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Sam’s position on determinism and morality?

 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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26 July 2018 13:05
 
Poldano - 25 July 2018 11:48 PM

My view of both “mind” and “self” includes unconscious processes, not just phenomenal consciousness. This obviates the “great decider” view of phenomenal consciousness in favor of the “press agent” view of it.

I concur; it’s in my signature.

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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26 July 2018 13:17
 
Poldano - 25 July 2018 11:48 PM

I think you’ve hit on a key point here, but I also think that everyone here will disagree with me on what it is.

Determinism is a theory, not a fact. I think it may be a cognitive bias, because belief in it certainly biases thinking in the direction of looking for causes, and if none are found, inventing fictional causes. Nonetheless it an extremely important cognitive bias, because belief in it tends to motivate humans to search for causes where none are immediately evident.

Determinism is probably accurate with respect to the notion that all observable phenomena exist in cause-effect relationships. It becomes less accurate insofar as some causes, or some aspects of some causes, do not seem to have completely identified causes. Nuclear decay is one of them; we can measure the frequency of nuclear decay, and from that extrapolate a probability rule for nuclear decay, but we cannot at all determine exactly when a particular radioactive nucleus will decay. A single nuclear decay event can have a phenomenal effect—i.e., an effect on conscious experience—despite being unpredictable in time. In terms of state machines. This can be modeled as two state machines, one of which is completely asynchronous (the decaying nucleus and its products) and the other of which is possibly synchronous with respect to prior internal states and its inputs (the conscious mind, or the human brain if you prefer). In this sense, we can conceive system consisting of a completely synchronous and hence deterministic mind subsystem and numerous input subsystems at least one of which is not completely deterministic. The complete system will not be completely deterministic.

Indeed.  “So, here’s what you do.  You take the energy contained in what we call dark energy, and it’s 70% of all that drives the universe, include with that percentage, the dark matter [26%], and we are driven to the humble, mind-blowing conclusion that 96% of all that is the universe, is not anything that we even remotely understand.  96% — and that all of our laws of physics, everything we know, love, interact with and understand, or even can predict anything about the future; that falls into the 4% that remains.” — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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26 July 2018 16:30
 

To the extent that we are the same thing inside as the environment is on the outside, we seem really compelled to draw a line in the sand about all this only causing a bit of a light influence. No more, maybe less. Knowing where learning ends and determinism begins would mean that we could thought police. Nobody wants that.

 
 
Ground
 
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30 July 2018 00:02
 
leebern - 26 July 2018 09:09 AM
Ground - 26 July 2018 01:21 AM
leebern - 25 July 2018 03:36 PM
Ground - 24 July 2018 02:52 AM
Scoogsy - 05 January 2018 08:51 PM

I can’t then create a meaningful conclusion in my head from this about morality. If we are no more a ball bouncing around, of which we do not ascribe moral agency to, then how can morality exist?

If you look at it you’ll see that the very fact that moral rules exist - not necessarily a priori but at least by convention - and the fact that those rules can and are be followed - not necessarily always - is clear evidence for freedom of will.
In contrast to this a ball bouncing around is determined by the laws of nature.

I’ll start by saying I’m not a determinist, but I don’t believe what you’ve asserted here logically follows. 

One could easily imagine creating a virtual world (e.g. a computer simulation) that is fully deterministic AND that results in “characters” within the world creating their own rules of conduct for each other to follow.  I don’t see where determinism and the existence of moral rules are mutually exclusive.

I did not say that “determinism and the existence of moral rules are mutually exclusive”. There is determinism as far as nature’s laws are concerned but the sphere of this determinism is the sphere of the empirical world which is sensual. However rationality can break through this determinism because it has freedom as its base. This does not mean that everone who can think rationally does necessarily act morally. Why not? Because rationality has freedom as its base and thus one may also freely decide to act immorally which contrasts with being driven to act according to the determinism of the empirical and sensual sphere.

We may agree on much of this (I’m not yet sure) but I’m still not understanding how the existence of moral rules and the fact that they can be and usually are followed is clear evidence for free will…I think that argument needs better supported, unless I’m just missing your logic.

Why should people make up moral rules that go against the determinism of their own nature? Because they have the capacity to do this. Is this capacity based on freedom or determinism?

 
Poldano
 
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30 July 2018 21:56
 
bbearren - 26 July 2018 01:17 PM
Poldano - 25 July 2018 11:48 PM

I think you’ve hit on a key point here, but I also think that everyone here will disagree with me on what it is.

Determinism is a theory, not a fact. I think it may be a cognitive bias, because belief in it certainly biases thinking in the direction of looking for causes, and if none are found, inventing fictional causes. Nonetheless it an extremely important cognitive bias, because belief in it tends to motivate humans to search for causes where none are immediately evident.

Determinism is probably accurate with respect to the notion that all observable phenomena exist in cause-effect relationships. It becomes less accurate insofar as some causes, or some aspects of some causes, do not seem to have completely identified causes. Nuclear decay is one of them; we can measure the frequency of nuclear decay, and from that extrapolate a probability rule for nuclear decay, but we cannot at all determine exactly when a particular radioactive nucleus will decay. A single nuclear decay event can have a phenomenal effect—i.e., an effect on conscious experience—despite being unpredictable in time. In terms of state machines. This can be modeled as two state machines, one of which is completely asynchronous (the decaying nucleus and its products) and the other of which is possibly synchronous with respect to prior internal states and its inputs (the conscious mind, or the human brain if you prefer). In this sense, we can conceive system consisting of a completely synchronous and hence deterministic mind subsystem and numerous input subsystems at least one of which is not completely deterministic. The complete system will not be completely deterministic.

Indeed.  “So, here’s what you do.  You take the energy contained in what we call dark energy, and it’s 70% of all that drives the universe, include with that percentage, the dark matter [26%], and we are driven to the humble, mind-blowing conclusion that 96% of all that is the universe, is not anything that we even remotely understand.  96% — and that all of our laws of physics, everything we know, love, interact with and understand, or even can predict anything about the future; that falls into the 4% that remains.” — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

I didn’t mean to make you repeat yourself. Your point is true whether or not reality is deterministic.

Agents with limited information need to act based on what they have already experienced (and “innate” behavior is a codification of phylogenetic “experience”), so their decisions are probabilistic-heuristic even if the “apparatus” making the decisions is deterministic. What this means is that determinism is irrelevant in the world we live in, even if it is true of reality. I think this position is implicit in Tyson’s comment.

My point was slightly different, an argument against determinism itself.

Determinism is such a seductive cognitive bias that the more arguments against it, the better.

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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31 July 2018 16:34
 
Poldano - 30 July 2018 09:56 PM

My point was slightly different, an argument against determinism itself.

Determinism is such a seductive cognitive bias that the more arguments against it, the better.

I concur.

 
 
RodyRumsfeld
 
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RodyRumsfeld
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18 August 2018 14:23
 

The real universe cannot be entirely deterministic. It makes no logical sense. The universe is causally closed. If there is a cause real enough to affect the universe, the cause comes from within. No external causes. There can be deterministic processes, no doubt. But the universe is externally unconstrained and determines its own constraints. We may still be automata, but the real universe is not.

 
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19 August 2018 01:36
 
RodyRumsfeld - 18 August 2018 02:23 PM

The real universe cannot be entirely deterministic. It makes no logical sense. The universe is causally closed. If there is a cause real enough to affect the universe, the cause comes from within. No external causes. There can be deterministic processes, no doubt. But the universe is externally unconstrained and determines its own constraints. We may still be automata, but the real universe is not.

I prefer to use the term reality instead of the universe, because some people are attempting to put limits on what can be called the universe. I’m speaking in the sense that there are several multiverse theories in circulation, and more no doubt being dreamt up while we speak. I am even tempted to define reality as that which is causally closed. To be sure, that would do little to enhance understanding of reality itself, but would be useful in circumscribing discourse.

 
 
Flatlander
 
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04 September 2018 13:40
 

Personally, as a programmer, It helps me to think of humans (or all life) as simply computer programs.

You are born with your genetics (pre-programming) and start accumulating memories (data) which you then utilize to make future decisions.
Sam Harris’s Genetics + Memories turned him into a human that spreads information on a broad scale. Which then we all gain that data and use it in the future.

There’s nothing “Special” or “free will” based about this. It just happened by chance that Sam Harris’s genetics + memories (Data collected by his 5 senses) turned him into the person he is. Just like your genetics + memories did the same for you. You had no choice in your genetics, and you have no choice about your parents, or the environment you grow up in. And by the time you have choices you are utilizing data from previous data collection.

 
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