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Free Will and Innocence

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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30 June 2016 20:53
 
NL. - 29 June 2016 06:58 AM

...

Presumably. The way I picture it is - you have some external set of causes and conditions (given that all sensory information is an illusion created in consciousness, I assume this is something like a mathematical relationship in truly ‘external’ reality). Say this is the apple. A human mind comes into contact with this set of conditions and somehow ‘apple’ appears in consciousness. Why should that be? Presumably, to my mind, because a human brain fires in a pattern that mirrors those external set of conditions and this in turn, as you say, becomes the neural correlate to a conscious experience.

That’s the scheme I have in mind. I call the process translation sometimes and projection otherwise, and I mean them in a mathematical sense. I reiterate that I don’t like “mirroring” in this context because the patterns of neural firing need not bear any resemblance to either actual conditions or the information in conscious experience. Vision is perhaps most like “mirroring” in the popular sense, because the conscious visual matrix is actually arrayed in a two-dimensional map corresponding closely to optical images that fall on the retinas and can be verified to do so by “objective’ means that bypass the neural matrix entirely. Proprioception, touch, hearing, smell, and taste are less aptly described by “mirroring”, in approximately that order as spatial information processed by the sense declines.

 
 
sojourner
 
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01 July 2016 16:04
 
Poldano - 30 June 2016 08:53 PM

That’s the scheme I have in mind. I call the process translation sometimes and projection otherwise, and I mean them in a mathematical sense. I reiterate that I don’t like “mirroring” in this context because the patterns of neural firing need not bear any resemblance to either actual conditions or the information in conscious experience. Vision is perhaps most like “mirroring” in the popular sense, because the conscious visual matrix is actually arrayed in a two-dimensional map corresponding closely to optical images that fall on the retinas and can be verified to do so by “objective’ means that bypass the neural matrix entirely. Proprioception, touch, hearing, smell, and taste are less aptly described by “mirroring”, in approximately that order as spatial information processed by the sense declines.


Hmm. Well, you’re a computer person, right? What’s another word for ‘coding’? That’s essentially what we’re talking about here - a consistent correspondence of one thing to another. Again, totally flexible on word usage in this case, although the topic of what parameters one would look at in selecting said word is interesting. Correspondence vs. equivalence vs. resonance vs. mirroring vs. imitation vs. reduplication and so on - what are the subtle distinctions between such words and is it important? I may be pondering because I find the semantics fun in this case, though, it might not actually make much of a difference here.

 
 
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01 July 2016 19:56
 
NL. - 01 July 2016 04:04 PM

...

Hmm. Well, you’re a computer person, right? What’s another word for ‘coding’? That’s essentially what we’re talking about here - a consistent correspondence of one thing to another. Again, totally flexible on word usage in this case, although the topic of what parameters one would look at in selecting said word is interesting. Correspondence vs. equivalence vs. resonance vs. mirroring vs. imitation vs. reduplication and so on - what are the subtle distinctions between such words and is it important? I may be pondering because I find the semantics fun in this case, though, it might not actually make much of a difference here.

As long as we’re only waving our arms in the general direction of understanding, evocative terminology need not be very precise. As we get closer to understanding, precision will become quite useful to both further understanding and comprehensible communication.

 
 
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01 July 2016 21:54
 
Poldano - 01 July 2016 07:56 PM

As long as we’re only waving our arms in the general direction of understanding, evocative terminology need not be very precise. As we get closer to understanding, precision will become quite useful to both further understanding and comprehensible communication.


Ok, I think ‘coding’ sums it up pretty well then. With that concept in place, are we pretty much in agreement?

 
 
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01 July 2016 23:31
 
NL. - 01 July 2016 09:54 PM
Poldano - 01 July 2016 07:56 PM

As long as we’re only waving our arms in the general direction of understanding, evocative terminology need not be very precise. As we get closer to understanding, precision will become quite useful to both further understanding and comprehensible communication.


Ok, I think ‘coding’ sums it up pretty well then. With that concept in place, are we pretty much in agreement?

Yes. ‘Tis a pity.

wink

 
 
icehorse
 
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02 July 2016 09:56
 
Poldano - 01 July 2016 11:31 PM
NL. - 01 July 2016 09:54 PM
Poldano - 01 July 2016 07:56 PM

As long as we’re only waving our arms in the general direction of understanding, evocative terminology need not be very precise. As we get closer to understanding, precision will become quite useful to both further understanding and comprehensible communication.


Ok, I think ‘coding’ sums it up pretty well then. With that concept in place, are we pretty much in agreement?

Yes. ‘Tis a pity.

wink

A question for Poldano and NL - Is one of your base assumptions for this long dialog that there is no free will?

 
 
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02 July 2016 19:28
 
icehorse - 02 July 2016 09:56 AM

...

A question for Poldano and NL - Is one of your base assumptions for this long dialog that there is no free will?

My answer depends on what is meant by Free Will. I don’t believe in the traditional notion of an unlimited range of moral choices, but I do believe that people can make voluntary choices.

I don’t believe that physical determinism results in deterministic human action at the level of moral decision. That, however, may not matter.

The capability to make voluntary moral choices changes throughout life. People at some ages tend to be more context-dependent in their ability to choose. This has been shown to be true for adolescents and young adults. At full maturity, greater consistency in moral choice can be achieved, but is never perfect. That is reflected in our different treatment of crimes of passion and crimes of premeditation.

Physical determinism has not yet been able to predict exact human behaviors based on physical measurements, so it is currently inadequate to rule out personal responsibility for actions. Even if human actions are absolutely determined, there is no point in ruling out personal responsibility. All that lack of free will does is replace the rationale of vengeance with a rationale of prevention of future failures. Since both the fear of bad consequences and the expectation of bad consequences function to deter transgressions, a rationale of prevention is not much different from a rationale of vengeance in motivating a legal system. The main difference that I see is that a rationale of vengeance is more likely to diffuse the targeting of deterrence, making it less effective. This is what happens in feuds, where the notion of payback dominates the notion of prevention.

I have not yet mentioned innocence. When innocence is contingent on something other than lack of physical responsibility—the body associated with the responsible person had no connection to the crime—the utilitarian concern for prevention remains. So, innocence by reason of insanity, by reason of physical determinism, and so forth, are irrelevant to the targeting of deterrence, but may be relevant to the manner in which the deterrence is carried out.

 
 
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02 July 2016 19:46
 

Poldano,

Nicely put. How about on the “positive” side of the situation. Things like altruism, charity, empathy and so on? For example, it’s interesting to me when we think about mirror neurons. More specifically, everyone at the sports bar winces when the wide receiver is up in the air for a catch and gets his legs smashed out from under him. But the sports bar is packed, week after week. Free will? (BTW, my take on free will is similar to yours, perhaps I allow for a bit more agency than you do, not sure.)

 
 
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02 July 2016 20:48
 
icehorse - 02 July 2016 07:46 PM

Poldano,

Nicely put. How about on the “positive” side of the situation. Things like altruism, charity, empathy and so on? For example, it’s interesting to me when we think about mirror neurons. More specifically, everyone at the sports bar winces when the wide receiver is up in the air for a catch and gets his legs smashed out from under him. But the sports bar is packed, week after week. Free will? (BTW, my take on free will is similar to yours, perhaps I allow for a bit more agency than you do, not sure.)

They are the glue that holds groups of individuals together.

Both the positive and negative are necessary. All social agents exist in dynamic equilibria where self-interest and group-interest often collide. Negatives are necessary in order to suppress that expression of self-interest that threatens to unglue the group.

That’s all I’ll say for now. I am sure I will go into more detail again, but it shouldn’t be in this thread. NC and I got carried away.

 
 
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05 July 2016 13:06
 
Poldano - 02 July 2016 07:28 PM

My answer depends on what is meant by Free Will. I don’t believe in the traditional notion of an unlimited range of moral choices, but I do believe that people can make voluntary choices.

............

The capability to make voluntary moral choices changes throughout life. People at some ages tend to be more context-dependent in their ability to choose.


As you mention, we are getting into ‘new thread’ territory here, so I’ll only respond briefly to say that I agree with many aspects of this and think it relates to the recent thread on free will in the Dennett discussion. In regard to behavior that is connected to or very influenced by a conceptual ‘agent’, where should we want consistency and why? If you have no potential for flexibility in your action, you might be a rock. If you are so ‘in the present moment’ without ‘baggage’ from the past that you cannot remember your name or address or what to do with a fork or basic social etiquette, you might have a bit of a problem. If you are so bagged down by engrained patterns that you can only relate to things in totally pre-scripted ways, you might be a robot. No doubt we all manifest some degree of these styles of relating all the time - as I’ve said, this is part of why I’m so interested in the artwork of 2fik right now, where he plays with different ways of relating once he throws on a wig, or a burqa, or a beard, or an average joe face. I have no problem with transexual rights but I do tend to relate differently to people by gender, so it’s interesting to feel myself go from this to this to this (see ponies below) when he’s a gay man, a woman, and a woman with a beard, respectively. Sort of exploring that grey area where appropriate social memory (you can claim to be as bias free as you want, but you’d have some serious social and professional problems in our culture if you couldn’t actually differentiate a man from a woman) meets baggage-y ways of relating (maybe it’s just me, but I think a lot of women have ‘seventh grade mean girl’ memories somewhere in the back of their mind and are primed to be more cautious or competitive around other women, even if they don’t necessarily want to be):

 

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