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Do split-brain cases disprove the existence of an immaterial soul? (Part One)

A battle royal over split-brain patients has been raging on a post at Uncommon Descent for the past four weeks. I was unaware of this vigorous debate until a couple of days ago, as I’ve been working on several posts of my own, which will (hopefully) be up soon. However, after having viewed the comments on the split brain thread, I’ve decided to make my own contribution to the debate, as someone who has a long-standing interest in the mind-body problem.

How it all started

Over at The Skeptical Zone, KeithS threw down the gauntlet in a post titled, Split-brain patients and the dire implications for the soul (June 22, 2013). I’ll quote a brief excerpt here:

There is a procedure, the corpus callosotomy, that disconnects the two hemispheres so that epileptic seizures cannot spread from one to the other. The hemispheres are only disconnected; neither is removed. This operation contains the seizures, dramatically improving the patient’s quality of life, but it also severs the path through which the hemispheres normally communicate. The results are fascinating, and they’re not very friendly to the dualist position:

a. In experiments with split-brain patients, it’s possible to pass information to one hemisphere but not the other. The left hemisphere literally doesn’t know what the right hemisphere knows, and vice-versa.

If there were a single, immaterial mind, it would know what both hemispheres know. Clearly, this doesn’t happen…

b. The left hemisphere controls the right half of the body, and vice-versa. When the connection between the two is cut, this results in bizarre behaviors indicating the presence of two “wills” in the same skull.

One patient was seen to pick up a cigarette with her right hand and place it in her mouth. Her left hand plucked it out and threw it away before the right hand could light it.

In another case, a man attacked his wife with one arm while defending her with the other.

If a single immaterial mind were running the show, this would not happen. How do you explain this within the dualist framework?

KeithS then drew the attention of Uncommon Descent readers to his post in a comment on Denyse O’Leary’s post, Why materialist neuroscience must necessarily remain a pseudo-discipline (June 24, 2013). In a subsequent comment, KeithS then set forth his assumptions as follows (I’ve amended the numbering that was in the original post):

Assume that:

1. There is an immaterial soul.
2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
5. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
6. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

If one makes all of these assumptions, then it id indeed true that dualism is in trouble. However, no dualist that I know makes all of these assumptions.

There are many kinds of dualism

Before I go on, however, I’d like to correct a common error. Many people seem to be under the impression that there are two and only two kinds of dualism: first, the substance dualism widely attributed by Descartes, who (according to many scholars) viewed mind and body as two distinct things that interact with one another; and second, the property dualism espoused by certain modern philosophers (e.g. Thomas Nagel and Jaegwon Kim), who say that the human brain has both physical properties (e.g. its weight and color) and non-physical properties (e.g. the sensations experienced by the owner of the brain in question, as well as his/her beliefs and desires), and that although the brain’s non-physical properties are emergent phenomena that are incapable of being explained in purely physical terms, they nonetheless supervene upon these physical properties, which means that they have no genuine independence of their own. Professor William Dembski has done an excellent job of exposing the inadequacies of property dualism from a theistic standpoint in his two essays, Converting matter into mind and Conflating matter and mind, so I shall say nothing more about this kind of dualism here.

There are, however, two intermediate versions of dualism between substance and property dualism, which KeithS appears to be unaware of. I’ll call them Version A and Version B for now. According to both versions, mind and body (or rather, soul and body) are not two things; rather, the human person is an essential unity. On both versions, the soul of an organism – be it a microbe, plant, fungus or animal – is simply its underlying principle of unity or form, by virtue of which it is (a) one organism, and (b) an organism of a particular kind. The human soul can thus be defined as the form of the human body – i.e. that by virtue of which my body is a human body, and not the body of another animal (say, a chimpanzee). The attribute which distinguishes the human soul from other animal souls is its ability to reason. However, the human soul’s ability to reason does not distinguish us from the animals; rather, it distinguishes us as animals. To be a human being is simply to be a rational kind of animal.

According to bother Version A and Version B, human beings are essentially animals, who are nonetheless capable of performing two distinct kinds of acts, or operations: rational acts such as reasoning, understanding, making free choices, and being charitable towards other people, which are in some way immaterial; and material acts such as feeding, growing, sensing, imagining, remembering, feeling, and moving. Because of the essential unity of the human person, even these material acts are often performed in a distinctively rational manner, which is why there is a distinctively human way of eating, for instance, that marks us out from all the other animals: we insist on observing certain customs (table manners) when we eat, we divide our meals into sequential stages (courses) and we also plan our meals in advance.

It should be noted that memory is viewed as a bodily capacity on both versions of dualism being discussed here. Neither account envisages us as having an “invisible information bank” in an immaterial soul, where we keep our memories. Memories, on both accounts, are stored in the brain.

On both of these versions of dualism, bodily acts are also acts of the soul, as the soul is essentially the form of the body, and not some detached entity piloting the body, as a demon might do if it were possessing someone. Thus when I eat an apple, it is I who decides to eat the apple, and it is I who reaches out, puts it in my mouth, chews it and swallows it. These actions are all attributable to one person.

Where the two versions of dualism differ is on the question of whether the soul can be legitimately said to interact with the body. On Version A it can, and on version B it can’t.

According to Version A dualism, whenever we perform voluntary actions, our immaterial mental acts of thinking and choosing actually make our bodies move – presumably by acting on some part of the brain, which in turn triggers the nerve signals that move our limbs. Thus our bodily acts are controlled by our immaterial thoughts and choices. Since this version of dualism claims that persons control their bodies by performing certain immaterial operations, I’ll call it thought control dualism. It is the version of dualism which I espouse.

Version B dualism, like Version A, affirms that intellectual acts of understanding cannot be equated with any kind of bodily acts or processes. However, Version B differs from Version A, in that it denies that my acts of will make my body move, in voluntary actions. My acts of will explain why my body moves, when I want to do something: that is, they account for its finality. And of course, they give my act of moving its distinctively human character, or form. But these acts are not an efficient cause of the body’s voluntary movements: they don’t make the body move. As Professor Edward Feser, who is a leading exponent of Version B, puts it:

The soul doesn’t “interact” with the body considered as an independently existing object, but rather constitutes the matter of the human body as a human body in the first place, as its formal (as opposed to efficient) cause… As I move my fingers across the keyboard, then, … the neuromuscular processes are by themselves only the material-cum-efficient causal aspect of a single event of which my thoughts and intentions are the formal-cum-final causal aspect. (Italics mine – VJT.)

More recently, Professor Feser has stated that when I perform a voluntary action, my decision and the neural activity that makes my limbs move are not “two competing candidates for efficient cause,” but are instead “two aspects of a single efficient cause, just as the meaning of a sentence and its physical realization are two aspects of one thing.” However, Feser also insists that “intellectual operations do not involve a bodily organ,” which “entails that that which carries out these operations, the human soul, must ‘subsist’ apart from the body; it isn’t a mere accident or attribute of the body.”

Since Feser acknowledges the immateriality of the intellect, but characterizes its role in human action in formal-cum-final causal terns rather than efficient causal terms, I propose to refer to his version of dualism as formal-final dualism.

It should be noted that while the two versions of dualism being compared here can both be described as hylemorphic, they are based on slightly different conceptions of an organism’s form. According to Professor Feser’s formal-final dualism, form follows function: an organism’s form is determined by its built-in goals or ends, and given the ends, just as a knife’s form is determined by its function of cutting (Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2009, pp. 18-19). But according to the thought control dualism which I espouse, a thing’s form is not a simple consequence of its having certain specific ends. There is more to form than finality. The body of an organism also exhibits a nested hierarchy of control (organism: organ systems: organs: tissues: cells: organelles), and an organism’s form cannot be adequately characterized without specifying this hierarchy.

I personally believe that my thought control dualism is closer in spirit to the thinking of Aquinas and the later Scholastic philosophers than the formal-final dualism advocated by Professor Feser; however, Feser strongly disagrees with me on this point, so I’ll say no more about that in this post.

Finally, I should say a little about substance dualism. Perhaps the most sophisticated modern defense of this view can be found in The Self and Its Brain, by Karl Popper and John C. Eccles (Springer, 1977, hardback; Routledge, 1984, paperback). Actually, Popper and Eccles are trialists: in addition to a World 1 of physical objects and a World 2 of states of consciousness, they also posit a World 3 of culture, knowledge and language, created by human beings. All three worlds interact. However, Eccles’ account of the mind is a dualistic one. According to Eccles, the self-conscious mind interacts with both hemispheres of the brain, but principally with the dominant hemisphere of the brain (the left hemisphere, in most people), which it controls. The minor hemisphere (usually the right hemisphere), is highly skilled in certain ways, and capable of some degree of insight and intelligence, but not (generally speaking) proper language: it can recognize no more than a few words at a time.

How dualists would respond to KeithS’s assumptions

We can now address the assumptions made by KeithS in his discussion of split-brain patients, and compare what substance dualism, thought control dualism and formal-final dualism have to say about them.

1. There is an immaterial soul.

This is true on all three versions of dualism being considered here, although they would explain the soul’s immateriality differently. Only according to substance dualism is the immaterial soul viewed as something separate from the body. On the other two versions, the soul is capable of performing immaterial acts of thinking in addition to the essentially embodied acts that it performs.

2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.

A substance dualist would say yes. A thought control dualist and a formal-final dualist would say that the immaterial soul is the seat of understanding, and that the soul knows, but they would also add that knowledge is not stored “offline” in some immaterial data bank. Because the human person is an essential unity, it is hardly surprising that under normal conditions I am able to access the memories stored in my brain. A thought control dualist would add, however, that the reason why I am able to access these memories “at will” is that God has made me in such a way that my brain is responsive to my acts of will, when it is functioning normally. A formal-final dualist would say that there literally is no “how” involved when I access these memories; I “just do,” because they are my memories, and that’s all we need to say.

3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.

A substance dualist such as Eccles would have no trouble with this statement: he would say that intentions belong to the inner sense in his “World 2.”

A thought control dualist would say that my acts of will are immaterial acts which can be ascribed to my soul but not my body, and that typically, whenever I decide to do something, my acts of will move a certain area in my brain, which initiates certain nerve signals that cause my limbs to move. (I’ve previously explained how this happens without violating the laws of physics in my posts, Is free will dead? and How is libertarian free will possible?)

A formal-final dualist, on the other hand, would say that acts of will are one and the same as the neuronal movements which cause my limbs to move, but viewed under an immaterial, formal-cum-finalistic aspect. That is, acts of will are not disembodied acts which make the brain or any other part of the body move.

4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.

See above. A substance dualist and a thought control dualist would say that the soul executes non-bodily acts of will, which make certain neurons in the brain move in a particular way, which in turn causes voluntary body movements. A formal-final dualist would say that voluntary bodily movements are simply those which we perform willingly.

5. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
6. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

According to Eccles, who is a substance dualist, the soul communicates with the body directly, mainly (and after a brain bisection, exclusively) via the dominant left hemisphere.

A thought control dualist would also maintain that the soul receives (or more properly, abstracts) information from the brain, and that it sends commands to the brain. Once again, because there is a multi-level hierarchy of control when it comes to motor movements, a thought control dualist would have no reason to regard both hemispheres of the brain as equally privileged, in their relation of the soul’s disembodied executive commands.

A formal-final dualist, on the other hand, would say that the whole enterprise of viewing the soul as communicating with the hemispheres of the brain is a fundamentally wrong-headed one. Rather, we should say that acts of the will are simply those acts which cause limb movements, viewed under their formal-cum-finalistic aspect.

So what happens after a brain bisection? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode! In the meantime, here’s some reading to whet readers’ appetites: Eccles (The Human Psyche 1977-1979. The Gifford Lectures, Lecture 1: Consciousness, Self-consciousness and the Brain—Mind Problem and The Self and its Brain (excerpts). Here’s an interesting article on The Unity of Consciousness in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Consciousness, and here’s Thomas Nagel’s article, Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness in Synthese, 22: 396–413 (1971). I’ll be back tomorrow.

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61 Responses to Do split-brain cases disprove the existence of an immaterial soul? (Part One)

  1. Split-brain cases give great support to the idea that free will is false. They can’t, however, disprove the existence of an inmaterial soul.

    Even a 100% materialistic world (except on origins) leaves room for an inmaterial soul, depending on the properties attributed to it.

  2. Proton,

    Split-brain cases give great support to the idea that free will is false.

    Why? Most people experience inner conflicts that they negotiate. Haven’t you ever felt so angry that you felt like hitting someone. But you didn’t. Or maybe you did. ;-)

    Why is there a conflict at all?

    Maybe one can argue that the conflict is part of the illusion of free will. I really wouldn’t know how it could be argued either way. Perhaps one could say one has a free will because it feels that way. Chaos theory demonstrates that nature, especially around the edges, is not deterministic.

    What I do suggest is that the interactions are likely *not* to be simple. Consider quantum effects, particle-wave duality, epigenetics, and so on.

  3. Keiths wanted you to know that he will not be posting to this thread. He believes that he has been banned from posting at UD. He may post responses at TSZ.

  4. A quick comment.

    As I am reading it, both the version A and version B that you discuss would seem to be possibly compatible with a non-reductive physicalism such as might be described as supervenience.

    Am I reading that correctly?

  5. This whole debate is foolish.

    Since when does science explain anything? Science describes and does not explain.

    What is foolish is that a worldview of some kind is mingled into whatever science describes, from whence endless debates take place in which everybody involved searches and finds arguments for his respective worldview.

    Anyway, since the phlogiston theory we know that most scientists will rather die with their false theory than examine the arguments of another which is not mainstream.

    Nowadays where the mainstream theory is evolution, well, if you are not materialistic in your thinking you won’t find any understanding at all of what you may say, because most of those debating do not even have the will to follow you thoughts.

    They will declare your thoughts as “non-scientific” and “stupid”.
    ——–
    Die grosse Täuschung der Moderne ist, dass die Naturwissenschaft uns alles erklärt. Die Naturwissenschaft beschreibt. Sie erklärt garnichts.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    ——–

    But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1Sa 16:7)

    ——-

  6. 6

    “Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    5. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    6. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.”

    If one makes all of these assumptions, then it id indeed true that dualism is in trouble. However, no dualist that I know makes all of these assumptions.

    Well I’m a substance dualist, and I only accept 1 and 3 unequivocally. I would accept 4 with some qualifications.

  7. 7

    Spilt brain implies our brain is the place of thinking and everything we are.
    The bible teaches the soul is this and its unrelated to the brain.
    If there is a problem or change in our thinking it merely can be seen as a issue of interference with the memory.
    No split souls. Just split memories.

  8. 8

    I meant to continue my previous post.

    The qualification of 4 would be as follows:

    Suppose I employed my immaterial will to write a program in my material brain that tells my brain to think lustful thoughts every time I look at a woman. At that point the brain will now run this program every time I happen to see a woman without directly consulting the will each and every time. My will is not required to initiate the action, but the action is still voluntary in the sense that I wrote the program prescribing the action and could potentially delete it. (This provides a neat answer to the split brain problem. Programs written for two hemispheres communicating and resolving competing priorities will no longer function properly if the hemispheres are disconnected.)

    3 I completely reject. 5 and 6 could be true or false but it is impossible to answer the question.

  9. 9

    Darn it. I mean “2″ I completely reject. “3″ I accept unequivocably.

  10. 10

    VJ:

    “2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.” A substance dualist would say yes.

    Why? Isn’t knowledge just like memory?

  11. I had to look it up.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/

    Ugh. I know some people really like this stuff, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s like arguing about massless elephants sliding around on frictionless ice, or watching a battle to the death between a blind cobra and a crippled mongoose. :P

  12. @ Vincent

    In case you were unaware, KeithS, the commenter central to your OP is no longer able to post comments here. In the absence of explanations from “management”, I am assuming his registration has been revoked. You are of course able to continue discussion at TSZ where there is minimal interference with the free exchange of ideas.

  13. 13

    Whats rediculous is that skeptics keep ignoring all the evidence for veridical nde’s to pretend that there is no evidence or its some kind of hallucination.

    Split brain doesnt disprove free will at all. Damaging one hemisphere just proves that you can damage one piece of the hardware, nothing else

  14. What would help me is to know how many souls a split-brain patient has according to each theory.

  15. keiths has nothing to say- all he has is his BS, strawmen and more unsupported nonsense. IOW keiths isn’t central to anything but keiths.

    Buy hey that goes for all anti-ID people.

  16. I would like to try a comment. I must say that I prefer not to reason in terms of “substance”, so I will try to stay more empirical.

    So, let’s say that I believe that the perceiver of all conscious experiences is a transcendental subject. And that, in the human case, that subject is in some way connected to the perception of data from the body and brain. So, my view on the famous 6 points could be as follows:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.

    Well, let’s say that certainly there is a self which is the subject of all conscious experiences, and I don’r believe that such a self can be explained in material terms. I will not say more, because for me the term “material” is much more difficult to define than the term “subjective self”.

    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.

    Not exact. Let’s say that the self is the “seat” where all subjective experiences take place, including those of meaning and cognition. But meanings and cognition are experiences about data that come as input to the self.

    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.

    I would rather say that the self is the originator of free acts, in the sense of free responses to stimuli, choices between possible responses.

    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.

    Yes, the self does that, in the sense I have specified. But those voluntary actions (free choice about how to respond) certainly depend also on the input the self receives.

    5. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.

    OK. In normal conditions, I suppose that is true. The self certainly receives inputs from both emispheres.

    6. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    I would say that, in a normal brain, the self interacts with the whole brain according to the brain structure and workings.

    So, what happens with a split brain? IMO, the answer is simple enough. The self receives completely different inputs from the two emispheres, inputs that are no more correctly integrated, and reacts as it can. Where is the problem?

    The coexistence of apparently contrasting “acts” is no evidence of two separate perceivers, but of contrasting inputs to the same perceiving self. We must remember that in humans the self is strongly conditioned by its inputs, and that is perfectly compatible with the existence of free will and of free choices. A self which is obliged to choose how to react to split inputs does exactly that. Its final actions will appear split because the inputs are split, not because there are two separate perceivers.

    That would be my answer to Mark’s post #14.

  17. Where is the problem?

    I guess it only arises if you think the self is or is associated with an immaterial soul. In a split-brain patient, must there be two souls or can one soul manage two selfs?

  18. Alan:

    It depends on what you mean by “soul” and “self”.

    As I said, if we conceive of the self as the transcendental subject, I can see no problem at all. The self can certainly manage two different “personalities”, in an abnormal condition of the brain. I don’t mean that it can manage them “well”. The condition remains abnormal, some form of “disease”. But there is no need at all to require two different “subjects”.

    The structures of the mind are not the self. The mind works with the inputs of the brain, and is strongly related to them (in both directions). But all subjective representations happen ultimately in the transcendental self.

    I am always surprised at how reductionists consider very trivial points as evidence that conscious experiences are only a product of the brain. I always say that we have been completely aware of the strict relationships between matter and consciousness for millennia. Whoever has perceived a colour, felt a physical pain, or just acted on material objects, knows all too well that matter and consciousness are strictly related. But in no way that means that matter generates consciousness.

    So, what is new in our “modern” neuroscience? Nothing at all. We discover that a molecule in our brain makes us feel sad, and we think we have understood the mystery of sadness. Complete folly! The mystery of pain was completely there since the first man cut his finger with a stone. Matter does condition us. A lot. We all know that.

    If it is matter outside our body (a knife, cold, fire) or matter in our body (a neurotransmitter, a damage to our brain), what is the difference. It is matter influencing consciousness all the same.

    So, yes, if we cut the corpus callosum, we do create a completely new condition for the self. But the self is always the same. In the same way, if we educate a boy in a way or another, he will change. But the self is always the same.

    In psychiatric patients, the self may perceive very different things, compared to a “normal” person. But it is there just the same. While we sleep or dream, our self perceives different states. In a dream, we can be a very different person than we are when we are awake. In a dream, we are sometimes many different persons. In life too, many times. But our self is always our self. It’s me. “I” suffer, not another person. “I” enjoy, not another person. The subject remains the same.

  19. Thanks for an always thoughtful response, gpuccio. You are a singular ID proponent!

    My eternal problem with dualism is the interface. I can deal with reality and I can imagine the imaginary. It’s the crossover, the impinging, the interface that is the issue for me. There has to be aviolation of the sum of mass and energy for this to happen and it should be detectable. Do you think it is worth looking?

  20. Alan:

    It is certainly worth looking. But, as you may remember, I am not sure that a violation of mass and energy is really necessary. It is a possibility, however.

    What is absolutely necessary is a violation of the intrinsic probabilistic laws at quantum level. ID theory is the mainframe to detect that. It is the emergence of meaning and purpose in apparently meaningless and purposeless matter that really counts. That’s why the concept of CSI, in all its forms, is a true revolution in human thought: it connects consciousness with something that can be measured in matter.

    And anyway, are you so sure that matter is reality and imagination is imaginary? Matter is even difficult to define. And imagination happens in reality, after all…

  21. @Querius

    One of the things that (to my constant surprise) is always ignored in free will discussions is that neurology is not all there is to it. Quantum effects, particle-wave duality, epigenetics, etc are indirect and complicated ways to dive into the study of free will.

    A more direct approach, and more fruitful in my opinion, is to study the correlation between certain choices and people’s backgrounds/circumstances, and if a correlation exists, then it suggests that choices aren’t really free (even if they look like it), because they are constrained by higher forces, such forces being the background and/or circumstances. I’ve discussed this with Barb for weeks now I think, here and here.

    Just to clarify, by “background/circumstances” I mean genes, culture, health, past events, etc, basically anything that can have an effect in decisions.

    Since determination of this correlation is a matter of direct observation with clear-cut results, then it’s great as a form of empirical evidence against free will, and the most important reason I personally regard free will as a useful fairy tale (I still believe in an inmaterial soul, I just don’t see evidence of it’s interaction with the material world)

  22. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the update about KeithS. I’ll be back in about 14 hours with further comments. I might visit TSZ if I have the time (I’m working on half a dozen posts at the moment).

  23. Since there are many competing interests in this post as to definition of soul and free will, and since, contrary to the Darwinists abuse of empirical evidence, empirical evidence is suppose to have final say as to what is true in science. Let’s, once again, review what our best empirical evidence can tell us about the existence of a transcendent soul. First, for a little background, let’s remember the disparity in observational evidence as to a soul when compared to observational evidence for Darwinism:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life, or origin of a molecular machine, or origin of a protein), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Michaela’s Amazing NEAR death experience – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....age#t=629s

    Even a survey people who have been blind from birth found that they was a remarkably consistent finding of being able to see for the first time:

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-147-1.pdf

    Moreover, all ad hoc rationalizations by materialists to try to ‘explain away’ these findings have fallen by the wayside

    Dr. Jeffrey Long: Just how strong is the evidence for a afterlife? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mptGAc3XWPs

    All this evidence is fine and well as to giving us strong reason to suspect there is a transcendent soul which survives after death, but can we establish the case for a soul more rigorously as far as empirical measurement itself is concerned? Yes, we can! First a little background on the Bell and Leggett inequalities:

    Quantum Entanglement – (Bohr-Einstein) – The Failure Of Local Realism – Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.

    Preceding quote taken from this following video;

    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)
    http://vimeo.com/37517080

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

  24. please note the extreme level of certainty to which this finding is confirmed:

    Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    And although I am not quite sure what it means to violate something by ’80 orders of magnitude’, (I suspect it is a very good level of certainty since the universe ‘only’ has 80 orders of magnitude subatomic particles in it), the following test went beyond even that 10^80 level of certainty:

    A simple approach to test Leggett’s model of nonlocal quantum correlations – 2009
    Excerpt of Abstract: Bell’s strong sentence “Correlations cry out for explanations” remains relevant,,,we go beyond Leggett’s model, and show that one cannot ascribe even partially defined individual properties to the components of a maximally entangled pair.
    http://www.mendeley.com/resear.....relations/

    But to see how much confidence we can put in these quantum experiments, I was able to find another ballpark figure for how confident we can be that ‘transcendent’ quantum non-locality is real:

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – June 11, 2013
    Excerpt: that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    The following articles gives us a small glimpse as to what it truly means for non-local, beyond space and time, quantum entanglement to be confirmed to an order of ’70 standard deviations’:

    Standard deviation
    Excerpt: Particle physics uses a standard of “5 sigma” for the declaration of a discovery.[3] At five-sigma there is only one chance in nearly two million that a random fluctuation would yield the result.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....le_physics

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....air-coins/

    That means we can have more confidence than we can even reasonably imagine that these findings for a ‘Theistic’ universe are correct. Thus as far as any supposed conflict between science and faith, it appears the atheistic/materialistic religion is the one left holding the bag as to requiring its believers to have complete ‘blind faith’ with no real evidence that it is true:

    Where this non-local, ‘outside space and time’, quantum entanglement gains traction within molecular biology as to firmly establishing a transcendent soul for each man, woman and child, is here. Quantum entanglement/information has now been found within molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement between the electron clouds of nucleic acids in DNA – Elisabeth Rieper, Janet Anders and Vlatko Vedral – February 2011
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxi.....4053v2.pdf

    It turns out, besides DNA, that non-local quantum entanglement/information has been confirmed to be deeply embedded in protein structures as well;

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini and Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.
    http://www.scimednet.org/quant.....d-protein/

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

  25. Moreover, These following studies indicate that quantum information cannot be destroyed (i.e. quantum information is found to be ‘conserved’)

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    semi-related note:

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    clear implications of all this?

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

    Supplemental short video as to how completely devastated atheistic materialism now is by recent findings in quantum mechanics

    Divinely Planted Quantum States – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTBygadaM4#t=156s

    Verse and music:

    John 3:12
    I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

    High School Musical 2 – You are the music in me
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAXaQrh7m1o

    There are some more nuances to be drawn out towards free will from advances in the Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment, but suffice it for now to say that it is obvious as daylight that as far as our best empirical evidence from physics is concerned, the fact that we have a transcendent soul is just about as well established in science as any other theory in science is since the evidence for a soul does, in fact, rely directly on experimental proof from quantum mechanics which is arguably our most rigorously established theory in science ever.

  26. Proton,

    Since determination of this correlation is a matter of direct observation with clear-cut results, then it’s great as a form of empirical evidence against free will, and the most important reason I personally regard free will as a useful fairy tale (I still believe in an inmaterial soul, I just don’t see evidence of it’s interaction with the material world)

    Have you ever read James Gleick’s Chaos?

    If not, I’d recommend it (or equivalent) to convince you beyond any doubt that scientific determinism is dead, and that various phenomena in certain conditions, as demonstrated first in meteorology, then electronics, mathematics, and other fields, are absolutely not predictable. Within chaos, you can easily hide God, free will, the Hellenistic view of the soul, the Hebrew view of the soul and the spirit, and who knows what else!

    Apparently, it turns out that the Harvard Law of Animal Behavior was correct after all:

    “Under carefully controlled conditions, animals behave as they jolly well please.”

    ;-)

  27. Gpuccio #16

    The coexistence of apparently contrasting “acts” is no evidence of two separate perceivers, but of contrasting inputs to the same perceiving self. We must remember that in humans the self is strongly conditioned by its inputs, and that is perfectly compatible with the existence of free will and of free choices. A self which is obliged to choose how to react to split inputs does exactly that. Its final actions will appear split because the inputs are split, not because there are two separate perceivers.

    When the self is reacting to one set of inputs is it aware that there is another set of inputs?

    If so, surely that awareness is part of its input and so it is odd that it should end up reacting in two ways simultaneously that conflict.

    If not, how can anyone (including the self) tell if there is one self or two?

  28. VJT: F/N, AF at 12 above, is willfully suppressing material context, slander by KS that I know for a fact you, AF, know or should know as this came out in the thread you were involved with where it happened he has neither retracted nor apologised for, as he has publicly stated [FYI AF, free speech does not include a 'right' to smear, falsely accuse to damage the reputation of others, defame etc . . . but then evo mat, due to its inescapable amorality, boils down to rights being kidnapped and tortured into saying they are anything you can get away with or persuade others to allow you to get away with, as Plato warned us long since in 360 BC], and inviting a side track. AF, your enabling behaviour and willfully continued misrepresentation (which FYI is deceptive: you know or SHOULD know better but choose instead to push false talking points . . . ) are duly noted as you continue to show your evo mat ideological agendas, involvement in a current smear and willingness to resort to tactics of misrepresentation. KF

  29. Mark:

    Have you ever heard of multitasking? Why shouldn’t the self be able to do what even Windows can do all the time?

  30. Mark:

    Just to be more specific: the self is always the same, but it receives different inputs separately, and so reacts to them separately. While it may appear that the self reacts to both sets of inputs at the same time, you know quite well that the flow of consciousness is made up of innumerable separate parts, continuously mixed up in time. The non integration of the brain reports inevitably reflects as the apparently contrasting outputs the self gives to the brain itself, quantum time after quantum time.

    And, to answer your last question: how can you be sure that your self today is the same as your self yesterday? Why do you (as me) worry about what will happen to you tomorrow in a way that is slightly :) different from the way you worry about someone else?

    And, just to be even more clear about the continuity of the self beyond its mental identifications, a very simple question:

    If you knew with absolute certainty that the following two events will take place:

    a) This evening you will loose all your present memories.

    b) Tomorrow you will be imprisoned and killed.

    will you still be worrying about what will happen to you tomorrow?

    I definitely would!

  31. Hi Kairosfocus,

    Thanks very much for the link to your article. I’d say it’s one of the most convincing refutations I’ve read in a long while. Thanks again.

  32. Kairosfocus writes:

    AF at 12 above, is willfully suppressing material context, slander by KS that I know for a fact you, AF, know or should know as this came out in the thread you were involved with where it happened he has neither retracted nor apologised for, as he has publicly stated [FYI AF, free speech does not include a 'right' to smear, falsely accuse to damage the reputation of others, defame etc . . . but then evo mat, due to its inescapable amorality, boils down to rights being kidnapped and tortured into saying they are anything you can get away with or persuade others to allow you to get away with, as Plato warned us long since in 360 BC], and inviting a side track. AF, your enabling behaviour and willfully continued misrepresentation (which FYI is deceptive: you know or SHOULD know better but choose instead to push false talking points . . . ) are duly noted as you continue to show your evo mat ideological agendas, involvement in a current smear and willingness to resort to tactics of misrepresentation. KF

    I think KF is saying that I am misrepresenting why KeithS was banned from this site recently. I am indeed guessing the reason. This is because there has been no explanation. If what KF writes above is meant as an explanation, then I am no wiser, other than it was at KF’s instigation, which does not surprise me.

    You have a very odd way of conducting yourself on the internet but it does not appear to concern you how you appear to others, so, live and let live.

    PS @ Vincent:

    TSZ, I am sure, would be happy to host an OP from you (please remember to use the “below-the-fold” feature ;) ) and welcome you as a regular if you have the time and inclination. Moderation is light but fair (and transparent).

  33. Gpuccio:

    What is absolutely necessary is a violation of the intrinsic probabilistic laws at quantum level.

    Well, yes, except… In fact would there be an observable violation. We pragmatists can continue to think stochastic events are such and theists can think that God is rolling the dice. What we observe is no different. Where’s the problem?

    ID makes the unsupportable claim that there is some scientific mileage in there somewhere, I guess.

  34. PS

    A regular at TSZ, OlegT (a theoretical physicist), is promising to post an OP how quantum mechanics squares with the law of the excluded middle!

  35. I’d say it’s one of the most convincing refutations I’ve read in a long while.

    Really?

    The A/not A concept is meaningless in the real world. Look a that diagram with the thick black line around it. Boundaries are fuzzy. You can’t draw a boundary around Jupiter except arbitrarily.

  36. Alan:

    In fact would there be an observable violation. We pragmatists can continue to think stochastic events are such and theists can think that God is rolling the dice. What we observe is no different. Where’s the problem?

    No. What we observe is different.

    The whole ID theory shows that it is different. Stochastic events generate outputs that never, and I insist never, exhibit CSI in any of its forms, for example dFSCI.

    It is really strange that you, like many on your side, go on avoiding that simple fact. Just denying facts is not a good way to understand how things are.

    The concept of specified information, and the measure of its complexity, are really simple and intuitive concepts. They are powerful tools to understand reality. I really can’t understand how intelligent people may be so obstinate in denying them. Cognitive bias must really be a serious and widespread disease :)

    God, or me, or you, outputting language is not the same as a fair coin being tossed. the two kinds of outputs can and must be distinguished. It’s as simple as that. No violation of mass or energy is necessary. The only necessary thing is that a conscious agent outputs purposeful meaning in one case, while no conscious representations have any role in the other case.

    And what we observe is extremely different.

  37. F/N: Given situations such as this documents, AF knows that the time for bad cop worse cop slander, censorship, career busting, outing etc games played for too long by Darwinists is over. He knows full well that, had KS spoken of points of difference or perceived error instead of false accusations of lying deliberately made SIX times in a single post, and with trumpeting and drumbeat repetition of the falsehood elsewhere for well poisoning purposes, we would not be having this exchange. KS knew the reasonable limits at UD, and he deliberately went over them, to falsely smear both the one he accused and the site that would not tolerate defamation as an alleged expression of freedom of speech. (Does AF want to be associated with that idea, that freedom of expression means freedom to denigrate, defame and abuse?) In short, this is all part of a well poisoning game, and now it is blowback time. Ideologues like AF, KS et al have willingly sacrificed any credibility they may have had, in order to be a part of some very ugly power games being played by Darwinists. Duly noted. KF

    PS: It is normal for the borders of objects to be fuzzy at some level, at minimum, the atomic. Does that mean that there is no reasonable distinction between Jupiter and the rest of the solar system and universe so that we can identify the planet as having a definite identity? Or a cricket ball and the table on which it sits, etc? Or between one day and the next? Or, that we cannot assign a reasonable method to assign a boundary [e.g. crispification on a Zadehan fuzzy border zone, etc . . . where such is needed . . . NB it is normal for measurement of values to have error bars and related stochastic scatter, which makes not a whit of difference to what we are dealing with], even if conventional to some extent as are all measurements in units? Patently not, the objection AF is trying again is just as silly this time around as it has always been.

  38. And, just to be even more clear about the continuity of the self beyond its mental identifications, a very simple question:

    If you knew with absolute certainty that the following two events will take place:

    a) This evening you will loose all your present memories.

    b) Tomorrow you will be imprisoned and killed.

    will you still be worrying about what will happen to you tomorrow?

    To be honest I think I would be as worried about losing all my memories as the killing. It seems to me that is the point I would cease to exist. But it is highly theoretical. It is impossible to imagine what it would be like to have no memories and so we substitute an imagination of some kind of continuity.

    None of this really answers my question. In the case of a split brain patient we have the two halves competing at the same time. Let us assume that they have no knowledge or memory of what the other half is doing. How would anyone know whether it is one self or two? What is the evidence?

  39. Mark:

    The evidence for the continuity of the self comes from myriads of personal observations and intuitions. Once we are sure of the continuity of the self under all circumstances we experience, we can easily infer its continuity also in the case of a split brain. An alternative hypothesis could be the existence of two different selves in that case, IOWs some form of possession. But I don’t think that is the best explanation.

    The point is, the continuity of the self does not depend on memories or any other mental features. The continuity of the self is simply the fact that the same subject experiences all the memories, whatever they are, and the mental states, whatever they are.

    Your “loss of memory” would certainly be a problem, but would not mean you stop existing. We have many examples of loss of memory, more or less complete, and the person goes on existing and experiencing. Do you really think that, between your self before losing memory, and your self after that, there is no continuity? Exactly like, let’s say, the non-relationship between you and some baby who is born in another land? That is ridiculous.

    One classical “thought experiment” derived from science fiction, can very well illustrate the nature of the problem. Let’s say that the sum total of your experiences, memory, personality, and so on can be copied to another brain of another individual, and you still continue to exist like before. What happens then? Two possible scenarios:

    a) My scenario: you remain your self, and go on with your life. The other person remains its self, but acquires the sum total of your mental information. In a sense, he is a “new person”, but it is always his old self that perceives the new information and represents it. He remains himself, even if he becomes mentally similar to you. Why? Because the self is not its mental contents.

    b) Your scenario: the self is its mental contents. So, what happens, according to your point of view? Are you existing as two different, separate persons? Does the same self perceive both brains? That seems unlikely. Have you changed in some way? No. Your mental contents have only been copied. You may even not be aware of that. So, I suppose you will say that the other person has been “killed” as soon as your mental contents were destroyed, and a new person has been “created” from nothing. Is that your belief?

    A strange belief indeed, and one against all human intuitions. We strongly believe in the continuity of our self, in spite of all our mental changes. In a dream we may completely forget who we are when we are awake, but still we are ourselves in the dream. It is not only that, once awake, we “remember” the dream. We remember that “we” dreamed that experience. We remember the continuity of our self, not only the contents of the dream.

    Ask anybody if he prefers to loose memory, or to die. I bet most will immediately state that they prefer to lose memory. Why does death worry us so much? Essentially, because we do not accept the idea of non existing any more. OK, those who believe in an afterlife can fear, or desire, death for other reasons, but here I am referring to the basic refusal of our self of the idea that some day it may simply stop to exist.

    Why is that? Because we know, deep in our heart, that we have been existing throughout all pour experiences, be them in the waking state, in dreams, or in deep sleep. We exist, and it is “us” that exists, not someone else. Many others exist, but it is not “us” who perceives their experiences. The problem is not that we have different experiences, memories or convictions. The problem is that we are different perceivers, different selves. It is a completely different concept.

    The self is the single point of perception, beyond time and space, that unifies the myriad of experiences that are perceived in our lives. Those experiences have only one thing in common: they are perceived by the same self. The self is single, unifying, transcendental. A fundamental feature of our consciousness is that it can always shift to a “meta-level” versus the things it is representing, including its faculties and mental properties. IOWs, consciousness can always “observe” itself, in an infinite “mise en abime”. That is the essence of Penrose’s argument about the Godel theorem.

    You are always looking for “evidence” which seems to be mainly some rational Bayesian esteem of probabilities. That will never work with consciousness and its functions. The deepest evidence for those things comes from personal intuition of them. Nothing else will do.

  40. @Querius,

    scientific determinism is dead, and that various phenomena in certain conditions, as demonstrated first in meteorology, then electronics, mathematics, and other fields, are absolutely not predictable.

    I don’t see how this relates to my point. I’m talking about things that we can see happening in real life, regardless of the deterministic nature of the world.

    I’m talking about an pervasive and obvious correlation between people’s backgrounds and their choices in life. Such correlation strongly suggests that even if choices seem to be free, they’re actually always constrained by higher forces, and therefore are not ultimately free.

    I’m talking about a correlation we can see in real life everywhere. It’s not up to discussion, only up to interpretation, and it’s obvious to anyone who observes such correlation in detail that the interpretation is that free will is an illusion.

    Quantum indetermination, chaos theory, etc, all those things are irrelevant in the light of empirical evidence. This correlation can’t be ignored.

  41. Proton,

    Imagine two people named John. They both have had the same experiences in life, both know the same people, and both have made the same moral choices.

    Then they are both faced with a difficult decision.

    Chaos theory, if applied to this hypothetical situation, would predict that they would likely make different choices due to the tiniest unavoidable perturbations. You could hide free will or God in the outcomes.

    Virtually every branch of Science has encountered chaotic effects and behaviors. It’s real. Seriously, go read James Gleick’s book. I’m sure you’ll find it mind bending and relevent!

  42. Gpuccio

    The evidence for the continuity of the self comes from myriads of personal observations and intuitions. Once we are sure of the continuity of the self under all circumstances we experience, we can easily infer its continuity also in the case of a split brain. An alternative hypothesis could be the existence of two different selves in that case, IOWs some form of possession. But I don’t think that is the best explanation.

    My point is not really one about continuity of self. It is about identity. Compare this situation to monozygotic twins. A Christian who believes the self inhabits the body at the point of fertilisation must accept that it is possible for two selves to share a common past (if not memories).  The question is how do we know that is not happening in the case of a split brain patient?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    However on the subject of continuity of self which is also interesting.

    The point is, the continuity of the self does not depend on memories or any other mental features. The continuity of the self is simply the fact that the same subject experiences all the memories, whatever they are, and the mental states, whatever they are.

    We are talking about what it is to the same subject so this does not really help much.

    Your “loss of memory” would certainly be a problem, but would not mean you stop existing. We have many examples of loss of memory, more or less complete, and the person goes on existing and experiencing. Do you really think that, between your self before losing memory, and your self after that, there is no continuity? Exactly like, let’s say, the non-relationship between you and some baby who is born in another land? That is ridiculous.

    Not exactly like that relationship – one can’t help having special feelings for the poor sod who is going to take on a rather pathetic middle-aged body with no idea who he is or where he came from . But I think we cannot imagine what it would be like to have no memories at all.  We probably think it is a bit like forgetting all the semantic knowledge ever had. But memory is much more than semantic memory.  The way we perceive the world; the things we attend to; the emotions created by a smell; they are all heavily moulded by our past experience. What we would have to imagine is being a like a new-born baby in a middle-aged body and I just can’t do that.

    b) Your scenario: the self is its mental contents. So, what happens, according to your point of view? Are you existing as two different, separate persons? Does the same self perceive both brains? That seems unlikely. Have you changed in some way? No. Your mental contents have only been copied. You may even not be aware of that. So, I suppose you will say that the other person has been “killed” as soon as your mental contents were destroyed, and a new person has been “created” from nothing. Is that your belief?

    My whole point is that the concept of self is clear when we all occupy one body with continuity of memory etc but becomes very unclear when you have a split-brain patients or start to do these thought experiments because there is no self in addition to the  body and  what happens to it.  You are making my point for me.

    …..
    A strange belief indeed, and one against all human intuitions.
    Because we know, deep in our heart, that we have been existing throughout all pour experiences,  The self is single, unifying, transcendental. em.
    You are always looking for “evidence” which seems to be mainly some rational Bayesian esteem of probabilities. That will never work with consciousness and its functions. The deepest evidence for those things comes from personal intuition of them. Nothing else will do.
    …..

    I am afraid this kind  makes it difficult to have a debate.  I want evidence. You say I have rely on intuition. How we do take that forward if my intuitions are different from yours?

  43. @Querius

    Imagine two people named John. They both have had the same experiences in life, both know the same people, and both have made the same moral choices.

    Then they are both faced with a difficult decision.
    Chaos theory, if applied to this hypothetical situation, would predict that they would likely make different choices due to the tiniest unavoidable perturbations. You could hide free will or God in the outcomes.

    Virtually every branch of Science has encountered chaotic effects and behaviors. It’s real. Seriously, go read James Gleick’s book. I’m sure you’ll find it mind bending and relevent!

    But you are ignoring the most important empirical evidence: The obvious correlation between people’s choices and their backgrounds/circumstances.

    The chaos scenario might be true, however, in real human experience, we DO see that people with certain backgrounds and in certain circumstances make similar choices. This is undeniable. And therefore we have a REAL and justified reason to believe that choices are always constrained by higher forces.

    If you want to believe free will is real, then you must believe that this correlation is just an astronomical coincidence. Sounds as crazy to me as an atheist who wants to believe that the fine-tuning is just a big accident.

  44. Hi Alan Fox (#35),

    Thank you for your post. In response to your claim that the A vs. not-A distinction is meaningless in the real world, because boundaries are inherently fuzzy: the distinction between a predicate and its negation doesn’t require a spatial boundary but a clear definition of that predicate. Some predicates (e.g. bald, tall, yellow) are to some degree vague; others are quite precise (e.g. three-dimensional, terrestrial, DNA-based, eukaryotic, 46-chromosomed, married, licensed to drive, a member of the ACLU, and testate).

    The distinction between oneself and other beings does not require a boundary. The very act of asking “What am I?” or “Who am I?” creates the awareness that in asking the question, one is distinguishing oneself from the rest of reality, and inquiring about the nature and identity of that self. So long as the question can be asked, the distinction can be made. Thus I would answer that the self vs. not-self distinction here is a constructive one: it does not presuppose the existence of any arbitrary or fuzzy boundary. I hope that helps.

  45. Proton,

    I’m surprised by your claim that free will can’t explain the fact that people with similar life experiences make similar choices. What’s the problem here? Has anyone ever claimed that our choices are totally free? No – I’d say we’re free sometimes, but in many respects, we aren’t. We’re all under constraints of various sorts. But we do have quite a lot of freedom nonetheless. Look at twin studies if you don’t believe me: people with identical DNA and upbringings can turn out surprisingly different.

    The fact that people often tend to make the same life choices is due to the social nature of human beings: most people feel uncomfortable being too different from all the rest, so they tend to flock together – for instance, they go to the same movies, eat the same foods and so on. You see the same phenomenon in stock market trading. That illustrates the point that people are conformists, but conformity itself is a choice. People can and do dare to be different.

  46. @vjtorley

    Thanks for being patient and curious about my position (instead of going all over the place like others).

    It’s a cat and mouse discussion. No matter how convincing the evidence is for a correlation between background and choices, Christians always say that, ultimately, there’s a free choice somewhere in the chain of decisions.

    But such view begs the question, because it either ignores the small things that lead to a choice or the big things that lead to a choice, depending on the context (or convenience). For example, you accepted that the choice of going to the same movies or eating the same food as others is actually constrained by a underlying conformist personality, however you ignored (deliberately or not) that the decision of being a conformist can ALSO be constrained by other underlying factors, for example having had conformist parents. There are underlying (and therefore constraining) factors in all choices we make, not just those convenient ones that adjust to free will.

    This illustrates my point that in a chain of decisions Christians place the “necessary free choice” somewhere in there only based on convenience. There’s no reason, other than blind faith, to believe that decisions can’t be traced back indefinitely to underlying causes. Christians just cut the chain on purpose to place a free choice there somewhere without bothering to investigate what could have caused a determined decision.

    If I say that higher forces constrain choices, Christians say that even then, at the time of making the choice, the choice is still free. And if I say that the details define the choices, then Christians take the free choice and move it back somewhere where it fits in the chain of decisions (like you did when you claimed that conformity is “the” free choice, without considering what could have caused such choice from the start).

    The thing is, Christians apparently accept that we live in a sea of choice constrainment, but still believe that free will is real. Why? Because they must believe that free will is there SOMEWHERE.

    But if you move around a “free choice” on a chain of otherwise contrained decisions accordingly to where it fits best, then you should realize how ad hoc that is. Isn’t this convenient way of thinking about the place of free will in choices suspicious to you?

    Isn’t it more rational to accept that ALL choices are constrained and that trying to put a free choice “somewhere in there” is just forced and imposed by a Christian mentality?

    From a non-religious and more objective viewpoint, if we see that “We’re all under constraints of various sorts” (as you said), then it’s simply more rational to believe that ALL decisions are constrained, a mindset that also leads to empathy and understanding, because it leads to investigate the reason behind a choice instead of blaming the person upfront. There’s no need to put free will in the equation unless you have an a priori assumption that it HAS to be there somewhere.

    Look at twin studies if you don’t believe me: people with identical DNA and upbringings can turn out surprisingly different.

    This helps me illustrate my point again: “identical upbringings” are not really identical, you’re ignoring the differences because is convenient, since is the piling up of such differences the ones than can turn out into major differences long term. Identical DNA is not all there is to it also, since I’ve seen some cases where in identical twins one of them turned out gay, and the reason was an unequal distribution of testosterone before birth, where one twin got less and the other more, producing changes in the brain development of both twins, making one of them gay (the one with lack of testosterone).

    This is another case where I see Christians trying to simplify the complexity of someone’s background to avoid choices being accounted to that background. Such thinking leads to an insensitivity, lack of empathy and emotional detachement charactersitic to Christians.

  47. Proton continues,

    This illustrates my point that in a chain of decisions Christians place the “necessary free choice” somewhere in there only based on convenience. There’s no reason, other than blind faith, to believe that decisions can’t be traced back indefinitely to underlying causes.

    Except for the fact that there is no empirical evidence of this. You are operating on as much blind faith in your worldview as you claim Christians are.

    Christians just cut the chain on purpose to place a free choice there somewhere without bothering to investigate what could have caused a determined decision.

    Christians understand that there are external and internal factors influencing the decision-making process. Please stop ignoring facts that you find inconvenient.

    If I say that higher forces constrain choices, Christians say that even then, at the time of making the choice, the choice is still free.

    That is what being a free moral agent is all about.

    And if I say that the details define the choices, then Christians take the free choice and move it back somewhere where it fits in the chain of decisions (like you did when you claimed that conformity is “the” free choice, without considering what could have caused such choice from the start).

    This is because the details, however relevant, don’t always define the choices. You are trying desperately to fit everyone into a mold of your own making, and it really isn’t working.

    The thing is, Christians apparently accept that we live in a sea of choice constrainment, but still believe that free will is real. Why? Because they must believe that free will is there SOMEWHERE.

    Christians believe in free will because they believe it is designed in them as free moral agents. Humans are created in the image of God who, acting as a free moral agent Himself, created everything.

    But if you move around a “free choice” on a chain of otherwise contrained decisions accordingly to where it fits best, then you should realize how ad hoc that is. Isn’t this convenient way of thinking about the place of free will in choices suspicious to you?

    Not so much convenient as much as “conforms to reality as we know it.”

    Isn’t it more rational to accept that ALL choices are constrained and that trying to put a free choice “somewhere in there” is just forced and imposed by a Christian mentality?

    No, because you haven’t proven that ALL choices are constrained. Why? Because you don’t have knowledge of all choices made.

    From a non-religious and more objective viewpoint, if we see that “We’re all under constraints of various sorts” (as you said), then it’s simply more rational to believe that ALL decisions are constrained, a mindset that also leads to empathy and understanding, because it leads to investigate the reason behind a choice instead of blaming the person upfront. There’s no need to put free will in the equation unless you have an a priori assumption that it HAS to be there somewhere.

    It’s not simply more rational. It’s your worldview, which is unsupported by empirical evidence. You are operating under an a priori assumption of there being no free will.

    This helps me illustrate my point again: “identical upbringings” are not really identical, you’re ignoring the differences because is convenient, since is the piling up of such differences the ones than can turn out into major differences long term. Identical DNA is not all there is to it also, since I’ve seen some cases where in identical twins one of them turned out gay, and the reason was an unequal distribution of testosterone before birth, where one twin got less and the other more, producing changes in the brain development of both twins, making one of them gay (the one with lack of testosterone).

    Identical twins might grow up to lead similar lives, but many sets of twins do not. I think it’s you that’s ignoring the differences because it shows that not all choices are completely constrained as you argue.

    This is another case where I see Christians trying to simplify the complexity of someone’s background to avoid choices being accounted to that background. Such thinking leads to an insensitivity, lack of empathy and emotional detachement charactersitic to Christians.

    Hasty generalization about Christians. Try using fewer logical fallacies in your arguments.

  48. Barb I won’t respond to the SAME thing over and over again, I dedicated a lot of time to your previous comments. I won’t answer again to what I already did.

    Besides, when you say things like this:

    Humans are created in the image of God who, acting as a free moral agent Himself, created everything.

    I realize that you don’t care about evidence at all, you just put the Bible above anything and everything anyway. It’s not a priority of mine to reason with religious zealots.

  49. Proton,

    But you are ignoring the most important empirical evidence: The obvious correlation between people’s choices and their backgrounds/circumstances.

    I’ve met many people who have overcome their poor circumstances, others who have failed despite their considerable advantages.

    The chaos scenario might be true, however, in real human experience, we DO see that people with certain backgrounds and in certain circumstances make similar choices. This is undeniable. And therefore we have a REAL and justified reason to believe that choices are always constrained by higher forces.

    Of course you realize that all I need is one exception to falsify your position.

    But I would anticipate your response to what I would propose as identical circumstances with different outcomes. You would contend that of necessity there must have been some tiny, easily overlooked difference that made all the difference in the dramatically different outcomes!

    And you would be right! :o

    There always are tiny differences, which is exactly my point, and why within Chaos can hide the action of free will and the intervention of God without any possibility of statistical detection!

  50. Querius:

    Of course you realize that all I need is one exception to falsify your position.

    Not at all. This is a very common mistake.

    My position does not depend on a 100% correlation, actually, it’s YOUR position the one that depends on a 0% correlation!

    My position just requieres the existence of a correlation to prove itself right. Your position requieres the absence of ANY correlation/pattern to prove itself right.

    However, we can see clearly that a correlation exists. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10%, 30% or 70%. The fact that a correlation exists indicates that choices are constrained.

    Actually, any number found below 100% can be said to be an artifact of the conditions of the experiment: More detailed experiments will return higher correlations. In a perfect experiment where we could know in detail someone’s background and their choices, all correlations would be 100%.

    But even though in real life it’s impossible to know absolutely everything about someone, we can STILL infer with great confidence a constrainement, because there’s a positive correlation.

    For example, imagine this experiment:
    (quoted for easier reading)

    -Group A has 200 people of a certain background “A”.
    -Group B has 200 people of a different background “B”.

    Backgrounds “A” and “B” are defined as a combination of factors (for example age, sex, predominant personality, wealth, social status, place of residence, number of siblings, type of job, etc). The more factors that are taken into account when defining the backgrounds, the more precise the results will be.

    First Results: If Group A returns a 37% correlation with choice X, and Group B returns a 3% correlation with choice X, then we can infer that background “A” produces a constrain regarding choice X.

    We can then make a second experiment with Group A to determine WHAT factor has the most correlation with choice X:
    -Separate Group A in several smaller groups each one involving certain factors.
    -Test for choice X again.

    If certain factor, or combination of factors, return an obvious higher correlation with choice X, then we can infer that such factors are the ones producing the higer constrainment regarding choice X.

    The more repetitions, permutations of factors, and the higher the sample size, the more detailed the results will be.

    This experiment would prove without a doubt that choices are constrained by the background of the individuals, and we could even indicate WHAT factors are the ones having the biggest impact/constrainment on certain choice X more.

    But we don’t need to make this experiment at all to prove free will is false. Look at any statistic involving humans, correlations exist EVERYWHERE, in any enviroment or domain of life.

    Therefore, free choice is an illusion. Constrainment is always involved in a choice, whether we are aware of it or not.

  51. Proton:

    I realize that you don’t care about evidence at all, you just put the Bible above anything and everything anyway. It’s not a priority of mine to reason with religious zealots.

    I posted evidence that contradicts your worldview, which you never bothered to respond to. It’s also not a priority of mine to debate with close-minded people who refuse to listen to both sides of a debate.

  52. Proton,

    Thank you for your post. I searched in vain for any positive argument for determinism in your reasoning. What I found instead was an argument that: (i) “there’s no reason, other than blind faith, to believe that decisions can’t be traced back indefinitely to underlying causes”; (ii)”there are underlying (and therefore constraining) factors in all choices we make”; and (iii) “‘identical upbringings’ are not really identical.”

    You want a positive, non-religious argument for free will? Try St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 83, art. 1:

    For reason in contingent matters may follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.

    In order to rebut that argument, you have to show either that reasoning has no impact on the choices we make, or that reasoning itself is determined. I await your demonstration.

    As for the existence of constraints on our choices, I have never denied this. However, I distinguish between constraint and control. The game of chess is constrained by various rules about how you can move the pieces, but these rules don’t enable us to predict the moves that a chess player will actually make.

    It is true that identical upbringings are not perfectly identical, but the prevalence of wide disparities in fundamental attitudes among identical twins certainly weakens the thesis that heredity plus environment determines choices. Even on the basic question, “Is there a God?” we find identical twins frequently disagreeing. See “Atheism and the Apotheosis of Agency1″ by B. Saler at
    ojs.tsv.fi/index.php/temenos/article/download/4628/4492 (page 34) for some relevant statistics. You can try to explain this in terms of small but subtle differences in what each twin has been exposed to, but then your thesis of determinism becomes unfalsifiable.

    Finally, you claim that belief in determinism would make us more empathetic, as we’d stop blaming people for the bad things they do. But the flip side is that we’d stop praising them for the good things they do. Would you want to live in a society without praise or blame? I wouldn’t. As for empathy: someone could easily object, “Why should I care about an entity whose every move has been determined in advance by factors beyond its control. What distinguishes it from a robot, morally speaking?”

    As far as I can tell, determinism produces not empathy but apathy. If you really believe that it’s all up to you, then you’ll do your best. But if you believe that whatever you do, including your decision about whether to try hard, has been determined in advance, then you might let yourself off the hook and say to yourself, “I’m lazy, but I can’t help it.”

  53. vjtorley

    you have to show either that reasoning has no impact on the choices we make, or that reasoning itself is determined.

    I believe the second one is true (our reasoning is determined, and also our feelings and dreams and everything else).

    I base most of my argument in what I think is a very strong argument against free will, which I already said is the very clear correlation between backgrounds and choices we see everywhere. Barb, here, said that correlation does not imply causation, and I refuted that argument in my next comment. I’d like you to read it and tell me what you think, because if my argument stands, then there’s a powerful reason to conclude free will is false.

    As for this:

    Finally, you claim that belief in determinism would make us more empathetic, as we’d stop blaming people for the bad things they do. But the flip side is that we’d stop praising them for the good things they do. Would you want to live in a society without praise or blame? I wouldn’t. As for empathy: someone could easily object, “Why should I care about an entity whose every move has been determined in advance by factors beyond its control. What distinguishes it from a robot, morally speaking?”

    The problem with this view is that empathy, on itself, makes us worry about others, irrespectively of whether we think they’re behaviour is predetermined or not. We’re not robots, robots don’t feel, but we do. If I admire someone for accomplishing something very hard, I don’t find it any less meaningful because I believe that that person was determined to end up that way. Destiny is not what’s meaningful. It’s feelings. It’s the empathy. Those things are real. When we admire others we want to be like them, and when we praise them we want them to feel good because they make us feel good. It’s not important if ultimately our behaviour is predetermined, because empathy is real and it’s effect on us is real. Empathy and human feelings are meaningful whether determinism is true or false.

    As for morality, as I say here, of course I think that no one is ultimately guilty for their actions. But read my full view on that comment I linked.

    As far as I can tell, determinism produces not empathy but apathy. If you really believe that it’s all up to you, then you’ll do your best. But if you believe that whatever you do, including your decision about whether to try hard, has been determined in advance, then you might let yourself off the hook and say to yourself, “I’m lazy, but I can’t help it.”

    My experience doesn’t tell me that advocates of determinism are like that. In my experience people have goals and try to achieve them because they want to be happy. Determinism doesn’t make that motivation any less powerful. I still feel in control of my life because I do things and I see how they affect my enviroment. In this sense, the freedom I feel is not different that the freedom you feel. Just because I believe in determiminsm doesn’t need that I know the future. As far as I can tell, the future will depend on what I do here and now. I feel free to make the choices. Such choices are determined, but because I don’t know the future, I still feel free to make them. I use my previous experiences and my knowledge to weight the options and my personality also plays a role in eventually deciding something.

    Christians believe that choices themselves are what’s important, and therefore in a world where choices are predetermined they may find it hard to find meaning. But for me choices are not really important, for me what’s important is the things we experience, our feelings, our imagination and our dreams, and such things are meaningful whether determinism is true or not. I believe a meaningful life is one where you can experience as much as possible from the Creation, which is the reason I think we exist. “We weren’t created to choose, we were created to dream”, that would be my motto maybe. Determinism maybe even adds more beauty to the Creation in that way. That’s another topic though.

  54. Proton,

    Thanks for the detailed post. I think I understand your position much more clearly.

    Actually, any number found below 100% can be said to be an artifact of the conditions of the experiment: More detailed experiments will return higher correlations. In a perfect experiment where we could know in detail someone’s background and their choices, all correlations would be 100%.

    Heh. You keep making my point for me! Read James Gleick’s book on chaos. One problem, with your position is that according to Chaos theory, as you get more detailed, the results become *more* unpredictable! That’s where a butterfly in Tokyo can indeed be the cause of a storm in Chicago!

    But . . .

    Imagine this scenario. You see a guy laying wounded and unconscious in an alley (this obviously also takes place in Chicago). There is an open briefcase filled with stacks of $100 bills lying next to him. You are conflicted. You can

    a. Take some or all of the money and walk away. (greed)
    b. Walk past pretending you didn’t see anything. (fear)
    c. Finish off the S.O.B. drug dealer! (revenge)
    d. Call 911 and duck around the corner.
    e. Call 911 and try to save his life regardless of the consequences to yourself.

    Regardless of your final decision (mostly deterministic in your view), you experience a brief second of indecision.

    In my perspective, a “weak-willed” person would probably choose a, b, or c because the person is enslaved to their passions and environment (just as you admit is likely).

    But as you grow spiritually stronger through God working in your life, you would become (drumroll). . . more free to choose! Woohoo! And eventually you would begin choosing d or e instead.

    Here’s what Paul writes to the church in Galatia.

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    This is freedom to be able to freely choose, rather than be subject to the slavery of one’s passions!

    This sounds fantastic to me, how about you?

  55. Querius:

    In my perspective, a “weak-willed” person would probably choose a, b, or c because the person is enslaved to their passions and environment (just as you admit is likely).

    But as you grow spiritually stronger through God working in your life, you would become (drumroll). . . more free to choose! Woohoo! And eventually you would begin choosing d or e instead.

    First, let’s define what “spiritual growth” means. In my view, spiritual growth is basically a “higher perspective of the world”, a “better understanding of our place in the cosmos”, or “an ability to see above the mundane and perceive the underlying meaning of things”, which leads to higher empathy, probably also kindness and compassion for other living beings (since we understand more about our place among them). In any case, “spirituality” is just type of “knowledge” (in this case, knowledge in spiritual matters).

    Spiritual growth, then, provides another source of information that we use to make decisions. Our knowledge in car mechanics determines whether we choose or not to risk a long car trip alone, and in the same way, our spiritual knowledge determines whether or not we choose to do something moral. We feel more “free” when we grow spiritually, in the same sense that our knowledge in cars makes us feel more “free” when we are choosing a car to buy. But our choices are still determined. Our spiritualy is just another extra factor in our lives (part of our background) constraining our choices. It’s not different than our knowledge in cooking. Chefs see cooking with a higher and more complete perspective than people who have never cooked in their lives, and therefore will have more “freedom” to choose what to cook, in the same way that more spiritual people will have more “freedom” to choose between moral actions or not, and in the same way that people with more knowledge in cars will have more “freedom” to choose what car to buy.

    This is irrelevant to the existence of free will, since a correlation between choices and backgrounds (in this case, our knowledge in certain area, whether is cooking, cars or spirituality) still exists.

    One problem, with your position is that according to Chaos theory, as you get more detailed, the results become *more* unpredictable!

    Chaos theory doesn’t apply to my argument, because all the “details” have the same level of importance. When I meant “more detailed experiments” I meant “more robust/redundant/complete”. “Diving in the details” is another way of saying “gathering more data from the agent making the choice”, for example, including in the background the agent’s job if it wasn’t included before and see its correlation.

    All in all, we still see that pervasive correlation everywhere and in every domain of life, so my argument still stands. We can’t ignore or dismiss this correlation. It’s overwhelming evidence of how backgrounds constrain choices.

    To explain away this correlation free will advocates would have to show that such correlation is unexistent (which is crazy because evidence is everywhere), or that it’s false (meaning, that the correlation exists, but that there’s an extra factor Z, not free will nor background, generating the false correlation, which is also crazy).

  56. Querius:

    This is freedom to be able to freely choose, rather than be subject to the slavery of one’s passions!

    This sounds fantastic to me, how about you?

    What’s fantastic to me is not our freedom to choose, but our freedom to experience the Creation.

  57. Proton,

    You’re not understanding Chaos, and by your definition, to test whether free will exists, you’d require someone to existing in complete sensory deprivation and without ever having learned anything. All of those factors could influence, hence constrain a person.

    So, in my view this is an unreasonable definition. Certainly people are influenced by their friends, education, cuircumstances, health, and so on. These will indeed “constrain” their choices, but not eliminate them.

    I’m constrained by roads, curbs, and laws but I stil freel relatively free to drive where I like. Just because I can’t drive my car over the ocean or the North Pole doesn’t [choke, gasp] make me a robot. It’s not all or nothing.

  58. Please excuse the typos in . . . still feel . . .

  59. Hi Proton,

    Thank you for your post. Regarding the correlation between people’s circumstances and their choices, you write:

    To explain away this correlation free will advocates would have to show that such correlation is unexistent (which is crazy because evidence is everywhere), or that it’s false (meaning, that the correlation exists, but that there’s an extra factor Z, not free will nor background, generating the false correlation, which is also crazy).

    Instead of claiming that correlation does not imply causation, I would suggest that causation does not imply control. There is nothing about the notion of a cause that requires it to operate in a deterministic or even a probabilistic fashion. Nor does causation necessarily have to be “bottom-up”; it could be “top-down.” Nor does the notion of causal efficacy require that a cause will achieve its effect, whether I want to or not. I would say, on the contrary, that all sorts of things could cause our behavior, and that often, when we choose, we let one of those things be the cause of our behavior. Which one? That’s up to us.

    To argue from the fact that some of our choices are caused to the conclusion that they are not free is quite a logical leap, to put it mildly.

  60. vjtorly:

    To argue from the fact that some of our choices are caused to the conclusion that they are not free is quite a logical leap, to put it mildly.

    There’s a difference between “some” and “most/all”.

    I don’t argue that SOME of our choices are constrained and therefore we’re not free. I’m arguing that MOST, if not ALL of our choices are constrained (according to empirical evidence), and so believing we’re ultimately free doesn’t follow from evidence, it contradicts it.

  61. Proton:

    I don’t argue that SOME of our choices are constrained and therefore we’re not free. I’m arguing that MOST, if not ALL of our choices are constrained (according to empirical evidence), and so believing we’re ultimately free doesn’t follow from evidence, it contradicts it.

    You’ve missed the main point and have gone right back to conflating caused and constrained again. Even if your contention is granted:

    To argue from the fact that most/all of our choices are caused to the conclusion that they are not free is quite a logical leap, to put it mildly.

    The above is still completely consistent with Vincent’s argument that:

    I would say, on the contrary, that all sorts of things could cause our behavior, and that often, when we choose, we let one of those things be the cause of our behavior. Which one? That’s up to us.

    Having a cause does not entail being constrained.

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