Thursday, March 10, 2016

An AFR-related trilemma argument


On the question of human freedom, whose reality is denied by deterministic philosophy, Brigitte Falkenburg proposes another trilemma, a little different, because in this case any two of the three alternatives can be true, but then the third must be false. This is her trilemma:

  1. Physical causality is closed. In other words, physics is deterministic. Every physical phenomenon has been caused by other physical phenomena.
  2. Mental phenomena are different from physical phenomena. In other words, the mind is not controlled by physical phenomena. In a previous post I mentioned the four different answers given by philosophers to the mind problem. This assertion would correspond to the dualist approach, or perhaps to emergent monism.
  3. We can cause physical phenomena with our minds. That is, final causality is possible. Our intentions (mental phenomena) can have physical consequences (such as pressing a button).

13 comments:

Gyan said...

It is necessary to emphasize that quantum mechanics does not offer any way out. It may be required to fine-hone the first point "Physical causality is closed". Because, people will say that quantum mechanics shows that physics is NOT deterministic.
And, by the way, what is the sense of the term "deterministic" here?
Do you mean in the older philosophical sense or in the newer sense used in physics, whereby classical mechanics is deterministic but quantum mechanics isn't.

Gyan said...

" human freedom, whose reality is denied by deterministic philosophy, "

On the contrary, human freedom is only possible given a deterministic world. The alternative, is where things happen without any reason and in no pattern, utter chaos that is. No human freedom is possible in such a world.

I also note that as Aquinas defined the problem, the issue is not between physical and mental. As he says
The stone moves by necessity, the sheep move by instinct and man moves by deliberation.

Thus, by Aquinas, sheep do not move by necessity. So, there is another realm besides mental that does not obey physical laws of necessity.

Neglect of animal behavior in this discussion reduces them to inanimate things which is absurd.

Joe Hinman said...

"On the contrary, human freedom is only possible given a deterministic world. The alternative, is where things happen without any reason and in no pattern, utter chaos that is. No human freedom is possible in such a world"

(1) I doubt that since if determinism is absolute and right there is no free mental phenomena, that would be epiphenomenal or illusory in some sense. If mental is not subject to physical then it's not a "deterministic world"

(2) I don't think cause and effect = determinism. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Uncertainty exists because there's some element of randomness.

(3) As for the idea that deterministic world is necessary for human freedom, I agree that rules can make one more free, witness chess, If all there no rules can't play. Chess also illustrates the problem with the statement. Paint all the squares white keep the rules you still can't move. Human mind in a deterministic world is analogous. I don't see why it can't be that it's not all or nothing. It's complex and both and.

jdhuey said...

Given what we now know from biology and neuroscience, all mental processes supervene on physical processes. Therefore, it is an error to say the mind causes a physical process: the mind is a physical process and there is no issue with one physical process interacting with another physical process.

So, the last two points in the trilemma are simply erroneous.

Frankly, I find the concept of causality to be more than just a tad suspect. I think that it something that our minds require to make sense of all the physical interactions that take place but it is not something that is inherent in fundamental reality.

Joe Hinman said...

"Given what we now know from biology and neuroscience, all mental processes supervene on physical processes. Therefore, it is an error to say the mind causes a physical process: the mind is a physical process and there is no issue with one physical process interacting with another physical process."

Nothing about
superveience tells us mental and physical are the same. Nor does it mean that mind doesn't cause physical processes. Nor does it mean mind is reducible to brain.


Frankly, I find the concept of causality to be more than just a tad suspect. I think that it something that our minds require to make sense of all the physical interactions that take place but it is not something that is inherent in fundamental reality.


when you play baseball on the freeway and I wake u- younger I'll take that seriously.

jdhuey said...

It is not the case that 'mental' and 'physical' are the same; rather, that mental processes are a type/subset/composed of physical processes. There are obviously physical processes that are not part of any mental process. But everything that has been observed and inferred about the operation of the brain indicates that only physical processes are involved. What is more, from what we know about the fundamental laws of physics that underly all day to day physical processes, there simply isn't anything else that could interact with our brains. Victor has, at times, proposed that there might be fundamental particles that that convey what we call supernatural interactions but no such particles have been observed nor do they have any theoretical basis.

There is no reason to me seriously but the idea that 'causality' is just a human construct that enables us to create an understandable narrative should be taken seriously. Hume had his doubts about the validity of causality and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson make a strong case that it isn't part of fundamental reality.

But just consider this little thought experiment using the classic example of billiard balls colliding. Envision that George is flying in his spacecraft at a constant velocity and that outside his window is, say the eight ball, moving at the same speed so it appears to be stationary in his inertial frame of reference. Now envision another spacecraft flown by Gracie and she has a striped billiard ball outside her window in the same situation as George. As it happens the billiard balls are on a collision course (but the space craft will miss each other). What happens? George sees a striped ball zoom in from space and hits his stationary 8 ball that them flys off: the striped ball CAUSED his ball to move. However, Garcie has the exact same experience: it was the 8-ball that CAUSED her stationary striped ball to move. Neither George or Garcie would say that their own stationary ball could be the CAUSE of there ball moving. But obviously, what we have here is just a matter of perspective. But both perspectives are equally valid. How you define the Causality of an event depends on that perspective.

Now, here is the thing, it is possible to recast the billiard ball incident strictly in terms of interactions. And when you do, the concepts of cause and effect are not needed. No where in the equations of motion that can completely describe the incident is the idea of "cause". There is just motion and interactions. Causality only enters when we want to created a narrative - a coherent story- about the incident.

Joe Hinman said...

It is not the case that 'mental' and 'physical' are the same; rather, that mental processes are a type/subset/composed of physical processes. There are obviously physical processes that are not part of any mental process.

We don't know that. We don't know everything about mind and to say we know it's totally physical is just an ideological assumption.


But everything that has been observed and inferred about the operation of the brain indicates that only physical processes are involved.

see you just did the bait and switch. We are talking about the mind and you said brain. Of courser everything about the brain is physical that's like saying everything about the brain involves the brain. But that doesn't prove mind id reducible to brain.




What is more, from what we know about the fundamental laws of physics that underly all day to day physical processes, there simply isn't anything else that could interact with our brains.

That is an ideological assumption it's not a fact not provable and it certainly is not based upon data from any kind of representative same of the universe. What we know of the fundamental laws of physics is pretty incomplete especially since some people questioning chaise and effect but you can't laws without cause and effect. We don't even know what subatomic particles are made of.





Joe Hinman said...

Victor has, at times, proposed that there might be fundamental particles that that convey what we call supernatural interactions but no such particles have been observed nor do they have any theoretical basis.


Not offense to Victor I totally respect him as a thinker but in my view that is not SN. SN as a term was coined by Pseudo-Dionysius and was used to designate mystical experience. all of that recursive If mind transcends physical then you can[t determine it by physical means. That's just the bait and switchh


There is no reason to me seriously but the idea that 'causality' is just a human construct that enables us to create an understandable narrative should be taken seriously. Hume had his doubts about the validity of causality and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson make a strong case that it isn't part of fundamental reality.

You are contradicting yourself. you want laws of physics to establish materialism as the onl7yvalid view of the world and yet that only works if there's c/e. I am willing to consider it as a serious idea bit you can't live by it.




But just consider this little thought experiment using the classic example of billiard balls colliding. Envision that George is flying in his spacecraft at a constant velocity and that outside his window is, say the eight ball, moving at the same speed so it appears to be stationary in his inertial frame of reference. Now envision another spacecraft flown by Gracie and she has a striped billiard ball outside her window in the same situation as George. As it happens the billiard balls are on a collision course (but the space craft will miss each other). What happens? George sees a striped ball zoom in from space and hits his stationary 8 ball that them flys off: the striped ball CAUSED his ball to move. However, Garcie has the exact same experience: it was the 8-ball that CAUSED her stationary striped ball to move. Neither George or Garcie would say that their own stationary ball could be the CAUSE of there ball moving. But obviously, what we have here is just a matter of perspective. But both perspectives are equally valid. How you define the Causality of an event depends on that perspective.

Now, here is the thing, it is possible to recast the billiard ball incident strictly in terms of interactions. And when you do, the concepts of cause and effect are not needed. No where in the equations of motion that can completely describe the incident is the idea of "cause". There is just motion and interactions. Causality only enters when we want to created a narrative - a coherent story- about the incident.

March 11, 2016 6:39 PM

that's really just the same ideas the Hume billiard ball thing. ?the greater detail doesn't really add to it. It doesn't change the fact that you are contradicting your statements about laws of physics. you base materialism upon processes that require C/e.

Humes point was not to eliminate C/e. What you say is contradictory in another way too. You set up the notion that our understanding ov the universe is merely verisimilitude and that's the basis of scientific induction not of "deconstructing" C/e. You can't have it both ways. you can be a PM and doubt everything as a construct or you can be a modernist and assume materialism .you can't do bot,

I know guys who PM and deny C/e as constructs and are Christians. But they live in Canada. Enough said.

Hugo Pelland said...

"We don't know that. We don't know everything about mind and to say we know it's totally physical is just an ideological assumption."
The assumption is that there is something non-physical, about the mind, even if you cannot proruce anything supporting the concept of a mind existing without a physical brain.

"But that doesn't prove mind id reducible to brain. ... If mind transcends physical then you can[t determine it by physical means."

Some things transcend the physical world, yet depend on it for its existence. The stock market is a great example. It doesn't have a physical presence and has an objective existence that doesn't change based on one's opinion. But if we were to all suddenly disbelief in the stock market, it would cease to exist.

Same thing with minds, colors, love, mathematics, or any other concepts we ever think of and talk about. It doesn't mean it's impossible for something literally immaterial to exist, but there is no reason to believe such things do exist.

Humans cannot even truly think about litetal immaterial things, because the concepts we used always refer back to our experience of material reality, to make sense of things. Think about 'nothing', hard, right? What about infinity, or the square root of -1. These things are tools, built from words, concepts, abstract thoughts that make sense to us because of how we can represent them, materially.

Joe Hinman said...

The assumption is that there is something non-physical, about the mind, even if you cannot proruce anything supporting the concept of a mind existing without a physical brain.

By definition mind is not physical Part of supereminence means that we can't access the mind without physical set up but that doesn't mean that mind is reduced to brain. It's accessed by brain. Like software is not hardware but we need hardware to make it work.

"But that doesn't prove mind id reducible to brain. ... If mind transcends physical then you can[t determine it by physical means."

Some things transcend the physical world, yet depend on it for its existence. The stock market is a great example. It doesn't have a physical presence and has an objective existence that doesn't change based on one's opinion. But if we were to all suddenly disbelief in the stock market, it would cease to exist.

Ok we are more or less on the same page one that one.


Same thing with minds, colors, love, mathematics, or any other concepts we ever think of and talk about. It doesn't mean it's impossible for something literally immaterial to exist, but there is no reason to believe such things do exist.

sure. I wasn't sure what you were saying I think we agree on this.



Humans cannot even truly think about litetal immaterial things, because the concepts we used always refer back to our experience of material reality, to make sense of things. Think about 'nothing', hard, right? What about infinity, or the square root of -1. These things are tools, built from words, concepts, abstract thoughts that make sense to us because of how we can represent them, materially.


True and for that reason language about God is analogical. That's the basic assumption of mysticism.

Hugo Pelland said...

Right, we disagree on the order. You say: "software is not hardware but we need hardware to make it work" but also imply that software would/can/does exist without hardware, while I'm saying that the only software I know of depends on hardware. You then respond that this doesn't mean software has to come from hardware, which is correct, but it doesn't convince me that you are correct in defining software as something that would/can/does exist without hardware.

And why do we reach different conclusion? Because you assume your software exists independently of hardware, I assume my hardware exists independently of software.

Primacy of consciousness versus primacy of existence... it always goes back to that.

Joe Hinman said...

but it doesn't convince me that you are correct in defining software as something that would/can/does exist without hardware.

It's not supposed to. I I have other arguments for that.

And why do we reach different conclusion? Because you assume your software exists independently of hardware, I assume my hardware exists independently of software.

True basically not the software that is my mind but an OS.



Primacy of consciousness versus primacy of existence... it always goes back to that.

Right that makes you an atheist existentialist like Sartre (being precedes essence) and me a Christian existentialist Gabriel Marcel (essence proceeds existence).

Hugo Pelland said...

Ok, interesting, I didn't know these labels but sounds accurate. I would be curious to read the arguments you refer to.

And I must say that I appreciate that we are recognizing the differences in our views instead of just calling them names... like it happens quite often.