Could our actions be decided by our conscious mind?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Dec 23, 2018.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Prediction: glossing over the nature of consciousness - that it is a pattern of behavior or action, in some ways independent of its substrate - will lead to muddle.
    Consider the likely problems from setting out to analyze swimming as a "state" of the body, without being carefully and deliberately wary of the approach.
     
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  3. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    It's not a misstep. It's exactly what I wanted the premise to say.
    Just claiming that it is somehow a problem without justifying your assertion won't do.
    So, if you think like you can argue that the premise as worded is necessary false or somehow meaningless, let's hear it.
    EB
     
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  5. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    You would have to argue that. Do you think you could argue that somebody does know that somebody's conscious mind is the state of a group of neurons in this person's brain?
    It is a fact nobody knows it's true. So, it's not just me.
    So, your rewording just shows you don't get it. If you want to rephrase it, just start your own thread and see what happens.
    This is irrelevant because Premise 1 does not say that what a person does may be determined by the conscious mind.
    No. Where is it specified in the argument that a state "as applied here is a term derived from computer science"?!
    The state of a group of neurons here is whatever properties in the group of neurons would be determining what a person does.
    And that's part of the state of the group of neurons concerned.
    Any input will only affect what a person does if it comes to affect and only to the extent that it affects the state of some group of neurons in the brain and that's covered by premise 2.
    Same thing. Any substance in the brain will only affect what a person does if it comes to affect and only to the extent that it affects the state of some group of neurons in the brain and that's covered by premise 2.
    Sure, that's what the argument says.
    EB
     
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The "properties" in a group of neurons do not determine what a person does. The patterns of their behavior do.
    You have confused substrate and pattern. This is left over from 2 and 7 - still on the table.
     
  8. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    That looks to me like an entirely arbitrary distinction.
    Still, you would need to support your claim by fact or logic.
    Also, what's determining the "patterns of behavior" of the neurons. Seems an infinite regress to me. It's what the neurons do that determines what the person does? And I will guess that it's what something else does that determine what the neurons do, and so on, all the way down.
    You don't seem to understand the OP. I'm not asking you to reword the argument. I'm asking you whether you agree with it as worded, and if not, what is your disagreement.
    I didn't confused anything. I am definite that "state" is the word I wan't to use and the point of this thread is not that you should try to improve the argument.
    If you think premise 2 is false, just say so and explain why you think it is false.
    It's obviously up to you whether you are prepared to argue your point that premise 2 is false, but just claiming or suggesting it is false won't be good enough.
    EB
     
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    30,994
    Try making it. See what happens.
    Nope. They just fire, or not fire, in varying intensities. It's what the patterns formed in the substrate of firings do that counts.
    Not just "down" - out, up, around, etc. "Down" is where the confusion of "state" takes you.
    And yes, everything in this world follows from the past.
    Ok. Have fun.
     
  10. TheFrogger Banned Valued Senior Member

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    Only flora are without a, "choice."
     
  11. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry, I fail to see where's the difference with the state of a group of neurons. You're welcome to explain but don't make me ask as second time.
    Er-- precisely not. This is why I stick to "state".
    There's just one state you need to consider. Like it or not, that's how the human mind makes sense of a complex world.
    You want to introduce "patterns of firing" but you haven't justify your suggestion. And why not introduce whatever atoms are doing? Quarks? Strings?
    I only need to consider one state, and that the relevant one. If you think it's not, you'll have to explain why, something you seem definitely reluctant to do, which is just in keeping with your usual manners.
    I certainly don't know that myself and I doubt very much you do either.
    Still, you're entitled to have the beliefs you like most.
    You too.
    EB
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  12. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    1,123
    I don't think we could even prove that.
    Flower power!
    EB
     
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    As posted (reworded slightly) in your second thread on this matter, though I may as well post here as well...


    You're trying to use deductive reasoning with uncertain premises, thus resulting in an uncertain conclusion. If you approach it with certain premises (i.e. remove the "as far as we know") and then apply that uncertainty as a measure of soundness, I think it would be easier to understand.

    With certain premises, the formal structure is invalid. A syllogism is valid if and only if it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false. In this case, and I think this was either pointed out to you - or at least alluded to - previously, you're suffering from a case of undistributed middle.

    Your syllogism - removing the uncertainty of the premise to a matter of soundness - boils down to:
    P1 - conscious mind is the state of a group of neurons
    P2 - what we do is determined by the state of a group of neurons
    C - what we do is determined by our conscious mind

    This is invalid as the group of neurons in P1 and P2 might not be the same.

    A similar example:
    P1 - the weather is a group of atoms
    P2 - what we do is determined by a group of atoms
    C - what we do is determined by the weather

    Introducing the uncertainty into the premise 1 rightly makes the conclusion uncertain, but in an otherwise valid form the level of uncertainty in the conclusion should match the uncertainty in the premise. Yet your syllogism has far more uncertainty in the conclusion than in the premise, due to the undistributed middle.

    So it is invalid.
     
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  14. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    1,123
    That much we are in agreement.
    The rest is a derail.
    See the other thread for details.
    EB


     
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    30,994
    The patterns of firing are the observed physical constituents of consciousness. That's why one "introduces" them.
    Whether one chooses atoms, quarks, or neurons, as one's bottom level substrate, is ultimately a matter of indifference - neurons would seem to be the simplest choice, as they incorporate the atom and thus the quark patterns already.
     
  16. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    1,123
    The phrase "physical constituents of consciousness" doesn't seem to mean anything in relation to phenomenal consciousness, which is the topic of this thread ("conscious mind"). So, if you're talking about consciousness as the set of objective processes that may be observed by scientists, then your suggestion is a derail.
    As to phenomenal consciousness, I can observe my own consciousness, if only to some extent, but I can't personally observe the physical "patterns of firing" in my own brain, patterns of firing you claim boldly "are the observed physical constituents of consciousness". The scientists who can observe some imaging of neuronal tissue or even of the living brain don't observe consciousness. So, your claim here is for now just an unsupported claim. All you could reasonably claim is that the patterns of firing observed in neuronal tissu may be correlated with phenomenal consciousness.
    I think that if you understood the argument, you would see that this aspect is covered by the conjunction of the two premises. So, rather than explain this to you in minute details, I will only suggest you could try to think about it: your notion of "the patterns of firing" is in fact clearly subsumed in my premises, if only implicitly, through the semantic of the wording used.
    As a semantic aside, I hope you understand that a process is essentially a series of states. Any process taking place in any physical object whatsoever will be nothing but the succession in time of the states of this object. Isn't that good enough? Who needs "patterns of firing" when one has "process" and "state".
    And introducing them as you do, without qualification, just as the blunt claim that "The patterns of firing are the observed physical constituents of consciousness", would just make the premise false.
    Yes, perfect, neurons seem the simplest choice, and hence, state of a group of neurons is best.
    You still haven't explained what might be wrong with it.
    EB
     
  17. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, sure, your argument is not valid.
    I already accepted your argument is not valid.
    I'm not sure why you keep coming back suggesting an argument we have both already agreed is not valid.
    The question of this thread is whether my argument is valid and sound. You haven't offered any rational argument in that respect.
    EB
     
  18. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    1,123
    What does that mean, to "apply uncertainty as a measure of soundness"?! Never heard of that one before!
    Please explain.
    No, your argument, formulated by you, suffers from undistributed middle. Mine doesn't.
    It seems to me you can't get your head round my argument because of the "for all we know" and "may be" in it. So, instead of addressing my argument, you find it convenient to just concoct a redacted version of it, which you can understand, and find that it is not valid.
    The fallacy is then to pretend, something you have been doing in several posts already, that having concluded that your own redacted argument is not valid, this would show that my own, different argument is not valid.
    Well, this is just a very primitive fallacy: not A, therefore not B.
    The worse fallacy ever and I'm not sure it even has a name since most people would understand by themselves it can't possibly fool anyone but idiots. Yet, you keep at it.
    Look at this valid argument. It's about soundness:
    Your madness may be a state of your unsound mind:
    A state of your unsound mind determines the fallacy you commit;
    Therefore, your madness may determine the fallacy you commit.
    Do you understand it or are you going to persist in your idiotic fallacy and redact it to make sure it's invalid?
    So, you try to improve soundness only to fall into invalidity. This is a lame strategy.
    Second, not only does removing the terms signalling uncertainty makes your redacted argument invalid, but it also makes it unsound.
    We just don't know whether the conscious mind is the state of a group of neurons. It's probably either true or false, but we don't know which. So, your premise 1 makes the redacted argument unsound.
    You clearly don't understand much about modal logic and it's just fascinating to see you come back with the worst fallacy ever: not A, therefore not B.
    EB
     
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    30,994
    I have no idea why you would think that the physical constituents of consciousness seems to have nothing to do with the phenomenon "consciousness". That seems unmotivated - are you simply assuming that consciousness does not physically exist? That assumption needs a good deal of argument - in my experience consciousness is quite sensitive to physical circumstances and events, such as blows to the head or ingestion of chemicals.
     
  20. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    1,123
    To say that consciousness is affected by (or "sensitive to") physical circumstances is obvious to all of us and is certainly reported as such by the entire literature produced in the world, including the scientific literature, and certainly implied by everything people say in ordinary life.
    Yet, to say as you do that something is seen as the physical constituent of consciousness is clearly not at all the same as saying that consciousness is affected by physical circumstances.
    And the later doesn't imply the former.
    EB
     
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    It's quite simple: you create a valid syllogism with assumptions that express certainty. This then leaves you with a conclusion that is valid, but only as sound as the premises. If all you can say with regard the soundness of one of the premises is "as far as we know" then that level of uncertainty translates to the conclusion.
    I.e. if you are 50% sure of the premise you are only 50% sure of the valid conclusion. The uncertainty one has in the premise becomes a measure of how sound you think the argument is.
    Simples.
    It does, for reasons shown.
    You've accepted that an argument is valid if, and only if, the premises can not be true and the conclusion false.
    In your argument, because you are referring to "the state of a group of neurons" without being specific about the consistency of the group of neurons in the two premises, whether you have "as far as I know" or not, leads to the pssibility that the premises are correct and the conclusion false.

    To wit (and as stated previously):
    Premise one might refer to a group of neurons B1.
    Premise two might refer to a group of neurons B2.
    So for all we know consciousness might be the state of the group of neurons B1. This complies with premise 1, since premise 1 simply refers to "the state of a group of neurons".
    What we do is determined by the state of the group of neurons B2. This complies with premise 2, again since premise 2 simply refers to "the state of a group of neurons".
    So with these two specific premises, both of which comply with the wording of your premises, you would have us conclude that as far as we know what we do may be determined by our consciousness. Yet we also know from the specific premises that we have gone with that this will not be the case: consciousness is related to group B1, what we do related to group B2. I.e. You end up with a false conclusion. And this makes it invalid.
    Now, I guess you didn't intend the premises to be interpreted that way, but them's the breaks. You have been left with a demonstrably invalid syllogism.
    It is certainly more convenient to do so, and to then apply the uncertainty as a matter of confidence in the soundness of the premises. But it doesn't alter that I find your argument, as posted by you, to be invalid.
    Oh, I'm sure that there is some modal logic that caters for possibilities, uncertainties and so forth, but it can't change the wording you provided. Only if you word to remove the possibility of exampling specific groups of neurons (that can turn your syllogism false) will your form be valid. Until then it remains invalid.

    The rest of your post is ignored for the irrelevant waffle it is.
     
  22. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

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    1,123
    OK, I get what you mean, but that doesn't equate to the way I worded my argument, unless you proved that it does.
    No, not the way it is actually worded. Only your redacting leads to an invalid argument and so far you haven't proved otherwise. You seem pleased with making unsupported assertions.
    Yeah, even "may" if you want. That still doesn't lead to invalidity.
    Here you are assessing a very different argument:
    Premise 1 - For all we know, somebody's conscious mind may be the state of the group of neurons B1 in this person's brain;
    Premise 2 - What somebody does is determined by the state of the group of neurons B2 in this person's brain;
    Conclusion - Therefore, for all we know, what somebody does may be determined by the conscious mind of this person.
    And this argument has very little to do with my own argument.
    You should be arguing on the basis of the argument as it is worded and phrased. As long as you insist on redacting my argument, your assessment of the validity of my argument will be irrelevant.
    Still, at least what you say here makes clear what your reasons are. It also confirms what I initially thought your mistake was. So, thanks, although it did take you a very long time to articulate your reasoning properly. However, your conclusion is still irrelevant for the reasons given.
    Just reading that should be enough for you to see that you are reasoning about an argument which is very different from mine.
    And so this conclusion is irrelevant to my argument.
    I indented the premises to be interpreted as they should, something you have failed to do so far as demonstrated by the reasoning you gave here.
    You should take part in the poll I started on the subject.
    EB
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    It separates the issues of uncertainty (doubt as to soundness) from validity of an otherwise standard logical syllogism, and does so in a way that preserves the wording.
    You don't like that approach, fair enough. We move on.
    I haven't redacted anything. I've offered you a fairly straight forward explanation, and example, as to why those premises - as worded by you - could still end up with a false conclusion.
    Nothing is unsupported. It is laid out for you in quite simplistic terms.
    So you assert.
    I am offering you an example of where the premises lead to a false conclusion. The premises merely state "the state of a group". I am applying specific examples to that. Both B1 and B2 fall under "a group", or do you deny that? As such I have shown quite clearly that your premises can lead to a false conclusion.
    And thus invalid.
    I am. It is precisely because of the way you have worded it that the issue arises. Your wording equates B1 and B2 as both being "a group of neurons". Your wording does not preclude someone from opting for B1 and B2, both satisfying your "a group of neurons". And when they do they reach a false conclusion.
    I am not redacting it. I am explaining how your wording allows for the possibility of true premises and a false conclusion.
    My reasoning has not changed from my first post to this. I have not articulated it differently in any significant way. I am not redacting anything but rather simply showing that your wording leads to situations where the premises can be true and the conclusion false.
    If you don't want to take that as indication of your argument being invalid, so be it.
    Again, I am providing an example of how your argument, as worded by you, can lead to true premises and a false conclusion. That I have to provide wording to articulate the example is only to be expected and no grounds for claiming that I am therefore reasoning a different argument. It is the same argument, but a specific example within it.
    Something about horses and water should go here. Don't get too thirsty.
    You can intend them how you want, but if the wording you used allows for specific examples within otherwise general terms that result in your argument being demonstrably invalid, the onus is on you to reword if you want the argument to remain valid, not on the reader.
     

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