Unconscious determinants of free decisions

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Compassionist
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Unconscious determinants of free decisions

Post #1

Post by Compassionist »

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408715
Abstract

There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.
We are not free. We are prisoners of causality living inevitable lives and dying inevitable deaths. We are doomed to be conceived, doomed to suffer and doomed to die. We have no say in the matter.

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Post #2

Post by The Tanager »

Since that is just an abstract, do you have evidence that this is the case. It sounds a lot like Libet's experiments. Libet even said his experiments didn't disprove free decisions; at best showing that we can veto mechanical responses.

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Re: Unconscious determinants of free decisions

Post #3

Post by ElCodeMonkey »

[Replying to post 1 by Compassionist]

While I highly doubt the 10s thing since some decisions don't have that much time to process and act, I still have no idea what the converse argument would even be. Of course we make decisions based on causality. What else could it be? Say a soul made a decision. Based on what? If it's based on knowledge, then where'd the knowledge come from if not the previous learnings and experiences which were based on previous non-controllable or else deterministic events? Randomness? Is that even a "decision" then? It simply has to be causal.
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Post #4

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to post 3 by ElCodeMonkey]

Being based off of previous information does not mean being determined by that information. In some cases some information says choice A is better, while other information says choice B is better. Yes, this builds on previous experiences, but those previous experiences could also have choices that an agent could choose between.

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Post #5

Post by ElCodeMonkey »

[Replying to post 4 by The Tanager]

For every decision, one could ask "why" that decision was made. The why may have any number of reasons and influemces, but every "because" and every explanation is a cause and effect relationship. To avoid a cause and effect determinism one must say there was no reason or no preceeding cause at some point down the trail of cause and effect. The effect was then made "just cuz" with no reason. So either one does not know the reason (but still there is one) or else there is no reason whatsoever which means the effect was made by what? The only answer for a non cause and effect would be randomness. A true randomness with no preceeding cause for the random result. So is "random" any more a choice than determinism of preceding causes and effects? I see only two options. Cause and effect or true random. Neither sound like any concept of free choice. What would it mean to have a choice apart from those two? I can't see a third alternative.

Example: Why'd you punch the fish? Free will? No, you were mad and wanted to punch something. Why does mad make you punch things? Free Will? No, punching things is a built-in mechanism to fight against oppression. Why the fish? It was there. Why were you mad? Because a teacher said you look doofy. Why do you look doofy? You didn't shower. Why didn't you shower? You never learned to care for appearance. Why not? Because your genes lead you not to care, you previously were not ostracized for it, and your parents didn't require it. Why, why, why? It all keeps going back forever to the very spin of the first atoms of the creation of the universe. There's not a single "choice" one could make without a reason.
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Post #6

Post by The Tanager »

ElCodeMonkey wrote:To avoid a cause and effect determinism one must say there was no reason or no preceeding cause at some point down the trail of cause and effect. The effect was then made "just cuz" with no reason.
I don't see how that necessarily follows. If I have three choices before me and I can think of ten different reasons as to why each one is the better choice, and then I decide which perceived benefit I want to choose, how is this determinism? I don't make it "just cuz," but the influences aren't forcing me to choose them. This looks like a third alternative.

I didn't have to punch poor Nemo, even though I was mad. I had two competing instincts battling within me. I wanted to punch something and the fish was near, but I also wanted not to harm the fish. I made a choice to punch the fish, anyway. It was because I was mad, but I choose an expression of selfish anger over an expression of others-centered love.

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Re: Unconscious determinants of free decisions

Post #7

Post by Dimmesdale »

Compassionist wrote: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408715
Abstract

There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.
We are not free. We are prisoners of causality living inevitable lives and dying inevitable deaths. We are doomed to be conceived, doomed to suffer and doomed to die. We have no say in the matter.
What if the will is beyond space and time? What if all our decisions here on earth are reflections of one original decision made and un-made at the very beginning of time? What if what we perceive in the material world is only a reflection, a distortion, of actual freedom, and we "think" that we are determined because we have become so accustomed to linear time and pinning our hopes on "excuses"?

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Post #8

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote:
ElCodeMonkey wrote:To avoid a cause and effect determinism one must say there was no reason or no preceeding cause at some point down the trail of cause and effect. The effect was then made "just cuz" with no reason.
I don't see how that necessarily follows. If I have three choices before me and I can think of ten different reasons as to why each one is the better choice, and then I decide which perceived benefit I want to choose, how is this determinism? I don't make it "just cuz," but the influences aren't forcing me to choose them. This looks like a third alternative.

I didn't have to punch poor Nemo, even though I was mad. I had two competing instincts battling within me. I wanted to punch something and the fish was near, but I also wanted not to harm the fish. I made a choice to punch the fish, anyway. It was because I was mad, but I choose an expression of selfish anger over an expression of others-centered love.
Your choice to punch poor Nemo was determined by the reason you gave to justify your decision. If your choice was NOT determined by a reason, then you made the choice for NO REASON. If you had no reason for making the choice, then it was randomly determined. Either way, your choice was determined. Therefore, it cannot be said that you had the libertarian freewill to choose in any other way than what you did.

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Post #9

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote:Your choice to punch poor Nemo was determined by the reason you gave to justify your decision. If your choice was NOT determined by a reason, then you made the choice for NO REASON. If you had no reason for making the choice, then it was randomly determined. Either way, your choice was determined. Therefore, it cannot be said that you had the libertarian freewill to choose in any other way than what you did.
I don't think you are properly taking note of the difference between having a reason to make a choice and being determined by that reason to make that specific choice. To simplify, let's say I had two reasons rattling around inside my mind: anger and care for other beings. Determination requires that one of those factors/reasons is stronger than the other and automatically leads to my action. My anger is so strong that it overrides my usual careful action around other beings. Libertarian free will says both factors are trying to influence me into a particular action, but as a free agent I can choose which one to side with (sometimes it is with the stronger, sometimes not). Whichever action I choose to commit will be an action that has a reason behind it, but I still choose to follow that reason rather than the other.

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Post #10

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote:
bluegreenearth wrote:Your choice to punch poor Nemo was determined by the reason you gave to justify your decision. If your choice was NOT determined by a reason, then you made the choice for NO REASON. If you had no reason for making the choice, then it was randomly determined. Either way, your choice was determined. Therefore, it cannot be said that you had the libertarian freewill to choose in any other way than what you did.
I don't think you are properly taking note of the difference between having a reason to make a choice and being determined by that reason to make that specific choice. To simplify, let's say I had two reasons rattling around inside my mind: anger and care for other beings. Determination requires that one of those factors/reasons is stronger than the other and automatically leads to my action. My anger is so strong that it overrides my usual careful action around other beings. Libertarian free will says both factors are trying to influence me into a particular action, but as a free agent I can choose which one to side with (sometimes it is with the stronger, sometimes not). Whichever action I choose to commit will be an action that has a reason behind it, but I still choose to follow that reason rather than the other.
What was your reason for choosing one reason over another reason? Whatever your answer, that is what determined the choice you made. If you had no reason, then your choice was randomly determined.

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