolved into living, biological matter on planet Earth the laws of matter configured into human autonomy.
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."
Well, as with most of us here, I am not a neuroscientist. I don't have either the education or the experiential/experimental background to grasp how the human brain, given the evolution of life on Earth, did come to acquire actual volition/autonomy/free will. What else is there really [for those like me] but "somehow" it happened.
I understand. But I have read at least some of the neuroscientific research and some of the philosophical reflection on that question, as well. And I can assure you that the best answers they've been able to come up with are not better than the one you offer: they have no idea either how a "mind" or a "consciousness," or an "identity" or a "morality" simplly "pop into" existence. They use the term "epiphenomenal" to refer to it, but even that term means no more, really, than "thing that happens suddenly, when an organism reaches a certain level of development, but without any mechanical or natural or causal connection that we know."

What's remarkable is how intractable these things (mind, consciousness, etc.) have proven to be. We make great strides in neurphysiology, and none of them seem to help us make any progress on how these "epiphenomena" can actually come about.

I think that fact is a powerful reason to question the merely-mechanical or causal-physical model of the universe. There are things that happen here -- real things, things you and I experience every day -- that simply do not seem to be pliable to analysis by that model.
Mindful matter in the human brain has got to be one of the most profound mysteries of all.
Quite so. That's just the point worth noting.
I am an atheist myself. Well, "here and now" as I like to say. And to the extent that God is involved here two points...

1] did God Himself create the laws of matter or are the laws of matter such that even God Himself is compelled to abide by them
Sorry...I meant by identifying myself merely to let you place me on the spectrum of perspectives on Determinism, not to side-track the discussion into a debate on the merits of Theism. I've done plenty of that on other threads, and don't need to force the conversation that way here.

Nevertheless, let me briefly honour your question, if I may: the Supreme Being, if such exists, is by necessity and definition both, an uncreated Being. When we use the term "laws" we refer to regularities perceived by human observers, not to some set of ironclad rules the universe itself requires. Thus, the Supreme Being can interrupt, suspend or "rewrite" any such "laws" at His pleasure. Nevertheless, the "laws" are there so that human beings can navigate their cosmos and make investigations of it, so normally they remain intact, and by human beings, they are non-alterable.
2] if God is thought to be omniscient then how is human autonomy squared with that? How can God "know all" and that not include everything that we think, feel, say and do?
Again, at the risk of being unsatisfactory, I'll render an abbreviated answer, if I may, so as not to disregard your question. But we can explore that idea further in another discussion if you would prefer. Still, I think the "compatibilism" argument you have presented has merit, so I want to avoid derailing that train...however, this subtopic does have a little relevance to that question.

My answer is as follows: to "know" and to "arrange" are two different verbs. To say that God "knows" something does not imply He also "makes it happen." So Determinism does not automatically follow from God's foreknowledge. For that, people use a different word: "foreordination." However there is no indication that God "foreordains" all the events in the universe, and in fact every indication He does not. That means free will is a reality, within a Theistic framework.

For a Materialist one, I have no "Compatiblist" solution.
...for me it's how compatibilists make this crucial distinction [for them] between external and internal compulsion. That just doesn't make sense to me. That you know or do not know something that you were never able to know or not know other than in accordance with the only possible reality...?
That's astute, I think. You're right.

If Materialism is true, then "internal" compulsion is just the sum of prior material forces, just as "external" is thought to be. Perhaps the idea of "internality" makes them confuse themselves as the the nature of what holding to the Materialist / Physicalist sort of worldview demands, and makes them think some secret space has opened up for free will; but that seems obviously untenable to me, too.

So we're sort of left like this: most of us think, and all of us act as if free will exists. It's both routine and universal. But Materialism / Physicalism makes it absolutely certain that no free will can possibly exist, because any such exception would defeat their fundamental claim that their mechanics are comprehensive and explanatory of everything. So free will exists, and we have no idea how to explain it by those rules.

The simplest conclusion must surely be, "Then those rules are not correct." However comprehensive they may look, and however adequate for merely material things they may be, they don't seem to be doing any work for us on other important things. For if a paradigm or worldview cannot explain something that's so universal and natural as free will, some element must be missing from that paradigm. There are real things it's not explaining to us.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Age wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:20 am
iambiguous wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 6:22 pm From Free Will and Determinism: A Dialogue by Clifford Williams.
Frederick [Mr. Free Will]: Can you explain why in your sense a person can be both free and determined?

Carolyn [Ms. Compatibilist]: Yes. A person can be free and determined because what he does can be caused by something that goes on inside him even though he is not forced by some circumstances outside of him to act as he does. If he is not forced by circumstances outside of himself to act as he does, then he acts freely. Yet his action could nonetheless be caused by something inside him, such as an unconscious motive or a brain state.

Frederick: ...a person could have freedom in your sense even though he had no control over anything he does. Let me explain. If everything a person does is caused by unconscious motives, as you say, then he would have no control over anything that he does. Unknown to him, he would be buffeted about by the workings of his unconscious mind. Yet such a person would have freedom in your sense of freedom because no external circumstances would prevent him from doing what he consciously wants to do. That means your conception of freedom is a sham --- a person who has freedom in your sense does not have control over what he does.
Yep, that is basically my own reaction to compatibilism. We have "conceptual"/"theoretical" freedom, but, for all practical purposes, we have no control over what we do because "internal" and "external" are seamlessly intertwined re the laws of matter.
So, if 'you' end up living in a Truly peaceful, harmonious, AND pollution free world, then it would be of absolutely NO doing on and from 'you', human beings.

Or, if 'you' end up living in a Truly pollution riddled world, which then leads to the extinction of 'you', human beings, was of absolutely NO 'freedom' of 'you' being able to CHOOSE what to do or what NOT to do.

'you' just do what you do without absolutely ANY 'freedom' at all to do otherwise.

To you, if 'you' and 'your' fellow human beings, end up creating a 'world' or 'way of life' that leads to ALL of 'you' going extinct, then 'you' had absolutely NO control over ANY of this AT ALL, correct?
You ask me these questions as though you expect that I am able to actually provide you with definitive answers. My point is that even this exchange itself may be unfolding in the only possible manner because we live in the only possible world given that the human brains concocting it are no less the embodiment of matter embedded in "immutable laws".

The profound mystery revolves around the human brain itself. And the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, no one has been able to provide us with the definitive argument that resolves the age-old debate regarding free will and determinism. And I know this because had someone accomplished this that's all we would be discussing around the globe in venues like this.

On the other hand, it's all that much more surreal because even if someone had accomplished it and it was declared that human beings do have free will, that in and of itself might well be wholly determined.

We are stuck with brains trying to figure brains out going all the way back to the existence of existence itself. Why something instead of nothing? Why this something and not something else? Then the part about God.

Or the part about "reality" embedded in solipsism, or sim worlds, or dream worlds, or something out of the Matrix.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Age wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 6:59 am
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pm
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."
Well, as with most of us here, I am not a neuroscientist. I don't have either the education or the experiential/experimental background to grasp how the human brain, given the evolution of life on Earth, did come to acquire actual volition/autonomy/free will. What else is there really [for those like me] but "somehow" it happened.
What has ACTUALLY happened and occurred is REALLY VERY SIMPLE to EXPLAIN and VERY EASY to UNDERSTAND.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Only I have no way of pinning down if even the words I am typing now I was ever able to opt not to type.
WHY can you NOT work out if what you are doing is your choice or not?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Here I often come back to dreams. About a week ago I had this particular vivid dream -- a "work dream" -- in which I'm back at my old job. I'm about to be fired in the dream and there I am writing this letter to Will my boss. When I woke up I was astonished at how I was there in the dream writing this letter...as real to me then as my typing these words now. I still remember some of what I "wrote" about others I felt were responsible for the fate of the company.

Yet all of this "unfolded" by way of my brain alone.
Did it?

How do you KNOW this but do NOT KNOW if you can choose or not.

By the way who and/or what is the 'you', and, who and/or what is the one that has "its" 'brain'?

Work out all of this and then 'you' will be CLOSER to what it is that you are SEEKING here.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Though, sure, I am no less convinced as most are that my "waking brain" is different. But, again, only different "somehow".

Mindful matter in the human brain has got to be one of the most profound mysteries of all.
LOL If you LOOK AT 'things' like you are here, then 'that' will REMAIN a MYSTERY forever.

There is NO 'mystery' here AT ALL, to some of us.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmBut "how" is the problem. How does anything that was once entirely composes of "mindless matter" suddenly generate a "mind"? That sure looks like the kind of explanation that badly needs some filling-in...or is a complete bluff.
Yes, but, alas, I suspect that I will almost certainly "go to the grave" none the wiser.
Thinking or BELIEVING that there was "mindless matter" but somehow 'now' there is NOT will LEAVE 'you', people, completely AND utterly LOST and CONFUSED here.

'you' talk like you KNOW what you are saying but if questioned about your CLAIM of "mindless matter" 'you' would, literally, be COMPLETELY UNABLE to EXPLAIN ANY thing AT ALL that matches in with what is ACTUALLY True.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmI'm a Theist, and not a Determinist. But if I were a Materialist, I see that logically I would also have to be a Determinist -- not that "logic" would actually be the cause of my decision, since "logic" is an operation of the mind, and the mind, according to Determinism, is nothing but the manifestation of some prior material cause. But logically, one who presupposes Materialism has to be a Determinist, too.
I am an atheist myself. Well, "here and now" as I like to say.
These people could NOT be MORE Wrong.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am And to the extent that God is involved here two points...

1] did God Himself create the laws of matter or are the laws of matter such that even God Himself is compelled to abide by them
Define what God is or refers to EXACTLY? Question WHY 'you' would call God, Itself, a "him", and then 'you will UNDERSTAND MORE how the 'laws of Nature' are related to God, Itself.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am 2] if God is thought to be omniscient then how is human autonomy squared with that?
VERY, VERY SIMPLY, and VERY, VERY EASILY.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am How can God "know all" and that not include everything that we think, feel, say and do?
LOL
LOL
LOL

WHY is there some PRESUMPTION that those things are NOT included?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Logic is tricky because it revolves around the rules of language.
AND, it is the WORDS you USE and the WAY you USE them WHY you have been 'tricked' or 'fooled' the way you HAVE BEEN.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am And language revolves around the human species.
Well human language does, but this is just PLAIN OBVIOUS, and REALLY would NOT need saying, would it?

This would be like saying, 'Dolphin language revolves around the dolphin species'. Or, are you saying that ALL animal languages revolve around the human species?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Or so it seems unless there are other intelligent life forms "out there".
Then they would have their OWN language, correct.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am But, from the perspective of most atheists, human beings have only been around for a tiny sliver of time cosmologically. Then back to how mindless matter evolved into living biological matter evolving into us.
WHERE is this ASSUMPTION that there was "mindless matter" coming from EXACTLY?
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmMy own criticism of Compatibilism is this. That nearly all of its advocates seem to rely on making some division between being predetermined (by material forces) and knowing that you are predetermined (by material forces or by God). They seem to think that so long as one remains ignorant of his own being predetermined, he somehow isn't predetermined.
Yes, that's the deep mystery.
LOL AGAIN, there is NO 'mystery' AT ALL. Well to me anyway.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am But for me it's how compatibilists make this crucial distinction [for them] between external and internal compulsion. That just doesn't make sense to me.
OF COURSE it would NOT make sense, to you. This is because of the BELIEFS that you currently have and are MAINTAINING.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am That you know or do not know something that you were never able to know or not know other than in accordance with the only possible reality...?
But, if as some CLAIM absolutely EVERY thing HAPPENS because of 'determinism", then that 'I' KNOW 'things' that 'you' do NOT YET KNOW is because this is what WAS going to happen ALL ALONG.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pmInstead of "Ignorance is bliss," their axiom might be, "Ignorance is freedom." :wink:

It's a confusion of the ontological with the epistemological. And it's obviously not adequate, too.
Well here I always come back to two assumptions:
And here is a PRIME EXAMPLE of WHY this one is STILL so LOST and STILL so CONFUSED. That is; ASSUMING will only lead you ASTRAY.
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am 1] "the gap". The gap between what we think we know about determinism and all that would need to be known about the existence of existence itself.
2] "Rummy's Rule". Donald Rumsfeld conjecture that...

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

And the assumption that's no less applicable to human autonomy.
ALL just MORE DISTRACTION.

We clearly have a "failure to communicate" here. So, I'll leave it at that.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:18 pm We clearly have a "failure to communicate" here. So, I'll leave it at that.
I'm sad to say that those words could be written across any conversation anybody here has ever tried to have with "Age."
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:11 pm
iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:47 pm
I think you sense the emptiness of that second description. Why would "autonomy" be present in a world of mindless matter and material laws? That explanation just "pops it in" gratuitously, as a "somehow."
Well, as with most of us here, I am not a neuroscientist. I don't have either the education or the experiential/experimental background to grasp how the human brain, given the evolution of life on Earth, did come to acquire actual volition/autonomy/free will. What else is there really [for those like me] but "somehow" it happened.
I understand. But I have read at least some of the neuroscientific research and some of the philosophical reflection on that question, as well. And I can assure you that the best answers they've been able to come up with are not better than the one you offer: they have no idea either how a "mind" or a "consciousness," or an "identity" or a "morality" simplly "pop into" existence. They use the term "epiphenomenal" to refer to it, but even that term means no more, really, than "thing that happens suddenly, when an organism reaches a certain level of development, but without any mechanical or natural or causal connection that we know."
Indeed, the more you delve into it, the more perplexing -- exasperating -- it can become. An antinomy. On the one hand, it seems clear that if the brain is but more matter, it is not the exception to the laws of matter. On the other hand, it seems certain that we are in fact able to freely choose among options. It's somewhat analogous to the inhabitants of Flat World trying to grapple with the existence of our own three dimensional world. How to finally connect the two both theoretically and "for all practical purposes".
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:11 pmWhat's remarkable is how intractable these things (mind, consciousness, etc.) have proven to be. We make great strides in neurphysiology, and none of them seem to help us make any progress on how these "epiphenomena" can actually come about.

I think that fact is a powerful reason to question the merely-mechanical or causal-physical model of the universe. There are things that happen here -- real things, things you and I experience every day -- that simply do not seem to be pliable to analysis by that model.
Then the part where "for all practical purposes" those who lead successful, accomplished lives insist that it is all of their own doing, while those who lead lives that are anything but can think to themselves "well, it's all 'beyond my control' anyway".
And to the extent that God is involved here two points...

1] did God Himself create the laws of matter or are the laws of matter such that even God Himself is compelled to abide by them
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:11 pm...the Supreme Being, if such exists, is by necessity and definition both, an uncreated Being. When we use the term "laws" we refer to regularities perceived by human observers, not to some set of ironclad rules the universe itself requires. Thus, the Supreme Being can interrupt, suspend or "rewrite" any such "laws" at His pleasure. Nevertheless, the "laws" are there so that human beings can navigate their cosmos and make investigations of it, so normally they remain intact, and by human beings, they are non-alterable.
Well, when it comes to the existence of the existence of God, it's somewhat analogous to QM. There are just things we do not understand. Perhaps can never understand.
2] if God is thought to be omniscient then how is human autonomy squared with that? How can God "know all" and that not include everything that we think, feel, say and do?
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:11 pmAgain, at the risk of being unsatisfactory, I'll render an abbreviated answer, if I may, so as not to disregard your question. But we can explore that idea further in another discussion if you would prefer. Still, I think the "compatibilism" argument you have presented has merit, so I want to avoid derailing that train...however, this subtopic does have a little relevance to that question.

My answer is as follows: to "know" and to "arrange" are two different verbs. To say that God "knows" something does not imply He also "makes it happen." So Determinism does not automatically follow from God's foreknowledge. For that, people use a different word: "foreordination." However there is no indication that God "foreordains" all the events in the universe, and in fact every indication He does not. That means free will is a reality, within a Theistic framework.
Here, of course, in the absence of a God, the God revealing Himself, we are dealing with sheer speculation. If, an hour ago, God knows I am going to be typing these words, how could I not be typing them? What can omniscience really mean if it does not include a knowledge of everything past, present and furure? How, in turn, does He not make it happen?

Though, sure, the way I "think it through" makes sense only given the assumptions I start out with. Others begin with different assumptions. But what doesn't change [for me] is the absence of demonstrable evidence that a God, the God does in fact exist. The One with the "final answer".

Same thing with regard to theodicy. Theodicy and so-called "acts of God". Natural disasters here on planet Earth that have destroyed the lives of millions. If God was only able to create planet Earth in accordance with the laws of matter then He is not really responsible for the natural disasters themselves.
...for me it's how compatibilists make this crucial distinction [for them] between external and internal compulsion. That just doesn't make sense to me. That you know or do not know something that you were never able to know or not know other than in accordance with the only possible reality...?
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:11 pmThat's astute, I think. You're right.

If Materialism is true, then "internal" compulsion is just the sum of prior material forces, just as "external" is thought to be. Perhaps the idea of "internality" makes them confuse themselves as the the nature of what holding to the Materialist / Physicalist sort of worldview demands, and makes them think some secret space has opened up for free will; but that seems obviously untenable to me, too.

So we're sort of left like this: most of us think, and all of us act as if free will exists. It's both routine and universal. But Materialism / Physicalism makes it absolutely certain that no free will can possibly exist, because any such exception would defeat their fundamental claim that their mechanics are comprehensive and explanatory of everything. So free will exists, and we have no idea how to explain it by those rules.

The simplest conclusion must surely be, "Then those rules are not correct." However comprehensive they may look, and however adequate for merely material things they may be, they don't seem to be doing any work for us on other important things. For if a paradigm or worldview cannot explain something that's so universal and natural as free will, some element must be missing from that paradigm. There are real things it's not explaining to us.
I think it comes back again to the mystery of mind itself. It's easy to grasp "external" constraints/compulsions in our life. Someone puts a gun to your head or circumstances all around you unfold such that you really have no viable option but to behave in a particular way. But "internally" your thoughts and feelings just seem -- viscerally -- to be all your own. In a way that is different from external factors. But suppose there is no difference? Suppose the dreaming mind and the waking mind are six of one, half a dozen of another?

Then back to how we can finally know for sure. Only even when we do convince ourselves that we finally know for sure that might be only because given the laws of matter no less applicable to the human brain we were never able not to convince ourselves of this.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:58 am Indeed, the more you delve into it, the more perplexing -- exasperating -- it can become. An antinomy. On the one hand, it seems clear that if the brain is but more matter, it is not the exception to the laws of matter. On the other hand, it seems certain that we are in fact able to freely choose among options. It's somewhat analogous to the inhabitants of Flat World trying to grapple with the existence of our own three dimensional world. How to finally connect the two both theoretically and "for all practical purposes".
Right. And yet, we have to. Because you and I have to wake up each day, and decide whether "choosing" something is worth doing. So as tough as it is, it's not the sort of question that we can shelve until we find a practical application for it; the practical application is, in fact, everything we do, every day.

How ironic.
Then the part where "for all practical purposes" those who lead successful, accomplished lives insist that it is all of their own doing, while those who lead lives that are anything but can think to themselves "well, it's all 'beyond my control' anyway".
Yes, you've got it. And this brings us to the point where the ethicists become involved. For it's a matter of what they call "praise" and "blame."

To illustrate, if I win the Academy Award for best picture...do I deserve it? I'd like to think, yes. But if my production was merely the cumulation of previous inevitable forces, why am I on the podium, taking the award and smiling? Should not every Academy Award simply be given to "the Universe"? :wink:

And on the other hand, if I am caught standing over a body, with a bloody knife in my hands, and I say, "Well, her death was inevitable, given the previous causal-material chains in play," is that an excuse for my actions? Should the only entity in jail actually be "the Universe," too?
If, an hour ago, God knows I am going to be typing these words, how could I not be typing them?
You obviously ARE going to be typing them, then. But again, we need to realize what the shape of the problem really is: it's not with God's foreknowledge, or "omniscience," but only with the conjunction of omniscience with some sort of divine action of compulsion or force.

To say again: "knowing" is not "making." For you see, I did anticipate that you would, in some form, respond to this message. You might say I knew you would respond -- and as it turns out, it seems that my knowledge of that fact was correct, too. You might say I had "perfect foreknowledge" that you would respond.

Of course, my knowledge is never "perfect." Still, in this case, it was verifiably correct, and we cannot now doubt it, can we?

But my question to you might be this: "Did my knowing MAKE you write back to me?" Did I seize your hand, and move it on the keyboard for you? Did I compel the surges in your brain, through my foreknowing of what you would do, so that you no longer had a choice but had to write back?

Or is the case much simpler? Can I know what you're going to do, and not make you do it?
Same thing with regard to theodicy. Theodicy and so-called "acts of God". Natural disasters here on planet Earth that have destroyed the lives of millions. If God was only able to create planet Earth in accordance with the laws of matter then He is not really responsible for the natural disasters themselves.
Well, He'd at least be responsible for starting the causal chain and setting up the law-conditions that made the disaster possible. But you're right: it wouldn't necessarily mean he had personally engineered the rockslide or the tidal wave.

But as far as theodicy goes, Susan Neiman, in her book Evil In Modern Thought, comes up with a useful distinction between personal disasters (like murder or fraud, say, where there is a definite human agent involved) and natural disasters (like avalanches, earthquakes and cancers, where there is no discernable human agent responsible for what happened). And she says (quite rightly, I think) that any proper theodicy would have to deal with both kinds of "evil," not just shift everything to one or the other.

So that's a good way to structure the theodicy problem, I would think.
I think it comes back again to the mystery of mind itself. It's easy to grasp "external" constraints/compulsions in our life. Someone puts a gun to your head or circumstances all around you unfold such that you really have no viable option but to behave in a particular way. But "internally" your thoughts and feelings just seem -- viscerally -- to be all your own. In a way that is different from external factors.
That's nicely put. I think that's right: we do seem to feel a kind of "existential" difference, don't we? And it's something that a Materialist or Physicalist explanation is going to have to say is nonsense. For them, it cannot be the case that internal and external inducements have any real difference, since ultimately, both must originate externally.

The short step toward the internal, just before we act, must be something that creates or induces the illusion of difference...but no real difference actually exists, they would have to say. Our "internality," like "externalities," are just physical-material actions.
But suppose there is no difference?

Yes, that would have to be what they would have to insist.
Then back to how we can finally know for sure.

Here we do get into epistemology.

For we then have to ask, is that a reasonable expectation on our part? How much of what we call "knowledge" do we actually possess on a "for sure" basis? And if we don't need, in order to get up in the morning, to know "for sure" that there will be a floor beneath our feet when we put them down, how important is it for human creatures to possess "for sure" knowledge?

Doesn't high-probabilty knowledge function for us as if it were "for sure" in most things we do? Don't we feel quite secure in putting our feet down to the floor in the morning? And wouldn't we regard it as a little petty and "philosophical" in the worst sense of that word, if somebody were to say, "Well, you really didn't know for sure that the floor would be there"?
Only even when we do convince ourselves that we finally know for sure that might be only because given the laws of matter no less applicable to the human brain we were never able not to convince ourselves of this.
Ah, yes...this is a major, major problem.

If my knowledge is actualy reporting to me not on the basis of things true but on the basis of whatever previous material-physical chains caused me to think, why should I trust the pronouncements of my own brain?

This is a very serious, but little realized, critique of the Materialist or Physicalists worldviews: if Materialism is true, then science is not a matter of truths being discovered; rather, its products are simply whatever the material-physical causes dumped into my material-physical brain. How should I privilege scientific "dumpings" of that kind above any regular "dumpings" of ordinary events?

It's like we would have to say, "The reason Galileo knew the Earth moved is because the material-physical causes of the universe made him think so," instead of, "Galileo knew the Earth moved because he had observed and calculated it." We would have to say it was material happenstance, not scientific knowledge, that was behind his discovery.

And, of course, the same would be true for all science. None of it would be anything other than material-causal phenomena. And material-casual phenomena do not, themselves have any view of whether it's better for us to see truth or delusions.
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