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12-09-2019, 01:58   #1
A Tyrant Named Miltiades!
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Dawkins vs Sartre/ existentialism vs biological determinism

I'd like to clarify from the outset that I don't subscribe to Dawkins' hard-line views of genetic determinism. I'm just using him as an appropriately extreme example of biological deterministic scientists - in reality, probably the vast majority of biologists in academia.

On the other hand, I have for years been attracted to Sartre's writing on existentialism and freedom - especially emotional freedom/ emotion as strategy in Bad Faith.

The more Sartre's Theory of Emotion was ridiculed, the more. I convinced myself that this was a predictable response from people clinging to myths about themselves and their unwillingness to accept personal responsibility.

Lately, however, Sartre's Sketch on emotions seems incapable of withstanding the scientific criticism that is implied by biological determinism ("BD"). Whilst both existentialism and BD express doubts, or reject, the idea of "consciousness", BD has convincingly rubbished very idea of Free Will, a basic and necessary element of existentialism which has been consigned to the dustbin of superstition.

The idea is - and it is difficult to reject - that human beings are, in fact, prisoners of our biology or (per Dawkins), our genes. Free will is a myth we tell ourselves, it is belief our ability to act with freedom that lacks any scientific or reasonable basis.

Am I wrong? I'd hate to think that I finally persevered through BEING AND NOTHINGNESS for no good reason. How can this conclusion be avoided?
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12-09-2019, 02:52   #2
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It seems to me that the quick-and-dirty objection to absolute biological determinism is this: it doesn't correspond with our observations or experiences. We observe and experience ourselves to be making choices all the time.

"Ah", you may say, "but this may be illusory."

Indeed it may. But one of the fundamental axioms of the scientific method is that our empirical observations are not illusory; they are not are not delusions; there is an objective external reality and our observations and experiences meaningfully correspond to it. If this is not so, then we can never learn anything objectively true by observation or experimentation.

Of course, we can't prove that this is so, since any attempted proof that this is so must rely on observations and experiments whose validity, as a mathod of proof, depends on it being so. Thus, circular reasoning. So, instead, the meanignfulness and significance of our observations and experiences is one of the axioms on which the scientific method depends. And arguing that our experience of choice is, in reality, delusional and does not correspond to exertnal reality is a direct attack on that axiom and, therefore, on the whole of the scentific method.
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12-09-2019, 10:17   #3
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What is freedom and free will? Is it a feeling, a belief that’s defined by how we act? (Algorithms that can predict our behavior?!) Surely every decision made by people can be traced back to some sort of learned behavior, experience or bias? Probably influenced greatly by culture and communities. But if you have, for example 3 different possibilities and you choose one, surely that’s free will if you choice is informed and won’t necessarily always be the same (can be cultivated through growth and I suppose manipulation).

People who isolate themselves - depression = prison , Solitude - freedom and choosing to be free

People who conform to the norms without questioning anything - willing prisoners? Free will to be ignorant?

People who challange conformity - free if they genuinely don’t get upset with ignorance or pushback - prison if they allow society to undermine their own efforts to objectively challange norms

Is freedom not a mindset or a feeling? As somebody who suffers from depression and anxiety I certainly know what I consider “freedom” and to a degree “free will”. People in horrible situations (nazi camp) that managed to survive or retain hope, freedom of the mind?

Personally when I feel like anything is possible in my life but I am content with just believing this , being content with my life and not actually feeling like the need to act on it, I feel free. Kind of a gratitude of sorts because there is no desire for anything other then the now which is absolute freedom. Choosing to accept this truth at that moment is free will in my opinion because there are so many alternate competing options, just choosing the now is freedom from bondage. Im rejecting my instincts (anxiety/depression) in favour of freedom that often alludes me.

Edit: thinking of Buddhism and meditation, isn’t freedom just being able to accept that life just is, it doesn’t really matter what it’s about or freedom or free will. Just accepting life as is, is freedom.

Incidentally I do find philosophy very interesting subject but I find the way people talk in this forum a barrier to discussions. I don’t have an education in this area and perhaps it’s because many of you do and you don’t want to engage people who you feel might not be serious about it. I’m not looking to offend, Maybe I’m not clever enough to take up this subject but I’d rather be honest about how I feel when writing here then to pretend I understand everything.

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14-09-2019, 22:27   #4
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Originally Posted by A Tyrant Named Miltiades! View Post
Lately, however, Sartre's Sketch on emotions seems incapable of withstanding the scientific criticism that is implied by biological determinism ("BD").
You introduce several complex and interesting discussion points Miltiades. Given my limitations at the moment, I will attempt to touch upon one or two, and return later when time permits.

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Whilst... BD express doubts, or reject, the idea of "consciousness", BD has convincingly rubbished very idea of Free Will.
This position of biological determinism appears to be solidly on the Nature side of the Nature vs nurture argument. Some may question if nurture was biologically determined too?

The philosophical origins of "consciousness," and alternatively unconsciousness, have been confounded. Some have claimed that St Thomas Aquinas (1224–1274) suggested that unconscious processing occurred in his theory of mind way before Friedrich Schelling, Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, or more poetically Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Obviously the works of Freud and Jung greatly popularized these concepts, but unfortunately both of these psychiatrists based their researches on prescientific case study analyses, and as in the case of Freud committed an ecological fallacy by leaping from individual level cases to social populations in Civilization and Its Discontents (1930).

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The idea is - and it is difficult to reject - that human beings are, in fact, prisoners of our biology or (per Dawkins), our genes. Free will is a myth we tell ourselves, it is belief our ability to act with freedom that lacks any scientific or reasonable basis.
Behaviorists like BF Skinner in his Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), or in his more scientifically based Cumulative Record (1961), would also suggest that free will was myth, and that humans were a product of their Nature and environment. Unlike hard line biological determinists, behaviourists tended to include both Nature and nurture in their models; but nurture with considerable limitations in definition, content, and context.
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14-09-2019, 22:34   #5
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BD has convincingly rubbished very idea of Free Will
It has? In the relevant sciences, neurology and genetics being two, there is still back and forth discussions on whether Free Will exists and to what extent. I don't think it has been convincingly rubbished in any sense.
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14-09-2019, 22:43   #6
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Originally Posted by A Tyrant Named Miltiades! View Post

The idea is - and it is difficult to reject - that human beings are, in fact, prisoners of our biology or (per Dawkins), our genes. Free will is a myth we tell ourselves, it is belief our ability to act with freedom that lacks any scientific or reasonable basis.

Am I wrong? I'd hate to think that I finally persevered through BEING AND NOTHINGNESS for no good reason. How can this conclusion be avoided?
I’m not sure what you’re saying here, in the final chapter of The Selfish Gene, Dawkins argues that we are not slaves to our genes.
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15-09-2019, 00:50   #7
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The more Sartre's Theory of Emotion was ridiculed, the more. I convinced myself that this was a predictable response from people clinging to myths about themselves and their unwillingness to accept personal responsibility.
An example of Bad Faith? Or what?

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Sartre's Sketch ... the idea of "consciousness" ... idea of Free Will, a basic and necessary element of existentialism
For Jean-Paul Sartre consciousness allows the world to be perceived. Challenges Immanuel Kant's phenomena and noumena dualism. Where Kant contended that there were things that existed yet to be perceived, in any case they still existed. Satre countered that only those things that were consciously perceived existed. But new things could be added should they appear. Makes me wonder about this subtle distinction between Satre and Kant, or how similar and different it might be?

Where Kant was more an objective materialist that some biological determinists may identify with, Satre's consciousness seemed to differentiate humans from Richard Dawkins' biologically driven animals that exhibited no consciousness.
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16-09-2019, 10:29   #8
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It has? In the relevant sciences, neurology and genetics being two, there is still back and forth discussions on whether Free Will exists and to what extent. I don't think it has been convincingly rubbished in any sense.
Can you name any biologists who believe in the concept of free will?

Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky is seen as a moderate, and even he is unequivocal on the non-existence of free will. Scientists can accept that which is observable or can be inferred -- where is this free will? Describe it?

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You introduce several complex and interesting discussion points Miltiades. Given my limitations at the moment, I will attempt to touch upon one or two, and return later when time permits.

This position of biological determinism appears to be solidly on the Nature side of the Nature vs nurture argument. Some may question if nurture was biologically determined too?
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Unlike hard line biological determinists, behaviourists tended to include both Nature and nurture in their models; but nurture with considerable limitations in definition, content, and context.
I don't know of any biologist who rejects the idea of nurture (let's say environment, instead) -- but they add (to the genetic theory) a biochemical dimension -- now I'm a slave to my coffee withdrawal and my genes. They believe in the interaction of genetics and the physiocal/ biochemical world as being in control of who we are and what we do.

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I’m not sure what you’re saying here, in the final chapter of The Selfish Gene, Dawkins argues that we are not slaves to our genes.
Of course, maybe we're not slaves to our genes, in the sense that our genes give us some latitude -- I can sit inside for lunch or I can choose to go for a walk. I can choose my words in replying to you -- or can I? How much of what I am writing is interdependent on my biology, my metabolism, all the combined physical structures of my body?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...e-will/480750/
Many scientists say that the American physiologist Benjamin Libet demonstrated in the 1980s that we have no free will. It was already known that electrical activity builds up in a person’s brain before she, for example, moves her hand; Libet showed that this buildup occurs before the person consciously makes a decision to move. The conscious experience of deciding to act, which we usually associate with free will, appears to be an add-on, a post hoc reconstruction of events that occurs after the brain has already set the act in motion.
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16-09-2019, 11:29   #9
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Can you name any biologists who believe in the concept of free will?
First note Neuronal determinism does not imply a negation of Free Will (Compatibilism).

Anyway Adina Roskies is an example of a biologist. However in general I don't like to cite proponents of ideas for scientific issues. People can not believe in an issue and yet contribute papers that cast doubt on what they believe.

Libet's original studies that started the "No Free Will" in a big way in neurology are being criticised in the last few years as not showing what Libet claimed. This lack of conclusivity to experiments is much more important than what people believe.

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Scientists can accept that which is observable or can be inferred -- where is this free will? Describe it?
Humans don't seem to be predictable in many scenarios. That's an observable fact. To claim that this unpredictability can be removed by detailed knowledge of neuronal tissue is itself a conjecture that is not observed or inferrable from what is currently known.

There's no onus on one side in particular here. Demonstrating Free Will involves showing the unpredictability cannot be removed, showing it false requires showing it can.

We know the most fundamental levels of reality are autonomous/free, so it wouldn't be completely unprecedented in science for something to be "Free".
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16-09-2019, 14:52   #10
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Libet's original studies that started the "No Free Will" in a big way in neurology are being criticised in the last few years as not showing what Libet claimed. This lack of conclusivity to experiments is much more important than what people believe.
By referring to Libet's "claims" being since "criticised" you almost make it sound as if this research has become less credible over time.

In fact, it's the other way around. Libet's research was originally far more controversial than it is today. The basic thrust of his observations -- that ostensibly free choices are in fact determined by neural activity before the subject is conscious of having made a 'choice' -- has been reproduced in subsequent research. The concept of scientific/ biological determinism has never been less controversial.

As an aside, I find it very interesting that much of the criticism of LIbet's work, and criticism of biological determinism itself, seems almost to dwell on why BD should not be true, or mustn't be true, because of the moral consequences for human society. Obviously, there's more intelligent criticism than that out there, but it is surprising that so many commentators seem to posit that 'this mustn't be true because that would be terrible'.

Even if they don't state their opposition in such brute language, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that some people are in opposition to the concept of biological determinism because, well, they'd rather it weren't real.

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Humans don't seem to be predictable in many scenarios. That's an observable fact. To claim that this unpredictability can be removed by detailed knowledge of neuronal tissue is itself a conjecture that is not observed or inferrable from what is currently known.

There's no onus on one side in particular here. Demonstrating Free Will involves showing the unpredictability cannot be removed, showing it false requires showing it can.

We know the most fundamental levels of reality are autonomous/free, so it wouldn't be completely unprecedented in science for something to be "Free".
What do you mean by the sentence "We know the most fundamental levels of reality are autonomous/free"? Can you expand on that?

Because it reads to me like you might actually be referring there to randomness. We know that biology can be random -- random gene mutation is the obvious example. It may very well be that our choices are governed by random processes as well as biological onces -- but random phenomena are equally as incompatible with freedom as determinism is.

You also say "there is no onus on one side here". It reminds me of something Adina Roskies wrote, that neuroscientists haven't managed to prove that there isn't a free will. That's an amazing statement, which I would think is akin to saying "well biologists haven't proven that there isn't a soul, or an omniscient God, so I'm going to retain my belief in one"

There is no scientific evidence in favour of autonomous human freedom -- certainly not of the type proposed by Sartre, which is the specific type of freedom I'm referring to here. It seems increasingly necessary to view that kind of libertarianism as a myth or a superstition.
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16-09-2019, 15:06   #11
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By referring to Libet's "claims" being since "criticised" you almost make it sound as if this research has become less credible over time.

In fact, it's the other way around. Libet's research was originally far more controversial than it is today. The basic thrust of his observations -- that ostensibly free choices are in fact determined by neural activity before the subject is conscious of having made a 'choice' -- has been reproduced in subsequent research. The concept of scientific/ biological determinism has never been less controversial.
That's not my reading of the neurological literature. Libet's work was originally criticised and then became accepted more during the 1990s. Since the mid-2000s further studies have been done that have left the state of the whole area more complex and confusing with no clear conclusions.

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As an aside, I find it very interesting that much of the criticism of LIbet's work, and criticism of biological determinism itself, seems almost to dwell on why BD should not be true, or mustn't be true, because of the moral consequences for human society
Those might be the criticisms outside neurology but not within. The criticisms within neurology have mostly been about what the timings are correlated with, other studies showing the ambiguity of sensory processing, how you extract correlations from a temporal series and other technical issues.

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You also say "there is no onus on one side here". It reminds me of something Adina Roskies...
There is no scientific evidence in favour of autonomous human freedom
Humans having Free Will is just as in line with the evidence as the alternative. Human predictability is quite low in many circumstances. I don't want to get too technical here, but some of our choices break what are known as the CHSH inequalities, which are very hard to explain with determinism. There have been experiments attempting to track us in basic tasks where the probability distributions don't tighten even after repeated sampling. Just currently the evidence is not clearly in favour of either direction. There are things that support both views to some degree. Wiki says it well enough:
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The field remains highly controversial. The significance of findings, their meaning, and what conclusions may be drawn from them is a matter of intense debate. The precise role of consciousness in decision making and how that role may differ across types of decisions remains unclear
It's just an open issue with no clear conclusion yet. I don't think it's like arguing for God or spirits, there are things in line with it.

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What do you mean by the sentence "We know the most fundamental levels of reality are autonomous/free"? Can you expand on that?

Because it reads to me like you might actually be referring there to randomness
Subatomic systems' behaviour is not controlled by other physical facts. Thus what they do seems autonomous from other physical systems. This is not the same as the popular conception of randomness.
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16-09-2019, 19:57   #12
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That's not my reading of the neurological literature. Libet's work was originally criticised and then became accepted more during the 1990s. Since the mid-2000s further studies have been done that have left the state of the whole area more complex and confusing with no clear conclusions.
As the boundaries of knowledge in neuroscience are pushed further out, it is entirely to be expected for the landscape of knowledge should grow more complex, like a blind man regaining his sight. When in the process of scientific discovery doesn't that happen? I don't see how growing complexity can be used to refute the studies that have reproduced Libet's work.

There are valid criticisms of Libet and subsequent related research, their methodologies and how they drew conclusions, of course.

So lets ignore Libet for a moment and return to basic human reasoning involving a real life case-study.

We know that neurochemical and anatomical changes in the brain cause massive changes in our behaviour. Charles Whitman is a classic example. Whitman led a normal, humdrum life -- until one day he killed 16 people including members of his own family, whom he loved. Whitman asked for his brain to be examined after his suicide, and eventually a panel of medical experts affirmed that Whitman's behaviour was due to a tumour disrupting neural processes in his amygdala, which is widely cited as a reason for his extraordinary, violent behaviour.

This is nothing new; for well over a century, the legal system has recognised how neurological disorders can cause a killer to be not guilty for their crime.
A person suffering with clinical depression who is prescribed the correct type and dosage of an SSRI/ SNRI will usually have their systems relieved, to the point where their personality may change altogether.
If I go out tonight and consume MDMA, I'll be more friendly and empathetic.

The materialistic/ deterministic concept of human behaviour is visible to all of us, every day. If you don't have enough glucose in your blood, you're likely to be lethargic and unable to focus. If you have elevated testosterone, you're more likely to get in a fight.

Knowing this, then even if Libet et al. had never conducted their research into brain activity and conscious decision-making, we should still be extremely skeptical about some invisible, quasi mystical 'driving force' within our brains (souls?), when we know that we are constantly doing strange things because of our biochemistry and neuroanatomy which, in retrospect, can cause us surprise or alarm that we behaved in those ways.

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Humans having Free Will is just as in line with the evidence as the alternative. Human predictability is quite low in many circumstances.
No, it isn't. There is literally no scientific evidence for the existence of free will.

In fact, the trend in neuroscience over the past 100 years or so, has been to increasingly demonstrate biological reasons for human behaviour.

It is only in the past 70 years or so we've even known about ADHD, the biochemistry of depression, schizophrenia, and even epilepsy. 30 years ago we didn't even know about various personality disorders, now we know they have a genetic component, as does alcoholism. The march of biology is moving in a very clear direction, and it isn't favouring the omnipotent humunculus.

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Subatomic systems' behaviour is not controlled by other physical facts. Thus what they do seems autonomous from other physical systems. This is not the same as the popular conception of randomness.
Why would quantum indeterminacy be relevant here? It shows unpredictability, for sure, but that's not necessarily at odds with biological determinism. The fact that we cannot predict (or understand) aspects of our brain doesn't cause us to resort to "Oh well it must be my mystical free will instead"

To return to the OP and the topic at hand, at the very least, developments in neuroscience and biology should cause people to question a lot of things about our species, but most relevantly for the purposes of this discussion, it raises serious doubts about a lot of the writing of Sartre and other existentialists, but especially Sartre.

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16-09-2019, 20:19   #13
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As the boundaries of knowledge in neuroscience are pushed further out, it is entirely to be expected for the landscape of knowledge should grow more complex, like a blind man regaining his sight. When in the process of scientific discovery doesn't that happen? I don't see how growing complexity can be used to refute the studies that have reproduced Libet's work.
I never said the complexity itself was refutation. It was that there were no clear conclusions from the current state of the field. That's not a refutation either. The point is that there is no reasonably solid refutation of either position. If you read monographs on the subject that is essentially what they say, that the results are inconclusive. At no point is simply the complexity invoked as a refutation.

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and eventually a panel of medical experts affirmed that Whitman's behaviour was due to a tumour
Experts say it is not conclusive:
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Originally Posted by Wiki
During the autopsy, Chenar discovered a "pecan-sized" brain tumor,[58] which he labeled an astrocytoma and which exhibited a small amount of necrosis. Chenar concluded that the tumor had no effect on Whitman's actions. These findings were later revised by the Connally Commission: "It is the opinion of the task force that the relationship between the brain tumor and Charles J. Whitman's actions on the last day of his life cannot be established with clarity."
Again something inconclusive.

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Knowing this, then even if Libet et al. had never conducted their research into brain activity and conscious decision-making, we should still be extremely skeptical about some invisible, quasi mystical 'driving force' within our brains (souls?), when we know that we are constantly doing strange things because of our biochemistry and neuroanatomy which, in retrospect, can cause us surprise or alarm that we behaved in those ways.
This is a false dichotomy. The options are not between total biochemical determinism or a supernatural soul/magic force. Nobody would argue that biochemistry affects our behaviour and that our control over our actions can be diminished in various circumstances. It is a leap though to go from this to total biochemical determinism.

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No, it isn't. There is literally no scientific evidence for the existence of free will.
There is scientific evidence both for the fact that our actions are not predictable in advance and evidence against. You cannot just declare the case closed in contradiction to the academic views on the subject. I gave an example of humans breaking statistical inequalities hard to square with determinism.

Can you provide a scientific reference that states clearly that Free Will has been refuted in the opinion of the neurological community?

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In fact, the trend in neuroscience over the past 100 years or so, has been to increasingly demonstrate biological reasons for human behaviour.

It is only in the past 70 years or so we've even known about ADHD, the biochemistry of depression, schizophrenia, and even epilepsy. 30 years ago we didn't even know about various personality disorders, now we know they have a genetic component, as does alcoholism. The march of biology is moving in a very clear direction, and it isn't favouring the omnipotent humunculus.
Again these don't demonstrate an absence of Free Will. Of course neurology has found biological reasons for human behaviour. You are again contrasting total biochemical dependence with magic souls. Nobody is advocating magic souls. There are several other concepts such as top-down causation or emergence. Completely physical/naturalist explanations that permit Free Will.

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Why would quantum indeterminacy be relevant here? It shows unpredictability, for sure, but that's not necessarily at odds with biological determinism.
I never said it was. I gave it as an example in science where freedom/autonomy exists with no reference to magic or supernatural events.

However note some people do think it is relevant. Can you explain why it's not at odds with biological determinism? It's not an easy argument to make in my experience involving subtle effects like decoherence.

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The fact that we cannot predict (or understand) aspects of our brain doesn't cause us to resort to "Oh well it must be my mystical free will instead"
Again this is strawmanning. Nobody is talking about "mystical" stuff. I also never said we have to resort to saying there is Free Will.

What I am saying is that the field is currently inconclusive. Not that there is Free Will. And certainly not that if there were it would be a "mystical" force
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16-09-2019, 20:54   #14
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Originally Posted by Fourier View Post
I never said the complexity itself was refutation.
Not refutation perhaps, but you appear to be suggesting that growing complexity (again, to be expected) is contributing to discrediting Libet et al.

I don't take issue with people criticising methodology or specific conclusions -- Libet did that himself, as I'm sure you're aware. I'm a bit puzzled as to how the growing complexity can be a problem -- it's not as if the added complexity is pointing instead towards a little humunculus.

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Experts say it is not conclusive:
Said. In 1966. Back then, the amydala was vaguely linked to fear, but scientists weren't at all sure of what the amygdala did. To my knowledge, it wasn't until the last 30-35 years that we've known about its relationship with aggression.

You're referencing a quote from people who believed in the efficacy of (and were probably performing) lobotomies. I'm talking about contemporary observations of Whitman's tumour.

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Originally Posted by A Tyrant Named Miltiades!
Knowing this, then even if Libet et al. had never conducted their research into brain activity and conscious decision-making, we should still be extremely skeptical about some invisible, quasi mystical 'driving force' within our brains (souls?), when we know that we are constantly doing strange things because of our biochemistry and neuroanatomy which, in retrospect, can cause us surprise or alarm that we behaved in those ways.
This is a false dichotomy. The options are not between total biochemical determinism or a supernatural soul/magic force. Nobody would argue that biochemistry affects our behaviour and that our control over our actions can be diminished in various circumstances. It is a leap though to go from this to total biochemical determinism.
It's a bigger leap to go to the mystical concept of Free Will.

All opinions are not equal. I'm not attempting to establish a false dichotomy, I'm simply suggesting that even ignoring Libet et al, ignoring Dawkins (yes, please lets), even a layman's knowledge of science should cause them to be skeptical about the idea of a Free Will compared to a biological explanation for human behaviours.

First we learned about the frontal lobe, then we found out about schizophrenia, then we discovered dyslexia, and autism, and ADHD, and personality disorders -- and suddenly what do we have? A growing picture where our behaviours are increasingly demonstrated to be biological and/or genetically heritable.

That's the point. I'm not saying it's proof, I'm asking that you consider the direction of the evidence.

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Can you provide a scientific reference that states clearly that Free Will has been refuted in the opinion of the neurological community?
No. I don't have the resources to do a survey on this. I just haven't ever come across a biologist who believes in a metaphysical kind of free will, of the kind that Sartre believed to be true (which was, after all, the point of this thread)

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However note some people do think it is relevant. Can you explain why it's not at odds with biological determinism? It's not an easy argument to make in my experience involving subtle effects like decoherence.
Well the obvious answer to that is that you cannot rule out some unknown deterministic processes underlying quantum mechanics. All we can talk about for sure is unpredictability -- and even a hard determinist would agree that human behaviour, although obeying material laws, is unpredictable.
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16-09-2019, 21:07   #15
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Not refutation perhaps, but you appear to be suggesting that growing complexity (again, to be expected) is contributing to discrediting Libet et al.
No as I said it is the lack of a consensus or clear conclusions. I'm not even really sure what complexity contributing to discrediting would mean. Regardless it's not the complexity.

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Said. In 1966...
No they still aren't conclusive:
https://www.dailytexanonline.com/201...rs-brain-tumor

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It's a bigger leap to go to the mystical concept of Free Will
Once again nobody is claiming a mystical version of Free Will.

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cause them to be skeptical about the idea of a Free Will
"Be skeptical about" is fine and I'm not arguing that. Conclude it's false though is not supported by neuroscience.

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That's the point. I'm not saying it's proof, I'm asking that you consider the direction of the evidence
The current evidence in totality has no clear direction, that's the problem. There is evidence in both directions. In both cases however the relevant studies are performed on low sample groups with poor control often leading to poor p-values, which themselves only manifest after certain priors are assumed. I've dug into one of the major "no free will" papers before. I could explain how weak its statistics actually are if you want. This also applies to pro-Free Will papers.

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No. I don't have the resources to do a survey on this. I just haven't ever come across a biologist who believes in a metaphysical kind of free will, of the kind that Sartre believed to be true (which was, after all, the point of this thread)
This can be a function of reading things at the popular science level. There are many neurologists and scientists with ideas including top down causation and emergence that are compatible with what Sartre spoke about. It's just all the writing is at a very technical level and requires an understanding of emergence and complex systems. There's plenty of debates in science that unfortunately don't filter down to general books.

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Well the obvious answer to that is that you cannot rule out some unknown deterministic processes underlying quantum mechanics
That has been ruled out. Conclusively.
Fourier is online now  
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