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Intelligent Design and the Demarcation Problem

One common objection which is often raised regarding the proposition of real design (as opposed to design that is only apparent) is the criticism that design is unable to be falsified by the ruthless rigour of empirical scrutiny. Science, we are told, must restrict its explanatory devices to material causes. This criterion of conformity to materialism as a requisite for scientific merit is an unfortunate consequence of a misconstrual of the principal of uniformitarianism with respect to the historical sciences. Clearly, a proposition – if it is to be considered properly scientific – must constrict its scope to categories of explanation with which we have experience. It is this criterion which allows a hypothesis to be evaluated and contrasted with our experience of that causal entity. Explanatory devices should not be abstract, lying beyond the scope of our uniform and sensory experience of cause-and-effect.

This, naturally, brings us on to the question of what constitutes a material cause. Are all causes, which we have experience with, reducible to the material world and the interaction of chemical reactants? It lies as fundamentally axiomatic to rationality that we be able to detect the presence of other minds. This is what C.S. Lewis described as “inside knowledge”. Being rational agents ourselves, we have an insider’s knowledge of what it is to be rational – what it is to be intelligent. We know that it is possible for rational beings to exist and that such agents leave behind them detectable traces of their activity. Consciousness is a very peculiar entity. Consciousness interacts with the material world, and is detectable by its effects – but is it material itself? I have long argued in favour of substance dualism – that is, the notion that the mind is itself not reducible to the material and chemical constituents of the brain, nor is it reducible to the dual forces of chance and necessity which together account for much of the other phenomena in our experience. Besides the increasing body of scientific evidence which lends support to this view, I have long pondered whether it is possible to rationally reconcile the concept of human autonomy (free will) and materialistic reductionism with respect to the mind. I have thus concluded that free will exists (arguing otherwise leads to irrationality or reductio ad absurdum) and that hence materialism – at least with respect to the nature of consciousness – must be false if rationality is to be maintained.

My reasoning can be laid out as follows:

1: If atheism is true, then so is materialism.

2: If materialism is true, then the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.

3: If the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain, then human autonomy and consciousness are illusory because our free choices are determined by the dual forces of chance and necessity.

4: Human autonomy exists.

From 3 & 4,

5: Therefore, the mind is not reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.

From 2 & 5,

6: Therefore, materialism is false.

From 1 & 6,

7: Therefore, atheism is false.

Now, where does this leave us? Since we have independent reason to believe that the mind is not reducible to material constituents, materialistic explanations for the effects of consciousness are not appropriate explanatory devices. How does mind interact with matter? Such a question cannot be addressed in terms of material causation because the mind is not itself a material entity, although in human agents it does interact with the material components of the brain on which it exerts its effects. The immaterial mind thus interacts with the material brain to bring about effects which are necessary for bodily function. Without the brain, the mind is powerless to bring about its effects on the body. But that is not to say that the mind is a component of the brain.

We have further independent reason to expect a non-material cause when discussing the question of the origin of the Universe. Being an explanation for the existence of the natural realm itself – complete with its contingent natural laws and mathematical expressions – natural law, with which we have experience, cannot be invoked as an explanatory factor without reasoning in a circle (presupposing the prior existence of the entity which one is attempting to account for). When faced with explanatory questions with respect to particular phenomena, then, the principle of methodological materialism breaks down because we possess independent philosophical reason to suppose the existence of a supernatural (non-material) cause.

Material causes are uniformly reducible to the mechanisms and processes of chance (randomness) and necessity (law). Since mind is reducible to neither of those processes, we must introduce a third category of explanation – that is, intelligence.

When we look around the natural world, we can distinguish between those objects which can be readily accounted for by the dual action of chance and necessity, and those that cannot. We often ascribe such latter phenomena to agency. It is the ability to detect the activity of such rational deliberation that is foundational to the ID argument.

Should ID be properly regarded as a scientific theory? Yes and no. While ID theorists have not yet outlined a rigorous scientific hypothesis as far as the mechanistic process of the development of life (at least not one which has attracted a large body of support), ID is, in its essence, a scientific proposition – subject to the criteria of empirical testability and falsifiability. To arbitrarily exclude such a conclusion from science’s explanatory toolkit is to fundamentally truncate a significant portion of reality – like trying to limit oneself to material processes of randomness and law when attempting to explain the construction of a computer operating system.

Since rational deliberation characteristically leaves patterns which are distinguishable from those types of patterns which are left by non-intelligent processes, why is design so often shunned as a non-scientific explanation – as a ‘god-of-the-gaps’ style argument? Assuredly, if Darwinism is to be regarded as a mechanism which attempts to explain the appearance of design by non-intelligent processes (albeit hitherto unsuccessfully), it follows by extension that real design must be regarded as a viable candidate explanation. To say otherwise is to erect arbitrary parameters of what constitutes a valid explanation and what doesn’t. It is this arbitrarily constraints on explanation which leads to dogmatism and ideology – which, I think, we can all agree is not the goal or purpose of the scientific enterprise.

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712 Responses to Intelligent Design and the Demarcation Problem

  1. If atheism is true, then so is materialism.

    This premise is clearly false, as most atheists are not materialists (they are actually Buddhists) and materialism does not necessarily follow from atheism. For example, there is no inherent contradiction between substance dualism being true and theism being false. And so if you demonstrate materialism to be untenable, one can still quite rationally maintain their atheism.

    Human autonomy exists.

    If by human autonomy, you mean contra causal, libertarian free will, then I think this premise is both not supported by empirical evidence and actively contradicted by supported by empirical evidence.

    Contra causal free will necessitates that human beings are their own unmoved movers, who have the ability to enact influence upon the world, yet are themselves immune to physical and environmental factors on their behavior. Yet this is not what we observe in both neuroscience and psychology. Your environment is a major determining factor at how violent, happy, hard working, adjusted, etc. you are.

    In a universe with libertarian free will, “priming” research would be impossible, or at the very least give mixed results. Yet we see time and time again in psychological research that how you are primed determines your actions, thoughts and feelings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priming_(psychology)

  2. JMcL:

    I agree with most of your conclusions, even if my approach to the problem is slightly different.

    Personally, I prefer not to derive conclusions about consciousness or other fundamental aspects of reality from a purely logical deductive reasoning. My approch os more empirical: I consider consciousness as an empirical fact, directly observed in ourselves and inferred in others. That is enough to include consciousness in our map of reality, and to study its laws and the interaction between its phenomena and the other observable phenomena, which is exactly what modern reductionism refutes to do. In that sense, ID is a perfectly correct scientific theory, being completely based on empirical observations and on reasonable inferences based on them.

  3. 3
    Daguerreotype Process

    1: If atheism is true, then so is materialism.
    This doesn’t strike me as true – what about certain strands of Buddhists, spiritualists, or property dualists such as David Chalmers and John Searle? A theistic God isn’t the only alternative to materialism.

    2: If materialism is true, then the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.
    This seems fair enough. There are arguments to the contrary, but they mostly seem to be that practically the mind is irreducible, not that it’s in principle irreducible.

    3: If the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain, then human autonomy and consciousness are illusory because our free choices are determined by the dual forces of chance and necessity.
    How does something being determined make it not autonomous? A human can be determined but still acting from internal reasons. It is fully compatible with determinism that I form the belief that I want a pie, that I believe that if I want a pie I should get a pie, and therefore I get a pie. Autonomy being illusory by no means follows from the mind being physical or from determinism.

    The rest of your argument depends on these earlier premises being sound. Even if we manage to get to the conclusion that autonomy is not compatible with a material mind, there are many who would accept a lack of autonomy rather than materialism about the mind being false. Non-libertarian accounts of free-will can explain our sense of free-will and autonomy, whereas libertarian accounts of free-will have never even inched close to stating how a cause can be non-determined and non-random. These two exhaust the options.

    I think we have more reason to think that the brain constitutes the mind than that it doesn’t. The effects of neurological damage, electrical stimulation or chemical stimulation to the brain seem to affect a person’s actual personality rather than any kind of breakdown of transmission of a personality. Are we supposed to think that behind a paranoid schizophrenic there’s a normal mind capable of typical deliberating? And if that’s so, how come this mind doesn’t recall it’s earlier rational deliberating existence when the schizophrenic is no longer having a severe episode?

    As for your claim that
    “It lies as fundamentally axiomatic to rationality that we be able to detect the presence of other minds”,
    I entirely fail to see how this is fundamentally axiomatic – it’s certainly not anywhere in my notion of rationality. Notions of rationality such as induction, deduction, evidence etc may be normative social concepts, but this doesn’t mean that we have to know for certain that there are other minds behind the behaviour shaping the social concepts for us.

    Even taken for granted that it’s fundamentally axiomatic, the materialist seems to be in a better position. “Minds are brains, x has a brain, therefore x has a mind.” The dualist can always doubt whether a brain is actually ‘linked up’ to a mind.

    “Explanatory devices should not be abstract, lying beyond the scope of our uniform and sensory experience of cause-and-effect.”
    Forms of physics that don’t rely on notions of causality aren’t explanatory? They’re certainly abstract. Besides which, cause-and-effect is a particularly tricky idea rather than something with the obvious simpleness you imply here.

  4. peachykeen:

    I would like to comment on some of your arguments about free will.

    You say:

    Contra causal free will necessitates that human beings are their own unmoved movers, who have the ability to enact influence upon the world, yet are themselves immune to physical and environmental factors on their behavior.

    But that is not true. Free qill does not mean that, and does not imply that.

    Free will means that humans can react to circumstances in different ways, and that the way they react is at least in part not determined by the sum of the circumstamnces acting on them. Free will means that, at any moment, the behaviour of humans is not completely determined by circumstances (including one’s previous internal states), but has a “range” of variability which is determined by a free cause inherent to the conscious subject, and to nothing else.

    That “range of freedom” can be very small, or great enough: that we really don’t know, and it probably depends on many variables. But the important concept is that it is there, and it can and does change our personal destiny.

    So, in no way the concept of free will requires or implies that we are “immune to physical and environmental factors”. We do exercise free will “in the context” of our physical and environmental factors. But there is no doubt that those factors do influence us.

    IOW, free will is about how we react to those influences, and not about being immune to them.

  5. Peachykeen –

    Let me say a few words in defence of my argument.

    Premise 1 does not require that all atheists be materialists. But it does require that atheism logically implicate materialism. As such, I would argue that something which is non-material cannot trace its origin to a material cause, and ultimately all must trace its origination back to a transcendent, immaterial cause. I think this conclusion is necessitated from a variety of branches of philosophy.

    Belief in immaterial entities may be divorced from a belief in a transcendent deity. But I think the existence of immaterial objects are difficult to account for if you do not believe in such a transcendent intelligence – an unmoved mover.

    With regards to the existence of libertarian free will, I would argue that a variety of disciplines now point strongly towards the conclusion of substance dualism. Such evidence includes the ability of psychiatric patients to make permanent changes to their neural pathways by focusing their attention in a particular direction. O’Leary and Beauregard argue from the Placebo effect to such a dualistic construct in their book, “The Spiritual Brain.” Jeffrey Schwartz and Sharon Begley argue to a similar effect in “The Mind & The Brain – Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force”.

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan

  6. peachykeen,

    In a universe with libertarian free will, “priming” research would be impossible, or at the very least give mixed results. Yet we see time and time again in psychological research that how you are primed determines your actions, thoughts and feelings.

    This cannot really be the case, because the “priming research” and everything else would itself have been determined, and no “objective” statement about anything could ever be made, for all would be subject to and the result of the same thing, and we couldn’t step outside of it even to determine that it is caused by anything. It’s self-referentially incoherent.

  7. 7
    Daguerreotype Process

    [blockquote cite="Jonathan"]Such evidence includes the ability of psychiatric patients to make permanent changes to their neural pathways by focusing their attention in a particular direction.[/blockquote]
    I’m not familiar with the work around this area. Do you have links to any article length treatises?

    Prima facie this doesn’t seem at all convincing for dualism. Focusing attention in a particular direction would involve the use of neurons, which are arranged in a complicated and constantly changing mesh. If anything, with materialism we would expect to see neural pathways changing when someone thinks about certain things.

    [blockquote="Jonathon"]I would argue that something which is non-material cannot trace its origin to a material cause, and ultimately all must trace its origination back to a transcendent, immaterial cause.[/blockquote]
    Why does something immaterial that isn’t a theistic deity have to have a material cause as its origin? Atheism is still perfectly compatible with non-material origins of things, just not one that fits the typical descriptions of a god.

  8. The way they react is at least in part not determined by the sum of the circumstamnces acting on them.

    Right. And that’s where the “humans have to be unmmoved movers on libertarian free will” comes in. If it is in part “not determined,” then it is somehow able to move while being unmoved by other factors. Everything that is free from the casual chain is kind of a little God itself. It just difficult to make sense of such a concept, especially since there is no evidence for the existence of things that are able to move while being (even in part) not influenced by other, moving factors. And that includes humans. (Except for “I feel like I’m free,” which isn’t any kind of evidence at all)

    IOW, free will is about how we react to those influences, and not about being immune to them.

    But if “we” can react (and somehow override) physical and environmental influences, then they aren’t really influences at all are? By the very fact that we can have “veto power” over such influences means that we have the capability of immunity to them. But again, that’s not what we see in research psychology. What we see is that the unconscious will is primary, and has complete influence upon the conscious will. And the unconscious will, is in turn influenced by the environment.

  9. 9
    Daguerreotype Process

    This cannot really be the case, because the “priming research” and everything else would itself have been determined, and no “objective” statement about anything could ever be made, for all would be subject to and the result of the same thing, and we couldn’t step outside of it even to determine that it is caused by anything. It’s self-referentially incoherent.

    Everything being determined doesn’t entail nothing objective being able to be said about the world. Equally, libertarian free will doesn’t entail agents being able to speak objectively about the world.

    And nothing objective being able to be said doesn’t entail that we are not justified to various degrees in believing certain propositions. Even after giving up realism we can have a pragmatically subjective account of science as the prediction of future phenomena.

  10. For those interested in philosophy of mind, my senior paper in seminary (kind of like a mini-thesis) talks about reasons to not believe in physicalism, and also provides a suggested way to model non-physical causation in cognitive modeling. Anyone who wants a copy can email me at [email protected].

    A very shortened version which only talks about the non-physical methodology for cognitive modeling is available in abstract C2 in this years’ BSG proceedings.

  11. peachykeen:

    But if “we” can react (and somehow override) physical and environmental influences, then they aren’t really influences at all are? By the very fact that we can have “veto power” over such influences means that we have the capability of immunity to them.

    No, again that’s not right. The influences remain influences, and do determine the range of our possible responses. But still we have a range of possible responses. We have no “veto power”, but we have the power to respond in different ways, even probably slighltly different ways in most cases. That’s free will, and the influences remain influences, and cannot be simply “denied”.

    What we see is that the unconscious will is primary, and has complete influence upon the conscious will. And the unconscious will, is in turn influenced by the environment.

    I would not accept your distinction between “conscious” and “unconscious” will. For me consciousness expresses itself at various levels, and what we usually recognize as conscious mind is only a part of those expressions. But always it is consciousness. Conscious processes, even subconscious ones, are never completely “unconscious”. At what level free will really operates remains open to debate, but I would suggest that it usually does not operate exclusively, probably not even mainly, at the level that we usually call “conscious mind”.

    And, for the reasons stated at the previous point, the subconscious mind too is certainly influenced by circumstances, and yet it can express free will.

  12. Daguerreotype Process,

    Everything being determined doesn’t entail nothing objective being able to be said about the world.

    Why not? Every thing said couldn’t have been otherwise. We would never even know anything objectively, as if we stood outside of the current of determinism, even to know that we were determined. Knowing that you’re completely determined is logically impossible, for you could never step outside to know anything objectively. Determinism breaks down with the problem of real knowledge and what constitutes sufficient grounds of knowledge and one’s vantage point for how this knowledge is obtained.

  13. peachykeen,

    But if “we” can react (and somehow override) physical and environmental influences, then they aren’t really influences at all are?

    The word influence is distinct from the word compulsion for a reason, and that reason is that things that can influence us can have an impact on us without forcing us. You might want to let the implications of the word “influence” sit with you for a bit.

  14. 14

    There are a few points one could make but I will limit myself to one. The constraint to exclude real design (intelligent agency as an explanation) is not arbitrary but something people would agree on prior to making any observations about the world. You would agree an it because intelligent agency could account for any possible observation. The reason why you can’t change this agreement later is the same why Rawls proposed the concept of original position.

  15. JMcL:1: If atheism is true, then so is materialism.

    peachykeen:This premise is clearly false, as most atheists are not materialists (they are actually Buddhists) and materialism does not necessarily follow from atheism …

    Daguerreotype Process:This doesn’t strike me as true – what about certain strands of Buddhists, spiritualists, or property dualists such as David Chalmers and John Searle? A theistic God isn’t the only alternative to materialism. …

    Buddhists are even more immediately irrational than materialists are — for Buddhism explicitly denies that we exist … and, apparently, that anything at all exists. With materialism, the denial that we ourselves exist isn’t a premise of the -ism, but rather inescapably follows from its premises. So, while materialism *is* irrational, one must be willing to critically examine it to see its inherent and inescapable irrationality.

    AND the argument presented here isn’t about ‘atheists,’ it’s about what logically follows from atheism, that is, from God-denial. The argument isn’t about whatever ad hoc mish-mash of contradictory propositions this or that God-denier may choose to graft onto his God-denial in a vain attempt to ward of its inherent irrationality, it’s about the God-denial itself.

    JMcL:1: If atheism is true, then so is materialism.

    This would be better expressed as “1: IF atheism is true, AND the material/physical world exists, THEN materialism is true.

    It’s even better expressed as: “GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes.” … as I explore here: You Cannot Reason.

  16. 16
    Daguerreotype Process

    Why not? Every thing said couldn’t have been otherwise. We would never even know anything objectively, as if we stood outside of the current of determinism, even to know that we were determined. Knowing that you’re completely determined is logically impossible, for you could never step outside to know anything objectively. Determinism breaks down with the problem of real knowledge and what constitutes sufficient grounds of knowledge and one’s vantage point for how this knowledge is obtained.

    Determinism is compatible with foundationalism, coherentism, naturalism, externalism, internalism, empiricism, rationalism and any other epistemological viewpoint I know of. Why do we need to step outside of determinism to have our beliefs be accurate, and what element of real knowledge requires libertarian free will?

  17. JMcL:Material causes are uniformly reducible to the mechanisms and processes of chance (randomness) and necessity (law). Since mind is reducible to neither of those processes, we must introduce a third category of explanation – that is, intelligence.

    Actually, material causes are *not* “reducible to the mechanisms and processes of chance (randomness) and necessity (law),” but only “to the mechanisms and processes of []necessity (law).” For, “chance” has absolutely no causal power whatsoever.

    As you point out, mind is not reducible to physical/material necessity; that is, mind is itself. Minds — being agents — are able to introduce new causal-chains into the web/matrix of material causality. Agents are free to act; everything which is not an agent merely reacts.

  18. 18
    Daguerreotype Process

    With materialism, the denial that we ourselves exist isn’t a premise of the -ism, but rather inescapably follows from its premises. So, while materialism *is* irrational, one must be willing to critically examine it to see its inherent and inescapable irrationality.

    Depends what you mean by “we ourselves”. By no extent does materialism deny that self-experiencing organisms exist. So far as I can tell you’re tying the notion of libertarian free will into the notion of self, and therefore begging the question by concluding that anything without libertarian free will isn’t a self.

  19. 19
    Daguerreotype Process

    For, “chance” has absolutely no causal power whatsoever.

    Contra the most common interpretation of quantum mechanics? There’s no logical inconsistency in positing a random event having causal powers.

  20. Daguerreotype Process, were I to tell you, and everyone reading this thread, that you are a fool and a liar (there is a bit of redundancy between the two), would it have been material necessity which caused me to say it, or would it have been a freely chosen act of will?

    Now, if you deny that it would have been a freely chosen act of will, then I shall call you a fool and a liar … and, I predict that you shall respond by whinning about “incivility” or some other meaningless nonsense.

  21. 21
    Daguerreotype Process

    I’m not all that concerned about civility.

    I’m presuming you’re taking a roughly Moorean stance on free will, such that you can dismiss any argument against libertarian free will as wrong because any premises are likely to be less likely than the denial of libertarian free will. I think this Moorean stance is wrong. All the data we have is compatible with libertarian free will, apart from strong convictions which can be well explained by facts other than the existence of libertarian free will.

  22. I’m a bit late into this discussion, but just a few comments on the first 4 premises:

    1) If atheism is true, then so is materialism.

    Why shouldn’t atheists believe in the existence of abstract objects – like numbers, for example?

    2) If materialism is true, then the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.

    (I’ll assume you mean “reducible” in the ontological sense here, not the epistemological sense.) But ontologically speaking, I don’t see why this follows. Why can’t a material entity have irreducible immaterial properties (like mental properties)? This is the majority position in the philosophy of mind today. (AKA ‘property dualism’).

    You could argue that property dualism isn’t compatible with materialism. But bear in mind that property dualists are still substance monists.

    3) If the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain, then human autonomy and consciousness are illusory because our free choices are determined by the dual forces of chance and necessity.

    Yes, I agree.

    4) Human autonomy exists.

    If you mean *libertarian* free will, I have to disagree. Having studied it in depth lately, I think it’s an incoherent notion that undermines human rationality. Libertarian free will requires an agent not to have his choices causally determined by anything – not even reasons. But if a choice is not determined, ultimately, by an agent’s reasons, then ultimately made for no reason at all. And this is irrationality at its best.

    So the best way to defend human rationality is by adopting a compatibilist definition of freedom, where choices are causally determined by reasons, and agents always have the power to do what they want to do.

  23. However, I think the above argument could be modified somewhat so that it establishes that a weaker conclusion (not the falsity of atheism, but the falsity of a material conception of the mind)

    1) If physicalism is true, the mind is physical entity or a property of a physical entity

    2) If the mind is a physical enitity or property of a physical entity, mental causation is impossible

    3) If mental causation is impossible, then human rationality is illusory

    4) Human rationality is not illusory

    5) Therefore the mind is not a physical entity or a property of a physical entity

    6) Therefore physicalism is false

  24. 24
    Daguerreotype Process

    2) If the mind is a physical enitity or property of a physical entity, mental causation is impossible

    If a lit match dropping on a piece of highly flammable wood causing a fire is explainable in terms of electromagnetic particles, does that mean that the lit match did not cause the fire? Our psychological states have as much causal power as most things we say are causal, regardless of reductionism.

  25. Daguerreotype Process @ 24 said:

    If a lit match dropping on a piece of highly flammable wood causing a fire is explainable in terms of electromagnetic particles, does that mean that the lit match did not cause the fire? Our psychological states have as much causal power as most things we say are causal, regardless of reductionism.

    But in order for your analogy to work, mental states essentially need to be higher level descriptions of the same physical thing. So what you’re really saying in your analogy is that mental states are identical to complex brain states. There are significant problems with this, though. For example, look up the ‘knowledge argument’, the various deployments of the ‘zombie’ argument, or the ‘inverted colour spectrum’ argument.

  26. $ 0.02:

    I think a lot of the trouble on these matters traces to inadequate grasp of the conceptual and observable nature of cause.

    I mean by this that cause is not a monolithic entity. We have contributory factors, which may in part be necessary for an effect to occur [absent a necessary factor and an effect is blocked], and may be sufficient [so soon and where a sufficient cluster of factors is, an effect WILL occur and/or be sustained.

    Building on the fire triangle used by Copi in his logic, go get a box of safety matches:

    1: Pull a match, and strike it — heat, oxidiser and fuel are each needed to initiate or sustain a fire.

    2: They are also jointly sufficient.

    3: Now, hold a burning match, and tilt it up so the flame tries to burn the already burned wood. (It will gutter down and perhaps go completely out if you don’t tilt it back fast enough.)

    4: Q: Why is that?

    5: A: because you were removing a necessary causal factor, fuel.

    6: So we can see demonstrated the reality of necessary as opposed to sufficient causal factors. These are a strong form of “influences,” that must be present if an effect is to occur.

    7: In addition, there are contributory factors that may affect but are not necessary. (Soak the match wood — not the striking head — with a drop or two of kerosene, and you probably get a much enhanced flame . . . Don’t do this one at home!)

    8: With the distinction fixed in mind, we can see that a lot of the exchange above is missing the difference between influence and control.

    10: We are influenced by external and internal factors, but that is not the same as being determined in our mental and volitional acts as we perceive them, on chance + necessity.

    11: And, if we were determined, a la evolutionary materialism, we would have no credible foundation for thought, reason or decisions and choices.

    12: In fact such evolutionary materialism plainly ends up in self-referential incoherence and it is thus reasonable to reject such materialism on that alone: we directly experience, rely on and see the credibility of what should not be so on evolutionary materialist premises.

    $0.02

    GEM of TKI

  27. Daguerreotype Process,

    Determinism is compatible with foundationalism, coherentism, naturalism, externalism, internalism, empiricism, rationalism and any other epistemological viewpoint I know of.

    Oh I thought you were going to make an actual argument, instead of just asserting something, as you did in the last comment, and as you’ve done here. I’ve yet to see an argument of how it isn’t self referentially incoherent to claim that determinism is absolute. In the case of those who claim to know that we’re fully and absolutely determined, HOW are you not just as determined in your thinking and “conclusions”? You show why it’s not incoherent with absolute determinism, and then you’ll be making an actual argument.

  28. If determinism is true, then your beliefs are solely the result of outside forces, like atoms banging around inside your head. If that is the case, then why should we suppose that such reactions will produce true, reliable beliefs? As C.S. Lewis states in his book Miracles: “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true, and hence I have no reason to believe my brain is composed of atoms.”

    Whenever someone insists that I believe in determinism, I always like to ask “If someone came up with a really good argument that there is no such thing as free choice, would you freely choose to believe it?” In other words, someone tells me to believe in determinism, and I ask “Do I have to?”

    Since belief in determinism undercuts your belief that your beliefs are reliable, determinism must be abandoned as a reasonable worldview.

  29. 29
    Daguerreotype Process

    For example, look up the ‘knowledge argument’, the various deployments of the ‘zombie’ argument, or the ‘inverted colour spectrum’ argument.I have. These have nothing to do with causality, and if they achieve anything only support a spooky non-material phenomenal consciousness which affect no mental processes. Besides which, they are all question begging.

    I’ve yet to see an argument of how it isn’t self referentially incoherent to claim that determinism is absolute. In the case of those who claim to know that we’re fully and absolutely determined, HOW are you not just as determined in your thinking and “conclusions”?

    I may be just as determined in my thinking and conclusions. And there is no logical contradiction with:
    1) I am fully determined
    2) I have a justified true belief that fulfills any further criteria for knowledge
    3) Knowledge is compatible with determinism.
    Please show me the logical contradiction here.

    Kairosfocus, your link seems to be a version of Plantinga’s EAAN argument. Jerry Fodor’s response is thorough and, as far as I’m concerned, decisive. When I return back to uni I’m going to go through several other chapters of the anthology of responses to Plantinga’s argument, but I’m convinced the argument fails at the first step in presuming that material processes won’t lead towards truth. Natural selection would favour mostly true beliefs about a macro-level environment, and whatever true beliefs we develop will hold up on further testing whereas any false beliefs will not. One other point is that Plantinga’s “if theism, then beliefs=true and if materialism, then beliefs=false” does not lead to theism being true. We still need reason to think that theism is true independently of what it would result in. Plantinga’s notion of basic warranted belief doesn’t do the work, as it leads to any strongly held belief being a good reason and no way to compare the various beliefs, resulting in a post-modern every belief is equal free for all.

  30. Daguerreotype Process @ 26:

    For example, look up the ‘knowledge argument’, the various deployments of the ‘zombie’ argument, or the ‘inverted colour spectrum’ argument.I have. These have nothing to do with causality…

    No, they don’t have anything to do with causality. But their relevance is this: the success of your argument concerning causality relies on the falsity of these arguments.

    What these arguments show is that it is not legitimate to identify a brain state with a mental state. In other words, these arguments show that a mental state is not just a complex physical state. This means that your later argument, which relies on this premise, falls through, since a ‘mental state’ is no longer analogous to a ‘match’.

    You also said:

    if [these arguments] achieve anything [they] only support a spooky non-material phenomenal consciousness

    Yes, this is exactly what they achieve. I think the term ‘spooky’ is perjorative, but the idea that they show mental properties to be immaterial is entirely intuitive. Mental states (joy / pain / thoughts / desires / beliefs) have no weight, no precise spatio-temporal location and a subjective ‘feel’ to them.

    Why do you think the majority of philosopher’s of mind are property dualists? It’s precisely because they see the success of the aforementioned arguments, and they see that mental states are fundamentally different from ordinary physical properties. They see that it is not legitimate to just assert that a mental state = complex brain state. The two are like chalk and cheese (in fact more different because at least chalk and cheese are both material).

    So to return to your analogy, if we start saying that ‘matches’ are analogous to ‘mental states’ (i.e. that mental states are just higher level descriptions of the brain) then we’ve stripped mental characteristics of all their defining features. We might talk about ‘mental causation’ but we’re not talking about mental causation as it is generally understood-we’re not talking about subjective qualitative experiences. Thus under your scenario we’ve saved mental causation in name only.

  31. Daguerreotype Process,

    I may be just as determined in my thinking and conclusions. And there is no logical contradiction with:
    1) I am fully determined
    2) I have a justified true belief that fulfills any further criteria for knowledge
    3) Knowledge is compatible with determinism.

    If you can’t see the contradiction, it’s not your fault, you are determined not to.

  32. Ok, so I really didn’t want to get pulled in to a discussion on libertarian free will, but I think Daguerreotype Process is right. Clive, please could you explain how libertarian free will is rational?

    The way I see it, libertarianism seriously undermines human rationality because it leads to the conclusion that humans make choices for no reason whatsoever. Libertarianism requires that choices be indeterminate – and indeterminate in an absolutely unconditional sense. This is known as the “prinicple of alternative possibilities” (PAP, for short). PAP means that even given all the same antecedent conditions, an agent’s actions could have been otherwise. Now for a thought experiment…

    Imagine an actual world where Joe decides at t to do A. Now imagine another world that is identical to the actual world up until time t, but in which Joe decides to do B at t, not A. Note that Joe’s motivations, his beliefs, his desires, his moral state, his state of mind, his powers and capacities are all identical up until time t. Likewise, note that all the external circumstances are identical in both worlds; neither diverge before t.

    On the libertarian view, there is nothing about Joe or about the external world that explains why he chose A at t rather than B. There is no rhyme or reason to Joe’s decision. Reasons may have figured probabilistically into his decision, but they did not determine it. No reason whatsoever determined it, and what is rational about that? How is acting (ultimately) for no reason at all rational?

    Compatibilism seems vastly more rational, since it ensures that an agent’s choices will be causally determined by his reasons / state of mind / desires / beliefs / moral values / will power, and so forth. Acting in accordance with such reasons is perfectly rational.

  33. Incidentally, does ID need libertarianism? I can’t see any reason why it does. It bugs me a little that the two are so often lumped together.

  34. 34
    Daguerreotype Process

    No, they don’t have anything to do with causality. But their relevance is this: the success of your argument concerning causality relies on the falsity of these arguments.

    Not at all. I am referring to the causal power of mental states, whether those mental states are ‘phenomenal’ or not. We’re all happy to allow mental states that are not part of access-consciousness causal powers – I could be irritable without noticing, and have this irritability cause me to do something. I can even have thoughts that are not vocally expressed in my head. I am identifying a mental state with a brain state, with leftover epiphenomenal residue.

    Jaegwon Kim summed up property dualism quite well: “The position is, as we might say, a slightly defective physicalism — physicalism manque but not by much. I believe that this is as much physicalism as we can have, and that there is no credible alternative to physicalism as a general worldview. Physicalism is not the whole truth, but it is the truth near enough, and near enough should be good enough.”

    Mental states (joy / pain / thoughts / desires / beliefs) have no weight, no precise spatio-temporal location and a subjective ‘feel’ to them.

    Apart from the subjective ‘feel’ aspect, this is conceivably the masked man fallacy. The functional mental states of joy/pain/thoughts/desires/beliefs can supervene upon, and be fully constituted by, material properties.

    Why do you think the majority of philosopher’s of mind are property dualists? It’s precisely because they see the success of the aforementioned arguments, and they see that mental states are fundamentally different from ordinary physical properties.

    http://philpapers.org/surveys/.....ain=coarse Only 18.3% of Philosophers of Mind lean towards zombies being metaphysically possible, which is hardly the majority. I’d agree that most of them think that mental states are fundamentally different from ordinary physical properties, which is why materialistic functionalism is so popular.

    I’m not convinced that property dualism is correct anyway, but even if it is true it doesn’t get you what you want.

  35. Daguerreotype Process:

    I am referring to the causal power of mental states, whether those mental states are ‘phenomenal’ or not…I could be irritable without noticing, and have this irritability cause me to do something.

    Ok, I’ll grant that your anaology works where the mental state in question has no phenomenal quality. In such a case, a mental state could maybe be analogous to a ‘match’, and thus maybe one could say that it has causal power.

    But in all the cases where mental states cause things in virtue of their phenomenal quality, your analogy breaks down because you’re stripping mental states of all their defining characteristics, and like I said, saving mental causation in name only.

    And Kim’s functionalism doesn’t help much here either. Firstly, what are functions? Functions are human concepts – they are not genuine properties of the external world. So the functionalist might talk about mental states, but in reality, they are talking about a concept, and thus the mental states have disappeared.

    Secondly, even if functions were objective properties of the external world and not concepts, are mental states really just functions? ‘Pain’ might have a functional role, but can it be equated with this functional role? I don’t see how it can. The phenomenological quality of pain disappears when you start talking about functions. So whilst functions aren’t physical properties, they are not really mental properties either.

    Basically, functionalism fails whenever you want to give a causal role to a phenomenological quality. And contra Kim, I don’t think it’s ok to leave this all phenomenal qualities as epiphenomenal mental residues. To save human agency, in many cases (not all, as your example above with irritation highlights) we need to save the causal efficacy of these qualities.

  36. I’m not convinced that property dualism is correct anyway, but even if it is true it doesn’t get you what you want.

    No, I agree. Property dualism suffers from the problem of overdetermination, and so it has problems accounting for mental causation too. But I think it’s a step in the right direction because it acknowledges the distinctness of mental states. Now it just needs to find a way to secure their causal efficacy. I’d argue that this cannot be done within the bounds of a physicalist ontology, which is why I made premise (2) of my reformulation of this blog’s argument the following:

    2) If the mind is a physical enitity or property of a physical entity, mental causation is impossible.

  37. DP:

    Your rebuttal is unfortunately evasive not material:

    Kairosfocus, your link seems to be a version of Plantinga’s EAAN argument. Jerry Fodor’s response is thorough and, as far as I’m concerned, decisive. When I return back to uni I’m going to go through several other chapters of the anthology of responses to Plantinga’s argument, but I’m convinced the argument fails at the first step in presuming that material processes won’t lead towards truth. Natural selection would favour mostly true beliefs about a macro-level environment, and whatever true beliefs we develop will hold up on further testing whereas any false beliefs will not.

    In fact, the point was and is that material processes of cause-effect driven by chance or mechanical necessity (as Leibniz pointed out long ago and Lewis more recently, who I owe more to than to Plantinga) are IRRELEVANT to issues of truth and validity.

    Indeed, Plantinga’s point in essence is that that irrelevancy means that many beliefs are compatible with survival enhancing behaviour.

    At most, NS — and recall the claimed [but highly dubious on config space search reasons] source of new information and organisation is chance variation on that model, not culling out based on differential reproductive success [a misdirection that is common] — would support survival enhancing perceptions and response arcs, not credibility of the mind and cognitive processes of reasoning on logic in accessing an accurate view or understanding of the world.

    So, per evolutionary materilaism, we have no grounds for trusting the credibility of the mind on precisely the process of reasoning that you are using or trying to use. In points for convenience:

    ____________

    >> a: evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. (by def’n]

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance initial circumstances. [direct implication]

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, we arrive at Crick’s claim: what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. [by inclusion in implication.]

    d: These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. [elaboration on many lines of common argument]
    ______________________________

    e: Therefore, if such evolutionary materialism is true, then the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. (The conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them.) [First main conclusion]

    f: And, if materialists then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited. [self reference is inescapable on appeal to empirical data and inferences therefrom]

    g: Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” [materialism is a paert of the reasoned inferences made by some]

    h: For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And, would not the writings of a Crick be little more than the firing of neurons in networks? [self-reference on concrete examples of he problem. The Freudian case shows tha this dates back to the 1980's. The Marxian one used to be dated but it is back on the table.]
    __________________________

    i: In the end, materialism is evidently based on self-defeating logic. [Second main conclusion] >>
    _______________

    DP, that is what you need to answer to, and the statement of your faith in the ability of your mind on materialist premises is not sufficient to rebut the issue. And, as Plantinga pointed out, chance variation and natural selection are about survival not truth.

    GEM of TKI

  38. PS: By way of contrast, if our mental and perceptual equipment is designed and implemented to be generally reliable, we have good reason to trust them, equally in general. Of course we sometimes err, but we have reason to believe we have the ability to detect and correct such error. (E.g. think about how a spoon in a glass of water appears bent, but running a finger along will show that something has altered the in-built interpretation of linear transmission of light.)

    PPS: let me underscore again, lest a strawman misperception prevails, the point abovge is that cause-effect bonds and chance and necessity as drivers and controllers are IRRELEVANT to issues of truth, validity, and right or wrong. This deciviley undercuts any assumption or assertion that on chance plus natural selection, we can assume generally accurate work of the mind [here an epiphenomenon of brain.] That would have to be SHOWN, on materialist premises; and thence we get into cycles of self-referential incoherence BECAUSE THE THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSIONS WOULD TRACE TO ACCIDENTS AND BLIND CAUSE-EFFECT CHAINS LINKED TO SURVIVAL, NOT TO TRUTH. (And that was what Plantiga’s example of he Ape-like creature was about, and his conditional probability inference.)

  39. 39
    William J. Murray

    The human mind is free to will, or intend, events or goals that logically correspond to their physical situation, and/or those that do not.

    IOW, I might be in chains in a basement somewhere; of course I do not have “free action” in the sense that I can choose to not be in chains, sprout wings and fly off; but I certainly can intend for such a situation to occur, whether such an intention is a logical possibility or not.

    I can also intend to eat a slice of blueberry pie, and intend to invent a sports car powered by popcorn in the same situation – neither of which have anything to do with my current physical state of being in chains in a basement.

    Humans with free will have unfettered ability to intend, even beyond what they can specifically imagine, by simply intending an emotional or symbolic outcome, such as common themes of triumph, freedom, love, innovation, enjoyment, etc.

  40. 40
    William J. Murray

    I think the best argument that materialsm/nature doesn’t lead to truth is simply that there are so many people here arguing for contradictory truths.

    If materialism/naturlism necessarily leads to truth, why do people disagree? If it doesn’t necessarily lead to truth, then how can one possibly discern what is true?

  41. 41
    Daguerreotype Process

    In fact, the point was and is that material processes of cause-effect driven by chance or mechanical necessity (as Leibniz pointed out long ago and Lewis more recently, who I owe more to than to Plantinga) are IRRELEVANT to issues of truth and validity.

    And? We have good reason to think that processes can arise which nonetheless result in producing creatures with veridical beliefs despite there being no teleological drive towards such.

    Indeed, Plantinga’s point in essence is that that irrelevancy means that many beliefs are compatible with survival enhancing behaviour.

    And, remarkably, we find some beliefs which are compatible with survival enchancing behaviour but are not true. Cognitive misperceptions arise everywhere. The main attribution error, the above average effect, any number of other psychological mistakes which are universal. As long as we have logic and perception being reliable (can you provide some alternatives which would have had an equal or more likely evolutionary route?), and a cluster of true beliefs, then we can work on expunging the false beliefs because they will not hold up to further testing. Asking for more, absolute solid indefeasible knowledge, is a sceptical position that gets us nowhere and applies equally to everyone. Self-reference is inescapable for everyone.

    If materialism/naturlism necessarily leads to truth, why do people disagree?

    Because it leads to truth through a twisty and difficult road. If theological creation leads to truth, why do people disagree?

  42. 42
    Daguerreotype Process

    But in all the cases where mental states cause things in virtue of their phenomenal quality, your analogy breaks down because you’re stripping mental states of all their defining characteristics, and like I said, saving mental causation in name only.

    Or you’re defining mental states’ entire defining characteristics as phenomenal character, which I’m not fully happy to accept. Although phenomenal experience is a part, it’s not all.

    But in all the cases where mental states cause things in virtue of their phenomenal quality

    Which cases? If mental states cause things in virtue of their phenomenal quality, the quality is functional. If it doesn’t cause anything, it’s epiphenomenal and therefore useless. The zombie argument relies on the thought that mental states can function without any phenomenal qualities playing a role. Inverted qualia arguments suggest that functionally equivalent phenomenal qualities can be different with the same functional role, and is more of a problem, but still doesn’t lead to more than epiphenominism about the specific nature of the experience. And I’m not inclined towards functionally equivilant phenomenal qualities that can be different -> have you read Dennett’s quining qualia? Paul Churchland’s Chimerical Colors, Some Phenomenological Predictions from Cognitive Neuroscience is also a convincing read for so functionalising phenomenal qualities.

    Basically, functionalism fails whenever you want to give a causal role to a phenomenological quality.

    Functionalists either functionalise phenomenological quality, hence giving it a causal role, or just deny that phenomenlogical qualities have no causal role. None of the thought experiments get us to more than that.

    And Kim’s functionalism doesn’t help much here either. Firstly, what are functions? Functions are human concepts – they are not genuine properties of the external world. So the functionalist might talk about mental states, but in reality, they are talking about a concept, and thus the mental states have disappeared.

    The mental and/or brain states fill in the concept. They’re a manifestation of the concept. If we talk about ‘species’ or a ‘mouse trap’, are we equally making groups of animals or a couple of blocks of wood and pieces of metal dissapear?

  43. DP:

    First, take a little look at how across time materialists of the evolutionary stripe have sought to undermine the thought of those who differ from them. Then ask your self what happens when the knife cuts the other way, as I did above.

    Next, I see you:

    We have good reason to think that processes can arise which nonetheless result in producing creatures with veridical beliefs despite there being no teleological drive towards such.

    Not at all, you have simply asserted a belief that will hacve a lot of institutional support.

    The point is that the processes of chance and necessity that you cite have no credible power to design complex life forms on digitally coded, algorithmically functional complex information and associated implementing machines, as can be seen from the state of OOL studies, much less major body plans that are embryologiclaly feasible, much less a mind that rises above forces of chance, necessity and survival.

    That we have good reason to think that we do know and think reasonably well cannot be accounted for on such supposed forces. Remember, you need to trace form physics and chemistry in a warm little pond or the equivalent to a mind with the capacities we are discussing.

    And, when we see the reductionism of mind to brains and wiring of networks on chance variation and survival of what survives, we have no good basis for accounting for the intricate information involved at all levels, on evolutionary materialist premises.

    This inadvertently comes out in your:

    we find some beliefs which are compatible with survival enchancing behaviour but are not true. Cognitive misperceptions arise everywhere. The main attribution error, the above average effect, any number of other psychological mistakes which are universal. As long as we have logic and perception being reliable (can you provide some alternatives which would have had an equal or more likely evolutionary route?), and a cluster of true beliefs, then we can work on expunging the false beliefs because they will not hold up to further testing. Asking for more, absolute solid indefeasible knowledge, is a sceptical position that gets us nowhere and applies equally to everyone. Self-reference is inescapable for everyone.

    In short you acknowledge that there is an unreliability in the processes you posit, then you propose logic as the solution. It is, indeed, but it cannot be bootstrapped on chance variations and survival selection in the plains of E Africa or the woodlands thereof.

    So, you are begging the question, and compounding it by erecting a strawman caricature of those who have challenged your claims, to GROUND the credibility of the mind and reasoning on evolutionary materialistic premises.

    Nor am I shut up to undirected chance + necessity as causal mechanisms, so I have no need to supply an alternative evolutionary strategy as such: that we were designed to be reasoning creatures is more than good enough, whatever mechanisms were used being of little account.

    It is your side that purports to explain all — including reasoning and consciousness — on chance and mechanical necessity.

    So, you need to do it, without ending up in self referential incoherence, and so far, no joy.

    GEM of TKI

  44. PS: A few words on the consequence of the view that phenomena are driven by chance + mechanical necessity, from the case of Crick in The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson’s rejoinder was richly deserved, that Dr Crick should therefore be willing to preface his books: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    (In short, as Prof Johnson then went on to say: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[In Reason in the Balance, 1995.])

  45. Let me continue on Kairosfocuce’s post about Plantinga’s argument against naturalism in 38.
    Plantingas argument against naturalism could be rebutted if:

    1. Set/namespace of propositions that make sure species survive is A
    2. The set/namespace of propositions that are true is B
    3. Plantinga’s argument against naturalism is true if A != B and B != A even in some cases.
    4. The rebuttal of Plantinga’s argument would have to be as follows A = B and B = A always.

    It’s easy to demonstrate that 4. is not true as completely and obviously fallacious propositions could ensure that species survive.

    For example there could be an evolved belief A) When you are good Santa Claus will bring you presents on Christmas. So it could be possible that because of this belief there would be no wars etc. and the species would survive even though the belief is obviously false.

  46. Innerbling:

    3. Plantinga’s argument against naturalism is true if A != B and B != A even in some cases.

    4. The rebuttal of Plantinga’s argument would have to be as follows A = B and B = A always.

    If Plantinga’s argument were that silly, it wouldn’t be worth rebutting. But Plantinga’s argument is more subtle. He says that the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable given evolutionary selection is “low or inscrutable.”

  47. Green,

    Ok, so I really didn’t want to get pulled in to a discussion on libertarian free will, but I think Daguerreotype Process is right. Clive, please could you explain how libertarian free will is rational?

    It is enough to show that determinism is self defeating when it is absolute, and if it is not absolute, then we’re back to free will.

  48. Daguerreotype Process,

    What is it that determines everything? Is it something physical moving about, causing everything to occur, even thoughts?

  49. Clive:

    It is enough to show that determinism is self defeating when it is absolute

    Your main argument for this seems to be that if we were determined, we would never be able to know it (thereby making determinism self-referentially incoherent).

    But why would we never be able to know it? Why can we not know it by introspection? For me, one of the most compelling piece of evidence for determinism is my introspective experience. I know that my actions are determined by a combination of my beliefs, desires, moral values, long term goals etc. etc. I know that I always act for the most compelling reason at the time, and that I could not act differently unless I had a desire to act differently.

    So I fail to see the force of your argument. Were you perhaps referring to physical rather than mental determinism? I could see how that strips humans of all rationality. But how could you argue against a determinist who is a substance dualist (like myself)?

    and if it is not absolute, then we’re back to free will.

    Well, I wouldn’t say you’re back with any sort of free will worth wanting. I’d say you’re either back with pure randomness, or with irrationality. And why is that worth having?

  50. Green, I wonder if you believe in libertarian free will and just call it compatibilism because you define the two terms differently.

    Libertarian free will is a type of determinism. It states that outside forces combined with an internal cause (immaterial self) produce a choice. Under libertarian free will, it is coherent to say that any given agent under any given set of circumstances will determine one and only one choice. It could not be otherwise. The difference between this and other types of determinism is that the immaterial self is a factor.

    Think of a choice you made in the past. Now if right before you made that choice, I swapped out your immaterial soul and swapped in a different soul, might that soul make a different choice, even though circumstances are absolutely the same?

    I think you’re confusing libertarian free will with simple indeterminism. In the latter, our own free actions are simply uncaused. Some might even extend this idea beyond human actions into the natural order, such as invoking Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. The problem with simple indeterminism is that if our choices (or a part of our choices) are simply random, then how can we justifiably control our behavior? There seems to be no basis upon which any responsibility can exist if our actions are random.

  51. If mental states cause things in virtue of their phenomenal quality, the quality is functional.

    But my whole point was that functions don’t have a phenomenal quality! By functionalising things, this is exactly the feature of mental states that you lose. You seemed to concede this further down when you wrote:

    Functionalists either functionalise phenomenological quality,hence giving it a causal role, or just deny that phenomenlogical qualities have no causal role.

    What part of “giving it a causal role” retains the phenonemal quality of a mental state? To functionalise something you basically find the conditions under which the mental property (e.g. pain) is instantiated, and the effects that it typically causes. This is essentially what “giving pain a causal role” amounts to. Where in such a description is the feeling of pain, though? It is nowhere to be found. It has been lost entirely.

    Jaegwon Kim himself says at the end of Physicalism or Something Near Enough that phenomenological properties can never be functionalised or reductively explained. This is why he tries to argue that none of the most of the mental states involved in agency either (a) have no phenomenological quality, or (b) also have a causal role, thereby enabling them to be functionalised. But my whole point is that (contra Kim) there are some mental states that are causally efficacious in virtue of their phenomenological properties. Like itches that make you scratch, for example.

    J.P. Moreland has also argued (cogently, I think) that mental-to-mental causation requires that mental states be causally efficacious in virtue of their phenomenological quality. He argues that if the thought “George Washington is president” and the thought “Ben Franklin invented bifocals” do not have any phenomenological difference between them, then how would we ever know it?

    So it seems that contary to Kim, we do need mental states that are causally efficacious in virtue of their phenomenal quality – the phenomenal quality being the very feature that can’t be functionalised. Thus functionalised can’t save all mental causation.

  52. *functionalism, sorry.

  53. Green,

    But why would we never be able to know it? Why can we not know it by introspection? For me, one of the most compelling piece of evidence for determinism is my introspective experience. I know that my actions are determined by a combination of my beliefs, desires, moral values, long term goals etc.

    I see that your version of what determines us is different than mine. When I reply to a statement that we are determined, I have in mind that every single thing, without exception, obeys something that is not anything we have any control over whatsoever, and determines every single aspect of anything ever thought or imagined or dreamed or seen, or wished for or hoped, etc., including introspection.

  54. Green, I wonder if you believe in libertarian free will and just call it compatibilism because you define the two terms differently.

    Well, according to Robert Kane (2002: 10), one of the requirements for libertarian free will is the principle of alternative possibilties (PAP) that I mentioned earlier. PAP is the idea that an agent could have done otherwise – and could have done otherwise in an absolutely unconditional sense.
    Compatibists deny PAP. They say that an agent can only do otherwise in a conditional sense. That is, an agent can only do otherwise if she has the desire to do otherwise. This is why I describe myself as a compatibilist.

    Ref:
    Kane, R. (2002) Introduction, in The Oxford handbook of free will, ed. R. Kane (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

  55. Adel in 46:

    If Plantinga’s argument were that silly, it wouldn’t be worth rebutting. But Plantinga’s argument is more subtle. He says that the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable given evolutionary selection is “low or inscrutable.”

    Yes it’s the case that the way I presented Plantinga’s argument is rather silly but I think I caught the essence of it. To my limited knowledge of Plantinga’s argument it essentially says that cognition and or consciousness that develops through a process that aims for a greater survival benefit and where the process is only interested in survival has a low chance to recognize truth and if it does it does by mistake when survival enhancing proposition and true proposition are in the same set i.e when A = B and B = A. And if we were to draw two Venn diagrams of the namespace of finite propositions where A belongs in B we could see that the probability to hit the right mark is low indeed and in some situations impossible. As such my silly elaboration of the argument stands if we add one more evolutionary/naturalistic assumption:

    1. Consciousness primary goal is survival and cognition is primed to select the choice that has the most survival benefit.

    From this it follows that if survival is primary even one belief where A != B would mean that the true proposition would be always ignored and the fallacy selected. Thus it might be that I am not really wearing black but pink socks as pink socks offer survival benefit but thinking that I am wearing black socks also gives survival benefit. Or it might be that there are pink aliens in the world but not sensing or seeing the aliens has given our ancestors survival benefit so my consciousness does not see them. Or it might be that counting correctly has always been detrimental to propagation because of the “nerd” effect and thus our consciousness has evolved to always count wrongly. etc..

  56. Clive:

    I see that your version of what determines us is different than mine. When I reply to a statement that we are determined, I have in mind that every single thing, without exception, obeys something that is not anything we have any control over whatsoever, and determines every single aspect of anything ever thought or imagined or dreamed or seen, or wished for or hoped, etc., including introspection.

    Yes, I agree, ‘control’ is definitely a key component of agency.

    I would want to distinguish between ‘proximate control’ and ‘ultimate control’ too, since I think both compatibilists and libertarians have a problem with the latter.

    ‘Proximate control’ is synonymous with ‘self-determination’, and an agent can be said to be self-determining (and thus in proximate control) if she acts upon her own desires and wants. Compatibilists capture this aspect of control. Libertarians sometimes do, but not always (it depends which libertarian theory you’re talking about).

    The other sense of the word control, though, is ‘ultimate control’. ‘Ultimate control’ is synonymous with ‘self-origination’, and it captures the notion of an agent being in control of the ultimate source of her choice. Both libertarians and compatibilsts struggle with this sense of the word control. Whilst an agent’s desires are his own desires, I don’t see how either party can give an account of how the agent is in control of the ultimate source or origin of these desires. Given determinism, these desires are the result of antecedent conditions (previous desires and so forth). Given ‘event-causal’ theories of libertarianism, these desires are ultimately random, and given ‘agent-causal’ libertarianism, these desires are ultimately inexplicable. So I don’t think the compatibilsist is any worse off than the libertarian when it comes to ultimate control. And I think they’re often better off when it comes to proximate control:)

  57. Anyhow, is ID tied to any particular account of freedom, agency, or control?

  58. Stating that agent causation is inexplicable makes no sense to me.

    If an electron is shown to be basic (not composed of parts), then one might ask why an electron has a negative charge. And the answer would be that it is a property of the electron. Period. No further explanation exists, nor is needed.

    Same thing with agent causation. The agent is the origin of the desire. It is self-caused. It is not inexplicable, but self-explanatory.

    If self-determinism exists, and only if self-determinism exists, is rational thought possible. It provides the necessary gap between stimulus and response where the immaterial soul or self can act.

    If compatibilism is true, then the soul has no causal power. Hence, under any given set of circumstances, all souls would make identical decisions. This means that if at conception, or birth, or whatever, your soul was taken out and another soul put in your body, that other soul would live an absolutely identical life to the one you have lived. So your choices are not really your own, because your desires are not your own. What room is there for praise or blame? It would be like faulting an Alzheimer’s patient for forgetting something.

    If self-determinism is true, then different souls would act in slightly different ways, so your desires and choices are not really your own. We do not have to understand how and why this works in order for it to be true, or for us to affirm it rationally.

  59. Green (#57):

    No, I don’t think that ID is “tied to any particular account of freedom, agency, or control”. In a sense, ID is not necessarily tied to the concept of free will.

    The fact is that ID gives central importance to the process of conscious design as the only possible source of that property of designed objects which we call CSI (or any equivalent definition).

    Obviously, it is possible that conscious design requires free will in the designer, and indeed I believe that way, but such a recognition is not really necessary to develop the theory of ID.

    Obviously, once we finally admit (and it is certainly time we do) that consciuousness and its processes are a part of reality and must therefore be a part of science, then an objective analysis of the intrinsic laws of those processes becomes naturally part of science too.

    It is however my personal conviction that, of all the properties of conscious processes, free will will probably remain the most elusive, the most difficult to define and understand. Indeed, according to the interesting sub-definitions you have offered, I would certainly describe myself as a believer in “‘agent-causal’ libertarianism”: I think that the ultimate source of free choice is related to the transcendental nature of the I, and therefore eludes a final understanding.

    In that sense, I prefer to use the word “free choice”, and not “desire”, because IMO the concept od “desire” does not catch completely the essence of free processes: the free choice could be better described as the ability to choose one desire against another.

    Finally, I really can’t understand and accept compatibilism. As I understand that you have a deep knowledge of the subject, and I have appreciated your very clear remarks on it, I would like to understand better your position, using exactly your terms. So I will give sone specific questions, and I am sure that you can clarify better to me your personal thought.

    You say:

    Well, according to Robert Kane (2002: 10), one of the requirements for libertarian free will is the principle of alternative possibilties (PAP) that I mentioned earlier. PAP is the idea that an agent could have done otherwise – and could have done otherwise in an absolutely unconditional sense.
    Compatibists deny PAP. They say that an agent can only do otherwise in a conditional sense. That is, an agent can only do otherwise if she has the desire to do otherwise. This is why I describe myself as a compatibilist.

    As I do believe in the PAP, are you saying that you don’t? (should be so, as you define yourself a compatibilist).

    ‘Proximate control’ is synonymous with ‘self-determination’, and an agent can be said to be self-determining (and thus in proximate control) if she acts upon her own desires and wants.

    That is not clear to me. I would think that the only real control is what you call “ultimate control”.
    Again, the emphasis on “desire” can be misleading. I agree that a desire is a conscious representations (in feeling) that is connected to the process of choice. The problem is if the desire, as an internal state, is determined or not. I am not sure I have understood your position about that.

    As I see it, we have more or less the following possibilities:

    1) Some entity acts in a purely deterministic way, its behaviour is in principle completely understandable in terms of previous states, and the entity is npot conscious. That’s what I would call a physical machine. That’s probably what many reductionists think we are. Conciousness has no role in that. I reject completely such a model of human beings (as probably you do too).

    2) Same as in 1, but conscious representations are constantly connected to those processes. Even if we do not affirm a specific explanation of consciousness (independent principle, emergent property, or whatever), the fact remains that those conscious representations (“inner states”), while being in relation to the input-output of events, cannot influence it: they can only be influenced by it.

    Is this your position? Is this what you intend as “compatibilism”?

    But, in this model, what you call “desires” are inner states which must be considered a consequence of previous states, be they viewed as outer or inner (indeed, in this model, there is no real difference between thye two things, because inner states are a necessary consequence of outer conditions).

    So, if this is your position, could you please explain me in what sense it is objectively different for simple determinism? I really can’t see, and that’s why I have never had any esteem of compatibilism.

    3) Finally, my position. Consciousness has to be described as an existing principle, obviously connected bidirectionally to the physical world through the body and the brain. A correct description of conscious processes requires recognition of the intuitive sense of free choice. I accept and affirm that such an intuition is true, not because I think it can be proved externally, but because nothing in our map of conscious realities would make any sense otherwise.

    Free choice remains vastly a mystery, but it certainly means that our final behaviour cannot be completely explained according to previous circumstances, both outer and inner. In that sense, it cannot even be explained according ton our “desires”, which should be considered as “previous internal states”. So I think that this model naturally includes both the concept of PAP and of what you call “‘agent-causal’ libertarianism”.

    Now, I suspect (but would like you to confirm and explain) that in reality you stay somewhere between 2) and 3). If that is the case, could you please clarify in what sense, possibly referring to the models I have given? I am really interested to that, because I cannot understand how a position intermediate between those two models is really possible (avoiding, obviously, mere word games).

  60. “If an electron is shown to be basic (not composed of parts), then one might ask why an electron has a negative charge. And the answer would be that it is a property of the electron. Period. No further explanation exists, nor is needed.”

    Not true. If you can think of the question then there is further explanation required.

  61. Late to the party again.

    JMcL “1: If atheism is true, then so is materialism.”

    I’ve always approached this in the opposite way. That is, if materialism is true, then God cannot exist and neither can souls or minds because God and minds are not matter.

    If only matter exists, then everything must be subject to the laws of physics. (what else is there plus it seems to be inductively true to a virtual certainty)

    After all, naturalism, materialism, and physicalism all define themselves in terms of the causal closure of nature so the laws of physics governing the behavior of matter is just part of the definition.

    Atheism is a conclusion of materialism, not the other way around. In my opinion, anyway.

    In fact, I’m not sure that you even need this premise for the rest of your argument to follow. Let’s see how it would play out if we turned the first premise around.

    1: If materialism is true, then atheism is true. (True by definition but as we will see not needed.)

    2: If materialism is true, then the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain. (This is also true by definition.)

    3: If the mind is reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain, then human autonomy and consciousness are illusory because our free choices are determined by the dual forces of chance and necessity. (maybe say the laws of physics – quantum/chance, necessity/gravity) (also true by definition)

    4: Human autonomy exists.

    5: Therefore, the mind is not reducible to the chemical constituents of the brain.

    You’ve set up modus tollens:

    If materialism is true we’d have no free will. (2 and 3)

    But we do have free will. (4)

    Therefore, materialism is false. (conclusion of modus tollens) (5)

    But this begs the question, I think. For you have still only asserted but not proven free will. Fortunately, there is a way around this.

    It’s more cumbersome than the way I will use at the end but I think this will give you the missing piece.

    What you need to do is link the creation of information with free will. In fact, this JUST occurred to me as a decisive argument for free will. Cool. So here’s how it goes.

    In order to create information, contingency is required. (I already knew this part)

    This is self-evidently true. Any algorithm based upon, say gravity, would necessarily result in a sequence of letters like aaaaaaaaaa.

    Drop object.
    If object falls. Type a.
    If object ~falls. Type any other key at random.
    Result will be aaaaaaaa.

    OK. But how about chance? Say we could set up an algorithm based on quantum activity like radioactive decay. Somehow we map time of particle decay to an alphabet and every time a particle decays we type the letter that is associated with that time.

    So now we are faced with insurmountable odds. Say 26 letters, a space, three punctuation marks, and ten numbers, total of 40 characters in our “alphabet.” Now, what would the odds be of getting a meaningful string of letters ten letters long? Our denominator would be 40^10 which is 10^10xlog40 or 10 x 1.6 = 16. So to get a meaningful string of letters we have 10^16 possibilities of meaningful strings. The problem here now is to put some meaningful number on the numerator and to be honest I really don’t know how to do that. I’m sure it’s a lot fewer than 10^16 but how to get it? As it turns out, we don’t need that number because we have ASSUMED that certain combinations of letters have meaning and others don’t. Why is that and how could physics account for it?

    Well, we immediately see that physics cannot account for it because physics has nothing to say about our alphabet of symbols and the rules that govern the arrangement of them into words and phrases that mean something. Find a law of physics that bears on why “dog” means man’s best friend. That’s not what physics is about. Physics is about sub-atomic particles in energy fields and their interactions. Physics has nothing to say about the symbols or the rules that give meaning to certain arrangements of symbols.

    So by definition physics is excluded. It’s a category mistake to even say it can. It’s tantamount to saying information is physical. We’ve seen that law cannot produce information (no contingency) and we’ve sort of seen that chance cannot do it. (Take a 100 letter string of meaningful characters and our denominator is now 10^160. Random doesn’t hack it.)

    But with my mind I can effortlessly pick and choose letters and organize them in what I hope is not a completely incoherent ramble and arrange them in various ways so that I communicate my message. So what I am saying, inelegantly, I’m sure, is that free will is required to generate information. That’s the insight I just had earlier. I’ve always said that physics couldn’t do it and I’ve always said mind can do it but I’ve never said what about mind actually makes it happen and it’s FREE WILL! For if there is no free will, if there is only law, then even given an alphabet, there is no information. So that’s how I would try to work that in.

    But here’s an even easier way to defeat the “isms.”

    If naturalism, etc… are true, then physics can explain everything. (This is true by definition.)

    But physics cannot explain language. (As we have just seen why.)

    Therefore, naturalism is false.

    It is not only false, it cannot be true. It MUST BE false. The only way to prove it false is to generate information by means of physical law. But physical law says nothing of symbols and rules which comprise language and which are necessary for encoding information.

    This is devastating to neo-darwinism as well but it’s late. In any case, I’m sure this will offend someone’s sensibilities and I can see that tomorrow.

    p.s. This doesn’t get us to atheism and God but now the immaterial is on the table and any of the first cause arguments that rely on the impossibility of an infinite regress can easily prove that the First Cause is uncaused, eternal or infinite, and immaterial.

    p.p.s. This is a great idea you have.

  62. p.p.p.s. I didn’t read past the article (7. Therefore, atheism is false.) so sort of flying blind here. I hope I didn’t completely miss the point. Regrets if I did.

    tgp out.

  63. 63

    TGP,

    “I’m sure, is that free will is required to generate information.”

    In the end, this is precisely the central figure in Abel and Trevors “Three Subsets of Sequence Complexity”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC1208958/

    The fundamental contention inherent in our three subsets of sequence complexity proposed in this paper is this: without volitional agency [actual, free will] assigning meaning to each configurable-switch-position symbol, algorithmic function and language will not occur.

  64. TGP:

    Great post. I completely agree with all you say.

    I would sum up this way:

    1) CSI (language and similar) cannot be explained in any way by purely deterministic models.

    2) In particular, the specification component of CSI requires the concept of consciousness to be even merely defined.

    3) As non conscious entities cannot generate CSI (which is both empirically verified and theoretically inferred), it’s easy to infer that some properties of consciousness are necessary for the generation of CSI.

    Which is exactly your point.

    Now, if we want to specify better which properties of consciousness are actively implied in the generation of CSI, we have to look at our subjective experience of producing designed objects, such as strings of language, machines, software, end so on.

    Here I would partially differ form your point in the sense of expanding it. Indeed, I believe that many different conscious processes are necessary to generate CSI, and all of them are exclusive of conscious experience, and have no counterpart in purely algorithmic processes. I will try to list the most important ones:

    1) Perception and representation of meaning. Meaning is a purely mental experience. All cognition os possible only because we attribute, recognize and consciously represent meanings.

    2) Feeling of purpose. Purpose is a function of feeling, more than cognition. It is indispensable to the definition of function, which is the basis for the concept of FSCI. In a sense, meaning and purpose have some similarities, but I believe that there is some difference between the two concepts.

    3) Free will: the intuitive perception of agency. I believe that, without free will, we would have no concept of conscious agency. Free will is the necessary consequence of the output connection of consciousness to reality, just as perception and cognition are the necessary consequence of its input connection. As you very correctly say, without free will there would be no non algorithmic knowledge in human mind, and no CSI could ever be produced. But free will is probably strictly connected to representations of meanings and purposes. After all, our basic choices are in the realm of cognition (true-false) and of feeling (good-bad).

    That’s one of the reasons why ID is so fundamental, not only to get rid of darwinism, but also to get rid of many other fundamental follies of contemporary thought, first of all reductionism and strong AI theory.

    Finally, as a very good collateral demonstration that human knowledge is not merely algorithmic, and therefore a demonstration of the fundamental role of consciousness in it, I would strongly suggest Penrose’s argument based on Godel theorem.

  65. TGP & GP:

    Very well said.

    My view is that we need to also look at these things “forward” on teh evolutionary materialistic model, using Mrs O’Leary’s 4 unexplained big bangs:

    1 –> Origin of a fine-tuned observable cosmos suitable for intelligent, C-Chemistry cell based life.

    2 –> OOL, which embeds dFSCI in a nanotech information system.

    3 –> OO body plan level biodiversity, which pushes up the dFSCI from 100 – 1,000 k bits, to 10′s or 100′s of mns and eventually 1,000′s of millions.

    4 –> OOL Mind, moralising social creatures etc. Here, we move up to the level where we have to explain self-referentially, so when we impose a physicalist premise that explains on matter-energy in space-time we cannot credibly account for the basis of reason and morality [which we must all use], exposing the self-referential incoherence in many ways.

    When you look above, you will see that the defenders of he evolutionary materialist thesis consistently assume wha they have no right to, the reliability of their minds, and try to shift the burden of proof to those who point out that they are building on a foundation that cannot support that assumption.

    Notice how hey twisted Plantinga’s argument that on evo mat premises the reliability of mind is low or inscrutable, i.e the mechanism is irrelevant to the result.

    But neurons firing away in mV of impulses,and connected in chains that embed a lot of FSCI, are inexplicable on materialistic evolutionary grounds. Worse, mV, ion gradients across membranes, and pulse repetition rates in Hz are utterly irrelevant in themselves to meaning, inference, implication and warrant for knowledge. Brains are not self-explanatory on reason.

    The meaning is from somewhere else, imposed on the physics, chemistry and neuron network architecture.

    But if you are ideologically committed to mind emerging form brain by some materialistic poof-magick [I deliberately added the k, to point out that this is not necessarily benign . . . ], you will staunchly defend your system until it breaks down utterly.

    Remember the utterly true believer, bitter end Marxists of our youth?

    This thing will not be decided on mere arguments, but he collapse of institutions and movements that build on the worldviews.

    And the amorality and irrational radical relativism of evolutionary materialism will be a big part of that collapse, on the example from Plato when this last was a major movement.

    Unfortunately, if institutional science allies itself too tightly to such a doomed movement, it too will take a terrible blow when the collapse comes.

    GEM of TKI

  66. PS: to read Plantinga in his own voice, cf here, and this is the actual argument he made, in 58 pp as a supplement to a book.

  67. Upright @ 63 cool. Great paper. It will bear rereading a time or three. Thanks for the confirmation.

  68. GP @ 64. Excellent points. Thanks.

  69. GEM @ 65 “This thing will not be decided on mere arguments, but he collapse of institutions and movements that build on the worldviews.”

    Nail – head.

    “Afraid” US gov’t will be in vanguard…

    What physicist was it that said that science only changes when the old guard dies off??? Or words to that effect.

  70. Somewhat related and maybe of interest,

    As Upright pointed out in the paper he referenced @63, Though Shannon’s definition of information is seen as inadequate to explain the generation of functional information, Claude Shannon’s work on ‘communication of information’ actually fully supports Intelligent Design as is illustrated in the following video and article:

    DNA and The Genetic Code Pt 3 – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtMQUFOwEFo

    Skeptic’s Objection to Information Theory #1:
    “DNA is Not a Code”
    http://cosmicfingerprints.com/dnanotcode.htm

  71. TGP, it was Max Planck who said that. Planck was the father of quantum mechanics and a devout Christian;

    “A new scientific truth does not establish itself by its enemies being convinced and expressing their change of opinion, but rather by its enemies gradually dying out and the younger generation being taught the truth from the beginning.”
    http://www.sound-physics.com/Biography/Planck/

  72. 72

    BA’s quote at 71.

    Nail – head.

    This whole “responsiveness” of science to critique is a great deal of hot air. As Berlinski points out, scientist run from valid objections just like everyone else.

  73. Gpuccio @59:

    In answer to your questions, yes, as a compatibilist, I deny PAP. I think the idea that you can make decisions completely contrary to your beliefs, desires and so forth is absurd. With regards to your 3 categories… as a substance dualist, I deny (1). I also deny (2), since you describe this position as entailing that “conscious representations (“inner states”), while being in relation to the input-output of events, cannot influence it: they can only be influenced by it”. I deny this because I think that causation runs both ways: i.e. physical states causally affect conscious states, and conscious states also causally affect physical states. So I would accept your position (3) but without the “free will” part. So I think that consciousness is a fundamental part of reality, and that it causally affects our brains, and vice versa. However, I think that “free will” is a hopelessly incoherent notion, that either entails that decisions are arbitrary, or that they are irrational. As I said above, I think that our decisions are causally determined by the combination of our beliefs, desires, long term goals, moral values, and so forth, and that there is no ‘arbitrary’ or ‘irrational’ part to decision making – which libertarianism seems to lead to.

    Let me just briefly explain why libertarianism leads to either arbitrariness or irrationality. Under ‘event-causal’ theories of libertarianism, PAP is satisfied by injecting an element of indeterminism into the causal chain leading to an agent’s action or decision. Some have argued that injecting indeterminism into the causal chain actually undermines human agency because it takes away the agent’s control over the action. However, this does not have to be the case. Mele (2006) has developed an ‘event-causal’ libertarian theory where agential control is still exercised. He proposes that the the beliefs and thoughts that come to mind during the process of deliberation come to mind in an indeterministic fashion, but that from there the agent takes over and his/her decisions are causally determined by the mental states in question. Here you’ve got PAP and proximate control, but no ultimate control. This is the best that event-causal theories of libertarianism can do. Ultimately the source of decisions is arbitrary. The indeterminism injected to gain PAP in this account thus seems to add nothing, and one might as well just be a compatibilist.

    Agent-causal theories of libertarianism attempt to overcome this problem (and gain PAP, proximate and ultimate control) by positing that an agent is a distinct ontological entity – specifically a substance rather than an event. (However, they’re quite clear that their view does not require substance dualism, and agent causationists such as Timothy O’Connor and Robert Clarke both hold that the ‘substance’ in question is a physical substance – specifically the human animal. Having said this, I think it could be consistent with substance dualism is you wanted). Anyhow, this substance is said to constitute the agent, and it is said to be distinct from his/her mental states. Agent causationists say that agents ‘survey’ the mental states and that mental states (reasons and so forth) may influence a decision, but they do not determine it. The ‘agent’ (as a substance) has the final say. This way they supposedly get PAP, proximate control and ultimate control.

    Most have rejected the ‘agent-causal’ view of libertarianism because the idea that a substance, rather than a property of the substance, can cause anything is unintelligible. I think it fails for about 4 other reasons, too. But I’ll just list one of them here, namely the fact that it only gives agents the power to make irrational decisions (and who wants that?). Here I’ll just paste in an edited version of the thought experiment that I wrote to Clive above:

    Agent-causal libertarianism seriously undermines human rationality because it leads to the conclusion that humans make choices for no reason whatsoever. Agent-causal libertarianism requires that choices be indeterminate – and indeterminate in an absolutely unconditional sense. Under the agent-causal theory of libertarianism, an agent is causally influenced by his/her mental states, but is not determined by them. The ‘agent’ (as a substance) is meant to have the final say. Now for a thought experiment…

    Imagine an actual world where Joe decides at t to do A. Now imagine another world that is identical to the actual world up until time t, but in which Joe decides to do B at t, not A. Note that Joe’s motivations, his beliefs, his desires, his moral state, his state of mind, his powers and capacities are all identical up until time t. Likewise, note that all the external circumstances are identical in both worlds; neither diverge before t.

    On the agent-causal libertarian view, there is nothing about Joe or about the external world that explains why he chose A at t rather than B. There is no rhyme or reason to Joe’s decision. Reasons may have figured probabilistically into his decision, but they did not determine it. No reason whatsoever determined it, and what is rational about that? How is acting (ultimately) for no reason at all rational? I don’t think there is anything rational about this, and thus I think that all the agent-causal theory of libertarianism gives you is the power to make irrational decisions*.

    *In fact, I’d argue that it doesn’t even get you this, because substances can’t be causes.

    ** I would also argue that acting for no reason is the same thing as not being in control, and thus that agent causal libertarians fail to give an account of both proximate and ultimate control. – but this post is already long enough so I’ll stop there.

  74. 74

    Sidenote: GP, you are no doubt the most patient and thoughtful ID proponent on earth. Thanks go to you.

  75. BA @ 71. Thanks. I’ll save the quote.

  76. On tgpeeler’s comments @61:

    “Beware when the great God turns loose a thinker on this planet.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  77. Green:

    Start from your experience of thinking and deciding for yourself.

    If that experience is not real — per your worldview — it leads you to self-referential incoherence.

    Without real freedom to decide and think and act for ourselves, our whole thought world disintegrates.

    Labels and dismissive arguments don’t help.

    GEM of TKI

  78. Kairosfocus:

    Green:

    Start from your experience of thinking and deciding for yourself.

    If that experience is not real — per your worldview — it leads you to self-referential incoherence.

    “Per my worldview”?? Kairosfocus, with all due respect, have you read anything that I’ve said? I am a substance dualist. I do not think that consciousness is illusory; it is a fundamental feature of reality. My determinism (or compatibilism, whatever you want to call it) entails that all my decisions are determined by my mental states – my beliefs, desires, moral values, long term goals, etc. Please tell me why knowing that my decisions are causally determined in this way is self-referentially incoherent?

    Labels and dismissive arguments don’t help.

    Wow. I’m the one using labels and dismissive arguments? I haven’t seen a single cogent argument for libertarianism from you – in fact I haven’t seen a single argument full stop. I took the time to clearly lay out the arguments of the two of the main camps in the libertarian literature (‘event-causalists’ and ‘agent-causalists’), showing why they both fail. You have shown me no argument to the contrary. In fact, I doubt you are even familiar with the libertarianism literature, since surely if you were, you would have tried to counter my argument, rather than just simply asserting that free will is real. Please show me an argument. And don’t give me intuitions because intuitively I can equally say that I know my decisions are causally determined by my mental states, hence compatibilism.

  79. Drew at #50 asserts that libertarian free will is a kind of determinism. This is odd.

    My previous understanding of libertarian is *same* soul + *same* conditions = *different* outcome each time. But that would be simple indeterminacy.

    Whereas my understanding of compatibilism says *same* soul + *same* conditions = *same* outcome, as Drew does. It does NOT say, *different* soul + *same* conditions = *same* outcome. Some compatibilists might, but that treats the soul as something ineffectual and contentless, and thats not what compatibilism is.

    Most of the ‘libertarians’ above forget that the makeup of a soul is part of the prior conditions of any decision it makes, and that every soul makes decisions based on reasons and prior inputs, including its own experience, current mood, biochemistry, etc. To the extent that a soul’s decisions are not based on prior inputs, it is just making irrational, random decisions.

    Once that is considered, there is again a straight choice between compatibilism and simple indeterminacy.

    Freely made choices are made by a deterministic process. Its weird, but thats the way it is, if you reason far enough. Thank you Green for trying to get them there.

    *

    As for CSI, we shoot ourselves in the foot if we insist on attaching it to this ill-defined kind of agent-causation. It annoys me muchly. It is much better to say simply that CSI is the result of a particular kind of process, rather than to try to make these arguments based of fundamental philosophical presuppositions. Otherwise we escape from a christian scriptural fundamentalism into just as narrow a christian philosophical fundamentalism (although I appreciate it doesnt seem like that to those i am criticising).

    CSI results from a particular kind of process, algorithmic or not. Specifications do require intelligence to be well defined, but why attach the consciousness and libertarianism to this? Those are actually extraneous.

    As for strong AI, I think that is still an open question, with the caveat that the term may be as ill-defined and useless as libertarian free will (with the PAP thing). It may be that even humans do not display strong AI in its strongest sense, but are merely conduits of information, learning from other humans, from designs in nature, and possibly even from God directly. In that case all that is good and rational and ordered comes ultimately from God: sola gloria deo, nihil sine deo.

  80. Actually, please read the literature on libertarianism before replying, or else I’m wasting my time. This SEP article is a good place to start: http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....-theories/

  81. For the purposes of CSI, it is enough to simply assume that intelligent agents effectively share a dictionary of concepts that supervene mere physics, concepts such as ‘rotary’, ‘motor’, ‘tail’ with the modifier ‘long’. That gets you Dembski’s tractability condition for specifications. That’s all you need for CSI.

  82. Green:

    Re:

    My determinism (or compatibilism, whatever you want to call it) entails that all my decisions are determined by my mental states – my beliefs, desires, moral values, long term goals, etc. Please tell me why knowing that my decisions are causally determined in this way is self-referentially incoherent?

    Determinism normally refers to a dynamical process that starts from initial conditions and produces outcomes mechanically more or less. That turns “dualism” into self-referential incoherence.

    No, I offer no proof that we make real decisions. I simply note that once we set up a criterion that turns decisions into the mere mechanic al playing out — pardon that sort of language — of prior states, freedom to choose has gone. We may have he illusion of choice, but not the substance.

    And, absent real choice we end up in a self-referential reductio: do you hold your view because you have chosen to follow the facts and implications, or because a prior state just happened to be so, and had it been otherwise your view and thought as subjectively experienced would have been necessarily different, not because of truth but because of mechanical necessity or an analogue — let’s call i ta software version — thereof?

    If so, then it is merely a matter of who or what manipulated or programmed initial states that drive outcomes robotically, or if you will, the happenstance of initial conditions.

    Instead, as I suggested earlier, we need to distinguish between influences or constraints and those sufficient factors that once present WILL make an outcome happen.

    And I knew a man — a professor in my Uni — who would occasionally deliberately do something utterly diverse form what he would otherwise wish, sometimes by doing a bit of dice throwing to determine his decision.

    It once saved his life by “making” him choose to be late for a flight that then crashed.

    GEM of TKI

  83. —Green: “I think the idea that you can make decisions completely contrary to your beliefs, desires and so forth is absurd.”

    Tell that to every smoker who knows that he should stop but chooses not to.

    —Green to kairosfocus: “Please tell me why knowing that my decisions are causally determined in this way is self-referentially incoherent?”

    You exhibit incoherence every time you complain about someone else’s behavior.

  84. StephenB:

    Tell that to every smoker who knows that he should stop but chooses not to.

    Yes, and WHY does the smoker continue to smoke? Because his desire to smoke outweighs his will power, moral values and so forth. He is simply acting on his strongest desire. Compatibilism in action.

  85. Kairosfocus:

    Determinism normally refers to a dynamical process that starts from initial conditions and produces outcomes mechanically more or less. That turns “dualism” into self-referential incoherence.

    This just simply doesn’t follow. Please explain how determinism >> self-referential incoherence. I am still in need of an argument.

    And, absent real choice we end up in a self-referential reductio: do you hold your view because you have chosen to follow the facts and implications, or because a prior state just happened to be so

    You’ve set up a false dichotomy. I hold the view I do because I have followed the facts and implications, and these facts and implications, combined with my prior knowledge and my current mental states, causally determine that I’ll reach the decision I do. If they don’t causally determine my decision (read: libertarianism) then what does? Nothing. Yes, how rational.

    And I knew a man — a professor in my Uni — who would occasionally deliberately do something utterly diverse form what he would otherwise wish, sometimes by doing a bit of dice throwing to determine his decision.

    It once saved his life by “making” him choose to be late for a flight that then crashed.

    This proves nothing. It is entirely consistent with compatibilism. Why did he choose to throw the dice? Becuase he DESIRED to do something spontaneous and different. Again, this is compatibilism in action.

  86. —Green: “Yes, and WHY does the smoker continue to smoke? Because his desire to smoke outweighs his will power, moral values and so forth. He is simply acting on his strongest desire. Compatibilism in action.”

    Your original statement was that an individual cannot act against [a] his beliefs and/or [b] his desires. I have already refuted [a]. Surely, you understand that I can refute [b] just as easily with another example.

    In any case, I knew that you would react that way, which is why I included section II, where I wrote, “You exhibit incoherence each time that you complain about someone else’s [kairosfocus'] behavior.”

    By your lights, KFs combination of mental states prompted his behavior, an activity over which he has no control. So, why are you complaining?

    ["Kairosfocus, with all due respect, have you read anything that I’ve said?"

    ["Wow. I’m the one using labels and dismissive arguments?"]

    Is it the case that he could have acted differently or is it?

  87. …or is it not?”

  88. StephenB:

    Your original statement was that an individual cannot act against [a] his beliefs and/or [b] his desires. I have already refuted [a]. Surely, you understand that I can refute [b] just as easily with another example.

    You’ve misconstrued my original statement by making it and “and-or” with regards to desires and beliefs. What actually said was the that an agent cannot act against his “beliefs, desires, and so forth.” What I meant by the comma “,” was AND. No compatibilist seperates mental states and says you can act against these, but you can’t act against those. Compatibilists take ALL the mental states into consideration, and says that actions are causally determined by the COMBINATION of them.

    Thinking about it, your example of the smoker is not only consistent with compatibilism, it is actually also evidence *against* libertarianism. You implied yourself that the smoker was powerless to do otherwise.

  89. StephenB also wrote:

    “You exhibit incoherence each time that you complain about someone else’s [kairosfocus'] behavior.”

    By your lights, KFs combination of mental states prompted his behavior, an activity over which he has no control. So, why are you complaining?

    Ok, so now you’re talking about moral responsibility, and how this is incompatible with compatibilism. I would agree that. Compatibililists have no good theory of what I called “ultimate control” above. So it is diffiuclt to see how they are morally responsible. I will answer this from my personal perspective below. But first, let me point out that I can make exactly the same charge against you. I have read the literature on this, and I know that no libertarian can account for ultimate control either. In all libertarian accounts, the supposed “ultimate control” either vanishes into arbitrariness, or dissolves into irrationality. So libertarians are no better off when it comes to accounting for moral responsibility either.

    Now, onto my personal perspective. I’m a christian, and I think that the bible teaches that man is still ultimately responsible for his actions. So whilst no theory (libertarian or compatibilist) can account for this, I am justified in beleiving it, since I am rationally justified in believing the bible.

  90. Now let me turn it around, how are you justified in complaining against others’ behaviour? You seem to be a libertarian, and no libertarian theory has yet given a good account of it. And if you’re not a Christian, I cannot see any way that you can be rationally justified in holding man responsible for his actions either.

  91. Green (#73):

    thank you for your detailed, clear and informed answer. This kind of exchange is truly rewarding.

    I think I owe you some comments. First I will comment briefly on your position, and then I will try to clarify better what I think.

    1)About compatibilism, and in particular your form of compatibilism. You have been very clear, but still I have difficulties with this kind of position. In particular, it is difficult for me to see where it may really be different form strict determinism.

    Perhaps, the key is in the only phrase in your reasoning which remains unclear for me:

    “I deny this because I think that causation runs both ways: i.e. physical states causally affect conscious states, and conscious states also causally affect physical states. So I would accept your position (3) but without the “free will” part.”

    So, if I understand well, you believe that conscious states influence physical states as much as the reverse. That is fine, I perfectly agree.

    And you seem to believe that conscious states have some form of existence, and are not a mere byproduct of the physical states of the body and brain. That’s even better, I could not agree more.

    But still, you don’t believe in free will (for reasons which are interesting, but which I will discuss in the next point).

    But then, what determines inner states, other than physical inputs? Because determined they must be, if there is no free will. And it seems to me that there are only two options:

    a) inner states are completely determined by physical inputs, and then we are back to my 1), and to strict physical determinism, which you deny.

    b) Inner states are determined by some intrinsic form of inner determinism, which can interact with physical determinism, but is partially independent from it.

    Is that your position? Is that what you call “compatibilism”? In that case, I appreciate the effort, but can’t understand if there is any substantial difference with physical determinism. You are just trading a simple form of determinism with a double determinism intertwined.

    But the problem with strict determinism is that it creates unacceptable consequences in our conscious representation of reality: in particular, it denies any possible role to the concepts of moral responsibility, of commitment to self-improvement, and it becomes really difficult to give any sense to human ideals and hopes, and to most human values.

    I really can’t see how trading one form of determinism for another can change any of that.

    Moreover, it seems rather obvious that, if our inner states are determined, our intuition of being able to change our personal destiny, even if partially, can only be viewed as self-delusion.

    For all those reasons I can’t accept compatibilism, and I continue to believe that it is only a way to put strict determinism in a more palatable form, at least for philosophers.

    2)Let’s go, then, to my position.

    From what you say, it seems even more obvious to me that my position can be described very well as “agent-causal” libertarianism. I am happy that I have learned something new about what I believe :) !

    I would definitely reject at first sight all “event-casual” models. I see no reason or utility for them. Indeterminism is certainly not a substitute for choice, and it does not solve any of the problems created by strict determinism. So, in that I agree with you: event-causal models are useless.

    But the same is not true for agent-causal positions.

    First of all, I will say that I am not too interested in debates about “substance”. If you want, I could accept that the agent is a substance, but I prefer to define it as a “transcendental subject”, perfectly existing and real, and connected to the external world through the body-brain interface (bidirectionally, as it is obvious).

    Now, I will try to address your objections to that positions, from my point of view:

    a) “Anyhow, this substance is said to constitute the agent, and it is said to be distinct from his/her mental states. Agent causationists say that agents ‘survey’ the mental states and that mental states (reasons and so forth) may influence a decision, but they do not determine it. The ‘agent’ (as a substance) has the final say. This way they supposedly get PAP, proximate control and ultimate control.”

    This describes quite well my position. But I want to state again that I would rather describe the agent as a transcendental subject, able to both perceive and represent inputs form the external world, and to output actions to it.

    b) “Most have rejected the ‘agent-causal’ view of libertarianism because the idea that a substance, rather than a property of the substance, can cause anything is unintelligible”

    I can’t see exactly why that should be the case. Anyway, I see the transcendental subject as the real “substance”, and the ability to represent and to act could well be defined as its “properties”, but maybe that’s only a matter of words. Anyway, there is no doubt IMO that the transcendental I acts as a cause.

    c) “I think it fails for about 4 other reasons, too. But I’ll just list one of them here “.

    And to that one I will answer. But I am ready for the other three :)

    d) “the fact that it only gives agents the power to make irrational decisions (and who wants that?)”

    I could argue that irrational decisions are not rare, nothwithstanding free will. That’s not my whole argument, but it should suggest that, if free will exists, its results are not necessarily rational decisions.

    So, I will try to clarify my point of view.

    Free will is the power to choose. The transcendental subject, at each given moment, has a complex pattern of representations (the sum total of its inputs and internal states). According to those representations, it “feels” a definite pattern of possible reactions (let’s say at least two, or maybe more). It is not so important how different those reactions are. In some cases, it could be the difference between salvation and ruin, other times it could just be a slight difference in mood. The important point fro free will to be real is that there is not a single, determined reaction.

    And then? Then the I “chooses” its reaction. Moment by moment, any time. Is that a rational choice? Maybe yes, maybe not. Rationality is certainly one of the representations in the field, and certainly an important one.

    But not the only one. In the field there are desires, passions, loyalties, attractions, repulsions, fears, and many other things that we know well. And, I would say, in the field there is love.

    From a religious point of view, that is probably the single most important factor. Love, and especially love for God, and truth, and good, are always represented in some way in the consciousness of the I, at one level or another. And, moment by moment, the perceiving I can be loyal to that love, in any of its form, or disloyal to it. That’s the real value of free will and of responsibility.

    Is that a rational choice? It is, if reason is taken with sincerity and if it is guided by love. Otherwise, reason can produce many wrong things. After all, in all religious (and even not religious) traditions, choice is more a result of feeling than of reason, otherwise moral errors would only be cognitive mistakes. I would say that, in all human activities, cognition and feeling are always intertwined, and the one has no meaning without the other.

    e) So, let’s go to your “thought experiment”. Let’s say that “A” is a good decision, a liberating, compassionate, moral one, and “B” a disloyal, hate inspired, egoistic decision. The choice is open to the agent. It can choose one or the other. A is probably rational, and B irrational, but that is not the only point in the game. And yes, Joe can definitely choose B.

    But he can definitely choose A, and that is the true, simple glory of free will, that no form of compatibilism or other human conjecture can ever deny.

  92. 92

    Wow.

    If you can simply give up the belief in free will (ahem), then such oh-so parsimonious explanations just perculate from the chaos – do they not?

  93. Hi Green,
    I hope you don’t mind me joining in with a question to you – I have been following this discussion from the beginning, and am in complete agreement with you on the conclusions that free will in the libertarian sense cannot exist, for all the reasons you have so nicely laid out, and many more.

    My questions to you is on this statement:

    “I’m a christian, and I think that the bible teaches that man is still ultimately responsible for his actions. So whilst no theory (libertarian or compatibilist) can account for this, I am justified in beleiving it, since I am rationally justified in believing the bible.”

    If I understand you correctly, you believe in ultimate responsibility for your choices, although you believe that all your choices are in fact determined and couldn’t have been otherwise (as do I believe). Do you have a reason for this contradictory assumption besides the bible teaching (which, don’t take me wrong, I do completely respect as your personal beliefs; I have my own set of beliefs)? So – I am basically asking: why are you a compatibilist, not a determinist?

    As a determinist, I conclude that our sense of personal responsibility for our choices is the result of the social benefits of accountability for one’s actions. In other words, a society where beneficial behavior is rewarded and detrimental behavior is punished thrives. Thus, in my opinion, although responsibility itself is an illusion, the “sense of responsibility”, or social accountability is a real, beneficial force and that is the reason why it factors into our motivations/desires/evidence evaluations for making choices.

  94. GP (and Green);

    Right now I am taken up with a Constitutional crisis, and have to deal with a visiting expert.

    That makes me much shorter than I am wont, which may cause lack of specificity and detail. (And yet the constraints do not force the outcome, I — and it is I not my attitudes or feelings [and surely not ole devil rum or new devil pill . . . ] — decide to read and to respond, even if short and perhaps too sharp even while maybe not being specific enough.)

    I apologise for that.

    GP has well said most of what I would wish to say.

    I should add, that I am not unfamiliar with non materialist determinists, e.g. one of my theological friends across decades of discussions is a dyed in the wool hypercalvinist, thus a dualist. (Yup, such still exist!)

    Every species of determinism, however, ends up undermining not only power to choose in the moral context but also power to choose in the rational one, i.e. it ends up undermining the ability to make sufficiently free decisions to think for oneself.

    Without power to select towards a purposed message — however constrained by rules of communication etc, one cannot be free enough to really think responsibly. And for that matter, to love [the root of all virtue].

    Such freedom entails the power to do the opposite of such things and maybe too many people ARE led around by the nose through their attitudes and feelings and perceptions.

    But, to really think for ourselves, we must be able to choose for ourselves. Other wise we become the creatures of our conditioning, down which road lie the errors of for example Marxism. [And marxism is not just in the materialist forms we are often familiar with, at least for my generation, which I suspect is GP's generation, and both Italy and Jamaica suffered much at the hands of such determinists and their class war ideology.]

    GEM of TKI

  95. PS: And, Calvinism is a worldview all to itself . . .

  96. Hi gpuccio, again hoping that Green won’t mind, I’ll chime in on your 91 also:

    “Agent causationists say that agents ‘survey’ the mental states and that mental states (reasons and so forth) may influence a decision, but they do not determine it. The ‘agent’ (as a substance) has the final say.”

    “The transcendental subject, at each given moment, has a complex pattern of representations (the sum total of its inputs and internal states). [...] The important point for free will to be real is that there is not a single, determined reaction. [...] Then the I “chooses” its reaction. [...]Rationality is certainly one of the representations in the field, and certainly an important one. But not the only one. In the field there are desires, passions, loyalties, attractions, repulsions, fears, and many other things that we know well. And, I would say, in the field there is love.”

    So, if I understand you correctly, you view factors such as desires, passions, loyalties, attractions, etc. as separate from both mental states of the self (or agent/transcendental subject) and evidences outside the self that are evaluated in a choice. And it is these factors that cause, in concert with mental states and evidence evaluations, the choice.

    My question then is: do you view these factors (desires, loyalties, love, etc.) as properties of the self, that cause/make up the inherent differences among different selfs?

  97. 97

    kairosfocus,

    Q. What did the hyper-calvinist say when he fell off the ladder?

    A. “I’m glad that’s over with.”

  98. —Green: “Thinking about it, your example of the smoker is not only consistent with compatibilism, it is actually also evidence *against* libertarianism. You implied yourself that the smoker was powerless to do otherwise.”

    On the contrary. I know that the smoker has free will and can go either way. Your philosophy allows him to go only one way, which is, of course, inconsistent with human nature. Human nature is a drama: Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.

  99. Mr Arrington:

    You got that one right!

    Double election on strict TULIP — Abraham Kuyper is a bit “soft” — is a real mind stretcher.

    (Having said that the Calvinists made major contributions to the rise of modern democracy and free self government, cf William the Silent of Orange and the Dutch Declaration of Independence 1581, which is an ideas precursor to the US one of 1776, may even be a hinted at source for ideas [recall what NY used to be . . . ]. Resented and unacknowledged by today’s world of thought, of course.)

    G

  100. —Green: “Ok, so now you’re talking about moral responsibility, and how this is incompatible with compatibilism. I would agree that. Compatibililists have no good theory of what I called “ultimate control” above.”

    Yes, that is true.

    —”So it is diffiuclt to see how they are morally responsible.”

    You have written wisely.

    —”I will answer this from my personal perspective below. But first, let me point out that I can make exactly the same charge against you.”

    To be sure, you can make the charge, but I don’t think that you can argue the point successfully.

    —”I have read the literature on this, and I know that no libertarian can account for ultimate control either. In all libertarian accounts, the supposed “ultimate control” either vanishes into arbitrariness, or dissolves into irrationality. So libertarians are no better off when it comes to accounting for moral responsibility either.”

    I am not proposing to defend “libertarian” free will or “ultimate control.” I am defending free will from the perspective of what some might call “self determinism.”

    I can justify holding any sane person responsible for his/her behavior within the context of moral choices that are made. We are all influenced by biological, psychological, and environmental factors. So, our choices are obviously limited in that context. However, we certainly have the power to become better or worse people on the strength of the moral choices that we do make. My position will not “dissolve into irrationality.”

    —”Now, onto my personal perspective. I’m a christian, and I think that the bible teaches that man is still ultimately responsible for his actions.”

    You are quite correct about that.

    —”So whilst no theory (libertarian or compatibilist) can account for this, I am justified in beleiving it, since I am rationally justified in believing the bible.”

    You are making perfect sense, and for that reason I recommend that you abandon your position and embrace self-deterministic

  101. …free will.

  102. KF “one of my theological friends across decades of discussions is a dyed in the wool hypercalvinist, thus a dualist. (Yup, such still exist!)”

    As a Calvinist, standing on the shoulders of Paul, Augustine,Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Whitfield, Spurgeon etc, etc, I cant tell you how many times I have been misrepresented as a hyper calvinist. Im not saying that your friend is not a hyper calvinist but have you asked him if he accepts that designation?

    RE 97 Barry we all know that the flower of the Calvinist is the tulip, do you know what the flower of the Arminian is? The daisy…He loves me , He loves me not.

    On to the topic of this thread. Surely no one on this thread is arguing that the will is not determined by something?

    Vivid

  103. molch:

    So, if I understand you correctly, you view factors such as desires, passions, loyalties, attractions, etc. as separate from both mental states of the self (or agent/transcendental subject) and evidences outside the self that are evaluated in a choice. And it is these factors that cause, in concert with mental states and evidence evaluations, the choice.

    The actual choice, in the moment it is done, utilizes all those conscious representations, at various levels of the mind, as a “substrate”. Those representations include rational elaborations of reality, past experiences, past feelings, and so on. But it is the responsibility of the agent how it reacts to that scenario, in each single case, in the range of the reactions which are possible for it in that context. That choice is not neutral, nor probabilistic: it has moral and spiritual value, because it is a choice between alternatives which have different value for the agent. So, the agent can each time choose to pursue what is best in his personal destiny, let’s say “to respond to love and God and good”, or it may choose differently.

    My question then is: do you view these factors (desires, loyalties, love, etc.) as properties of the self, that cause/make up the inherent differences among different selfs?

    Past experiences, past choices, past representations, are properties of the phenomenic self, which includes all the various levels of the mind and bosy. They are not, in my belief, properties of the transcendental self, although they certainly influence its destiny.

    I hope I have answered your question, but feel free to detail it further if you want.

  104. Vivid:

    The gentleman in question at one point used to walk with a copy of Calvin’s institutes, as others would with a Bible.

    G

  105. SB:

    Well said.

    GP:

    Well said.

    G

  106. Vivid:

    The gentleman in question at one point used to walk with a copy of Calvin’s institutes, as others would with a Bible.

    G

    That would not make him a hyper calvinist. Just as the definition of faith has been redefined to mean fideism so to has it become common place to characterize “historic calvinism” as hyper calvinism. I assure you that William Carey, the founder of the modern day missionary movement and a calvinist ( in the hitoric sense) was not a hyper calvinist.

    Vivid

  107. Vivid,

    I take your point, but the case is specific; I chose a “slice of the cake” behaviour.

    In any case I have no quarrel with Calvinists or for that matter Catholics . . . ] — I am a Biblical-inductive not a systematicist [though I appreciate the validity of ST, e.g. in the context of the Nicene Creed as a contextual extension of the message of 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 etc.]

    My point upthread, is that there is a species of Christian determinism that can be astonishingly fine-grained; just as Marxists are deerminists on matter and dialectical materialism. So, determinism and dualism are not necessarily opposites.

    G

  108. StephenB: please go and read the literature on this so you can adopt a theory of free will. Until you do this, I can’t argue against you because your position is so vague and ill-defined. At the moment, you just seem to be using ‘free will’ as a label, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be embracing. Should I be embracing an event-causal account of free will? An agent-causal account? Or perhaps a non-causal account? Please tell me exactly what you are proposing, and then I can tell you why I think it fails. The SEP article I cited earlier is a good start: (http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....-theories/)

    With regards to GP and molchi… I’m just about to start working on a response… watch this space :)

  109. Vivid:

    As a sampler of what is being addressed in the thread, cf PK in no 1:

    If by human autonomy, you mean contra causal, libertarian free will, then I think this premise is both not supported by empirical evidence and actively contradicted by supported by empirical evidence.

    Contra causal free will necessitates that human beings are their own unmoved movers, who have the ability to enact influence upon the world, yet are themselves immune to physical and environmental factors on their behavior. Yet this is not what we observe in both neuroscience and psychology. Your environment is a major determining factor at how violent, happy, hard working, adjusted, etc. you are.

    1 –> That a person with a free enough and responsible mind and will should initiate lines of action and cause-effect chains is one thing, that such a freedom is without contextual influences is utterly another.

    2 –> And yet we see conflation of the two, driven in part I believe by failing to distinguish contributing influences, necessary causal factors and sufficient causal factors.

    3 –> To help clear the atmosphere, I suggest a read of the SEP on the subject. Excerpting:

    “Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about . . . . Philosophers who distinguish freedom of action and freedom of will do so because our success in carrying out our ends depends in part on factors wholly beyond our control. Furthermore, there are always external constraints on the range of options we can meaningfully try to undertake. As the presence or absence of these conditions and constraints are not (usually) our responsibility, it is plausible that the central loci of our responsibility are our choices, or “willings” . . . .

    The majority view, however, is that we can readily conceive willings that are not free. Indeed, much of the debate about free will centers around whether we human beings have it, yet virtually no one doubts that we will to do this and that. The main perceived threats to our freedom of will are various alleged determinisms: physical/causal; psychological; biological; theological. For each variety of determinism, there are philosophers who (i) deny its reality, either because of the existence of free will or on independent grounds; (ii) accept its reality but argue for its compatibility with free will; or (iii) accept its reality and deny its compatibility with free will. (See the entries on compatibilism; causal determinism; fatalism; arguments for incompatibilism; and divine foreknowedge and free will.) There are also a few who say the truth of any variety of determinism is irrelevant because free will is simply impossible . . . .

    philosophers since Plato have commonly distinguished the ‘animal’ and ‘rational’ parts of our nature, with the latter implying a great deal more psychological complexity. Our rational nature includes our ability to judge some ends as ‘good’ or worth pursuing and value them even though satisfying them may result in considerable unpleasantness for ourselves. (Note that such judgments need not be based in moral value.) We might say that we act with free will when we act upon our considered judgments/valuings about what is good for us, whether or not our doing so conflicts with an ‘animal’ desire. (See Watson 2003a for a subtle development of this sort of view.) But this would seem unduly restrictive, since we clearly hold many people responsible for actions proceeding from ‘animal’ desires that conflict with their own assessment of what would be best in the circumstances. More plausible is the suggestion that one acts with free will when one’s deliberation is sensitive to one’s own judgments concerning what is best in the circumstances, whether or not one acts upon such a judgment . . .

    4 –> And on and on at length. But, one hopes that with this in mind we can take a fresh look at the original post.

    5 –> Especially, bearing in mind the need for significant freedom to think for ourselves and follow logic and material facts, as opposed to conditioning:

    Consciousness interacts with the material world, and is detectable by its effects – but is it material itself? I have long argued in favour of substance dualism – that is, the notion that the mind is itself not reducible to the material and chemical constituents of the brain, nor is it reducible to the dual forces of chance and necessity which together account for much of the other phenomena in our experience. Besides the increasing body of scientific evidence which lends support to this view, I have long pondered whether it is possible to rationally reconcile the concept of human autonomy (free will) and materialistic reductionism with respect to the mind. I have thus concluded that free will exists (arguing otherwise leads to irrationality or reductio ad absurdum) and that hence materialism – at least with respect to the nature of consciousness – must be false if rationality is to be maintained . . .

    GEM of TKI

  110. F/N:

    Perhaps a famous Biblical text will help our reflections and will help us understand where willing, controlling and causing can be very different indeed, at least as a possibility:

    ______________

    >> Rom 7:21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

    Rom 8:1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[d] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,[e] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.[f] And so he condemned sin in sinful man,[g] 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

    5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires . . . .

    9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you . . . >>
    _______________

    This passage has always been a challenge to us.

    Here we see the instructed mind and will consenting freely and leaning towards the good but hopelessly in bondage to sin.

    Then, we see the same will and mind set free in Christ by the indwelling Spirit to move towards its true desire. With a hint that the keystone of bondage is the obsessiveness of sin: even desperate resistance to sin is focused on what sin wants and is entrapped. So the Spirit empowered renewing of the regenerated mind and its liberation to think on the things of God, multiplied by an empowerment and motivation from the Indwelling Spirit to walk in the ways of the Spirit become a hope for transformation.

    And the moral responsibility of walking in the wrong is now a secondary one: not the raw ability to will and do the right by oneself, but the willingness to surrender to and receive the empowerment that transforms.

    All, modelled out in the life of Paul himself.

    So, perhaps a fresh perspective on the differences, distinctions and implications may help.

    Later, DV, I think I will note on the significance of Eng Derek Smith’s two=tier controller model for our anthropology of the mind and will.

    G

  111. gpuccio at 103:

    well, you answered my question insofar as you made clear that the motivations in questions are in your opinion contributors to the choice, but not the causes of the choice. So let me try to summarize what I think your position is:
    A choice utilizes evaluations of immediate evidence and “rational elaborations of reality, past experiences, past feelings, and so on”, which I would gather under the heading “motivations”. The self then surveys these evidence evaluations and motivations and makes a choice. But what, if not the evidence evaluations and motivations themselves, is then the cause of the choice itself, in your opinion?

  112. —Green: “StephenB: please go and read the literature on this so you can adopt a theory of free will.”

    I have already read much of the relevant literature, which is why I had no difficulty explaining why your position is incoherent–a point that you have already acknowledged, and one which you were apparently unaware of until I pointed it out to you. That should have been your first clue that you should not presume to lecture me.

    —”Until you do this, I can’t argue against you because your position is so vague and ill-defined.”

    You just weren’t paying attention because you are all hung up on what some call the various “schools” of free will. My argument is simple: A person’s moral acts are not caused by another, nor are they uncaused. They are caused by the person. That means that, as persons, those individuals are morally self-determined, their acts freely chosen, without coercion or compulsion, and that they could have done otherwise.

    I have already said this in different words. Go ahead and refute the point if you think you can.

  113. Following up:

    We immediately see that there is an addiction to the wrong that, at our best, we all struggle with. This is a big piece of the concept of moral fallen-ness and bondage of the will.

    Even so, the mind and will are able to choose a different path, though not always to effect it. That is, at our best we may grow in the right, and sometimes we stumble and lapse. But the issue is persistence in the way of the right, and openness to the liberation and transformation that come from the Transcendent. (Indeed, in the NT, responsiveness to truth we know or should know is a moral issue; thence the intellectual virtues approach to epistemology.)

    We also see that the picture is complex, though sadly familiar: addiction and struggle to break its bondage, with the threat and reality of occasional lapses. (Not to mention those who choose instead to give themselves over to evils.)

    So, freedom is here a relative term, in the context of constraining and in some degree enslaving forces and factors: we are freer to consent to and will than we are to do the right.

    But, by God’s grace, we may turn tot he power of God that helps us grow in the right, though “la lucha continua.”

    So, now is freedom to be seen as an acausal process, with neither influences nor necessary constraints nor enslaving addictions?

    No.

    But, in the end we do have a power of choice, with vast implications for the path of our own lives and the communities in which we live.

    A difference that starts with being willing to face the truth about ourselves and our struggles. Which we are freer to do than to escape the entangling and enslaving pull of the wrong.

    Going yet further, there is the point hat to think and choose aright, we must have sufficient freedom to think and to choose. The past, by itself may influence the future but it does not determine or utterly control it. The saint has a past, and the sinner [often the two live in the same body] a potentially bright future.

    Which brings us back to the Derek Smith Two-tier controller servosystem model that I often use in this general context.

    Smith was looking at how complex robots may be developed, and saw that an input-output loop controller may have a supervisory controller that carries out goal-setting, path imagining and general oversight of the loop. And the two tiers of control may interact informationally not simply by the sort of dynamic control that obtains in the loop proper.

    With that perspective in mind, we can now think afresh about mind and body, will and control actions in light of that possibility. For instance, “reprogramming” the lower level controller may be a difficult process, especially given the neural architecture and the need to learn.

    In a crude way this suggests one cause for a gap between the higher and the lower, and why it is a struggle to learn the right way. (Ever had to unlearn poor techniques in a sport? And, ever been discouraged from persisting in the corrective path? Ever had an encouraging word make a difference?)

    It is also suggestive of why the higher order controller may have a greater freedom than the lower one.

    All of this is not meant to be a proof [much less a doctrine!], but a means to use lateral illumination to help with opening up our thinking so we can see a little more broadly than the sort of strawmannish projections I cited above.

    Freedom, choice, influence, and control are all subtler and more complex than we are often inclined to imagine.

    GEM of TKI

  114. GP:

    Clarifying my position

    it is difficult for me to see where it may really be different form strict determinism.

    I’m not sure what you mean by strict determinism. Do you mean physical determinism? If that is the case, then my determinism is completely different. Being a substance dualist, I completely affirm the existence of the wide variety of conscious mental experiences that we have. And being a determinist, I also believe that these conscious mental states are determined.

    But then, what determines inner states, other than physical inputs? Because determined they must be, if there is no free will.

    Yes, you’re right. What determines my conscious mental states (i.e. my beliefs, desires, moral values etc.) is a variety of things. These things would include my previous mental states, my interactions with people, my encounters with god, the physical make-up of my brain, the books I read, and so on and so forth.

    I appreciate the effort, but can’t understand if there is any substantial difference with physical determinism. You are just trading a simple form of determinism with a double determinism intertwined.

    I’m still not sure what you mean by simple determinism, but if you mean physical determinism (i.e. the idea that the brain is all there is and that it is determined, conscious states being illusory), then affirming the existence of a rich variety of conscious mental states is certainly substantially different. Whilst these mental states are determined (by all the previous factors I mentioned above), you still get a robust account of agency. Indeed, as long as mental states are causally efficacious (which I think they are) then human agents can make a real difference in the world. They can still act for good reasons, they are still able to deliberate and compare alternative courses of action, they are still able to compare and evaluate different means, ends and consequences, and they are still able to act upon their own desires. So mental determinism is definitely substantially different from physical determinism.

    On the consequences of compatibilism (aka determinism)

    You objected to my compatibilist view of agency for the following reasons:
    (1) It couldn’t ground moral responsibility
    (2) It allows no ability for human self-improvement
    (3) It makes it difficult to give any sense to human ideals, hopes and values

    As I’ve already noted, (1) is also a difficulty for all libertarian accounts, so compatibilism is no worse off here (and I’ve already given an account of how I can be justified in personally thinking that moral responsibility still exists. With regards to (2), that doesn’t follow, since as long as humans have the desire for self-improvement, they can act on it. With regards to (3), I’m not quite sure what you mean?

    On the agent-causal theory of libertarianism:

    Firstly-great, I’m glad we’re in agreement about the event-causal theories of libertarian free will. Like you said, they don’t add anything to an account of human agency.

    With regards to my point that it only gives us the power to make irrational decisions:

    You noted that well, sometimes are decisions are indeed irrational. I think I should have been clearer here. Yes, we are sometimes irrational in the sense that we sometimes make illogical decisions, or in the sense that we sometimes make decisions for bad reasons, but I don’t think we are ever irrational in the sense that we sometimes make decisions for absolutely no reason whatsoever – which is what the agent-causation view leads to. Even in a scenario where two courses of action are equally preferable, there is no reason to think that the decision is made for no reason at all. In scenarios such as this, a decision will be made because of a desire to choose a course of action. Thus even here, there are reasons that explain the decision. In agent-causal scenario, not so.

    My other problems with the agent-causation account of libertarianism

    Ok, so herein lie my other problems with agent-causation. It’s long, but you did ask ;)

    (1) Causation and explanation
    The agent-causation theory does not seem to be able to give an adequate account of agential control. All those working in the field of agency (even those who are not libertarians) agree that control is one of the necessary conditions for agency. And, one of the necessary conditions for control is causation. In other words, to be in control of an event, an agent must at the very least be a cause of it. Aside from the problematic notion of substance-causation, though, it is very difficult to see how agent-causationists can justify the idea that agents are causal entities. This is because the cause in question is in no way explanatory. I illustrated this with the thought experiment with ‘Joe’ in a previous post. Recall that in this thought experiment there was no reason whatsoever for why Joe chose A and not B. The idea that the cause of an event might fail to explain that event, however, seems incoherent. How can positing a specific cause for an effect not also explain that effect? One philosopher working in this field (Ginet) has argued that whilst he wouldn’t go so far as to say that the idea that a cause ought to explain its effect is self-evident, but he does say that its denial is highly puzzling, and it should not be accepted without sufficiently compelling reason. Agent-causationists are aware of this problem. However, their only response seems to be that it is not axiomatic that causation ought to follow explanation. That’s all well and good, but it’s hardly a compelling argument.

    (2) Causation and control
    Secondly, even if the causal power of an agent on the agent-causation view is granted, the agent-causation theory still faces serious objections. One of these is the fact that causation does not automatically constitute control, and it is control that the agent-causationist needs in a theory of agency. It is clearly not the case that wherever there is causation, there is agential control (e.g. look up ‘deviant causal chains’ on google). Control is not simply a matter of causation. Non-agent causationists (e.g. event-causationists) solve the problem by saying that control is i) causation PLUS ii) acting for conscious reasons. However, this option is not available for the agent-causationist, since their theory posits that agents ultimately act for no reason at all. Given that they cannot use ‘acting for reasons’ as an account of control, it seems that the agent-causationist is simply reduced to the bare assertion that control is exercised simply because the cause in question is an agent. In fact, O’Connor (a prominent agent-causationist) fairly explicitly states that agent-control simply is the relation between the agent and the effect, implying that no more explanatory work is needed. Critics objected to this: the agent-causationist can’t be allowed to say that agent-causation constitutes control because “it just does”. What kind of a response is this?

    To summarise (1) and (2), agent causationists have difficulty not only justifying the idea that the agent in question is a cause, but they also have difficulty justifying the idea that this cause is of the right sort to constitute agential control. And with no control, agency is undermined.

    (3) I also think that the agent-causation theory is unintuitive
    Firstly, by separating an agent from his or her mental states, I think the agent causation theory is setting up a false dichotomy. I don’t think that agent should be distinguished from the sum of her mental states. Of course when mental states are described from a third-person perspective, they will appear lifeless and inactive. As Nagel (1995) once remarked “‘[s]omething peculiar happens when we view [agency] from an external… standpoint. Some of its most important features seem to vanish under the objective gaze. Actions no longer seem assignable to individual agents as sources…’ However, when we view mental states from a first-person perspective, it is clear that the distinction between an agent and his or her mental states is only apparent. The only reason one might feel a reluctance to identify an agent with a series of mental states is because there is a gulf between our experience of these states, and our conceptions of them. When given an objective description, mental states seem distinct from an agent, but when experienced from the first-person perspective, mental states (desires, motives, evaluative systems, long term plans, moral values, likes, dislikes, and so forth) plausibly constitute an agent. Also, whilst we’re on the topic of intuitiveness, as I’ve been arguing all along, the idea that agent could do otherwise – even if she had no motivation, no desire, no will power, etc. etc. is absurd. Yet this is what the agent-causation theory entails. In fact, it’s what any libertarian account entails.

    Ok, I’ve already used up a lot of space, and I know I haven’t responded to all your points, but I hope I’ve clarified some of the reasons why I think the agent-causation view fails. If you want to see why it fails to account for moral responsibility too, check out a short section in this paper by Schlosser (2008): http://www.informaworld.com/sm.....a790438857 And if you want to see why substances can’t be causes, the SEP page entitled ‘Incompatibilist (nondeterministic) theories of free will’ has a good section on it. (I referenced it earlier:)

  115. Molch:

    If I understand you correctly, you believe in ultimate responsibility for your choices, although you believe that all your choices are in fact determined and couldn’t have been otherwise (as do I believe). Do you have a reason for this contradictory assumption besides the bible teaching…?

    No, I don’t, since I haven’t seen a good philosophical account of it anywhere.

    So – I am basically asking: why are you a compatibilist, not a determinist?

    Sorry, I was using compatibilist and determinist interchangeably. Maybe I should just use the word determinist to be clearer:)

  116. 116

    Not to butt in, but this seems like a massive internal contradiction. Or, a simple eviceration of definitions.

    I’m still not sure what you mean by simple determinism, but if you mean physical determinism (i.e. the idea that the brain is all there is and that it is determined, conscious states being illusory), then affirming the existence of a rich variety of conscious mental states is certainly substantially different. Whilst these mental states are determined

    Affirming a rich variety of conscious mental states (which are mechanically determined) is simply determinism in a different dress. The only illusion I see is that this is substaintially different than any other determinism.

    I’ll watch.

  117. 117

    Oops…I cut off the end of the quote.

    you still get a robust account of agency.

    Really? I don’t see anything but determinism. But like I said, I’ll be quiet and watch.

  118. I have already read much of the relevant literature, which is why I had no difficulty explaining why your position is incoherent–a point that you have already acknowledged, and one which you were apparently unaware of until I pointed it out to you.

    I have been aware that determinism and moral responsibility are inconsistent for quite some time. Anyhow, with regards to the incoherence in my position: I think it’s useful to make the distinction between determinism itself being inconsistent (which some here have tried to argue, unsucessfully, I think), and the combination of determinism and moral responsibility being inconsistent (which you have pointed out). And I have freely acknowledged that this latter combination appears incoherent. Which is why I gave biblical grounds for believing in the latter and not philosophical grounds. But bear in mind, I also pointed out that libertarian accounts do no better in trying to account for moral responsibility (or ‘ultimate control’).

    That should have been your first clue that you should not presume to lecture me.

    Yes sorry I realised that came across quite harshly. Apologies, it wasn’t intended. I think I was just a bit frustrated with this whole discussion. (I never should have myself into it to be honest!)

    You just weren’t paying attention because you are all hung up on what some call the various “schools” of free will. My argument is simple: A person’s moral acts are not caused by another, nor are they uncaused. They are caused by the person. That means that, as persons, those individuals are morally self-determined, their acts freely chosen, without coercion or compulsion, and that they could have done otherwise….I have already said this in different words. Go ahead and refute the point if you think you can.

    I don’t mean to be a pain with categories here, but it is helpful to know which type of free will you are defending so that I can respond accordingly. And it seems to me that you are defending the agent-causation theory. So I’ll explain why that account fails to give an account of moral responsibility. Firstly, I’ll assume that moral responsibility requires the following:

    (1) The agent must be the source of the action
    (2) The agent must be in control of themselves when they do the action

    I think the agent-causal theory can get you (1) but not (2). See the comments I made to GP above for why it cannot get (2) – specifically see the headings entitiled “Causation and explanation” and “causation and control”. Both these sections show that the agent causationist cannot give an account of how an agent caused, or is control of, her action. So it can give you origination, but this alone isn’t much help. Schlosser (2008) explains this much better than me, so you could check out section 6.4 of his paper if you wanted :) (http://www.informaworld.com/sm.....mptype=rss) If you can’t access it, let me know and I can post the relevant section on here, or email it :-)

  119. Upright BiPed:

    Not to butt in, but this seems like a massive internal contradiction. Or, a simple eviceration of definitions… Affirming a rich variety of conscious mental states (which are mechanically determined) is simply determinism in a different dress.

    Upright BiPed, I’m not sure what’s not clear here? The distinction I’m trying to draw is between:

    (1) Determinism being true and humans being only physical

    (2) Determinism being true and humans being both mental/conscious and physical (my position)

    Clearly (2) is different from (1). (1) strips humans of all mental states; i.e. all desires, all beliefs, all long term goals, all reasoning faculties, all rationality, all qualitative experience, all feelings, and so forth. (2) does not; it affirms the existence of all these things. One does not have to have libertarianism to have this rich conscious experience.

  120. Anyhow, I’ve spent too much time on this blog in the past couple of days, so I’m not going to make any more substantial comments. I can point people to references, and answer quick questions, but I need to get some work done! Ciao :D

  121. I was pre-destined to believe in free will.

  122. p.s. SB. thanks

  123. 123

    Green, I think the problem is obvious.

    (1) Determinism being true and humans being only physical

    2) Determinism being true and humans being both mental/conscious ["Whilst these mental states are determined"] and physical (my position).

    By your definition it would seem that (should you choose to recognize as such) the vapor physically rising from a pot of boiling water could be mental – it is certainly as determined.

  124. Perhaps some of you will find this illuminating.

    http://www.realanswers.net/realanswers/?p=52

  125. Thank you for the discussion I have enjoyed it however one question about compatibilism.

    compatibilism:

    1. My ultimate desire’s/alignment is primary

    2. Alignment creates/determines combination of mental states and or reasons

    3. At time t the strongest combination of mental states decide my action.

    The question becomes then who decides alignment that determines mental states? Do I have freedom to choose where I want to ultimately align myself i.e. to love or pride, anger etc? I am in agreement with Green in a sense that I think we act according to our alignment which determines our mental states, reasons and actions. If our behavior was not caused by anything (libertarianism) then we could see a person acting like a saint for 2 weeks and like a psycho for the next 2 which is not the case.

  126. Green:

    I don’t want to use too much of your time, so I will try to give brief and substantial comments. Then I think we can be happy of having explained our ideas, or we can go on discussing, according to your wish.

    I’m not sure what you mean by strict determinism.

    Any form of determinism where anything is pre-determined by existing conditions, either physical or inner or both. In that ense, I think it is clear form what you say that any form of compatibilism is strict determinism.

    I’m still not sure what you mean by simple determinism, but if you mean physical determinism (i.e. the idea that the brain is all there is and that it is determined, conscious states being illusory), then affirming the existence of a rich variety of conscious mental states is certainly substantially different.

    It’s substantially different, but not from the point of view of determinism. The system, even with its conscious states, remains totally determined. By the way, adding possible probabilistic factors does not change anything substantial (I think we agree on that). So, I nwould treat random-deterministic models together with strictly deterministic models as one, let’s say: no free will models.

    Whilst these mental states are determined (by all the previous factors I mentioned above), you still get a robust account of agency.

    No, you just get a robust account of two deterministic models interacting, which is the same as one deterministic model with two levels of organization. The existence of an interaction between conscious states and physical reality is no guarantee of agency, no more than the existence of a software interacting with hardware is agency. A causal relationship is not the same as agency. We must be cautious with words, they can sidetrack us. Agency is a word which has always been reserved to experiences with a subjective intuition of free will, and not to merely causal models. Changing the use of the word does not change facts.

    Indeed, as long as mental states are causally efficacious (which I think they are) then human agents can make a real difference in the world.

    This is really nonsense (and I say that with the utmost respect for you, please believe me). It’s the same as saying that, as long as covalent bonds are causally efficacious, then they can make a real difference in the world of biochemistry. Something which is part of deterministic system, does not “make a difference”. The system is just what it is, with its parts, and could not be different in any way. The word “difference” means something else, and is not appropriate here. My idea is that compatibilists are trying to “mess things up” to be able to re-enter words and meaning which apply only to free will models into a deterministic model. From that point of view, I suppose pure determinists are better, because at least they are not trying to escape from the consequences of what they believe to be true through intellectual games.

    They can still act for good reasons,

    Only if they are pre-determined to do so. And in what sense would a reason be “good”, and another one be “bad”? They are just what they are: inescapable pre-existing causes. And what about people who can only act for “bad” reasons, because the flux of their mental states can only bring them to that behaviour?

    they are still able to deliberate and compare alternative courses of action

    Here I really can’t follow you any more: what do you mean with “deliberate”? Deliberate what? And didn’t you say that you don’t believe in PAP? So, how are “alternative courses of action” possible, least of all “comparable”?

    they are still able to compare and evaluate different means, ends and consequences, and they are still able to act upon their own desires.

    They are not “able” to do anything like that. They “must” go through the inner states which are inevitably already established by their condition: even if those inner states include the illusion of comparing, evaluating, of desiring and acting, in no way they are “able” to do all that: They “must” do it, and they cannot do anything different. There is a world of difference, and the (pseudo)-smart use of words cannot change that difference.

    More in the next post (you see, fragmenting my answers in different posts can give the illusion of brevity, but I am afraid that they remain substantially long… :) )

  127. IB:

    Actually, sometimes we DO see one who is saint-like stumbling, and sometimes stumbling very badly indeed.

    Also, I must again point out that cause is more complex than we tend to think — especially on mental and moral [responsible choice related] behaviour.

    Causal factors come in clusters, can be contributory, can be necessary and in some cases are sufficient, and sufficient does not entail necessary. (Copi’s classic example is a fire: each of oxidiser, fuel and heat are necessary, and they are jointly sufficient. Without a necessary factor, an event cannot occur. With sufficient factors, it will occur.)

    I tend to be very wary of those who speak of “mental states” as — in a world where terms are often chosen subtly — that often suggests emergentism or emanationism rooted in materialism, aka physicalism. Physicalism on the mind is immediately self-referentially incoherent, for various reasons linked to determinism [i.e compelling sufficiency] on non-rational causal factors and how it thus undermines choice, a key component of rationality and even language. The physicalist deerminist, not least, on his premises, holds his position by the chance circumstances of genetics, culture, class etc and physical consequences that led him to be born, raised and educated [insofar as education is possible beyond mere conditioning], not by any process tracing to credible grounds and logical consequences followed by seeing good reason to do so and deciding to follow such. So, a Crick reduces mind to neuron networks firing away, a Skinner turns us into rats in a maze, and so forth. All of which turns on them.

    Now, there are also dualistic determinists [or in some cases, fatalists is a better term], certain types of Calvinists and believers in controlling occultic influences being classic examples. So are certain types of Muslims.

    The determinism is the downfall of such thought-systems: do they hold these views because they are warranted, or because they are caused to do so on sufficient and controlling factors irrelevant to truth, reason and right?

    If we cannot really choose, if there is no difference between influence, habituation and outright control, then rationality and responsibility have evaporated. All that is left is coercion and/or manipulation, of one species or another. In short, we end up at that horror: might makes right.

    Resemblance to what is going on all around us is NOT coincidental.

    By contrast the view cited in Rom 7 – 8 above opens up the issues of a mind and a will that have enough transcendent freedom to reflect soberly on what one does habitually or even by stumbling or being unable to escape it. It then holds out the promise of the liberating encounter with the Transcendent, which empowers one to find the motivation and capacity to be forgiven and to overcome, however one may stumble in the path of the good.

    And, it points out a key principle for the renewal of the mind and heart: the mind of the flesh [sarx] is obsessed with the things of the flesh, whilst the Spiritually empowered mind is lifted from that level to what Paul describes so eloquently in Philippians 4:8:

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

    An indictment of out civilisation in its current befouled mindset!

    GEM of TKI

  128. Green:

    As I’ve already noted, (1) is also a difficulty for all libertarian accounts, so compatibilism is no worse off here (and I’ve already given an account of how I can be justified in personally thinking that moral responsibility still exists.

    I don’t see the difficulty for my kind of libertarian account. Moral responsibility is grounded in the simple fact that different possible actions have different “moral” meaning for the agent. They can be in harmony with his higher aspirations, or not. That is the basis for the universal concept of “moral conscience”, and I don’t think it is a difficult intellectual achievement: human beings of all kinds have spontaneously understood that concept for aeons, and they still do. Maybe philosophers are smarter, anyway…

    With regards to (2), that doesn’t follow, since as long as humans have the desire for self-improvement, they can act on it.

    No, they “must” act on it. Again you use “can”, betraying a free will model while you deny it.

    And what about those who “must” act “against” their desire for self-improvement, because their inner states command that? What about those who “must” ruin their life through drug dependency, or dependency on fame desire, egotism, pettiness, or any other unpleasant human qualities? What possibilities of “self-improvement” are left to them?

    With regards to (3), I’m not quite sure what you mean?

    It’s simple: ideals, hopes and values are strictly connected to the concept of responsibility, and of alternative possibilities. Exactly what compatibilism denies. In a deterministic system, one cannot “hope” for anything: one can only go through some compulsive representation of hope, which has no real relationship with what can happen: indeed, if one were really “wise” about his own condition (that is , if his inner states pre-determine for him that wisdom), he would understand that nothin “can” happen, but that all “must” happen: hope is therefore just a gratuitous feeling, with no real relationship with the reality of things.

    About the other points, I will try really to be brief. I think the key point is the following: for me, free will has not such a strong connection with causation or control.

    I will try to explain myself better. Free will is all about how we choose to act: it is not about the real final consequences of our actions. One can choose a really good behaviour, in whole sincerity and humbleness, and still circumstances that he cannot control can determine a different outcome from the one he envisioned.

    That means something that many religious followers have known for ages: we don’t control anything, except our inner choices. And for them, and only for them, we are morally responsible.

    It is true, obviously, that in making our choices we have the duty top acknowledge with humbleness and sincerity any input, be it rational or of other kinds, which we have about our situation. But that is completely different from being able to control the situation, or to be the absolute cause of any event.

    I think that the emphasis philosophers put into “control” and “causal power” is the sign of a basically non religious attitude. Religious experience is all about the recognition that we are not able to control anything, especially without God’s help. But we are responsible for accepting God’s help or not.

    So, free will is all about choices. Those choices ar not purely cognitive (the problem is not: what seems more rational we do, as everybody should easily recognize). And they are nor purely choices of felling (the problem is not: what I desire I do, because otherwise everybody would be morally perfect).

    The problem is: out of the few things which I can really do, because I feel I can do them, which is the one which correspond best to my highest intuition of what is good? Which is the one which is most appropriate according to God’s will, and not simply according to what I desire?

    We can even think of free will in a different way: as a faculty that we can exercise or not. In that sense, if we do not exercise our free will, we will be completely determined by our previous experiences, by our desires, by our human nature. But if we choose to actively use that inner resource, we can change that. We can put our life in tune with higher values and intuitions, which are trans-personal, which are better and more pure and more powerful than what we can do by ourselves.

    In other words, we can actively become receptive to good, and to God’s will. And that changes everything.

  129. Innerbling:

    What you call “alignment” is exactly the manifestation of free will, as I have tried to say in my previous post. It is an inner action, essentially transcendental, which allows us moment by moment to be receptive to truth and good, or not.

    Compatibilism denies that inner alignment, or just treats it as one of the many pre-existing mental states, in fact denying free will. Only a transendental conception of that fundamental choice allows for true free will and true moral responsibility.

    That’s why I don’t really like the word “libertarian”. The point is not that we are “free” (we are not, we are influenced by so many circumstances). The point is that there is a space of freedom in our innermost reactions to those circumstances: exactly the “alignment” of which you speak.

    Regarding your very interesting observation:

    If our behavior was not caused by anything (libertarianism) then we could see a person acting like a saint for 2 weeks and like a psycho for the next 2 which is not the case.

    Well, sometimes we do, unfortunately. But you are right, that is not usually the case, and that opens the discussion to another important aspect.

    As I said before, in my model free will is not absolute freedom. It is not control, it is not really even power of causation. It is power of choice about our reactions to circumstances.

    But, as I said, our range of possible reactions is not always the same, and is determined (yes, that one is determined) by our previous states. And this is the important point: our current states are influenced (not determined) by our previous use of our free will.

    But there is some inertia in the way and time that our use of free will (good or bad) can change our inner states. So, a long use of free will in a good way will in time change our inner states for the better, and expand the range of our possible actions. IOW, it will give us greater inner freedom. A long, repeated bad use of free will will make us slaves of our existing conditions, and our range of reactions to them will become narrower (but will always exist).

    A saint has great inner freedom: he is not probably going to loose it just for some occasional wrong use of his free will.

    On the contrary, an egotist has scarce inner freedom: he can change, but he will have to struggle for some time before his good use of free will can give him greater inner freedom.

    This inertial aspect is the cause of many confusions. Free will is always present, is always a resource fully available to anyone. But the range of its power (our cumulative inner freedom) changes slowly in time, according to our use (or abuse) of our free will.

  130. PS: BTW, one consequence of the above for determinists is that we are not really having a deliberative, responsible discussion. We are only exerting controlling, manipulative rhetorical [or stronger . . .] power influences on one another, as we have been programmed to. So, it is no surprise that the foundations of civil democratic society and ethics of reasonable discussion are at stake in discussions like this; especially if a consensus builds up in power institutions that undermines respect for right reason and reasonableness, instead substituting that the point of communication [and thus, inter alia, education] is manipulation by subtle control forces. That easily explains the sort of stunts we keep on seeing from the NCSE, US NAS, teacher’s associations and unions, the media, and even text and reference books and works. If the issue is power and persuasion by whatever means are effective, then truth, fairness and moral restraint go out the window. Welcome to Star Trek world, the reality.

  131. GP: Very well said, as usual. I particularly liked your summary of Rom 7 – 8 in a sentence or two. Your brunch break has been put to good use! G

  132. F/N: SB will love this, from Chesterton’s essay on The Wind and the Trees:

    __________________

    >>I am sitting under tall trees, with a great wind boiling like surf
    about the tops of them, so that their living load of leaves rocks
    and roars in something that is at once exultation and agony.
    I feel, in fact, as if I were actually sitting at the bottom
    of the sea among mere anchors and ropes, while over my head
    and over the green twilight of water sounded the everlasting rush
    of waves and the toil and crash and shipwreck of tremendous ships . . . .

    As I look at these top-heavy giants tortured by an invisible
    and violent witchcraft, a phrase comes back into my mind.
    I remember a little boy of my acquaintance who was once walking
    in Battersea Park under just such torn skies and tossing trees.
    He did not like the wind at all; it blew in his face too much;
    it made him shut his eyes; and it blew off his hat, of which
    he was very proud. He was, as far as I remember, about four.
    After complaining repeatedly of the atmospheric unrest, he said
    at last to his mother, “Well, why don’t you take away the trees,
    and then it wouldn’t wind.”

    Nothing could be more intelligent or natural than this mistake.
    Any one looking for the first time at the trees might fancy
    that they were indeed vast and titanic fans, which by their mere
    waving agitated the air around them for miles. Nothing, I say,
    could be more human and excusable than the belief that it is
    the trees which make the wind. Indeed, the belief is so human
    and excusable that it is, as a matter of fact, the belief of about
    ninety-nine out of a hundred of the philosophers, reformers,
    sociologists, and politicians of the great age in which we live.
    My small friend was, in fact, very like the principal modern thinkers;
    only much nicer.

    . . . . .

    In the little apologue or parable which he has thus the honour
    of inventing, the trees stand for all visible things
    and the wind for the invisible. The wind is the spirit
    which bloweth where it listeth; the trees are the material
    things of the world which are blown where the spirit lists.
    The wind is philosophy, religion, revolution; the trees are
    cities and civilisations. We only know that there is a wind
    because the trees on some distant hill suddenly go mad.
    We only know that there is a real revolution because all
    the chimney-pots go mad on the whole skyline of the city.

    Just as the ragged outline of a tree grows suddenly more
    ragged and rises into fantastic crests or tattered tails,
    so the human city rises under the wind of the spirit into toppling
    temples or sudden spires. No man has ever seen a revolution.
    Mobs pouring through the palaces, blood pouring down the gutters,
    the guillotine lifted higher than the throne, a prison
    in ruins, a people in arms–these things are not revolution,
    but the results of revolution.

    You cannot see a wind; you can only see that there is a wind.
    So, also, you cannot see a revolution; you can only see that
    there is a revolution. And there never has been in the history
    of the world a real revolution, brutally active and decisive,
    which was not preceded by unrest and new dogma in the reign
    of invisible things. All revolutions began by being abstract.
    Most revolutions began by being quite pedantically abstract.

    The wind is up above the world before a twig on the tree has moved.
    So there must always be a battle in the sky before there
    is a battle on the earth. Since it is lawful to pray
    for the coming of the kingdom, it is lawful also to pray for
    the coming of the revolution that shall restore the kingdom.
    It is lawful to hope to hear the wind of Heaven in the trees.
    It is lawful to pray “Thine anger come on earth as it
    is in Heaven.”

    . . . . .

    The great human dogma, then, is that the wind moves the trees.
    The great human heresy is that the trees move the wind.
    When people begin to say that the material circumstances have
    alone created the moral circumstances, then they have prevented
    all possibility of serious change. For if my circumstances
    have made me wholly stupid, how can I be certain even that I
    am right in altering those circumstances?

    The man who represents all thought as an accident of environment
    is simply smashing and discrediting all his own thoughts–
    including that one.
    To treat the human mind as having an ultimate
    authority is necessary to any kind of thinking, even free thinking.
    And nothing will ever be reformed in this age or country unless
    we realise that the moral fact comes first . . . >>
    ___________________

    Worth a thought or two. Typical GKC, I’d say. G

  133. KF, thanks.

    Your feedback and contribution is always truly appreciated.

  134. Ok, a couple of real quick responses:

    Upright BiPed:

    Green, I think the problem is obvious.

    (1) Determinism being true and humans being only physical

    2) Determinism being true and humans being both mental/conscious ["Whilst these mental states are determined"] and physical (my position).

    By your definition it would seem that (should you choose to recognize as such) the vapor physically rising from a pot of boiling water could be mental – it is certainly as determined.

    But I don’t see mental states as like vapour rising from the neurons of the brain. Recall that I said I’m a substance dualist, and I think that causation runs in all these directions:

    1) from the physical to the mental
    2) from the mental to the physical
    3) from the mental to the mental

    Your analogy depicts a scenrio where only (1) is in place, meaning that reasons can’t infliuence physical action (2), and that reasons can’t influence later reasons (3). But I don’t ascribe to that view. You could say that I think causation is tri-directional.

  135. GP:

    Thank you for your interesting thoughts. I’ll just make a couple of quick comments :)

    I said: Whilst these mental states are determined (by all the previous factors I mentioned above), you still get a robust account of agency.

    You replied: No, you just get a robust account of two deterministic models interacting, which is the same as one deterministic model with two levels of organization. The existence of an interaction between conscious states and physical reality is no guarantee of agency, no more than the existence of a software interacting with hardware is agency. A causal relationship is not the same as agency. We must be cautious with words, they can sidetrack us. Agency is a word which has always been reserved to experiences with a subjective intuition of free will, and not to merely causal models. Changing the use of the word does not change facts.

    I’m not sure how the word ‘agency’ has been used historically, but most working in this area define agency as ‘purposeful-agent based production’, which is said to consist of the following 3 elements (none of which entail libertarianism):

    (1) The ability to represent ones own goals. (This is basically the problem of intentionality, namely how mental states come to be about other things). [We haven’t touched on this at all].

    (2) The ability to achieve these goals. This can be understood as the problem of mental causation; how mental states come to be causally efficacious. [I had brief interchange on this with Daguerreotype Process, but since then I’ve just been assuming it.]

    (3) Finally, these representations and subsequent actions must be the goals and actions of the agent – in the sense that they provide the entity’s own reasons for acting, and in the sense that the agent is in control of them. [And we’ve touched on (3), but only as it relates to libertarianism, not as it relates to agency simpliciter.]

    These 3 elements give you agency (purposeful agent-based production). Libertarian agency is something different: it requires something in addition to this (e.g. PAP, ultimate control). But a simple account of purposeful-agent-based production only needs (1) (2) and (3). I’m pretty sure even Tim O’Connor (an agent-causal libertarian) agrees that you can have agency simpliciter without libertarianism.

    Now you could argue that agency (as defined by (1) (2) and (3) ) without libertarianism is not agency worth having. But I’ve yet to see why. Or you could argue that agency as defined (1) (2) and (3) is worth having, but that you also need something more if you are going to give an account of moral responsibility etc. I think this is Tim O’Connor’s position and is why he tries to add libertarianism to agency.

    I said: Indeed, as long as mental states are causally efficacious (which I think they are) then human agents can make a real difference in the world.
    You replied: This is really nonsense (and I say that with the utmost respect for you, please believe me). It’s the same as saying that, as long as covalent bonds are causally efficacious, then they can make a real difference in the world of biochemistry. Something which is part of deterministic system, does not “make a difference”. The system is just what it is, with its parts, and could not be different in any way. The word “difference” means something else, and is not appropriate here. My idea is that compatibilists are trying to “mess things up” to be able to re-enter words and meaning which apply only to free will models into a deterministic model. From that point of view, I suppose pure determinists are better, because at least they are not trying to escape from the consequences of what they believe to be true through intellectual games.

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand why this is nonsense. By a “real difference” I mean that determinists still attribute to agents causally efficacious mental states. Thus agents can still make a real difference to the causal flow of a purely physical world. Things like ‘desires’, ‘intentions’, ‘beliefs’, ‘goals’ – all these things can affect and alter the physical realm. The fact that it is deterministic does not take away from this fact.

    I said: they are still able to deliberate and compare alternative courses of action

    You replied: Here I really can’t follow you any more: what do you mean with “deliberate”? Deliberate what? And didn’t you say that you don’t believe in PAP? So, how are “alternative courses of action” possible, least of all “comparable”?

    By deliberate, I mean that the agent can go through the process of weighing up the pros and cons of a decision. They can mentally compare alternative courses of action. There is nothing inconsistent with determinism here. You’re right – I deny PAP and I wouldn’t say that all these alternative courses of action are actually possible – but that is only because once the agent will have good reasons to act on one of them. This is in contrast to the libertarian, who will ultimately choose one of the courses of action for no reason at all.

    I said:As I’ve already noted, (1) is also a difficulty for all libertarian accounts, so compatibilism is no worse off here (and I’ve already given an account of how I can be justified in personally thinking that moral responsibility still exists).

    You replied: I don’t see the difficulty for my kind of libertarian account. Moral responsibility is grounded in the simple fact that different possible actions have different “moral” meaning for the agent. They can be in harmony with his higher aspirations, or not. That is the basis for the universal concept of “moral conscience”, and I don’t think it is a difficult intellectual achievement: human beings of all kinds have spontaneously understood that concept for aeons, and they still do. Maybe philosophers are smarter, anyway…

    You seem to be saying that something is moral if it in accord with the agent’s conscience. But I don’t think this is all that relevant. I’m not asking ‘what makes something moral’? Instead I’m asking, ‘how can the libertarian ground moral responsibility’? I argued that they can’t because moral responsibility requires that:

    (1) The agent be the source of the action

    (2) The agent be in control of that action

    And agent-causal libertarianism gets you (1) but not (2) – so it cannot ground moral responsibility. Like I’ve said several times, I have yet to see an account of libertarian free will that can ground moral responsibility. So at the moment, I don’t see compatibilist’s / determinists as any worse off than libertarians in this respect (and I see them as better off in other respects, such as with regards to agential control – one of the necessary conditions for agency).

  136. N.b. someone has just pointed out to me that I shouldn’t use the terms ‘determinism’ and ‘compatibilism’ interchangeably because compatibilism embraces both determinism and human responsibility, whereas determinism does not necessarily embrace human responsibility. So, apologies to Molch for any confusion on that; I’m a compatibilist; embracing both determinism and human responsibility (the latter based on biblical grounds).

  137. Green:

    I think you need to modify what you keep saying about “libertarian Free Will” in light of the objections made above and the points in say the SEP on Free Will. Otherwise, you are knocking over a strawman.

    Freedom of action does no0t mean a want of reasons, but it does imply a decision to follow those reasons, and not, say, the reasons for another course or impulses or whatever.

    Influences and constraints are real, but that does not mean that hey determine and control. The difference between contributing, necessary and sufficient causal factors has already been pointed out.

    So has the significance of the personal, unified self-transcending conscious identity that integrates experiences and makes decisions etc. including he decisions implicit in the course of deliberative reasoning, individual or collective.

    I fear much of what is happening above is that you are projecting a strawman onto those you have exchanged with, based on the particular schools of thought you are familiar with.

    But something is going on outside your a-causal free choice straw-box.

    GEM of TKI

  138. Kairosfocus, you suggest that I am setting up straw men, but this is not the case. Let me be very explicit about what I have been arguing against. The SEP article entitled ‘Free Will’ goes into lots of different accounts of free will. However, many of these are consistent with determinism. I have not been arguing against any of these definitions of ‘free will’ (indeed, I am a proponent of one of them!).

    What I have been specfiically been arguing against here is the type of free will that says that free will is inconsistent with determinism. These are the ‘incompatibilist’ accounts of free will (so called because they see free will and determinism as incompatible), and I have been referring to them here as libertarian accounts of free will – to distinguish them from determinist accounts of free will.

    Libertarian accounts of free will fall into 3 main categories:

    (1) Non-causal theories
    (2) Event-causal theories
    (3) Agent-causal theories

    I have spent most of my energy arguing against (3) because that is the account that GP and StephenB seemed closest to in their writings. And (3), actually DOES entail that agents ultimately cause actions for no reason at all. (1) and (2) don’t necessarily entail this. But I haven’t been arguing against (1) or (2) because no-one here seems to be defending it. I will be happy to make a few quick comments on (1) and (2) if you like, but I haven’t said much about them thus far because no-one here has been defending them. In fact, GP explicitly said that he doesn’t think (2) is any use.

  139. GPuccio @128. That was a truly wonderful post.

  140. Green:

    Thank you for your answer.

    In general, what you say confirms to me my opinion: that compatibilism is only a new berbal formulation of determinism, whose purpose is mainly to “comfort” believers in determinism about the logical consequemces of what they believe. I am afraid that i cannot say much more about the main points, because both you and me have explained our positions clearly enough. I could maybe remark that the concept itself of “purpose” implies a belief, maybe not necessarily explicit, in PAP, and therefore is either evidence of free will or a mental delusion, but I doubt that would be specially useful, given the general trend of compatibilist thought.

    Instead, I may perhaps add one relevant point about your last remark. You say:

    You seem to be saying that something is moral if it in accord with the agent’s conscience. But I don’t think this is all that relevant. I’m not asking ‘what makes something moral’? Instead I’m asking, ‘how can the libertarian ground moral responsibility’? I argued that they can’t because moral responsibility requires that:

    (1) The agent be the source of the action

    (2) The agent be in control of that action

    And agent-causal libertarianism gets you (1) but not (2) – so it cannot ground moral responsibility. Like I’ve said several times, I have yet to see an account of libertarian free will that can ground moral responsibility. So at the moment, I don’t see compatibilist’s / determinists as any worse off than libertarians in this respect (and I see them as better off in other respects, such as with regards to agential control – one of the necessary conditions for agency).
    .

    Your insistence about point 2), that control of action is necessary to ground moral responsibility, a condition which I feel no reason to agree with, has made me realize the possible reason of this misunderstanding.

    Control of action is usually required for the concept of human responsibility, as it is usually applied in law or in social institutions. That is fine, and I certainly appreciate that. But I don’t believe that human and social responsibility are the same as moral responsibility. It is good that human laws and human reasoning be in some way inspired, at least to a certain degree, to moral concepts, but that does not mean that they are the same as those moral concepts.

    So, here is the difference: human responsibility requires control of action, because human reasoning is tied to external facts: in law, you cannot be held responsible for the intention to achieve an evil result, if you don’t succeed in your intentional course of action. On the contrary, in many cases you are held responsible for some negative result of your actions, even if you really had never any inner connection with that result.

    There is nothing wrong in that. Human morality, social morality, are imperfect and external. They have their reasons, but they are not perfect, and they have to rely on social conventions and on social opportunity.

    But true morality is different. True morality is all about inner actions, about intentions, not about results. We are responsible of our inner actions, whatever the external result, whatever control we have, or have not, of the final exit.

    Human morality is about our relationship with others, and about their expectation about us. True morality is about God and truth, and our duty towards them.

    So, I maintain that control of “outer actions”, of “outer results”, is in no way necessary to ground true moral responsibility. Control of intention is enough for that.

  141. Errata corrige: in the previous post, “berbal” should obviously be “verbal”.

    I usually don’t care too much for typos, but I did not want anyone to spend time asking himself what “berbal” may mean… :)

  142. Stephen, thanks.

    I have been truly enjoying this thread, which, I believe, has been unusually deep, rewarding and harmonious. Maybe it’s easier to debate free will than origins… :)

    Anyway, I really want to thank all who have contributed to the discussion (Green first of all).

  143. Thanks gpuccio. It’s been great discussing this with you too. And thanks StephenB too. And apologies again; I think I was a little harsh in some earlier posts.

    If only there were more hours in the day. We could discuss this for weeks, I’m sure :)

  144. Wow – great thread! Green, your comments were superbly clear and your position is well-argued. I don’t think substance dualism solves the problems you want it to solve, though, and it raises more questions than it answers. (The same is true of neutral monism, but at least it is more parsimonious). But I do agree with your take on libertarianism.

    In any event, I’ve argued elswhere on this forum that ontology and free will are ancient questions that still manage to resist resolution by appeal to our shared experience. I think this thread amply supports that claim, as even Christian ID proponents can’t manage to agree on what the truth is regarding these issues.

    I believe, however, that ID is very necessarily tied to particular stances on these questions, and it is no coincidence that these issues constantly surface in discusions of ID. It’s been said here that ID requires only that intelligent processes be distinct from other processes, and that ID can detect those processes by their artifacts, no matter what is true about dualism or free will. I disagree.

    ID claims that CSI can only be produced by intelligent processes (hereafter”IPs”). But unless one adopts a dualist/libertarian metaphysics, there is no way to characterize IPs independently of CSI production. Obviously if IPs are characterized only by virtue of their ability to produce CSI, then the definition is circular (CSI is created only by IPs simply because IPs are defined as that which can create CSI). And there is no other characterization of intelligence that can be used in the context of ID to substantiate the claim that IPs are distinct in the world.

    We can obviously describe our phenomenal experience of thought and claim that is what distinguishes IPs (i.e. we experience conscious foresight). But as this thread has demonstrated, there is currently no empirical resolution to questions regarding the causal status of consciousness.

    For these reasons, I believe that ID rests squarely on a set of metaphysical claims that remain controversial… even among ID proponents!

  145. Green:

    Pardon, no offense intended. But, a concern on how to best address a complex question needs to be underscored.

    Just above, at 135 — and echoing 23, 32, 73, 114 and maybe more — you said:

    You’re right – I deny PAP [= prinicple of alternative possibilities, cf 32]and I wouldn’t say that all these alternative courses of action are actually possible – but that is only because once the agent will have good reasons to act on one of them. This is in contrast to the libertarian, who will ultimately choose one of the courses of action for no reason at all.

    I do not think you will find a single interlocutor in this thread who believes that we — as the presumable subjects of freedom — make choices “for no reason at all,” and at least some of us will hold on knowledge of he difference between contributing influences, necessary causal factors and sufficient ones, that one may act on path A fro reasons associated with it, while choosing not to act on path B having rejected reasons for going along with B.

    Further to this, a reason or an argument is an influence, but does not constitute a sufficient cause whereby upon its being present [in adequate strength], triggers a given path. Not at all, in the normal course we have factors for path A, and factors for path B, and make a choice on values, desires, prudence etc. But none of these are causally sufficient or even necessary in most cases. They simply influence and contribute.

    I actually gave the example of a prof I knew who on occasion would deliberately make a random choice to drive an A-path. He had a reason for that, which would prevail over his general tendency that might have made him go down B. In at least one case, it saved his life as the plane he missed crashed.

    But, to go with path A does not thereby become acausal. It is influenced by external and internal factors, and it is in the end determined by the transcendental I as GP described so well.

    From the Rom 7 – 8 excerpt — pretty autobiographical for Saul of Tarsus, and pretty accurate to commonly encountered real life experiences in the struggle of virtue — we can see where we actually have a gap between intent and desire and action under the grip of the enslaving, addicting and entangling power of vice. (And in that context of want of perfect power to live with perfect consistency by the right we consent to [hypocrisy being to pretend to be better than we actually are], the issue of responsibility becomes openness to help from the Transcendent and transforming.)

    So, I am concerned that the pictures being painted are too simplistic, both of the reality we are trying to capture, and of he views and positions of those you are interacting with.

    If we can cross that hurdle then we can all have — or watch — a far more productive discussion.

    GEM of TKI

  146. PS: I used “determined” in a sense that means decided, not in a sense that means mechanically controlled or the like, or the substantially equivalent. A responsible decision may be influenced by reasons but it is not caused in the sense of sufficiency.

    And it is not acausal for all that: contributory influences help shape but do not determine. There is a real and responsible decision, which could have been otherwise: the man who opens up the bank vault and lets in the robbers is not guilty if he has a gun to his head, or is facing a gun to the head of a hostage.

    And yet, I know of a man who is a target for terrorism, who has made a pact with significant others, that should he be so held hostage, the intimidation is to be ignored, though it cost him his life.

  147. –Green: “I argued that they can’t because moral responsibility requires that:

    –(1) The agent be the source of the action

    –(2) The agent be in control of that action”

    —”And agent-causal libertarianism gets you (1) but not (2) – so it cannot ground moral responsibility. Like I’ve said several times, I have yet to see an account of libertarian free will that can ground moral responsibility.”

    You have stated several times that you can’t get #2, but you have not, by any means, make an argument for that point of view. To assert is not to argue; to allude to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a source that is obviously biased against theism and free will, is not to argue. You should see hit piece its authors do on intelligent design. Just look at their list of references. Better yet, look who is missing. It’s a stacked deck.

    You are claiming that agents cannot be morally responsible because they cannot control their actions. Please make your case.

  148. F/n: AIG, simply produce a case in our observation where digitally coded, algorithmically or linguistically functionally specific complex information is produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity. We have an Internet full of examples where dFSCI comes from directed contingency tracing tot he actions of recognised intelligent agents.

    That you and your side cannot do that is obvious from the persistent absence of a serious example.

    So, we have excellent reason to inductively infer from dFSCI as sign, to directed contingency as the causal process, and to set that in the context of the reliably known — per empirical observations — source of directed contingency.

    On that, we have excellent reason to infer to the directed contingency that best explains C-Chemistry cell based life and its major forms.

  149. StephenB the two sections called “causation and explanation” and “causation and control” that I wrote to GP in post 114 explain why agent-causal theories cannot explain agential control. The article that I referenced by Schlosser goes into more detail, but I think what I said above will suffice. GP hasn’t rebutted these paragraphs; instead he’s said that he doesn’t think an agent needs to be in control in order to be morally responsible. I’m afraid I don’t have the time to get into a discussion on that one. Re-the articles in SEP, to be fair, they’re usually quote objective. I know that the one on free will was written by Tim O’Connor, for example, and he’s a theist and a libertarian. SEP seems to be far more fair-minded than wiki, anyhow.

  150. SB:

    Let’s just say the article I could find is on Creationism, and starts by speaking of “god,” describing ID as a subset of Creationism.

    Even the language and tone are wrong, indeed unprofessional and lacking in basic calm objectivity; firing off all sorts of warning flags.

    SEP just lost a lot of respect from me.

    If it cannot get this right, through its peer-review process, something is deeply wrong and needs to be fixed.

    THUMBS DOWN!

    Sad.

    GEM of TKI

  151. the discussion is taking more and more fascinating directions, but, in support of Green’s point (with which I agree), that “the libertarian will ultimately choose one of the courses of action for no reason at all”, an earlier question of mine still remains unanswered. I asked primarily gpuccio, since he has been arguing the libertarian perspective very thouroughly:

    If you argue that your choices are NOT in fact, uncaused, but are also NOT the necessary result of evidence evaluations and motivations of the self, WHAT is the (necessary & sufficient) cause of the choices, in your opinion?

    From your previous posts I gather that you would probably respond: the self. But that really only moves the goalpost, because then you need to explain what CAUSES the differences between different selves, that will make different choices in the same situation.

  152. Green:
    thanks for clarifying your position as a compatibilist. I completely respect your position and your justification for it on religious as opposed to philosophical grounds.

  153. Thanks Molch :) I’ve really appreciated your comments on the issue here too.

  154. Green:

    Y’day, in 110 and 113, I cited Rom 7 – 8 and discussed it.

    Moral responsibility is not simply a matter of control of outcomes, even the outcomes carried out by one’s body. We have a responsibility to cultivate the life of truth and virtue — cf Rom 2:5 – 8 — even though we can and do stumble, on the grounds that help is available from the Transcendent.

    Citing:

    Rom 2:5 . . . because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence [which entails struggle and difficulty] in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    So, we see here another form of the issue of freedom and responsibility. Inability to control one’s circumstances and even bodily behaviour does not automatically undercut moral responsibility.

    I already pointed to the implications of the two-tier control model. Informational influence, say through quantum level effects, are at least a possible gate-way between the mind and the brain-body system. Nor do we have to have in hand a mechanical explanation to know a fact beyond reasonable doubt.

    I do not need a mechanical explanation to know that I have decided to compose, type out and send this comment.

    I have inner access that shows me that I am deciding and acting, and it is an I, a unit, not a concatenation of accidental or mechanically forced outcomes locked into a Laplacian determinism chain calculable on knowing some prior circumstance of the cosmos and relevant force laws or the comparable for a [proposed] calculus of the mind. There is even a transcendent reflection that allows me to see — that nagging little voice in the head that says, you’d better, or you’ll be sorry — that I needed to mention something about calculus based dynamical chains, suggesting that the underlying unstated assumption and model for explanation is that there is an analogue to the Newtonian dynamics for the mind.

    Why should all the world conform to the model of Newton?

    No wonder people used to speak about the difference between the mechanically governed realm and he morally governed world of moral responsibility and laws of human nature that were diverse in focus and effect from mechanical necessity.

    We need to stop, and think about how we are thinking about cause, explanation and warrant.

    GEM of TKI

  155. —GPuccio: “So, I maintain that control of “outer actions”, of “outer results”, is in no way necessary to ground true moral responsibility. Control of intention is enough for that.”

    I think I agree with your point that control of intention is “enough” to ground true moral responsibility. The words, “outer actions,” however, convey a different meaning for me than the words, “outer results.” Is it fair to say, for example, that when an agent acts on an intent, such an individual is morally responsible for both the intention and the action through which the intention is made manifest. If one person intends to harm another and then proceeds to commit an act of violence, would this behavior not constitute an “outer act” for which the individual would be responsible, and would it not be a different matter than the “outer results” [how things play out] of that act, which would involve the acts other moral agents for which their moral sensibilities would be on trial.

  156. StephenB (and GP):

    I think I agree with your point that control of intention is “enough” to ground true moral responsibility.

    I’d forgotten that that’s what GP said (I thought he’d said we didn’t need agential control at all). However, the agent-causationist still needs to give an account of the agential-control of ‘inner intentions’. My two objections in post 114 thus apply equally as much here.

  157. KF,

    AIG, simply produce a case in our observation where digitally coded, algorithmically or linguistically functionally specific complex information is produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity. We have an Internet full of examples where dFSCI comes from directed contingency tracing tot he actions of recognised intelligent agents.

    That you and your side cannot do that is obvious from the persistent absence of a serious example.

    I’m not sure what “side” you imagine I’m on, but you’ve missed my point about ID’s connection to the mind/body problem and the problem of free will.

    Can we agree that all of our observations confirm that only human beings encode CSI? (Let us, to simplify argument, ignore the two other types of things in our experience that produce CSI, which would be other animals and computers).

    So hopefully we agree that human beings are what we directly observe producing (digitally coded, functional, etc) CSI.

    You (and ID proponents in general) take these observations of human beings creating CSI and then you generalize your observations into an abstract class called “intelligent agents”. Although we know from our experience of only a single member of that class (humans), ID posits that there could be other members of this class that are not themselves the complex life forms ID seeks to explain but still somehow retain the mental and physical abilities we observe in humans.

    If dualism and libertarianism are true, then ID can say immaterial mind and contra-causal volition exist in humans independently of our physical brains, and that these things are the cause ID refers to as the best explanation of first life.

    If dualism and libertarianism are not true, then ID must point to something which is within the world of material entities and physical cause, but is still somehow distinguished as being “intelligent” while all other processes are not.

    The question is, what exactly can we empirically detect that is supposed to distinguish intelligent processes from non-intelligent processes? And again, this obviously cannot simply be “intelligent processes are those which produce CSI”, because this would render ID tightly circular and vacuous.

    Unless ID can state the empirically accessible criterion for distinguishing intelligent processes from all others, then ID is merely a philosophical argument that entails a dualist, libertarian metaphysics.

  158. 158

    Thanks Green, I understand your position better, but I still see no distinction whatsoever. If a “mental” influence is physically determined, then calling it “mental” seems to serve no purpose other than to create a category with no distinction from “physically determined”.

    In any case, it has been an intersting thread.

  159. UB,

    If a “mental” influence is physically determined, then calling it “mental” seems to serve no purpose other than to create a category with no distinction from “physically determined”.

    I think you are right about this, UB. This is exactly why ID is predicated on dualism.

  160. —Green @114: “One of these is the fact that causation does not automatically constitute control, and it is control that the agent-causationist needs in a theory of agency. It is clearly not the case that wherever there is causation, there is agential control (e.g. look up ‘deviant causal chains’ on google). Control is not simply a matter of causation.”

    This objection does not even begin to address the issue of free will, nor does it take into account the human faculty of judgment inherent in any free-will act.

    First of all, it should be obvious that no one who denies freedom of the will lives by the same philosophy that he preaches. At every turn, he offers counsels, exhortations, commands, rewards, and punishments to those with whom he comes into contact. Indeed, your very presence here undermines your own world view, as you attempt to change minds and hearts, knowing that the intentions and actions of those with whom you come into contact can be changed and are not, therefore, determined by prior events. You complain that kairosfocus and I, for example, did not give your points a fair reading, as if we had other choices. In spite of your protests, you do, at every turn, assume and act on the proposition that everyone, including you, possesses free will. Indeed, I promise you that any expositor of determinism that you can cite will sue me for plagiarism if I write a book using his muddleheaded ideas.

    As Aquinas pointed out 800 years ago, physical laws act without judgment and animals act from a primitive form of judgment known as instinct. Animals know where danger lies and they act accordingly. Humans, however, act from “free” judgment because they know some things are better than others just as they know that some things should be pursued and others avoided. The central issue is whether or not they learn to appreciate that which really is good or that which only appears to be good. Put another way, free will cannot be separated from the faculty of judgment from which it springs. Indeed, rationality itself requires free will.

    In keeping with that point, it is not possible to be rational and not have free will because rationality insists that actions should tend toward that which is good and avoid things that are bad. If we had no such freedom, our rationality would be a joke. Thus, by denying your free will, you also deny your rationality and the capacity to make reasoned judgments. In effect, you are claiming that you are a slave to your mental states, which are, in turn, slaves to the elements. Why would anyone who has been given the blessing of free will want to assume the role of a slave?

    .

  161. Upright BiPed, I think you’re still misunderstanding my position. I don’t think that everything is ‘physically’ determined. Some things are determined by previous mental states. And these mental states are not physical.

    Aiguy, your comments have been very interesting, and I think I agree with you that ID requires dualism (of some sort – probably substance dualism, given the problem that property dualism has with mental causation). I am less sure that it requires libertarianism… but you might be right, and your points are well taken.

  162. 162
    William J. Murray

    Free will is a category of causative agency, or “explanation for effects”, just like “deterministic” causes, or “random” causes.

    In order for free will to be a true third category, then of course it cannot be explained in terms of randomness or deterministic effects – because then it would just be a subset phenomena of deterministic and random forces.

    So, saying that one cannot imagine how the third category works because it cannot be explained by the other two categories is a bit incoherent. It shouldn’t be explicable by the other two categories, if it is a true 3rd category.

  163. 163
    William J. Murray

    Green,

    Whether determinism exists in single strata, or in two, or in a hundred, it is still determinism, meaning no significant free will, and no significant moral responsibility, and no significant means to escape whatever prior events or states, mental or physical, compute into, whether it is moral, immoral, senes or nonsens, true or false.

  164. 164
    William J. Murray

    IOW, in any kind of determinism, you are a physical and mental automaton, simply computing what came before into what will come next.

    We don’t see the point of your position that another layer of deterministic strata is involved. So what? You’re still just an automaton programmed by prior events and/or states to do whatever is determined as “next”.

  165. Green has it right that we are not just talking about physical determinism. Deterministic causal agents could be immaterial. However, it could be physical determinism and we would still experience free will, and be responsible for the decisions thus made.

    When i say philosophical fundamentalism, I mean (a) starting from basic philosophical beliefs that seem reasonable to us, rather than first checking them for consistency, and (b) the particular belief that our experience of free will reflects a fundamental disconnect from the rest of the universe, which we have the ability to analyse, explain and predict.

    ‘Libertarians’ are faced with a problem that they want a 3rd way between determinacy and indeterminacy, but there isnt one. They need to deal with that fact and recategorise their concepts, rather than simply reasserting a fundamental belief in various different ways. I had to do that a few years ago.

    *

    @AIguy: ID does not require any fundamental dualism. Intelligent agents and processes are in practice very easy to distinguish from non-intelligent agents. 1st is that they treat higher-level concepts (that can be recognised by other intelligent agents) rather than mere objects or material. 2nd is that they have access to much external information and carry it into their action. There may be others. I think the 1st is the most crucial and useful.

    ID is a ‘common-sense’ science that uses what we are familiar with, so it ought to be independent of these debates about the fundamental nature of things. I am not a materialist or a physicalist. I am a dualist in the sense that an immaterial reality exists, but I am open on the question of whether a human soul need be made of some immaterial substance or not. ID does not depend on any such assumptions. The problem is that it leads to *conclusions* ultimately that are incompatible with physicalism, and that is why physicalists/materialists block it out.

  166. Green,

    Aiguy, your comments have been very interesting, and I think I agree with you that ID requires dualism (of some sort – probably substance dualism, given the problem that property dualism has with mental causation). I am less sure that it requires libertarianism… but you might be right, and your points are well taken.

    Again thanks for your edifying comments.

    I actually think it’s more clear that ID requires contra-causal will than substance dualism (though I suppose most think the former entails the latter).

    ID arguments center on the inadequacy of “unguided nature” to account for CSI, and on the explanatory power of “directed contingency” in this context. What ID fails to make clear is what is supposed to be able to guide nature or to direct contingency. If this is not libertarian will, I really don’t know what it could be.

  167. William, I wrote that before I read your post. Interesting.

  168. 168

    aiguy,

    I think you are right about this, UB. This is exactly why ID is predicated on dualism.

    This is a non sequitur. Design detection does not require dualism whatsoever. The coherency of any true theory of mind might require it, and hence free will, but this is not generic light-of-day design detection by any means. Nice try though.

  169. This tidbit may be of interest:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

  170. andyjones,

    ID does not require any fundamental dualism. Intelligent agents and processes are in practice very easy to distinguish from non-intelligent agents. 1st is that they treat higher-level concepts (that can be recognised by other intelligent agents) rather than mere objects or material. 2nd is that they have access to much external information and carry it into their action. There may be others. I think the 1st is the most crucial and useful.

    It seems to me that Darwinian evolutionary processes carry external information from the environment into its action; these processes learn and remember. Wouldn’t it be true, then, to say that evolution meets your criteria for “intelligence”, whether or not you believe these processes account for biological complexity? As for producing “higher-level concepts” – how would you go about determining if the Designer hypothesized by ID was capable of “higher-level concepts” or not?

  171. Clive,

    This is a non sequitur. Design detection does not require dualism whatsoever.

    In that case, what is it that directs “directed contingency”. What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they are not “blind processes”?

  172. @AIguy
    >>What ID fails to make clear is what is supposed to be able to guide nature or to direct contingency.

    Concepts and goals. Breaking a problem down into sub-goals. Use of analogy to previously solved problems. Use of previously accumulated experience. Storing information that goes beyond the ‘average reproductive success’ of the final product, + noise, for example (thats all evolution does; it does not record success of sub-goals etc).

  173. The external environment does no more than judge the final product. It contains no concepts of itself. An intelligent agent can perform experiments upon the environment to form concepts about it, but evolution can only hack about. Any concepts it appears to hit upon can only be by chance.

  174. StephenB addressing Green:

    “At every turn, he offers counsels, exhortations, commands, rewards, and punishments to those with whom he comes into contact. Indeed, your very presence here undermines your own world view, as you attempt to change minds and hearts, knowing that the intentions and actions of those with whom you come into contact can be changed and are not, therefore, determined by prior events.”

    What you seem to completely misunderstand is that those counsels, exhortations, commands, etc. are evidence to be evaluated by the audience. And IF the internal motivations and additional evidence evaluations allow it, this new evidence can serve to indeed change hearts and minds. Thus, this change of heart and mind is no less determined (by the all the internal motivations and evidence a particular person has, including the new one in form of counsel etc.) than a change of heart and mind that DOES NOT occur, because the evidence was not strong enough in light of a person’s internal motivations and accumulated evidence evaluations.

    You are suggesting that a change of heart and mind, i.e. a choice, is NOT caused by, in your own words, “prior events”, i.e. evidence or internal motivations. Since you also seem to insist that the choices are not UNCAUSED, maybe you can answer the question I am asking in this thread for the third time now: what, then, causes the choice?

  175. andyjones,

    Concepts and goals. Breaking a problem down into sub-goals. Use of analogy to previously solved problems. Use of previously accumulated experience. Storing information that goes beyond the ‘average reproductive success’ of the final product, + noise, for example (thats all evolution does; it does not record success of sub-goals etc).

    Are you saying all of these are necessary attributes for something to warrant the label of “intelligent”? Unless something breaks a problem into sub-goals, uses analogies, and learns from experience, then it isn’t intelligent? And anything that does do all of these things is intelligent?

  176. 176

    Aig,

    I think you are right about this, UB. This is exactly why ID is predicated on dualism.

    ID is predicated (at least partly) on the observation of patterns in existence which are not the effect of randomness or order, but indeed are always explained by directed contigency in all cases where we know their cause. We make an valid inference from all those which are known to the one that is unknown.

    Your interest in tieing ID to dualism is rhetorical.

  177. UB,

    ID is predicated (at least partly) on the observation of patterns in existence which are not the effect of randomness or order, but indeed are always explained by directed contigency in all cases where we know their cause. We make an valid inference from all those which are known to the one that is unknown.

    My question is what exactly is it that is supposed to direct contingency in instances of “directed contingency”.

  178. 178

    Aig,

    “It seems to me that Darwinian evolutionary processes carry external information from the environment into its action; these processes learn and remember.”

    For Darwinian processes to function at all they need (as we find them) an information processing system based upon symbols and rules. WIthout that, there is no “learn and remember” anything at all.

  179. 179

    “My question is what exactly is it that is supposed to direct contingency in instances of “directed contingency”.”

    You’ve been given that answer a number of times, by different ID proponents in different ways on a number of different threads. Do you not remember any of them? Or, is it that you’d like to go through it all again only to argue over where in the causal chain of existence we place the “We don’t know”. You’d like to place it prior to the observation that there are such patterns in existence which can be observed, and we would place it after we have everything we do know on the table – including the observation that order and chaos do not have the capacity to create these patterns while directed contigency does.

  180. UB,

    For Darwinian processes to function at all they need (as we find them) an information processing system based upon symbols and rules. Without that, there is no “learn and remember” anything at all.

    I think we both agree that at least “microevolution” occurs, where lasting changes in information is stored in the genome of a species as a result of incorporating information from the environment. If you object to using the terms “learning” or “remembering” for this, you are incorporating other aspects of intentionality that aren’t usually associated with those concepts. Do you believe that a computer memory “remembers” data, for example?

    You’d like to place it prior to the observation that there are such patterns in existence which can be observed, and we would place it after we have everything we do know on the table – including the observation that order and chaos do not have the capacity to create these patterns while directed contigency does.

    My question was “what is it that directs contingency in instances of directed contingency“? I don’t believe you’ve answered the question here; you’ve simply re-asserted what you think “directed contingency” is supposed to account for.

  181. 181
    William J. Murray

    aiguy asks: “My question is what exactly is it that is supposed to direct contingency in instances of “directed contingency”.”

    Let’s alter the question a bit: What exactly is it that directs deterministic causes to have deterministic effects?

    “Deterministic process” and “directed contingency” are categorical descriptions of certain kinds of cause and effect relationships.

    Asking what determines a directed contingency is like asking what directs a deterministic result.

  182. 182
    William J. Murray

    One might explain the fundamental difference this way: deterministic outcomes are sequential/contextual computations. The outcome, X, is determined by the factors that precede it.

    Directed contingency begins with a target, X, and then develops a sequence of events to get to arrive at X.

    Deterministic causal relationships do not begin with a target; they simply arrive wherever they arrive. Directed contingency, however, can imagine targets that do not even currently exist, and cannot even be reasonably computed by deterministic functions (universal resource bound), and begin directing materials and resources towards that end.

  183. William,

    Let’s alter the question a bit: What exactly is it that directs deterministic causes to have deterministic effects?
    “Deterministic process” and “directed contingency” are categorical descriptions of certain kinds of cause and effect relationships.
    Asking what determines a directed contingency is like asking what directs a deterministic result.

    Physics seeks to characterize specific causal relationships; there is no single thing that we know of that “directs” deterministic causes. Perhaps if we ever find a single unified Theory of Everything then we will be able to reduce all phenomena to a single cause; I’m not holding my breath.

    But with regard to things we do have some empirically-grounded understanding of, science carefully characterizes exactly what it is that is supposed to be directing the effects we see. The fundamental forces of physics are axiomatic, but they are characterized in such a way that we can go about seeing if they really do exist as we describe them. Referring merely to a “directed contingency” that is capable of achieving whatever phenomena we’re trying to explain is unhelpful without somehow trying to characterize what it is that is directing these contingencies. If it is res cogitans, or contra-causal will, then ID should just say so.

  184. William,

    One might explain the fundamental difference this way: deterministic outcomes are sequential/contextual computations. The outcome, X, is determined by the factors that precede it.

    Directed contingency begins with a target, X, and then develops a sequence of events to get to arrive at X.

    Deterministic causal relationships do not begin with a target; they simply arrive wherever they arrive. Directed contingency, however, can imagine targets that do not even currently exist, and cannot even be reasonably computed by deterministic functions (universal resource bound), and begin directing materials and resources towards that end.

    It is always the case that information and cause may be moving via unanticipated channels, causing phenomena that can appears to be working backwards, but which actually proceeds via the same cause-and-effect we see in all phenomena. When a lightning bolt hits a church steeple, for example, it seems that as it leaves the cloud it has chosen its target and worked backwards to pick a trajectory. It was only quite recently that the deterministic mechanism was revealed that unmasked this seeming “directed contingency”.

    Likewise, it appears that while we consciously experience ourselves working background from our conscious goals to our sub-goals, and from there to our algorithms for action. But it may be (and many neuroscientists believe this is the case) that “blind” (forward-acting) generate-and-test processes inaccessible to our conscious awareness may be what is actually doing the work, and our consciousness is simply narrating the results.

    I don’t know if this is true or not, but I do know that we have no settled science to tell us if something contra-causal (or “backwardly causal”) is operating inside our heads when we design things.

  185. 185

    Aig,

    “Do you believe that a computer memory “remembers” data, for example?”

    I made my point clear, again.

    I note that you feel warranted in using a human-made object to make your point, and then in another setting, you’ll argue that human-made artifacts are invalid as a reference. That is an inconsistency that ID proponents are not forced to contend with for the singular reason that they make their observations based upon the artifact, not the “artist”.

    In any case, do you think a computer can remember without symbols and rules? If it is true that rules and symbols are required for function, how did they come into being instantiated into the material of a computer? Did it involve foresight? Is it even possible that chaos and order could lead to it? If it is the case that chaos and necessity could not lead to it, then what is it exactly about symbols and rules that are beyond the causal powers of chaos and order.

    “My question was “what is it that directs contingency in instances of directed contingency“? I don’t believe you’ve answered the question here”

    You are correct.

  186. 186

    aiguy,

    In that case, what is it that directs “directed contingency”. What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they are not “blind processes”?

    Exactly. That is the question. It won’t do as an answer to claim that it isn’t X, when we know not what X is. This hinges on what is “natural”, a question that I’ve yet to see answered except by begging the question. It may be a will, it may not be, but the leap from design detection to dualism is a non sequitur.

  187. 187
    William J. Murray

    aiguy,

    If directed contingency is an illusionary narrative, why should I believe anything you or those neuroscientists say? You’re only outputting what prior states dictate, like anyone does who outputs whatever they output, including people we call insane or delusional.

    Indeed, if you and are are simply outputting what our prior states dictate, and intending a goal such as discerning the truth is just an illusory narrative invented by prior events to accompany our actions, why should I consider anything you say to be anything more than the noise made when the wind blows through the tree?

    Such arguments are self refuting. Unless you can actually intend outcomes, and actually direct contingencies, then logic itself is just our illusionary narrative companion as we bark and cluck our way through existence.

  188. UB,

    In any case, do you think a computer can remember without symbols and rules?

    What I’m trying to do is to understand what exactly you mean by “remember”. I’ll offer a definition: “To remember is to undergo a lasting change in physical state as a result of interaction with the environment.” Per my definition, people, computers, evolution, and Temper-pedic “memory foam” (the material my mattress is made from) all are capable of “remembering”.

    If you would like to offer another definition, please do. But remember, you have asked this question: “Do you think a computer can remember without symbols and rules?” So it would not do to incorporate “symbols and rules” into your definition of “remembering”, since you would simply be answering your own question by definition rather than as some fact about how remembering works.

    If it is true that rules and symbols are required for function, how did they come into being instantiated into the material of a computer?

    According to ID, things can be judged as intelligent or not without regard to their origin. For example, I presume you believe the following two propositions:
    1) Human beings were designed by an intelligent designer
    2) Human beings are themselves intelligent

    So you don’t seem to think there is any inherent contradiction in something being a bona-fide intelligent agent even though it was itself designed by something else. Thus, it appears you have no grounds to deny that computers are themselves bona-fide intelligent agents, no matter how they were originally created.

    AIGUY: My question was “what is it that directs contingency in instances of directed contingency“? I don’t believe you’ve answered the question here
    UB: You are correct.

    I know.

    Clive,

    AIGUY: In that case, what is it that directs “directed contingency”. What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they are not “blind processes”?
    CLIVE: Exactly. That is the question. It won’t do as an answer to claim that it isn’t X, when we know not what X is. This hinges on what is “natural”, a question that I’ve yet to see answered except by begging the question. It may be a will, it may not be, but the leap from design detection to dualism is a non sequitur.

    I’m having trouble understanding your position here. I’m saying that unless you assume dualism, the notion of “directed contingency” isn’t characterized in a meaningful way. Unless you specify what it is that you believe has the power to guide nature, to direct contingency, and to allow processes to “see” (as opposed to being “blind”), then you haven’t actually offered any specific cause at all. One answer is to posit an irreducible, immaterial, causal substance (or property) that is mental; that’s why I say ID requires dualism in order to be non-vacuous.

  189. William,

    If directed contingency is an illusionary narrative, why should I believe anything you or those neuroscientists say?

    Because we make sense… and we’re smart? :-)

    You’re only outputting what prior states dictate, like anyone does who outputs whatever they output, including people we call insane or delusional.

    I never understood why people like this argument. Here’s my response:

    1) Either our minds are reliable or they are not.
    2) If our minds are reliable, then all of this talk about materialism or evolutionary processes being unable or unlikely to produce a reliably rational mind is moot… because our minds are reliable.
    3) Otherwise (if our minds are not reliable), then all of this talk is still moot, because our minds are not reliable and we have no way of telling what the truth is.

    So either way we can’t use the reliability/unreliability of our minds to prove anything at all.

  190. —molch: “What you seem to completely misunderstand is that those counsels, exhortations, commands, etc. are evidence to be evaluated by the audience. And IF the internal motivations and additional evidence evaluations allow it, this new evidence can serve to indeed change hearts and minds.”

    What you seem to completely misunderstand is that if the audience had not been exposed to the message, there would be no change of hearts and minds at all. If the message changes the attitudes or behaviors to any degree at all, determinism is finished. Indeed, that is why you refute your own philosophy every time you enter into the arena and try to create an impact. If you didn’t believe you could make a difference, that is, if you didn’t think you could change the course of events in a way not possible without your presence, you would not bother.

  191. StephenB -
    If I deterministically type these characters and they deterministically appear on your screen and deterministically cause your retinas to send impluses that deterministically change your brain and deterministcally affect your future behavior, then my exhortation has changed your mind… all perfectly deterministically.

  192. 192

    Aig,

    If you do a word search on this page for the word “remember” you’ll see that you said evolution could “learn and remember”.
    I took the words you used and saw them in the context you used them. I saw that you made a complete sentence and did so in an environment of others who would understand your words and see the context of your thought. I found no reason to parse your comment, or suggest that it was unintelligible or incoherent. I then said that without a system of rules and symbols evolution cannot “learn and remember” anything at all.

    So now you’ve turned around to ask me what I meant by “remember”?

    Honestly…wow.

    You then go on to suggest that humans, computers, and genomes have a likeness in their ability to “remember” with other articles such as foam bedding.

    I simply cannot carry on a conversation with this.

  193. —molch: “You are suggesting that a change of heart and mind, i.e. a choice, is NOT caused by, in your own words, “prior events”, i.e. evidence or internal motivations. Since you also seem to insist that the choices are not UNCAUSED, maybe you can answer the question I am asking in this thread for the third time now: what, then, causes the choice?”

    THE cause? An act of the will is “a” cause, not the cause. There are a multiplicity of causes for any and every human event. One cannot choose without a mind and a will. Who or what caused the existence of those two faculties?

    Moving past that, humans are driven by psychodynamic, biological, environmental, and cognitive factors, all of which are causes.

    Moving past that, the intellect must provide the will with a target to hit. The mind produces the target, the will shoots the arrow. Without rationality, free will is impossible; without free will, rationality is impossible.

    Moving past that, a human being’s nature is a cause. As Aristotle says, all men naturally want to be happy. It is that nature that informs every choice that we make–it is yet another cause.

    To say that an individual makes a free moral choice by an act of the will is to acknowledge that a number of causes have already been in play and will continue to be in play. Indeed, if the creator stops sustaining the universe, all human choices will end immediately. The final act of the will is simply one more cause, only this time it is an agency cause–an immediate cause that creates an effect that never would have occurred in its absence. In some cases, God moves the will after having been asked by the agent to overcome some internal obstacle.

    If humans had no free will, then they could never raise themselves beyond the level of a barbarian because they would have disavowed the one faculty which allows them to say “no” to a bad impulse. Anyone who denies free will does, by his own choice, exempt himself from opportunity to make that elevation. Indeed, that is not a bad defintion of evil–a perverted will, one which has, as a result of its previous choices, become too soft-headed to resist bad impulses and too hard-headed to acknowedge its moral duties.

  194. UB,

    If you do a word search on this page for the word “remember” you’ll see that you said evolution could “learn and remember”.

    That is correct. Evolutionary processes incoporate information from the environment (learn) and store it in genomes (remember).

    I took the words you used and saw them in the context you used them. I saw that you made a complete sentence and did so in an environment of others who would understand your words and see the context of your thought. I found no reason to parse your comment, or suggest that it was unintelligible or incoherent.

    Well, I would say you did indeed “parse” my comments; otherwise you could not have undestood my sentences at all. But in any case, you seem to have been using a different definition of the words “learn” and “remember” than I was; by the definition of “remember” that I offered (and you have declined to improve upon), evolutionary processes do most clearly remember.

    I then said that without a system of rules and symbols evolution cannot “learn and remember” anything at all.

    Right. This showed that we were using these words differently.

    So now you’ve turned around to ask me what I meant by “remember”?

    That’s right. I provided you a definition of what I meant, and I asked you to either accept my definition or provide one of your own. That way we could communicate more clearly about how evolution was or wasn’t capable of memory or learning.

    Honestly…wow.

    ???

    You then go on to suggest that humans, computers, and genomes have a likeness in their ability to “remember” with other articles such as foam bedding.

    According to the definition I provided, this is clearly the case. That is why computer memories are called “computer memories“, and memory foam is called “memory foam”.

    I simply cannot carry on a conversation with this

    Oh. In that case I take it you concede my points. Thanks for the discussion!

  195. 195
    William J. Murray

    aiguy:

    The question isn’t if our minds are reliable, but rather if one’s premise allows for one being able to tell if their mind is reliable or not.

  196. William,
    But of course it is not possible for us to determine if our minds are reliable or not, because we have only our minds with which to discern the answer. We cannot determine the reliability of our minds simply by adopting one or another belief about origins or metaphysics.

  197. –aiguy: “If I deterministically type these characters and they deterministically appear on your screen and deterministically cause your retinas to send impluses that deterministically change your brain and deterministcally affect your future behavior, then my exhortation has changed your mind… all perfectly deterministically.”

    You know I think you just might be on to something here. If every primary cause, every mediating cause, and every output is determined, then, by gosh, you would have determinism. Seems like a good, safe bet to me.

  198. StephenB,

    You know I think you just might be on to something here. If every primary cause, every mediating cause, and every output is determined, then, by gosh, you would have determinism. Seems like a good, safe bet to me.

    Indeed. Moreover (this is the part I think you missed) in this deterministic world, scenarios such as me attempting to verbally convince you that I am correct, or my hoping that you change your behaviors as a result of my exhortations, all make perfectly good sense.

  199. 199

    Aig,

    Evolutionary processes incoporate information from the environment (learn) and store it in genomes (remember).

    This observation does nothing to explain what must be explained.

    you seem to have been using a different definition of the words “learn” and “remember” than I was; by the definition of “remember” that I offered

    When you used the word “remember” you used it in the context of a “Darwinian evolutionary process”. It is under this context that I responded that the “Darwinian evolutionary process” required a system of symbols and rules in order to operate at all.

    Right. This showed that we were using these words differently.

    This is just not true, in fact, it is demonstrably false. In your very next response to me you re-established the context of your use of the word, saying “information is stored in the genome of a species as a result of incorporating information from the environment.”

    Only later did you change your usage of the word to include somethig having the likeness of foam bedding. The last time I checked, bedfoam did not hold encoded information within a carrier inside its genome. The last time I checked, bedfoam did not evolve – yet that was the context of your word use in the original comment, as well as your follow-up comment.

    That’s right. I provided you a definition of what I meant…

    The definition you then provided had nothing to do with a “Darwnian evolutionary process”.

    and I asked you to either accept my definition or provide one of your own

    I never objected to your usage. To the contrary I commented on it in the same context that you both originally used it, and then re-established in your follow up comment.

    According to the definition I provided, this is clearly the case. That is why computer memories are called “computer memories“, and memory foam is called “memory foam”.

    That is a ridiculous statement. One that can only be defended by a zealot.

    In that case I take it you concede my points.

    By all means, please do.

  200. UB,

    AIG: Evolutionary processes incoporate information from the environment (learn) and store it in genomes (remember).
    UB: This observation does nothing to explain what must be explained.

    ??? I certainly didn’t offer this as an explanation of anything. If you review the quote in context, you’ll see that we were discussing whether or not ID is predicated upon dualism. Andyjones remarked that intelligent processes access information and “carry it into their action”, and I responded that evolutionary processes do this as well. The point here was that one could not distinguish intelligent from non-intelligent processes on the basis of accessing information (or “learning” and “remembering”) unless evolutionary processes were also going to be considered intelligent.

    AIG: you seem to have been using a different definition of the words “learn” and “remember” than I was; by the definition of “remember” that I offered
    UB: When you used the word “remember” you used it in the context of a “Darwinian evolutionary process”. It is under this context that I responded that the “Darwinian evolutionary process” required a system of symbols and rules in order to operate at all.

    I’m still unsure what you mean here. Do you mean that a system of symbols and rules must have existed in order for Darwinian evolution to take place? Or that Darwinian evolution itself operates according to symbols and rules?

    In any event, I think it’s clear that since ID attempts to distinguish “intelligent cause” from the “random mutation + selection” sorts of processes that drive evolution, most ID folks don’t really consider evolution to be intelligent per se. So:
    1) evolutionary processes are not considered “intelligent”
    2) evolutionary processes acquire information from the environment (learn) and store it in the genome (remember)
    3) therefore, learning and remembering must not be sufficient for warranting the label “intelligent”

    In your very next response to me you re-established the context of your use of the word, saying “information is stored in the genome of a species as a result of incorporating information from the environment.”

    Yes. This is what I meant when I said evolutionary processes learn and remember.

    Only later did you change your usage of the word to include somethig having the likeness of foam bedding.

    No, this is exactly the same sense of the word “remember” that I used in the context of evolution. In both cases, I am defining “remember” to mean “to undergo a lasting change in physical state as a result of interaction with the environment.” Evolutionary processes remember information by storing it in the genome; memory foam remembers information (about the shape of your body) by storing it in the shape of the bubbles in the foam.

    The last time I checked, bedfoam did not hold encoded information within a carrier inside its genome.

    No, there is no “genome” in my mattress. The physical state that changes in the mattress is the deformation of the bubbles, enabling the mattress to remember the shape of my body. The physical state changes in computers that enable them to remember is electro-magnetic charge. The physical state changes in evolution is the sequence of bases in DNA. And so on.

    The last time I checked, bedfoam did not evolve – yet that was the context of your word use in the original comment, as well as your follow-up comment.

    ??? I did not imply that my mattresse evolved; rather, I pointed out that it had a memory (which is why they call it “memory foam”).

    The definition you then provided had nothing to do with a “Darwnian evolutionary process”.

    We obviously miscommunicated here; I think if you read this post it ought to become clear.

    I never objected to your usage. To the contrary I commented on it in the same context that you both originally used it, and then re-established in your follow up comment.

    Good then. We agree that “to remember” means “to undergo a lasting change in physical state as a result of interaction with the environment”. So we ought to agree that memory foam and computer memories – as well as human brains and evolutionary processes – are all capable of remembering information.

    AIG: According to the definition I provided, this is clearly the case. That is why computer memories are called “computer memories“, and memory foam is called “memory foam”.

    UB: That is a ridiculous statement. One that can only be defended by a zealot.

    WHAT?

  201. AIG @ 157:

    Can we agree that all of our observations confirm that only human beings encode CSI? (Let us, to simplify argument, ignore the two other types of things in our experience that produce CSI, which would be other animals and computers).

    Not quite, on several aspects:

    1 –> It is not embodiment as such that produced dFSCI in our observation, as already discussed.

    2 –> For one instance, computer programs and systems are produced by knowledgeable, trained experts, i.e the capacity traces to intelligent behaviour specifically.

    3 –> Similarly, text strings here at UD are produced not primarily because we are embodied but because we are intelligent.

    4 –> And we have no good grounds for inferring that we exhaust the possible specific or general types of intelligence; indeed he origin of a fine-tuned observed cosmos makes an extra-cosmic, necessary being intelligence credible or at least possible, and one that — per the heat death challenge cannot reasonably be material and subject to the random transfers of motion that lead to thermodynamics effects.

    5 –> Next, when computers produce dFSCI they do so as extensions of humans, their desigers and programmers.

    6 –> I am at present unaware of animals producing digitally coded functionally specific complex information, but would accept such cases as proof of intelligence of said animals. For instance if certain claims about certain parrots pan out, I would accept them as intelligent, as I would accept a robot that passes certain tests that show originality, as I have long since said.

    7 –> What is relevant is of course that in cells, we find dFSCI systems, and we are not a credible cause.

    8 –> On the known observations and the challenge of the resources to sample an appreciable fraction of the relevant search spaces beyond 500 – 1,000 bits storage capacity, it is a reasonable inference that dFSCI is an empirically reliable sign of intelligence as key causal factor,however it was brought to bear.

    9 –> Which is of course the inference that you and others object to.

    10 –> But we note that you have been unable to show a case where dFSCI credibly arose from processes of undirected chance and mechanical necessity, in our observation. And, that is what would have been required to disestablish the generality of the observed pattern.

    11 –> Onlookers, kindly observe this.

    GEM of TKI

  202. Stephen (#155):

    Unfortunately, work kept me from following the last developments, and now it’s hatd to catch up!

    You say:

    “I think I agree with your point that control of intention is “enough” to ground true moral responsibility. The words, “outer actions,” however, convey a different meaning for me than the words, “outer results.” Is it fair to say, for example, that when an agent acts on an intent, such an individual is morally responsible for both the intention and the action through which the intention is made manifest. If one person intends to harm another and then proceeds to commit an act of violence, would this behavior not constitute an “outer act” for which the individual would be responsible, and would it not be a different matter than the “outer results” [how things play out] of that act, which would involve the acts other moral agents for which their moral sensibilities would be on trial.”

    Well, what I meant is that we can be morally responsible of our action only in the measure that we can really control them. There may be situations where there can be a great difference between the intention and the actual action.

    This is a field where I don’t think we can really judge, but only try to understand with humbleness. Many action are compulsive, and probably the agent, in his present state, isnot able to control them much. Think of many states of dependency, both physical and psychological, for instance. In that case, a moral behaviour could just be the effort to fight against that state, even if at first unsuccesful. The outer action can still be apparently evil, but a sincere inner intention to go upstream can be the premise for future redemption.

    So, I would stay very open and flexible in this field: it is important to know that we have the inner power to change, and that such a power will increase if we apply our free will in a positive way now.

  203. F/N: UB cite fr AIG at 185:

    Do you believe that a computer memory “remembers” data, for example?

    Memory registers, as you know, mechanically STORE states based on a designed organisation, e.g. a JK flip flop or a D latch acting as a storage register.

    Remembering is a CONSCIOUS act [when we have forgotten, we cannot recall to consciousness . . . try as we might (especially in an exam!)], which we routinely observe and experience as intelligent, conscious creatures.

    We note again the repeated attempt to blur key and manifest distinctions; in service of undermining confidence in what we do know and are personally aware of.

    That fores off a lot of warning flags.

    GEM of TKI

  204. AIG:

    Your “evolution produces” claims are based on an equivocation and a conflation of what is observed with what is imposed by Lewontinian a prioris.

    We observe minor small scale changes in existing complex functional living systems, sometimes called microevolution. These are essentially irrelevant to the origin of such systems based on dFSCI well beyond the 1,000 bit threshold.

    We do not observe — and have not answered tothe chalenges connected tohe purported origin on blind chance plus necessity of first life [100 + k bits of info] and novel body plans the very heart of macroevo. Cambrian revo, for main body plans 10′s + mns of new biots of info. Unaccounted for, but often assumed per imposition of a priori materialism. Perhaps int he guise of so-called methodological naturalism.

    Kindly, top arguing in circles.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Foam mattresses and other memory effects in materials are the result of not symbolic storage but physical and/or chemical changes that partly lock in a former state. E.g. a reel of fishing line may curl like how it was wound on the reel [and you should load a spinning reel over the side of the spool, so you do not reverse the sense of curl], and heated hair stretched while heating will straighten, or wrinkled clothes heated on an ironing board will flatten out or crease [until you crush them again].

  205. GP: as is highlighted in Rom 7 – 8, and urged in Rom 2:5 – 8 and Eph 4:17 – 24. G

  206. aiguy (#157):

    The question is, what exactly can we empirically detect that is supposed to distinguish intelligent processes from non-intelligent processes? And again, this obviously cannot simply be “intelligent processes are those which produce CSI”, because this would render ID tightly circular and vacuous. Unless ID can state the empirically accessible criterion for distinguishing intelligent processes from all others, then ID is merely a philosophical argument that entails a dualist, libertarian metaphysics.

    Well, that’s another good aspect I would like to discuss; now it’s very late here, but I will try at least to give some ideas.

    I have partially followed some of your posts on this matter, but I had not the time to comment on them. I will try briefly to outline my position.

    My fundamental concept is the concept of consciousness. Not a concept, indeed, but more a fact, directly experience by each of us.

    We must always remember that, for each of us, consciousness has a double status: it is a fact directly experienced (our personal consciousness), and a very reasonable inference by analogy (the consciousness of other human beings).

    The set of conscious experiences, both perceived and inferred, must necessarily be an important part of our map of reality, because otherwise we would exclude from that map the fact itself which allows us to know and think and feel (consciousness).

    You are interested in some clarification about intelligence and intelligent processes. What we know about intelligence derives directly from our conscious experience. There are facts which are undeniable:

    1) Conscious representations have a double aspect: a cognitive aspect and an aspect of feeling.

    2) Cognition is based on some fundamental conscious representaions,such as the sense of meaning, the processes of deductive reasoning and of inference, the concept of purpose and of fucntion. Many of this representations have also a “feeling” component. All opur maps of reality use some or all of these processes.

    3) Intelligence is a way to describe our cognitive representations. It implies usually abstract thinking, and always the concepts which I have cited at the previous point (meaning, inference, and so on).

    4) Design is an intelligent conscious process where those cognitive intelligent representations create a purposeful output, the designed object.

    5) I don’t believe that the concept of intelligence exists out of consciousness. Intelligence is a kind of activity of consciousness, whose main purpose is to understand reality. Non conscious realities cannot be intelligent. Obviously, intelligent outputs can be “written” in non conscious supports, like machines, software, books and so on. But intelligence is always a conscious activity. You cannot define meaning or purpose or truth if not in the context of conscious representations. Those concepts have no realities for non conscious entities. And intelligence cannot exist without those concepts.

    6) So, we can easily “distinguish intelligent processes from non-intelligent processes”: intelligent processes are all those in which a conscious agent has obvious conscious cognitive representations. If those representations generate purposeful objects as an output, we can call that process intelligent design. There is nothing difficult or problematic in that. We witness design everyday, both in ourselves and in others, both directly and inferentially.

    7) CSI is only a way to infer that some object is designed, when we have no direct evidence of the above processes (we have not witnessed the design process). CSI is not necessary for the definition of design, nor for its recognition inmost cases: if I look at a child drawing some simple picture, I am sure that the child is designing, even if the design is simple enough not to be defined as CSI. So, there is no circularity in ID theory.

    That’s for a start. I hope we can go on more deeply tomorrow.

  207. molch (#151):

    I asked primarily gpuccio, since he has been arguing the libertarian perspective very thouroughly:

    If you argue that your choices are NOT in fact, uncaused, but are also NOT the necessary result of evidence evaluations and motivations of the self, WHAT is the (necessary & sufficient) cause of the choices, in your opinion?

    From your previous posts I gather that you would probably respond: the self. But that really only moves the goalpost, because then you need to explain what CAUSES the differences between different selves, that will make different choices in the same situation.

    Very simply, I see the self as a transcendental reality. That means that we cannot apply the law of cause and effect to it in the same way we apply it to external obkects, or even to mental states. The self is the origina of new inputs which change reality. That’s the essence of free will. The free choices of the self are not “caused”: they are willed. But they are not without meaning or value. The self chooses according to an independent will which can be in tune with truth, or evade truth. That does not depend on his previous states or representations, but the way his choice interacts with reality does. That’s what I mean when I say that all of us have free will, in the same degree, but that we have different ranges of inner freedom. Our inner resources are different, according in part to our previous use of our free will, but the ability to act, in some way, for good or for bad, is present in each one of us.

    So, if two agents, as you say, “will make different choices in the same situation”, that means only that one hs chosen, in those circumstances, to act in harmony with truth, and the other has chosen differently. You ask why, but there is no answer to that, becasue the question is wrong. If there were an answer, we would not be free. But that does not mean that our free choice does not exist, or that it has no value, only because we cannot force it into categories which are not appropriate for it.

    That does not mean that two selves are the same. The precious history of each of us, and other factors, make us different. Our representations are very different, even in similar outer circumstances. But our inner free will is the same. Even if A and B act in similar circumstances, and even if both act in the best possible way for them, making the best possible use of their free will, their action can just the same be very different, because, as I have said, their phenomenic self is different, and it’s their phenomenic self which determines how their good free choice can manifest outwardly.

    So, to sun up, the differences between phenomenic selves are determined by their precious states, including their previous use of free will, and they will influence very strongly the form that their free choices can assume, while the reason why two different selves act for good or for bad, in any situation, cannot be explained in a cause and effect scenario. It is rather a transcendental manifestation of the self, and it has the power to change reality.

  208. —aiguy: “Moreover (this is the part I think you missed) in this deterministic world, scenarios such as me attempting to verbally convince you that I am correct, or my hoping that you change your behaviors as a result of my exhortations, all make perfectly good sense.”

    No, not really. I think you missed the humor of the situation. In effect, you were arguing that if everything is determined, then everything is determined.

    In any case, your efforts to change minds refute every word that you write. More importantly, your assertion that you are a slave to conditions that dictate your every move does nothing to win the confidence of those whom you would try to influence.

  209. GPuccio, thanks for your comments and clarification at 202. Since I have already briefly indicated my position @155, there is no need to repeat it.

  210. StephenB, Kairosfocus and others:

    —Green @114: “One of these is the fact that causation does not automatically constitute control, and it is control that the agent-causationist needs in a theory of agency. It is clearly not the case that wherever there is causation, there is agential control (e.g. look up ‘deviant causal chains’ on google). Control is not simply a matter of causation.”

    SB replied: This objection does not even begin to address the issue of free will, nor does it take into account the human faculty of judgment inherent in any free-will act.

    This objection does not even begin to address the problem of free will? I don’t understand how can say this? You seem to be arguing for agent-causal libertarianism and claiming that it can ground moral responsibility. I said that moral responsibility required two things: (1) agential origin (2) agential control. I then said that the agent-causal account could not ground (2) because it cannot give an account of causation (one of the pre-requisites for agential control), and even it it could, agential-causation doesn’t automatically equal agential-control. What am I missing here? I have clearly shown how on the agent-causal theory of libertarianism, moral responsibility cannot be grounded. Please counter my objections if you want to hold the contrary.

    With regards to other comments, such as:

    First of all, it should be obvious that no one who denies freedom of the will lives by the same philosophy that he preaches. At every turn, he offers counsels, exhortations, commands, rewards, and punishments to those with whom he comes into contact. Indeed, your very presence here undermines your own world view, as you attempt to change minds and hearts, knowing that the intentions and actions of those with whom you come into contact can be changed and are not, therefore, determined by prior events.

    I’m surprised you can make claims like this which are so obviously fallacious. Thank you to the others on this thread who have pointed out that none of the above follows from determinism.

    Indeed, rationality itself requires free will

    I have yet to see a libertarian account of free will that can ground rationality better than determinism. As I’ve already pointed out, there are three types of libertarian free will:

    (1) Noncausal theories
    (2) Event-causal theories
    (3) Agent causal theories

    (1) and (2) end up giving you decisions that are arbitrary, whilst (3) ends up giving you decisions that are irrational, since they are made, ultimately, for no reason at all. Kairosfocus, you have several times made claims to the effect that “no-one on this thread thinks that decisions are ultimately made for no reason at all”. Well, they may not, but then they are not agent-causal libertarains, since agent-causal theories inescapably lead to this conclusion.

    But, maybe I shouldn’t define “rationality” as I do. Maybe this is the problem. Maybe agent-causal theories only fail because I have been defining rationality wrongly. I have been defining it as “acting for reasons”. However, StephenB suggests another alternative. He writes:

    it is not possible to be rational and not have free will because rationality insists that actions should tend toward that which is good and avoid things that are bad.

    But I can’t quite make sense of this claim… Rationality “tends towards” what is good? Do you mean that rationality consists in acting in such a way that good will result? If so, how, on the libertarian view, can you then ground such rationality? To act in such a way that good will result, one must surely have to act on reasons that are morally good? Yet acting, ultimately, for reasons is exactly what the agent-causal libertarian does not have. So I don’t see how this definition of rationality helps the libertarian.

    Several on this thread have also claimed that determinism entails that we are “forced” to make certain choices, that we are “slaves” to these choices. I find these terms quite perjorative. If I have a desire for a drink of orange juice, and a belief that going to fridge will will satisfy this desire, and these together determine my action to go to the fridge, am I acting as a “slave”? Am I being “forced” into my decision? I don’t think these terms are appropriate. I am acting on my desires, and my beliefs. No-one is “forcing” me, or co-ercing me.

    On a more general note, I find that a lot of libertarians just use “free will” as a label to claim things like moral responsibility, rationality, choice and so on, but never really dig deeper to find out what whether they’re really entitled to these things. I think that were libertarians to dig a bit deeper, they would see that “free will” just falls apart; libertarian theories just don’t come up with the goods. They have as much right to claim that their position justifies moral responsibility as the determinist does. And they have less right to claim that they can justify rationality. The 3 types of libertarian theory that exist today simply do not get libertarians what they say they want.

    [On a sidenote: with regards to what I said earlier about ID and dualism, gpuccio has written an excellent post at 206. The reasons (1) to (6) that he lists are exactly why I think ID is tied to dualism. Materialistic / property dualist accounts of the mind cannot get you (1) through (6) which is why I think ID requires substance dualism.] :)

  211. Green, I have only one question for your: what about God’s will. Is it free, or is it determined?

    If libertarian free will is as incoherent as you are saying, then isn’t God also a fully determined being that lacks contra-causal power?

  212. gpuccio,

    The set of conscious experiences, both perceived and inferred, must necessarily be an important part of our map of reality, because otherwise we would exclude from that map the fact itself which allows us to know and think and feel (consciousness).

    Agreed, to everything up to this. I also agree with this except where you say consciousness allows us to think. I don’t believe we know that is the case at all.

    First, it’s well known that a great deal of our thinking (making sense of our perceptions, generating plans, solving problems, etc) happens unconsciously. Even complex mathematical reasoning appears to proceed without conscious attention. Second, it’s clear that other animals think (unless you have a more restricted sense of ‘thinking’ that excludes non-human animals) even in cases where our inference to their consciousness is weak. Third, again depending upon how you defining “thought”, you may even agree that computers can think, and I trust we’ll agree that it’s unlikely they are conscious.

    We have no general theory of intelligence; simply put, we do not know how we think. If we did, we could either build a generally intelligent computer system or explain why we can’t. At present, we can do neither.

    1) Conscious representations have a double aspect: a cognitive aspect and an aspect of feeling.
    2) Cognition is based on some fundamental conscious representaions,such as the sense of meaning, the processes of deductive reasoning and of inference, the concept of purpose and of fucntion. Many of this representations have also a “feeling” component. All opur maps of reality use some or all of these processes.

    I agree we each experience sentience and have a comfortably strong basis for ascribing sentience to each other (and some other animals too).

    But again, I do not believe we have any basis to say how consciousness is involved in reasoning. Obviously at least some mental abilities can be mechanized; I believe it is an open question whether all mental abilities are ultimately algorithmic or not. (I realize Lucas, Penrose, Searle, and others have argued they are not, but many others disagree, and I think the jury is still out).

    3) Intelligence is a way to describe our cognitive representations. It implies usually abstract thinking, and always the concepts which I have cited at the previous point (meaning, inference, and so on).

    I find this description/definition of “intelligence” too nebulous to work with. First you say that intelligence describes representations. Do you really mean that intelligence is something that describes other things, including representations?

    Then you say intelligence “implies abstract thinking”. Wouldn’t it be equally true to say abstract thinking implies intelligence? So aren’t these just two ways of saying the same thing, rather than one serving to help define the other?

    Then you throw in “meaning” (i.e. intentionality. certainly a difficult problem) and finally “inference”. It’s clear though that at least some kinds of inference are algorithmic, and we perform them continuously without conscious awareness.

    4) Design is an intelligent conscious process where those cognitive intelligent representations create a purposeful output, the designed object.

    Again you have connected consciousness with intelligence, and intelligence with various and sundry mental attributes and abilities, but I can’t make out a coherent mapping here.

    The rest of your post supposes that “intelligence exists out of consciousness” as you say, and I really don’t think you’ve shown anything like that at all. You say “non conscious realities cannot be intelligent” (I’m assuming you mean “non conscious entities cannot be intelligent”) – is this something you think you can infer from evidence, or is it just the way you are choosing to define “intelligence”?

    My position is that the questions of determinism, free will, consciousness and the mind/body problem remain absolutely up for grabs, with smart people still arguing for every conceivable viewpoint. This is not to say science has not begun to inform these ancient debates or can never resolve any of them, but it’s clear that at this point, nobody knows.
    I agree with Green that ID requires dualism; this is precisely why I object to the claim that ID rests upon empiricism.

  213. aiguy:

    a very thoughtful post.

    I agree with many of the things you say. There are some clarifications which I have to make, because I realize that I have been not completely clear in my post about those points (my fault, it was very late and I was very sleepy).

    You say:

    Agreed, to everything up to this. I also agree with this except where you say consciousness allows us to think. I don’t believe we know that is the case at all.

    This is a simple point. What I mean is that we would not have any representations of thoughts without consciousness. The formal contents of our thoughts could be still somewhere (in our brains or elsewhere), but thet would not be thoughts, no more than the content of a book is out thought unless we read the book. I think we may agree that the word “thought” describes conscious experiences. I try to make my statements as simple and empirical as I can, and to avoid non explicit implications.

    You say:

    First, it’s well known that a great deal of our thinking (making sense of our perceptions, generating plans, solving problems, etc) happens unconsciously. Even complex mathematical reasoning appears to proceed without conscious attention.

    True. But first of all, when I speak of consciousness I always refer to the whole spectrum of conscious representations, which include everything at least the subconscious mind. Conscious attention is a narrower concept, usually reserved to distinct representations in the wake state. IMO, those are only the tip of the iceberg of consciousness.

    Second, I don’t believe in the existence of completely unconscious “mental states”. Again, there can well be many unconscious processes, for instance in the btain or in the body, which at a certain point become conscious, more or less distinctly, like the book which is read. But nothing is “mental” if it is not in some way represented, at least in my terminology. You can take that as a property by definition, just to be clear in our discourse.

    You say:

    Second, it’s clear that other animals think (unless you have a more restricted sense of ‘thinking’ that excludes non-human animals) even in cases where our inference to their consciousness is weak.

    True. And I have no special prejudice about animals. I just agree with you, our inferences about their consciousness are possible and legitimate, but often weak. So, I prefer to discuss humans for that reason. I don’t see how any discussion about animals should make less consistent what we know about humans.

    You say:

    Third, again depending upon how you defining “thought”, you may even agree that computers can think, and I trust we’ll agree that it’s unlikely they are conscious.

    No, according to my precisation above, definitely computer don’t think, unless we can infer that they have conscious representations. Again I apologize for not having been clear enough in my definitions.

    Obviously, some may think that they can infer cosnsciousness in computers (maybe even in Windows Vista :) ), but I don’t think they have vald arguments for that (and I suspect you agree).

    You say:

    We have no general theory of intelligence; simply put, we do not know how we think. If we did, we could either build a generally intelligent computer system or explain why we can’t. At present, we can do neither.

    I have not tried to give a theory of intelligence. I have only tried to give an operating definition of intelligence, which is just what we need in ID. And, sinply put, my definition is:

    Any set of conscious representations which includes cognitive representations.

    I have also given some examples of representations which we usually agree have a cognitive content. More on that in the following points.

    I agree we each experience sentience and have a comfortably strong basis for ascribing sentience to each other (and some other animals too).

    I agree too.

    But again, I do not believe we have any basis to say how consciousness is involved in reasoning.

    We can make some inferences about that, but that was not my point. My point is that we cannot have any representations of the reasoning type without consciousness. Again, only an operational definition, not a theory. I will not define “reasoning” a non conscious process. I will define “reasoning” any type of cosncious representation where the representations have the form of what we usually call “reasoning” (deductions, inference, and so on). Maybe a computer, appropriately programmed, can compute a deduction, but it certainly cannot consciously represent it.

    Obviously at least some mental abilities can be mechanized; I believe it is an open question whether all mental abilities are ultimately algorithmic or not. (I realize Lucas, Penrose, Searle, and others have argued they are not, but many others disagree, and I think the jury is still out).

    I agree with that. And one of my firm methodological and epistemological principles is that, in science, “the jury is always out”. I am not a believer of final truth in science, and I am not a supporter of scientific consensus as a necessary value.

    That said, I am definitely on the side of Penrose and Searle, and I am very proud of that.

    You say:

    I find this description/definition of “intelligence” too nebulous to work with. First you say that intelligence describes representations. Do you really mean that intelligence is something that describes other things, including representations?

    No, I don’t mean that. My fault again for having been imprecise.

    What I meant is:

    “Our concept of intelligence (or, if you prefer, the word intelligence) is a way to describe our cognitive representations.”

    I hope that’s more clear.

    Then you say intelligence “implies abstract thinking”. Wouldn’t it be equally true to say abstract thinking implies intelligence? So aren’t these just two ways of saying the same thing, rather than one serving to help define the other?

    No, here too, I meant:

    Our concept of cognitive representations implies (or probably it would be better to say “includes”). Again, I am using empirical things (our representations) to define concepts.
    and words. My purpose here is to remain as empirical as possible, because that’s what we need for discussing the ID theory.

    Then you throw in “meaning” (i.e. intentionality. certainly a difficult problem) and finally “inference”. It’s clear though that at least some kinds of inference are algorithmic, and we perform them continuously without conscious awareness..

    Again I meant the representations. I note here that you have smartly avoided to state that meaning can be algorithmic. At least in the case of meaning (and, I would add, of purpose) the inevitable connection to conscious representations is really self-evident.

    About inferences, I am not sure they can be made algorithmically, while I would definitely endorse that possibility for deductions. But again, the algorithm just computes what is computable. But the appreciation of the meaning of any deduction or inference needs a conscious representation.

    Again you have connected consciousness with intelligence, and intelligence with various and sundry mental attributes and abilities, but I can’t make out a coherent mapping here.

    I hope I have made more clear that vI have only given simple and consistent definitions, and not a general mapping of what consciousness does or of how it does it. Clear empirical definitions are necessary for the ID inferences. A general mapping is not.

    The rest of your post supposes that “intelligence exists out of consciousness” as you say, and I really don’t think you’ve shown anything like that at all. You say “non conscious realities cannot be intelligent” (I’m assuming you mean “non conscious entities cannot be intelligent”) – is this something you think you can infer from evidence, or is it just the way you are choosing to define “intelligence”?

    It’s the second. I have defined intelligence as a set of particular conscious representations, so it is a logical deduction that non conscious entities (correction agreed) cannot be intelligent.

    My position is that the questions of determinism, free will, consciousness and the mind/body problem remain absolutely up for grabs, with smart people still arguing for every conceivable viewpoint. This is not to say science has not begun to inform these ancient debates or can never resolve any of them, but it’s clear that at this point, nobody knows.

    Agreed. But, as I said, the ID inference does not require a general theory of intelligence or of consciousness, just a good empirical description of what they appear to us.

    I agree with Green that ID requires dualism; this is precisely why I object to the claim that ID rests upon empiricism.

    I don’t know. I don’t even like very much the concept of dualism. ID needs only the definitions I have given above, and nothing else in terms of theories of consciousness, intelligence and free will. IOW, ID needs the simple ackowledgement that conscious representations and processes are part of reality, and the empirical recognition of formal properties of the outputs connected to those representations and processes. Nothing more than that.

    If that is dualism, then ID needs dualism. But I don’t think that is the case. After all, physics has harboured all kinds of separated principles (like matter and energy, at least before relativity), without being considered specially dualistic.

    But again, it’s a matter of how one wants to use words.

    Finally. I can only add that I can give you the full ID theory using only the above operational definitions, and common scientific reasoning.

  214. Green:

    Kindly, observe that over the past two days, a classic reference on degree of control over behaviour and over thought and will — in the context of moral responsibility and the path of virtue — has been in play, but has been overlooked.

    I therefore suggest you scroll up to 110, 113 and 154, observing on the challenge of the entangling, addicting/ habituating, corrupting and enslaving nature of vice. On fair comment, this is an all too apt description that was originally plainly autobiographical, and is descriptive of extremely common experience with the morally tinged challenges of life.

    That classical reference goes on to describe how, by transforming encounter with the Transcendent, we may be empowered to gradually overcome the entanglements and addictions that enslave us to vice.

    This, too, is an abundantly common experience, with many celebrated cases beyond Paul; Augustine and Francis of Assisi, Blaise Pascal [note his November 23, 1654 "Fire" vision], Wilberforce, Chuck Colson and Mother Theresa come easily to mind.

    This experience-based pattern — there are literally millions of examples, across thousands of years and spread across the whole world (some of them being pivotal to the flow of history of our civilisation and world) — shows a very different, and obviously empirically anchored view on the self, the will, the transcendent, and the question of responsibility on motives, attitudes, thoughts, intentions, behaviour and the struggle towards consistent virtue.

    I find it absolutely telling that when I look at not only your repeated characterisation of “libertarian free will” [cf my remarks at 109, 137 and 145] but also when I look into too much of modern discussion, there is little or no reflection on this rich, widespread, easily accessible body of empirical knowledge. This is nothing less than en-darkenment in the name of enlightenment.

    It is fully in the bull’s eye ring of the censures implicit in Plato’s Parable of the cave where people are induced to imagine that darkness and manipulation are light and truth.

    In other words, I here have a vast body of experience based reason to dismiss the whole exercise of trying to find fault with “libertarian free will,” as an abject failure of scholarship to engage with patent and easily accessible facts; an altogether too common pattern in our time. And, when I find as well, the sort of caricatures of how morally and epistemically responsible freedom of will is normally or commonly understood by those who accept it, I become even more unhappy with what I am seeing.

    For, this begins to look uncommonly like the fallacy of the closed, ideologised mind, locked into selectively hyperskeptical, radically secularist and often a priori materialist academic schools of thought that are unfortunately contemptuous towards and inexcusably arrogantly dismissive of whole swathes of reality as people experience, observe and reflect on it. (Just think about how, when survival of the community as a circle of the civil peace of justice is at stake, the Law has had to reckon with responsibility and action in light of responsibility. I am going to give a lot more weight to the facts that have forced the law to think like that for thousands of years, than to academic theories that simply do not match well with general experience, or for that matter, my own experience with the Transcendent.)

    I think you will find it clear enough that we find ourselves more often consenting to the true and the right than living by what we assent to and even sincerely pursue. Similarly, we find it easier to decide to walk by the truth and the right than to live by same, but by encounter with the Transcendent, we can grow in the path of virtue. And so, our primary moral challenge is to decide the path we follow. As St John records in yet another classical C1 text:

    Jn 3:19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

    So, the question is not over how much we can by ourselves control even our own impulses and behaviour, but our capacity to choose the path we will walk: light, or darkness. In that context, agency is capable of cognitive actions like awareness, perception, conscience, knowledge, judgement, decision and initiation of a path of action; however much we may stumble in the way. And, many of these actions will show themselves in directed contingency in the empirical world — purposeful arrangements and organisation of objects towards goals. For instance, I decided to type out this comment, giving intelligent direction to many entities that could as easily have been given another configuration.

    Similarly, while all of this has been going on for days now, I have struggled with experts to help find a way to properly formulate Montserrat’s new constitution. My son has been busy exploring on the Internet to help guide him in experiments on designing and developing a bow and arrows using resources in our environment. Having tried a first effort using guava wood, he has concluded the bow was too weak; so now we are working on a sturdier device using Leucenia [sp?]. And as I have driven back and forth with family and friends as well as colleagues, I have been ever conscious of my duty to drive “with due care and attention,” i.e. my duties of care on the road.

    None of these make sense apart from our ability to be sufficiently responsible, by virtue of being sufficiently free. Our actions, then, are not merely the passive, rigidly predictable flow of dynamics from some preceding mental and/or physical state, nor are they random impulses flowing from molecular chaos or the like, but a rational, responsible, volitional, judgement driven process of the unitary, conscious, intelligent, enconscienced deciding self. Yes, we are first, self-directing causes in ourselves, but that is not an incoherent concept.

    Only worldviews that accept that as a base reality make coherent sense within themselves and match the facts of the external world. (Again: whether or no some will acknowledge it, only if I am free enough to see and follow the way of reason and truth for myself, am I able to be rational. There is a profound irrationality in all species of determinism, whether the controlling forces in view are external or internal or both.)

    In that context, we do not need to hafve any great exploration of the metaphysics of agency to recognise that it is a real frce in our world, and that intelligences often leave characteristic traces when they act. Digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information and associated organisation and conventions are a classic cluster of such signs. And, we may freely study the object and its signs to infer to the causal process per empirical observation: directed contingency.

    In closing, even as I type this comment, I am painfully aware that between my dyslexia and imperfections as a typist [why is it that I so often find myself inverting letter order . . . ], even this comment probably does not entirely reflect what I would wish. But, I am still responsible for it and it still expresses dFSCI, down to my choice to use UK style spellings not US style ones; despite the annoying problem of spell checks that so often fail to deliver on the promise of recognising UK spellings.

    And that example in the micro concretises and reflects the issues in the macro.

    GEM of TKI

  215. F/N: Re AIG:

    I agree with Green that ID requires dualism; this is precisely why I object to the claim that ID rests upon empiricism.

    This is an error maintained in the teeth of abundant correction, and serves the rhetorical purpose of a turnabout confusing accusation in the teeth of <a href = "http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....l"the problem of evident imposition of a priori materialism as a criterion of being "scientific."

    In fact, the design inference is patently empirical in foundation, focus and methodology. But, since it provides empirically based evidence that points in directions uncomfortable for ideological materialists and heir fellow travellers, it is commonly objected to speciously based on strawman caricatures. This happens to be one of them.

    1 –> It is a commonplace fact of life that causal patterns routinely trace to mechanical necessity [a heavy object falls if it is dropped], chance [if it is a fair die, it tumbles to a value essentially at random] and directed contingency [we can set a die to read what we want, turning it in our fingers].

    2 –> Natural law-like regularity empirically marks out necessity, stochastic contingency marks out chance, and several signs of directed contingency mark out design or art. The UD glossary entry on ID discusses this and can easily be looked up.

    3 –> Certain particular signs are commonly found in cases of design, and they can be identified as reliable, e.g digitally coded, functionally specific complex information, a particularly important subset of complex specified information.

    4 –> To wit, in every case where we directly observe the causal process, dFSCI traces to directed contingency. So much so, that attempted counterexamples are often obviously strained and blatantly irrelevant. The attempt to suggest that an intelligently designed PC, using an equally designed program, is spontaneously generating dFSCI from undirected chance and blind mechanical necessity is the most obvious such illustration.

    5 –> We have in hand a reliable causal pattern and characteristic signs. When we see the sign otherwise than where we directly observe the causal process, we have every epistemic right to infer to the signified process, directed contingency.

    6 –> AND to use these signs as credible indicators of the presence of intelligent designers [the observed source of designs] at the relevant places and times.

    7 –> Therein lieth the rub and the motive for many an objection. (Pointing to motives is appropriate when rebutting objections that ever so often indulge in motive mongering. Sauce for the goose . . . )

    8 –> One strained objection is that the only designers we observe are embodied humans. But plainly the source of the dFSCI is not he embodiment but he intelligence and knowledge, as the creation of PCs aptly illustrates and more generally the widespread pattern of expertise.

    9 –> Another is the attempted reduction of intelligent agency to chance and/or mechanism with deterministic cause-effect chains driving out freedom of intention and action.

    10 –> This falters on the simple observation that to object, the objectors must use directed contingency to create clusters of symbols according to rules of communication in languages, which they assume will be reasonably accurately understood and acted on by readers they hope to persuade.

    11 –> In short the objectors only succeed in providing further evidence that dFSCI is produced by design, and that it lives in a context of an assumed world of understanding intelligence that is not simply being programmed like a PC. The objection is inescapably self-referentially incoherent.

    12 –> Not that that will stop determined objectors, but it will expose their reductio ad absurdum, assuming, exemplifying and using what they would so earnestly dismiss.

    _________________

    GEM of TKI

  216. PS: Ouch on a mangled link, the PC cuold not understand what I INTENDED ot say, unlike teh intelligent reader [the typos are deliberate]. Also, at certain times and places I have used US style spellings; i.e. this is a choice that is partly habitual.

  217. PPS: I think Plato’s remarks in making his design inference in The Laws Bk X, are highly relevant. I excerpt, inviting us to watch the exchange between the Athenian Stranger and Clenias as the former answers the evolutionary materialists circa 400 BC:

    ___________________

    >> Ath. Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion of all those physical investigators; and I would have you examine their arguments with the utmost care, for their impiety is a very serious matter; they not only make a bad and mistaken use of argument, but they lead away the minds of others: that is my opinion of them.

    Cle. You are right; but I should like to know how this happens.

    Ath. I fear that the argument may seem singular.

    Cle. Do not hesitate, Stranger; I see that you are afraid of such a discussion carrying you beyond the limits of legislation. But if there be no other way of showing our agreement in the belief that there are Gods, of whom the law is said now to approve, let us take this way, my good sir.

    Ath. Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods.

    Cle. Still I do not understand you.

    Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body?

    Cle. Certainly.

    Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind.

    Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?

    Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer? [Hence of course, first cause]

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.] >>
    ____________________

    I am of course not citing Plato as though he were a decisive authority — as I was once unjustly accused of in this blog by a commenter.

    Instead, I invite us to look afresh at what we may have overlooked.

    GEM of TKI

  218. —Green: “I’m surprised you can make claims like this which are so obviously fallacious. Thank you to the others on this thread who have pointed out that none of the above follows from determinism.”

    I don’t know what others have said about that point, but it should be obvious to anyone who will think it through.

    [A] A determinist argues that both determinists and non-determinists are determined to believe what they believe. However, determinists also argue that advocates for free will are wrong and ought to change their view, which implies that they have the free power of will to do so.

    [I think it was C.S. Lewis (someone you should read along with G.K. Chesterton) who made the following point]

    [B] If determinism is true, there would have to be a rational basis for that position. On the other hand, if determinism is true, then there cannot be any rational basis for thought since all thought would be controlled by non-rational forces. So, if determinism claims to be true, it must be false.

    [Indeed, rationality itself requires free will]

    —”I have yet to see a libertarian account of free will that can ground rationality better than determinism.”

    Here you have simply ignored the point [rationality requires free will and free will requires rationality] and reverted back to your talking points.

    In any case, I made a bit of an extended argument @193, inspired much by the work of Aquinas (someone else you should read.) There are plenty of other good accounts that you seem not to know exist, none of which have been included in your sources for convenient reasons on their part.

    If you haven’t found good arguments, it may just be because you don’t know where to look. In keeping with that point, you are basing your judgments on the wisdom of anti-free will partisans and have not sufficiently explored the work of better writers who are capable of refuting the nonsense of compatibilist/determinism in short order.

    Indeed, you seem to recognize the fact that the Christian Scriptures, which you claim to believe in, are at variance with your compatibilist/deterministic philosophy, which you also claim to believe in.

  219. –”Clive (commenting on aiguy’s claim that ID assumes dualism)

    “This is a non sequitur. Design detection does not require dualism whatsoever.”

    –aiguy: “In that case, what is it that directs “directed contingency”. What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they are not “blind processes”?”

    Clive’s point is precisely correct. ID, as science, does not speak to the issue of dualism. To detect the “effects” of design is not in any way to argue on behalf of a transcendent cause but only to argue on behalf of a specific preliminary cause, which could, in principle, be material.

    To be sure, a sound “philosophy” of design does, indeed, require moderate dualism since matter cannot be its own first cause, which itself must be non-material, one, personal, eternal, and self-existent. That means that any ID scientist who rejects dualism is a terrible philosopher. ID science, as science, however, does not depend on theistic dualism, though it is clearly consistent with it. To sum up: Good philosophy requires dualism and a first cause; ID science requires only a preliminary cause but it does fit nicely with theistic dualism.

    The key words are these: “Consistent with” does not mean the same thing as “depends upon.” If only Judge “copycat” Jones had understood that point.

    Like Clive said, though, nice try.

  220. SB: Again, well said. G

  221. That should read “study” not [detect] the effects of design.

  222. #218

    However, determinists also argue that advocates for free will are wrong and ought to change their view

    Not if they are compatabilists .

  223. MF: Cf. above; it is clear they are reinterpreting what freedom means. G

  224. StephenB & Green:

    Green said: “I’m surprised you can make claims like this which are so obviously fallacious. Thank you to the others on this thread who have pointed out that none of the above follows from determinism.”

    StephenB said: “I don’t know what others have said about that point.”

    That’s because you obviously have not read others comments on this issue. Kindly read 174, as it addresses the fallacies of your claim that Green, as a determinist “at every turn, offers counsels, exhortations, commands, rewards, and punishments to those with whom he comes into contact. Indeed, your very presence here undermines your own world view, as you attempt to change minds and hearts, knowing that the intentions and actions of those with whom you come into contact can be changed and are not, therefore, determined by prior events.”

  225. gpuccio,

    What I mean is that we would not have any representations of thoughts without consciousness. The formal contents of our thoughts could be still somewhere (in our brains or elsewhere), but thet would not be thoughts, no more than the content of a book is out thought unless we read the book. I think we may agree that the word “thought” describes conscious experiences. I try to make my statements as simple and empirical as I can, and to avoid non explicit implications.

    It’s fine if you would like to define “thought” as only conscious experiences. We then will need another word for what it is we do when we generate plans, solve problems, come up with ideas, and complete other mental tasks without conscious awareness.

    But first of all, when I speak of consciousness I always refer to the whole spectrum of conscious representations, which include everything at least the subconscious mind. Conscious attention is a narrower concept, usually reserved to distinct representations in the wake state. IMO, those are only the tip of the iceberg of consciousness.

    So you are suggesting that we consider unconscious processes to be conscious? This would seem at first glance to confuse the discussion…

    Second, I don’t believe in the existence of completely unconscious “mental states”. Again, there can well be many unconscious processes, for instance in the btain or in the body, which at a certain point become conscious, more or less distinctly, like the book which is read. But nothing is “mental” if it is not in some way represented, at least in my terminology. You can take that as a property by definition, just to be clear in our discourse.

    You speak of “representations”; I trust you are aware that this is a point of great contention within philosophy of mind. Do mental representations exist? If so, what are they? How do they come to refer to other things (this is the problem of intentionality).

    Anyway, I still don’t see how we can agree that mental states can never been unconscious; it seems to me that since a great deal of mental functioning proceeds unconsciously, if mental functions involve states and representations, then these would be unconscious too.

    No, according to my precisation above, definitely computer don’t think, unless we can infer that they have conscious representations. Again I apologize for not having been clear enough in my definitions.

    Again we’ll need a word to capture what a computer is doing when it performs tasks that we would call “thinking” if a human being did it. (At this point I will cite a quip by my friend Drew McDermott, talking about the IBM chess-playing computer: Saying Deep Blue doesn’t think about chess is like saying airplanes don’t fly because they don’t flap their wings!).

    Obviously, some may think that they can infer cosnsciousness in computers (maybe even in Windows Vista ), but I don’t think they have vald arguments for that (and I suspect you agree).

    I agree we have no reason to think computers are conscious. But they do invent novel designs, generate plans, solve problems, perform inferences, answer questions, and so on, and we call it “thinking” when humans do this. You even call it “thinking” if the human is not conscious of it! So I don’t think you’re very far toward sorting out the differences here.

    I have not tried to give a theory of intelligence. I have only tried to give an operating definition of intelligence, which is just what we need in ID. And, sinply put, my definition is:

    Any set of conscious representations which includes cognitive representations.

    I don’t think that equating intelligence with representations is a good definition.
    Representations don’t do anything; they are used by reasoning processes in order to reason about the word (whatever part of the world is being represented). I don’t think representations can be conscious, either; rather it is the conscious mind that employs representations to think about the world.

    Again, I am using empirical things (our representations) to define concepts.
    and words. My purpose here is to remain as empirical as possible, because that’s what we need for discussing the ID theory.

    I don’t agree that representations are empirical. What is empirical is our behavior – the observable abilities we have to plan, design, solve problems, build things, etc. Other empirical data we have is what we observe in the brain – neural activity, brain waves, and so on. Finally, we have empirical data on conscious experience, because we can “inter-subjectively” confirm we all have conscious experiences.

    However, we have no empirical data about mental representations. This is what I mean when I say we have no theory of intelligence. We cannot observe, nor figure out, how we think. Some people believe we should understand thought in terms of representations, others disagree.

    About inferences, I am not sure they can be made algorithmically, while I would definitely endorse that possibility for deductions.

    Certainly inferences are performed algorithmically, including inductions and even abductions.

    ID needs only the definitions I have given above, and nothing else in terms of theories of consciousness, intelligence and free will. IOW, ID needs the simple ackowledgement that conscious representations and processes are part of reality, and the empirical recognition of formal properties of the outputs connected to those representations and processes. Nothing more than that.

    On one hand I agree with you that consciousness needs to be considered; eliminative reductionism is hopelessly blind to our experience and so that won’t do at all. On the other hand, I think your view about the connection between consciousness and mental abilities. There are only some things that Penrose, for example, believes cannot accomplished algorithmically (his tiling examples, or certain Godelian problems) and without conscious thought.

    If that is dualism, then ID needs dualism. But I don’t think that is the case. After all, physics has harboured all kinds of separated principles (like matter and energy, at least before relativity), without being considered specially dualistic.

    “Dualism” here refers to mind/body dualism; Our scientific ontology is in fact more diverse than that, as we have four fundamental forces plus matter/energy, and now perhaps dark matter/energy too!

    I’m not unsympathetic to mind/body dualism, and I think it really is the only way ID makes sense. I think we have no way (yet) to empirically resolve the issue, however, so this means ID remains predicated on untestable claims regarding the nature of mind.

  226. StephenB,

    AIGUY: “In that case, what is it that directs “directed contingency”. What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they are not “blind processes”?”
    STEPHENB: Clive’s point is precisely correct. ID, as science, does not speak to the issue of dualism.

    If this were true, then I believe you could have actually answered my specific questions. But you didn’t, so I’ll ask again: In ID’s view, what is it that directs “directed contingency”? What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they are not “blind processes”?”

    To detect the “effects” of design is not in any way to argue on behalf of a transcendent cause but only to argue on behalf of a specific preliminary cause, which could, in principle, be material.

    ID is offering an intelligent cause for first life (a “Designer”). The only intelligent things we know from our experience are themselves complex living things, rich in CSI. The Designer is either this known type of thing (an intelligent life form), or it is something unknown to our experience (something that is not a complex physical life form but somehow possessed of the mental and physical abilities of human beings – and then some).

    If the Designer is another life form, then ID really isn’t a very interesting theory after all. (If we posit an extra-terrestrial life form, we might as well assume we are their descendents rather than the products of their engineering efforts!). This leaves the speculation of an unknown type of being who created life in an unknown fashion.

    To be sure, a sound “philosophy” of design does, indeed, require moderate dualism since matter cannot be its own first cause, which itself must be non-material, one, personal, eternal, and self-existent. That means that any ID scientist who rejects dualism is a terrible philosopher.

    Dualism has its own problems, of course. Since CSI doesn’t seem to arise without mind, and mind doesn’t seem to arise without CSI, one could choose to posit either mind or mechanism as the first cause. My vote is that it got started in neither of these ways, but rather that we are missing something quite fundamental in our comprehsension. In any event, all this is deep in the domain of philosophy and theology, and well past anything we can support empirically.

  227. Ok a couple of quick points:

    Drew Mazanec wrote:

    Green, I have only one question for your: what about God’s will. Is it free, or is it determined?

    If libertarian free will is as incoherent as you are saying, then isn’t God also a fully determined being that lacks contra-causal power?

    Recall that libertarian freedom means that there are no antecedent causes or conditions sufficient to determine an agent’s action. That means no desire, motivation, inclination or anything compells the agent to act. These things may have an influence on the decision, but they don’t determine it. So if libertarian freedom exists, then it is possible for an agent to act against all his desires, beliefs, motivations, and so forth. I think this is absurd, and I don’t think God has this kind of freedom. I don’t think that it is possible for God to act in a way that is not accord with his character.

    If God had libertarian freedom, then it would be possible for him to do evil. But Titus 1:2 says that God cannot lie. If “cannot” here means not only that God does not lie, but also that it is metaphysically impossible for him to lie, then God does not have libertarian free will.

    With regards to the comments by Kairosfocus, I have been reading your posts, and the verses you cite from Romans and so forth, but I haven’t responded because I haven’t seen anything inconsistent with determinism in them. Many of the verses you cite seem to say that humans are a “slave” to their sinful nature, or that they are a “slave” to righteousness. How do these verses prove libertarian free will? I have yet to see a verse in the bible that affirms libertarian free will.

    With regards to a couple of comments by StephenB. SB wrote:

    Indeed, you seem to recognize the fact that the Christian Scriptures, which you claim to believe in, are at variance with your compatibilist/deterministic philosophy, which you also claim to believe in.

    Nowhere have I said that compatibilsim/determinism are at variance with Christian Scriptures. What I said was, determinism and moral responsibility are at variance with eachother philosophically. I think the determinist definition of freedom and moral responsibility are completely consistent with Christian Scripture. I think Scripture itself teaches them both, but it is paradox because we don’t know how to put them together.

    (Incidentally, libertarianism doesn’t help solve this paradox that because it too is unable to ground moral responsibility. No-one here has yet given me an argument to the contrary; all I’ve had from kairosfocus et al. are assertions that it can. So libertarianism isn’t a solution to this paradox; neither determinists nor libertarians can ground moral responsibility in a philosophically coherent way).

  228. 228

    “ID is offering an intelligent cause for first life (a “Designer”). ”

    ID is offering the detection of design, not a designer. If you want to argue with the design hypothesis, (which you seem to most certainly want to do) then argue with the design hypothesis. Is design detecable? Is it not? What are the observable evidences that it has been detected? What are the alternative explainations which can be offered to explain what is observed?

  229. Stephen (#219).

    very well said.

  230. gpuccio @ 207:

    “Very simply, I see the self as a transcendental reality. That means that we cannot apply the law of cause and effect to it in the same way we apply it to external obkects, or even to mental states. The self is the origina of new inputs which change reality. That’s the essence of free will. The free choices of the self are not “caused”: they are willed. [...]So, if two agents, as you say, “will make different choices in the same situation”, that means only that one hs chosen, in those circumstances, to act in harmony with truth, and the other has chosen differently. You ask why, but there is no answer to that, becasue the question is wrong. If there were an answer, we would not be free.”

    Thanks for your detailed description of your opinions, that illuminated the background of your position!

    You basically reject determinism on religious grounds. It is your religious view that cause and effect cannot be applied to a “transcendental self” and it’s choices. Although, in a logical philosophical worldview, this leads to the unavoidable conclusion that these choices by transcendental selfs are then in last consequence uncaused, I respect your religious convictions. But maybe you can also see why this position is, from a logical philosphical standpoint, not very convincing, since the free will of your transcendental agents amounts to arbitrariness.

  231. SB:

    [A] A determinist argues that both determinists and non-determinists are determined to believe what they believe. However, determinists also argue that advocates for free will are wrong and ought to change their view, which implies that they have the free power of will to do so.

    It doesn’t imply that they think oppponents have “the free power of will” to change their mind in the libertarian sense. Minds can be changed in an entirely determnistic fashion. I can be exposed to evidence, that evidence can overwhelm my previous convictions, and thus I will be inclined to change my mind. All perfectly deterministic.

    [B] If determinism is true, there would have to be a rational basis for that position. On the other hand, if determinism is true, then there cannot be any rational basis for thought since all thought would be controlled by non-rational forces. So, if determinism claims to be true, it must be false.

    I think this is why Clive initially objected to determinism earlier. But why does determisnism imply that all thought be “controlled by non rational forces”? I thought I’d made this clear way further up in this conversation. Determinists have full access to all the rational forces that exist: reasons, logic, consciousness, understanding, beliefs, and so on. Where are the non-rational forces here?

  232. markf (#222):

    Yes, but compatibilists are not advocates of free will. At most, they are advocates of compabilism! :)

    (if you are Mark Frank, we have already discussed that in the past)

  233. aiguy (225):

    So you are suggesting that we consider unconscious processes to be conscious? This would seem at first glance to confuse the discussion…

    No, I am suggesting that we considere unconscious processes non conscious and non mental processes, and that we consider subconscious processes as conscious at a different level of cosnciousness. IOW, that we do not restrict the concept of cosnciousness to distinct representation in the waking state, and that we do not extend it to non conscious processes.

    More later, now I have to go…

  234. 234
    William J. Murray

    If you consider the notion that perhaps not all humans have free will, debates that contain dialogue such as we have here make much more sense.

    Generally, when a person tells me that they do not have free will, or that they have compatibalist “free will”, I accept that and move on – for all I know, it is true, and a rational assessment of the statements they utter certainly supports their assertion.

    My world-view doesn’t insist that all humans have free will.

  235. #232 gpuccio

    Yes I am Mark Frank. For some reason my old ID stopped working and I had to change.

    Of course compatabilists are advocates of free will – that’s what it means. You may think we are wrong – but we know what we are advocating!

  236. Just as a side note to MF and others: I think it’s helpful to be specific when we talk about free will. Many determinists believe in free will – but free defined as ‘the ability to act upon ones own desires’ (my position). This is not free will as the libertarians want it, though. Libertarians want free will to mean ‘the ability to do otherwise in an absolutely unconditional sense’. So to distinguish these two types of free will, it probably saves confusion to just use the terms ‘libertarianism’ (or libertarian free will) and ‘determinism’.

  237. William J. Murray, aiguy, and others arguing contingency and determinism — all I can say and contribute is to repeat what I already wrote last month:

    The problem with the key science words like determined, underdetermined or undetermined, is that they are typically viewed from the point of view of our human understanding. Two sides should be considered to make a meaningful distinction — our human side of understanding, and God’s side of understanding.

    From our human viewpoint nothing is or can be 100% perfectly determined, even the seemingly most deterministic phenomena are thus subject to rare but occasional exceptions we call miracles. From God’s point, since He presumably knows everything, everything must be considered deterministic, even what we deem chaotic and quantum phenomena which are totally beyond our idea of determinism.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....usal-gaps/

    As far as contingency, before complicating and muddying the matters with new words and terms, all would be wise to ponder Aristotle’s words, especially in chapter II of his Physics, where Aristotle wondered why the earliest physicists were determinists who either ignored chance, or wrote strange contradictory things about it — like Empedocles, whose statement — “that most of the parts of animals came to be by chance” — could be seen as the origin of biological evolutionism in the Western thought.

    Here are a few interesting excepts. Please note how Aristotle tied chance to moral action and deliberate conduct:

    “It is clear then that chance is an incidental cause in the sphere of those actions for the sake of something which involve purpose. Intelligent reflection, then, and chance are in the same sphere, for, purpose implies intelligent reflection. It is necessary, no doubt, that the causes of what comes to pass by, chance be indefinite; and that is why chance is supposed to belong, to the class of the indefinite and to be inscrutable to man, and why, it might be thought that, in a way, nothing occurs by chance. For, all these statements are correct, because they are well grounded. Things do, in a way, occur by chance, for they occur incidentally, and chance is an incidental cause. But strictly it is not the cause-without, qualification-of anything;…

    Thus to say that chance is a thing, contrary to rule is correct. For ‘rule’ applies to what is always, true or true for the most part, whereas chance belongs to a third, type of event. Hence, to conclude, since causes of this kind are indefinite, chance too is indefinite. …

    Chance and what results from chance are appropriate to agents that are capable of good fortune and of moral action generally. Therefore, necessarily chance is in the sphere of moral actions. This is indicated, by the fact that good fortune is thought to be the same, or nearly, the same, as happiness, and happiness to be a kind of moral action, since it is well-doing. Hence what is not capable of moral action, cannot do anything by chance. Thus an inanimate thing or a lower animal, or a child cannot do anything by chance, because it is incapable of deliberate intention; nor can ‘good fortune’ or ‘ill fortune’ be ascribed, to them, except metaphorically…

    The spontaneous on the other hand is found both in the lower animals, and in many inanimate objects. We say, for example, that the horse, came ‘spontaneously’, because, though his coming saved him, he did, not come for the sake of safety. Again, the tripod fell ‘of itself’, because, though when it fell it stood on its feet so as to serve for a seat, it did not fall for the sake of that.

    Hence it is clear that events which (1) belong to the general class, of things that may come to pass for the sake of something, (2) do, not come to pass for the sake of what actually results, and (3) have, an external cause, may be described by the phrase ‘from spontaneity’., These ‘spontaneous’ events are said to be ‘from chance’ if they have, the further characteristics of being the objects of deliberate intention, and due to agents capable of that mode of action. This is indicated, by the phrase ‘in vain’, which is used when A which is for the sake, of B, does not result in B. …”

  238. gpuccio, not that we shouldn’t investigate and argue the nature of morality, but you have nicely summarized @202 what our human attitude in this sphere ought to be — humility. If not any other reason, but for the sake of the complexity of all this.

    I would, however, add that something else is needed beyond our own inherent or God-given “inner power” to change positively, as you put it. Even this inner power or free will as some call it is often not enough, and that is what puzzles many who contemplate free will and moral change. That something extra is needed, some outside impetus, is obvious to any normal human being who is tempted by all sorts of irresistible things which one cannot resist despite his reason telling him otherwise, precisely as the Scriptures put it. This something extra is what theologians call “God’s grace,” and this topic and debate is almost a proof that such a thing must exist, or none of us would be able to change on our own.

  239. UB,

    AIGUY: “ID is offering an intelligent cause for first life (a “Designer”). ”
    UB: ID is offering the detection of design, not a designer.

    I think everybody agrees that we see designs (i.e. complex patterns, form and function) in biology. So we don’t need to “detect” that. Rather, we’d like to figure out where these designs came from. Stephen Meyer says that the best explanation for first life is a “conscious, rational, deliberative agent” – in other words, a “designer”.

    If you want to argue with the design hypothesis, (which you seem to most certainly want to do) then argue with the design hypothesis

    What I really argue with is not the hypothesis per se, but rather the claim that ID offers a cause known to our experience (which it doesn’t). Maybe some conscious agent created life, and maybe not. But we have no experience of conscious agents that are not themselves complex life forms, and we have no way to empirically ascertain if such a thing could exist, or existed in the past, or if it could actually create the biological systems we see.

    .Is design detecable? Is it not? What are the observable evidences that it has been detected?

    Again, I think we all agree that there are complex functional patterns (designs) in biological systems. Again, the question is not if designs exist, but rather what caused them to exist.

    What are the alternative explainations which can be offered to explain what is observed?

    I don’t think we have any good explanations at all. Obviously we could speculate that we are descendents of some other life forms – but that isn’t a very good hypothesis (it doesn’t explain first life, and we have no evidence of extra-terrestrial life forms). We could speculate that there are an infinite number (or an astronomical number) of different universes, so there will be at least some universes where vastly improbable events will happen. But that isn’t a good hypothesis either, because we have no way of telling if it is true or not. We could speculate that some unspecified, unknown type of conscious agent, or some unknown, unspecified type of unconscious process was responsible – but both of those ideas are pretty much without content and certainly untestable. There are other ideas we could come up with too, but they’re all just wild guesses… So there is really only one answer we’re left with: we do not know.

  240. AIG @ 226:

    ID is offering an intelligent cause for first life (a “Designer”). The only intelligent things we know from our experience are themselves complex living things, rich in CSI. The Designer is either this known type of thing (an intelligent life form), or it is something unknown to our experience (something that is not a complex physical life form but somehow possessed of the mental and physical abilities of human beings – and then some).

    UB correctly called you out on this insistently repeated caricature.

    In fact — and as has been pointed out umpteen times, with sources etc, and just as consistently ignored — what design theory offers is a methodology for design detection from its empirical traces and consistently observed patters of cause.

    Thus, what ID actually gives us is empirically anchored reason to infer design as a credible fact from its empirical traces.

    Designers do come with designs [as shoes normally come with soles], but that is again an observed fact. We do not observe designs without designers, and we do observe designers, noting that design is consistently connected ot inteligence. Where, we recognise intelligence from our own capacities that can be easily enough observed.

    So far, we have made no a priori metaphysical commitments, apart from that our minds — of whatever ultimate nature — function reasonably well and that the world is reasonably intelligible and not utterly chaoric.

    It is equally observed that it is our intelligence and knowledge base — not the specific facts of our embodiment — that explain our ability to create complex designs.

    Embodiment may be a good way to effect designs [it helps to have skilled hands], but embodiment as such is not the actual source of the design. Or, the ill-instructed would be leading software makers, and so would our friends the chimps. (Contrary to persistent rumour, trainloads of bananas are NOT a major raw material at a certain facility in Redmond!)

    Unless AIG can offer good reason to confine the nature of designers to embodiments similar to ours, he needs to accept that credible evidence pointing to design is an indicator that designers were equally credibly present at the origin of C-chemistry, cell based life that uses dFSCI in the nanomachines of life.

    At that juncture, we have no basis for inferring he nature of said designers, especially whether they are within or beyond the cosmos. As has been openly said by modern design thinkers ever since the very first such technical work, Thaxton et al in The Mystery of Life’s Origin.

    Going beyond origin of life, and on the fine-tuned nature of the observed cosmos that suits it for C-chemistry cell based life, we have good reason to infer to design of the cosmos that we live in. Such a contingent cosmos then points to a necessary being as its ultimate causal root [even through a multiverse, cf discussion here, section b].

    Moreover, such a necessary being will not be material once we allow thermodynamics to speak on the consequences of random molecular motion [the root of temperature] and the way that heat moves from higher to lower temperatures, and similar processes.

    Namely, proverbial heat death.

    The unity of the cosmos points to a unity as its source.

    Summing up, we are looking at an intelligent immaterial necessary being designer, who built a cosmos that is suited for C-chemistry, cell based life. Not very comfortable for materialism, but hat seems to be the best explanation for the evident design of the observed cosmos.

    [Onlookers, observe how consistently those who object to the inference to design of life avoid addressing the inferences from evident signs of design of the observed cosmos to its credible source.]

    But now, we can work back forwards on that. Once we see that it is a reasonable view to hold on evidence that the observed cosmos comes from such an extracosmic intelligence, then the worries over whether mind and matter can interact or whether immaterial reality is possible or causally efficacious shrink to due — vanishing — proportions.

    One has fairly serious grounds to infer to an immaterial cause of the material cosmos we inhabit, so mind as a prior and initiating cause for events in matter is plausible.

    But we do not need to have all of that in our background when we discuss the inference from signs such as dFSCI to the signified causal action of directed contingency.

    BTW, to design you had better be able to have alternatives and he ability to reasonably freely choose among them, so that the one most likely to work can be freely selected. Otherwise, design is no longer a rational enterprise but a hit or miss affair driven by chance accidents and blind mechanical necessity. Resemblance to a certain popular worldview is NOT coincidental. But we have no good reason to believe that such an approach would give rise to functioning complex designs, on the scope of our observed cosmos.

    Intelligence is the only directly observed, known effective source for complex designs.

    Even just posts on this thread.

    GEM of TKI

  241. PS: Let’s put the bottom-line:

    1 –> It is empirically reasonable to infer from reliable signs to the signified causal process of directed contingency.

    2 –> Since we exhibit dFSCI in our cells, we are derivative designers, as the cells on which our bodies are based are credibly the result of directed contingency.

    3 –> We also live in an observed cosmos that per fine tuning, is in turn credibly the result of directed contingency.

    4 –> Which in turn (per the strong empirical association between designs and designers) implicates that there were designers present to originate life and its complex body plans, including ours.

    4 –> Constraints on the ultimate designer of a cosmos like ours, point to a radically different architecture for the designer, which also opens up the possibilities for Mind — of whatever ultimate nature — to be prior to matter.

    5 –> So, we have no good reason to infer that we or creatures more or less like us, exhaust the possibilities for designers.

    6 –> Nor do we have good reason to infer that designers can operate without freedom to select among diverse contingencies towards their goals.

    7 –> That is the existence of design in the sense of directed contingency, is a strong empirically based pointer against the ideas that freedom to choose and to shape or organise is a delusion.

    8 –> If I were an a priori materialist [which BTW entails some species of determinism] or a fellow traveller, I would be worried.

  242. #236 Green

    Libertarians want free will to mean ‘the ability to do otherwise in an absolutely unconditional sense’

    I appreciate your point – but actually I don’t know what this phrase means – acting on whim? But that is a kind of desire.

  243. 243

    Green,

    Many determinists believe in free will – but free defined as ‘the ability to act upon ones own desires’ (my position).

    “Oh, tell me, who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble because, being enlightened and understanding his real advantage, he would see his own advantage in the good and nothing else, and we all know that not one man can, consciously, act against his own interests, consequently, so to say, through necessity, he would begin doing good? Oh, the babe! Oh, the pure, innocent child! Why, in the first place, when in all these thousands of years has there been a time when man has acted only from his own interest? What is to be done with the millions of facts that bear witness that men, CONSCIOUSLY, that is fully understanding their real interests, have left them in the background and have rushed headlong on another path, to meet peril and danger, compelled to this course by nobody and by nothing, but, as it were, simply disliking the beaten track, and have obstinately, wilfully, struck out another difficult, absurd way, seeking it almost in the darkness. So, I suppose, this obstinacy and perversity were pleasanter to them than any advantage….

    Advantage! What is advantage? And will you take it upon yourself to define with perfect accuracy in what the advantage of man consists? And what if it so happens that a man’s advantage, SOMETIMES, not only may, but even must, consist in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself and not advantageous. And if so, if there can be such a case, the whole principle falls into dust. What do you think — are there such cases? You laugh; laugh away, gentlemen, but only answer me: have man’s advantages been reckoned up with perfect certainty? Are there not some which not only have not been included but cannot possibly be included under any classification? You see, you gentlemen have, to the best of my knowledge, taken your whole register of human advantages from the averages of statistical figures and politico-economical formulas. Your advantages are prosperity, wealth, freedom, peace — and so on, and so on. So that the man who should, for instance, go openly and knowingly in opposition to all that list would to your thinking, and indeed mine, too, of course, be an obscurantist or an absolute madman: would not he? But, you know, this is what is surprising: why does it so happen that all these statisticians, sages and lovers of humanity, when they reckon up human advantages invariably leave out one? They don’t even take it into their reckoning in the form in which it should be taken, and the whole reckoning depends upon that. It would be no greater matter, they would simply have to take it, this advantage, and add it to the list. But the trouble is, that this strange advantage does not fall under any classification and is not in place in any list. I have a friend for instance … Ech! gentlemen, but of course he is your friend, too; and indeed there is no one, no one to whom he is not a friend! When he prepares for any undertaking this gentleman immediately explains to you, elegantly and clearly, exactly how he must act in accordance with the laws of reason and truth. What is more, he will talk to you with excitement and passion of the true normal interests of man; with irony he will upbraid the short-sighted fools who do not understand their own interests, nor the true significance of virtue; and, within a quarter of an hour, without any sudden outside provocation, but simply through something inside him which is stronger than all his interests, he will go off on quite a different tack — that is, act in direct opposition to what he has just been saying about himself, in opposition to the laws of reason, in opposition to his own advantage, in fact in opposition to everything … I warn you that my friend is a compound personality and therefore it is difficult to blame him as an individual. The fact is, gentlemen, it seems there must really exist something that is dearer to almost every man than his greatest advantages, or (not to be illogical) there is a most advantageous advantage (the very one omitted of which we spoke just now) which is more important and more advantageous than all other advantages, for the sake of which a man if necessary is ready to act in opposition to all laws; that is, in opposition to reason, honour, peace, prosperity — in fact, in opposition to all those excellent and useful things if only he can attain that fundamental, most advantageous advantage which is dearer to him than all. “Yes, but it’s advantage all the same,” you will retort. But excuse me, I’ll make the point clear, and it is not a case of playing upon words. What matters is, that this advantage is remarkable from the very fact that it breaks down all our classifications, and continually shatters every system constructed by lovers of mankind for the benefit of mankind. In fact, it upsets everything. But before I mention this advantage to you, I want to compromise myself personally, and therefore I boldly declare that all these fine systems, all these theories for explaining to mankind their real normal interests, in order that inevitably striving to pursue these interests they may at once become good and noble–are, in my opinion, so far, mere logical exercises! Yes, logical exercises. Why, to maintain this theory of the regeneration of mankind by means of the pursuit of his own advantage is to my mind almost the same thing … as to affirm, for instance, following Buckle, that through civilisation mankind becomes softer, and consequently less bloodthirsty and less fitted for warfare. Logically it does seem to follow from his arguments. But man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic. I take this example because it is the most glaring instance of it. Only look about you: blood is being spilt in streams, and in the merriest way, as though it were champagne. Take the whole of the nineteenth century in which Buckle lived. Take Napoleon–the Great and also the present one. Take North America–the eternal union. Take the farce of Schleswig-Holstein…. And what is it that civilisation softens in us? The only gain of civilisation for mankind is the greater capacity for variety of sensations–and absolutely nothing more. And through the development of this many-sidedness man may come to finding enjoyment in bloodshed. In fact, this has already happened to him. Have you noticed that it is the most civilised gentlemen who have been the subtlest slaughterers, to whom the Attilas and Stenka Razins could not hold a candle, and if they are not so conspicuous as the Attilas and Stenka Razins it is simply because they are so often met with, are so ordinary and have become so familiar to us. In any case civilisation has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty. In old days he saw justice in bloodshed and with his conscience at peace exterminated those he thought proper. Now we do think bloodshed abominable and yet we engage in this abomination, and with more energy than ever. Which is worse? Decide that for yourselves. They say that Cleopatra (excuse an instance from Roman history) was fond of sticking gold pins into her slave-girls’ breasts and derived gratification from their screams and writhings. You will say that that was in the comparatively barbarous times; that these are barbarous times too, because also, comparatively speaking, pins are stuck in even now; that though man has now learned to see more clearly than in barbarous ages, he is still far from having learnt to act as reason and science would dictate. But yet you are fully convinced that he will be sure to learn when he gets rid of certain old bad habits, and when common sense and science have completely re-educated human nature and turned it in a normal direction. You are confident that then man will cease from INTENTIONAL error and will, so to say, be compelled not to want to set his will against his normal interests. That is not all; then, you say, science itself will teach man (though to my mind it’s a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, and that he himself is something of the nature of a piano-key or the stop of an organ, and that there are, besides, things called the laws of nature; so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature. Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world.

    Then — this is all what you say — new economic relations will be established, all ready-made and worked out with mathematical exactitude, so that every possible question will vanish in the twinkling of an eye, simply because every possible answer to it will be provided. Then the “Palace of Crystal” will be built. Then … In fact, those will be halcyon days. Of course there is no guaranteeing (this is my comment) that it will not be, for instance, frightfully dull then (for what will one have to do when everything will be calculated and tabulated), but on the other hand everything will be extraordinarily rational. Of course boredom may lead you to anything. It is boredom sets one sticking golden pins into people, but all that would not matter. What is bad (this is my comment again) is that I dare say people will be thankful for the gold pins then. Man is stupid, you know, phenomenally stupid; or rather he is not at all stupid, but he is so ungrateful that you could not find another like him in all creation. I, for instance, would not be in the least surprised if all of a sudden, A PROPOS of nothing, in the midst of general prosperity a gentleman with an ignoble, or rather with a reactionary and ironical, countenance were to arise and, putting his arms akimbo, say to us all: “I say, gentleman, hadn’t we better kick over the whole show and scatter rationalism to the winds, simply to send these logarithms to the devil, and to enable us to live once more at our own sweet foolish will!” That again would not matter, but what is annoying is that he would be sure to find followers — such is the nature of man. And all that for the most foolish reason, which, one would think, was hardly worth mentioning: that is, that man everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated. And one may choose what is contrary to one’s own interests, and sometimes one POSITIVELY OUGHT (that is my idea). One’s own free unfettered choice, one’s own caprice, however wild it may be, one’s own fancy worked up at times to frenzy — is that very “most advantageous advantage” which we have overlooked, which comes under no classification and against which all systems and theories are continually being shattered to atoms. And how do these wiseacres know that man wants a normal, a virtuous choice? What has made them conceive that man must want a rationally advantageous choice? What man wants is simply INDEPENDENT choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice.”

    Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground.

    http://afterall.net/papers/491347

  244. AIG:

    I think everybody agrees that we see designs (i.e. complex patterns, form and function) in biology. So we don’t need to “detect” that. Rather, we’d like to figure out where these designs came from.

    Here you are redefining the term design from what it means in the context of our discussion.

    We already have a cluster of terms that describe and specify what we see in biology and int eh technological and literary worlds for that matter: digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information and related organisation.

    Design — directed contingency — is the routinely and reliably observed causal explanation of dFSCI.

    So, the design inference is that dFSCI [among other empirical indicia] is a reliable sign of design in the sense as just described.

    On the strength of that, we infer from dFSCI in the cell to directed contingency as its causal explanation, in inference to best empirically anchored explanation.

    So, please do not try to slip in a quesiton-begging redefinition of “design” on us; just like we request that the NCSE and NAS, NSTA etc kindly refrain from slipping in a question-begging redefinion of science per a priori materialism.

    Rhetorical slip-ups (or, where calculated, sleight of hand) does not decide matters of fact and reasonable inference on evidence.

    GEM of TKI

  245. —Green: “I think this is why Clive initially objected to determinism earlier. But why does determisnism imply that all thought be “controlled by non rational forces”? I thought I’d made this clear way further up in this conversation. Determinists have full access to all the rational forces that exist: reasons, logic, consciousness, understanding, beliefs, and so on. Where are the non-rational forces here?”

    According to your philosophy, irrational elements of nature cause the mental states, which in turn, cause the behavior. That means that irrational elements are calling the shots, which means that thoughts cannot have a rational basis.

    Also, you have not yet addressed the fact that you claim to believe in Scripture, which acknowledged free will, and compatibilitistic determinism, which does not. Do you have an answer for that?

  246. StephenB:

    According to your philosophy, irrational elements of nature cause the mental states, which in turn, cause the behavior. That means that irrational elements are calling the shots, which means that thoughts cannot have a rational basis.

    As I said to Upright BiPed previously, I do not think that “irrational elements” are calling all the shots. Causation runs in all these directions:

    1) Mental to mental
    2) Mental to physical
    3) Physical to mental
    4) Physical to physical

    Only (3) and (4) of these involve irrational entities “calling the shots”. (1) and (2) are cases of rational entities calling the shots.

    You might respond: well, your mental faculties themselves arose from physical entities, and therefore they are ultimately irrational. Firstly, I don’t think this follows. Secondly, even it did follow, I am a substance dualist of the opinion (at the moment) that this rational substance was imparted to me by God. Thus whilst I am not 100% decided yet, I would currently say that I don’t think that my mind is simply an emergent property of the brain.

  247. markf (#235):

    Hi Mark. I think we can agree that the free will of compatibilists is a completely different concept form the free will of “libertarians” like myself. As I think we could also agre that historically the traditional conception of free will is the “libertarian”, we are somehow justified in owning the name (OK, may be we don’t have exactly a legal copyright, but…)

    Even Green, who seems to be on your side, suggests that you call yourself “determinista”.

  248. markf (#235):

    Hi Mark. I think we can agree that the free will of compatibilists is a completely different concept form the free will of “libertarians” like myself. As I think we could also agre that historically the traditional conception of free will is the “libertarian”, we are somehow justified in owning the name (OK, may be we don’t have exactly a legal copyright, but…)

    Even Green, who seems to be on your side, suggests that you call yourselves “determinists”.

  249. With regards to this:

    Also, you have not yet addressed the fact that you claim to believe in Scripture, which acknowledged free will, and compatibilitistic determinism, which does not. Do you have an answer for that?

    Are saying that scripture affirms the existence of libertarian free will, and thus asking why I don’t believe in it?

  250. molch (#230):

    I think we understand each other’s position, and that’s fine. But why do you call mine “religious” and yours “philosophical”? My position does not depend on any specific religious revelation, it’s my philosophical position just as yours is yours. My phylosophy is religious, like many other philosophies. Maybe yours is not.

    Why do you assume that a philosophical position should be based only on logics? Philosophy tries to understand reality, and can use any kind of cognitive instrument and of experience. Logics is only part of our cognitive approach.

  251. aiguy (#225):

    You speak of “representations”; I trust you are aware that this is a point of great contention within philosophy of mind. Do mental representations exist? If so, what are they? How do they come to refer to other things (this is the problem of intentionality).

    If philosophy of mind doubts that mental representations exist, then ot’s not for me. They do exist. What they are, and how they refer to other things is all another problem.

    The existence of mental representations is a fact, directly percieved by anyone of us. What they are and how they refer to other things are philosophical and scientific problems, and it’s perfectly legitimate that different theories exist about those problems.

    But my definitions are based on the existence of those representations, and not on tyheories about them: therefore, my definitions are completely empirical.

  252. aiguy (#225):

    Anyway, I still don’t see how we can agree that mental states can never been unconscious; it seems to me that since a great deal of mental functioning proceeds unconsciously, if mental functions involve states and representations, then these would be unconscious too.

    Perhaps I don’t understand what meaning you give to the word “mental”. Please, specify, and maybe I can agree with you, according to your definitions.

    According to my definitions, “representations” refers to conscious experiences, and to nothing else. To be clear, a picture has a form which may correspond to some other external reality, but I will not say that it is “representing” it. A conscious mind which perceives a picture is representing that form in its consciousness (that form is in that moment the object of perception of that consciousness). That’s the sense in which I have used the word in my definitions. Again, the important thing is to clarify.

  253. aiguy (#225):

    Again we’ll need a word to capture what a computer is doing when it performs tasks that we would call “thinking” if a human being did it. (At this point I will cite a quip by my friend Drew McDermott, talking about the IBM chess-playing computer: Saying Deep Blue doesn’t think about chess is like saying airplanes don’t fly because they don’t flap their wings!).

    You can choose the word you like. I will reserve “think” and “thought” for cosncious processes. I think I am in good accord with the usual meaning of those words.

    Of a computer, I would just say that it is performing automatic computations. That’s what it is doing, nothing else.

    I respectfully disagree with Drew McDermott. Deep Blue does not think. A child who computes 2+2 is thinking, because he is doing that task via conscious representations. I believe that the difference should be rather self-evident.

  254. —aiguy: “If this were true, then I believe you could have actually answered my specific questions. But you didn’t, so I’ll ask again: In ID’s view, what is it that directs “directed contingency”? What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they arenot “blind.”processes”?”

    What do you mean, “if it is true.” ID doesn’t depend on dualism, period. There is no “if” to it.

    Methods are methods, and the ID method does not base its methods on dualistic metaphysics. It bases its methods on obervations of facts in evidence.

    Concerning the follow up questions, I gather that many ID theorists would say that a designed program directs the kind of directed contingency that you seem to be

  255. alluding to.

  256. —Green: “You might respond: well, your mental faculties themselves arose from physical entities, and therefore they are ultimately irrational. Firstly, I don’t think this follows.”

    Oh, but it does follow. That is precisely what all the fuss is about, and why I zeroed in on the point.

  257. aiguy (#225):

    I agree we have no reason to think computers are conscious. But they do invent novel designs, generate plans, solve problems, perform inferences, answer questions, and so on, and we call it “thinking” when humans do this. You even call it “thinking” if the human is not conscious of it! So I don’t think you’re very far toward sorting out the differences here.

    Let’s try to understand each other. Computers compute. They don’t “invent novel designs”: they compute what conscious beings have programmed. If that programming can generate what will be then considered by humans a “novel design”, well, that’s fine. But computers don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the meaning of words. They don’t design, because they have no idea of what design means. Computers preforms calculations.

    If you are familiar with AI theory (and I believe you are), you know that the computation in itself is independent form the machine which performs it. From all points of view, computers are not different from powerful abacuses. From all points of view, computing 2+2 is not different form performing a complex software. Indeed, for a computer a complex software is nothing more than a long string of 2+2, or of similar tasks.

    The only thing resembling thought in what a computer does is the higher level organization of those simple computations. That’s because that higher level organization is the product of conscious thoughts, and bears that mark.

    And of course, when we think we too perform computations. I absolutely believe, like Penrose, that human cognitions are not purely algorithmic, but some parts of the process are certainly algorithmic. I have never denied that point. So, the algorithmic parts of a thought process can well be “written” in computing machines, but not the rest.

  258. —Green: “Are saying that scripture affirms the existence of libertarian free will, and thus asking why I don’t believe in it?”

    I am saying that Scripture affirms the existence of self-determined free will, which I defined earlier, and yes, I am asking why, as a self-proclaimed Christian, you don’t believe it.

  259. StephenB:

    —Green: “You might respond: well, your mental faculties themselves arose from physical entities, and therefore they are ultimately irrational. Firstly, I don’t think this follows.”

    SB: Oh, but it does follow. That is precisely what all the fuss is about, and why I zeroed in on the point.

    (a) Firstly: you have ignored the fact that this does not apply to me, thereby conveniently overlooking the fact that a determinist can be rational even if this premise is granted.

    (b) Secondly: there is no reason to think this premise axiomatic anyway. Why could God have not created matter such that given a certain complexity and a certain configuration of neurons, irreducible mental (read: rational) properties emerge. There is nothing illogical about this idea. I think it’s an empirical matter whether or not it is the case. In fact, Timothy O’Connor – the agent-causal libertarian that I have been referencing the whole way hrough this talk – holds exactly this view. As do other libertarians such as William Hasker.

  260. aiguy (#225):

    I don’t think that equating intelligence with representations is a good definition.

    It’s a good definition of intelligent representations: representations with a cognitive content. I am not giving a theory of how intelligence works, I am just saying that intelligent processes are connected to conscious cognitive representations, and I call them intelligent representations. If you prefer, I will avoid to use the word “intelligence”, and stick simply to “intelligent representations”. to make explicit that I am not giving a definition of how intelligence works.

    Representations don’t do anything; they are used by reasoning processes in order to reason about the word (whatever part of the world is being represented).

    Again, I have not argued about what they do. You have. I will abstain form that, for the moment. I absolutely agree that “they are used by reasoning processes in order to reason about the world”. That’s my idea too. But I definitely will add: “by conscious reasoning processes”. Are you OK with that?

    I don’t think representations can be conscious, either; rather it is the conscious mind that employs representations to think about the world.

    What’s the different? When I say that a content is conscious, I mean obviously that it is a content of the conscious mind. It’s not the same meaning as when we say that an entity (like a person) is conscious. In that case, we mean that the entity has a conscious mind. Those are two different uses of the word “conscious”, but you know, human language is context dependent.

  261. StephenB:

    —Green: “Are saying that scripture affirms the existence of libertarian free will, and thus asking why I don’t believe in it?”

    I am saying that Scripture affirms the existence of self-determined free will, which I defined earlier, and yes, I am asking why, as a self-proclaimed Christian, you don’t believe it.

    “Self-determined free will” – well I’m not sure how you defined that earlier, but if you mean libertarian free will (i.e. the ability to choose otherwise in an unconditional sense), then I have no obligation to believe it because I don’t think Scripture affirms it.

  262. aiguy:

    I don’t agree that representations are empirical. What is empirical is our behavior – the observable abilities we have to plan, design, solve problems, build things, etc. Other empirical data we have is what we observe in the brain – neural activity, brain waves, and so on. Finally, we have empirical data on conscious experience, because we can “inter-subjectively” confirm we all have conscious experiences.

    ??? What do you mean? That you don’t perceive your conscious representations?

    Let me see:

    “What is empirical is our behavior – the observable abilities we have to plan, design, solve problems, build things, etc.”

    You observe behaviours through sensations. Sensations are conscious representations. If sensations are not empirical, then the observation of behaviours is nor empirical.

    “Other empirical data we have is what we observe in the brain – neural activity, brain waves, and so on.”

    We observe brain waves through instruments which give us sensations. Same as above.

    All we know about outer reality comes through sensations. Sensations are conscious representations. But they are not the only one. Mental states are cosncious representations. Pain is a cosncious representation. Dreams are (sub)conscious representations. And so on.

    What do you mean when you say that “I don’t agree that representations are empirical”? That they don’t exist? That they are not facts? And what is a fact, then?

  263. gpuccio @ 250:

    Sorry if I did not define clear enough what I was aiming at with the distinction between religion and philosophy. I was using philosophy in the sense of it as a science, were debates between different philosophical positions are carried out on the basis of the logical coherence and deductability of arguments and positions.

    I do agree that your religious position is just as much a philosophical position as mine. However, your position was not arrived at by “critical, generally systematic approach and reliance on rational argument” (as is the definitional case in the science of philosophy), but by religious assumptions. Which I completely respect. I work with a certain set of metaphysical assumptions myself (that is changing when it is informed by new evidence), and although I try to arrive at those assumptions mostly by “critical, generally systematic approach and reliance on rational, logical argument”, I realize that there are alsways some assumptions in the mix that have more to do with my desires than with rationality and logic. I merely wanted to point out the difference. No offense intended.

  264. #248 Gpuccio

    Hi Mark. I think we can agree that the free will of compatibilists is a completely different concept form the free will of “libertarians” like myself.

    No I am afraid we cannot agree that. As far I can see the only difference between your concept of free will and mine is that you assert it is different – but without saying how. There is no definable difference in the behaviour resulting from your free will than from mine.

  265. aiguy (#225):

    However, we have no empirical data about mental representations. This is what I mean when I say we have no theory of intelligence. We cannot observe, nor figure out, how we think. Some people believe we should understand thought in terms of representations, others disagree.

    We have the representations themselves. They are empirical data.

    Indeed we have many different theories of intelligence, but I can agree with you that none is satisfying. That’s why I have not given a theory of intelligence, but only empirical definitions based on observables.

    We can observe our thoughts. I am not trying to figure out how we think. And I am not saying how we could understand thought. I am not trying to understand it at all.

  266. aiguy:

    Certainly inferences are performed algorithmically, including inductions and even abductions.

    You say it, and it’s fine for me. I just said “I am not sure” for inferences, while I am sure for deductions. That is still my position, but if you know that it is possible to preform inferences algorithmically, I have no problem with that.

    What about understanding meanings?

  267. GP said: Hi Mark. I think we can agree that the free will of compatibilists is a completely different concept form the free will of “libertarians” like myself.

    MF said: No I am afraid we cannot agree that. As far I can see the only difference between your concept of free will and mine is that you assert it is different – but without saying how. There is no definable difference in the behaviour resulting from your free will than from mine.

    MF, I’m not sure how you’re defining ‘free will’ – but my determinist definition (the ability to act on my desires) is certainly different from the libertarian definition. I’m just throwing that out there because I don’t want to cause confusion over anything I’ve said. :)

  268. aiguy (#225):

    On one hand I agree with you that consciousness needs to be considered; eliminative reductionism is hopelessly blind to our experience and so that won’t do at all. On the other hand, I think your view about the connection between consciousness and mental abilities. There are only some things that Penrose, for example, believes cannot accomplished algorithmically (his tiling examples, or certain Godelian problems) and without conscious thought

    The part you agree with is enough for my discussions on ID. I did not expect you would agree on the rest. And I agree with Penrose that only some things cannot be made algorithmically. It remains to see how many. Please remember that Penrose’s argument is about mathemathics, indeed about arithmetichs, which is supposed to be the temple of algorithmic processes.

  269. aiguy (#225):

    “Dualism” here refers to mind/body dualism; Our scientific ontology is in fact more diverse than that, as we have four fundamental forces plus matter/energy, and now perhaps dark matter/energy too! I’m not unsympathetic to mind/body dualism, and I think it really is the only way ID makes sense. I think we have no way (yet) to empirically resolve the issue, however, so this means ID remains predicated on untestable claims regarding the nature of mind.

    There is some confusion here. I agree that we have no final solution about mind body dualism. That does not mean that we don’t observe mind and body as two different contexts. That’s enough for me.

    If any theory of mind and consiousness is unsatisfying (which would include strong AI and materialism, together with dualism), we can just the same describe what we observe and make inferences about what we observe. That’s all ID needs.

    Conscious representations are observed subjectively. Outer events are onserve objectively, but through the senses, which are subjective representations. That is some dualism, and it requires no further phylosophy to be obviously true.

    These are facts. These are the basis for the ID inference.

    ID needs no “untestable claims regarding the nature of mind”. It just needs a simple and appropriate description of what we observe in the mind.

  270. Mark:

    No I am afraid we cannot agree that. As far I can see the only difference between your concept of free will and mine is that you assert it is different – but without saying how. There is no definable difference in the behaviour resulting from your free will than from mine.

    I don’t want to fight with you about that. But I never said that there were definable differences in the behaviour. I said:

    “I think we can agree that the free will of compatibilists is a completely different concept form the free will of “libertarians” like myself.” (emphasis added)

    Since when is a difference in concepts a difference in observable behaviour?

    For instance, just using Green’s terminology, we libertarian believe in PAP and incorporate PAP in our concept of free will, while you compatibilists don’t.

    That’s a difference, IMO. Or do you believe in PAP?

  271. Green (#267):

    Thank you for the precisation. I appreciate it.

  272. gpuccio,
    Thank you for your comments. I think we’ve clarified our differences.

  273. molch (263):

    And no offence taken at all! I am fine with your concepts in 263 (I would state some things a little bit differently, but surely it’s not worthwhile to deal with minor points here).

  274. KF,

    I think everybody agrees that we see designs (i.e. complex patterns, form and function) in biology. So we don’t need to “detect” that. Rather, we’d like to figure out where these designs came from.

    Here you are redefining the term design from what it means in the context of our discussion.

    We already have a cluster of terms that describe and specify what we see in biology and int eh technological and literary worlds for that matter: digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information and related organisation.

    Design — directed contingency — is the routinely and reliably observed causal explanation of dFSCI.

    If you would like to refer to what we see in biological systems as FSCI instead of “designs”, that’s fine. I don’t care what words we use as long as we agree on definitions.

    If you would like to refer the cause you propose for FSCI as “directed contingency”, that’s OK, but I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you mean, as Stephen Meyer does, a conscious entity? If so, then we disagree about the warrant for that conclusion. If that is not what you mean, then the term doesn’t mean anything at all to me, but I’m not interested in pursuing it.

  275. aiguy:

    Me too. Thank you.

  276. StephenB,

    AIGUY: If this were true, then I believe you could have actually answered my specific questions. But you didn’t, so I’ll ask again: In ID’s view, what is it that directs “directed contingency”? What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they arenot “blind.”processes”?
    STEPHENB: What do you mean, “if it is true.” ID doesn’t depend on dualism, period. There is no “if” to it. Methods are methods, and the ID method does not base its methods on dualistic metaphysics. It bases its methods on obervations of facts in evidence.

    Concerning the follow up questions, I gather that many ID theorists would say that a designed program directs the kind of directed contingency that you seem to be alluding to

    First of all, I am not the one alluding to this mysterious something that guides nature, directs contingencies, and enables processes to “see”. These are the words used with great frequency by ID advocates themselves. It is quite right for me to ask what it is ID is proposing as the explanation of complex form and function. Saying that “blind processes” and “unguided nature” can’t produce FSCI is one thing; saying what sort of process is not “blind”, and saying what sort of nature is “guided”, is quite another.

    So you finally provide an answer, which is “designed program”. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean! ID proposes that FSCI in biology is the result of “directed contingency”, and when I ask what is supposed to be directing these contingencies the answer is a “designed program”. What does the “designed program” mean here? Does it have anything to do with conscious thought or not?

  277. aiguy:

    Just to be clear: for ID, the origin of biological information (and of any kind of CSI) is a conscious intelligent agent.

  278. gpuccio,

    Just to be clear: for ID, the origin of biological information (and of any kind of CSI) is a conscious intelligent agent

    Thank you very much! I do appreciate your clarity.

    ID advocates seem to equivocate on this point (UB, GF, StephenB, etc) but I don’t see any other way to make of sense of ID’s claims aside from assuming that ID is proposing:

    1) The cause of FSCI in the first organisms was a conscious entity
    2) This entity was not itself an FSCI-rich organism
    3) Consciousness is a causal factor in the universe and exists independently of living bodies

    Do you agree that ID entails these things?

  279. 279

    AIG, #239

    I think everybody agrees that we see designs (i.e. complex patterns, form and function) in biology. So we don’t need to “detect” that.

    I’m not certain what planet you are living on, but on this planet the observed “complex patterns, form, and function” are only allowed to be labeled as “apparent design” by the tribal power of an academic edict. These patterns cannot under ANY circumstances be the result of an actual design. Indeed, if you utter such heretical ideas, your university will erect a splash page in front of your department’s website so that they may (at the very least) malign you (if that is, they have been unfortunate as to not be able to run you off). The others are simply maligned and run off. Of course, the net effect is to keep your mouth shut within the high walls of academic freedom.

    So for you to say with such ease “Ah Design, of course Design…” is divorced from reality. Not only that, it is a careless insult to those who have put their reputations and livelihood on the line in order to voice an educated opinion about their own professional disciplines. So now that we are clear as to which sides we are arguing from, let’s back up and put into play the reality of the situation:

    I think everybody agrees that we see [apparent] designs (i.e. complex patterns, form and function) in biology. So we don’t need to “detect” that.

    Now I can answer you. My response is that you are completely correct, insofar as we don’t need to detect complex patterns, form, and function. What we need are explanations that are actually suited to explain the patterns we see driving biology. SOME of these patterns have a singular entry into our knowledge of causes. We don’t find, and have not found, multiple reasons for SOME patterns to exist. When we see them, they ALWAYS come from a singular source. Moreover, we have studied them relentlessly from a variety of disciplines, and we understand the characteristics surrounding them, and we understand why they come from a singular source.

    Therefore, ID has a very narrow thesis which is causally adequate to the observable evidence. Our opponents on the other hand, arguing that design is only apparent design, have an explanation that is not casually adequate by any stretch of the imagination, or should I say, is only adequate by nothing more than a stretch of the imagination. Knowing this very well, your response so far is to not argue against the actual merits of ID, but to instead tie some garnish to it, so that you may argue against that instead. My job is to point this out each and every time you do it.

    What I really argue with is not the hypothesis per se, but rather the claim that ID offers a cause known to our experience (which it doesn’t). Maybe some conscious agent created life, and maybe not. But we have no experience of conscious agents that are not themselves complex life forms…

    Full stop. In its primary formulation, ID does not posit any attribute to the designer other than the ability to create the patterns we observe. The reasons for this are appropriate to the evidence – because the patterns are all that is accessible to us. Anything beyond that may be interesting, but it does nothing to change the fact that the patterns exhibit the signature of purposeful design (the central ID thesis).

    Since you are obviously not suggesting we have no experience with conscious agents, you are left to repeatedly insist that that we have no experience with conscious agents who also happen to create life on planets like earth? For you, this means that we have no reason to suggest we have any experience with what causes the patterns we observe in biology BECAUSE we observe them in biology.

    The fact that we find these patterns in biology has no bearing on the validity of our observations. We know the source of these patterns in each and every other domain in which they have been discovered. Our inference is as valid as it could possibly be.

    Honestly Aiguy, it’s hard to imagine such an illogical position being taken by what is an otherwise intelligent person. Where else does such an assessment come into play? Thank goodness you are not a fire investigator or in another such discipline. Defense attorneys would love you. To hell with the evidence, you want the prosecution to request that the Judge recant himself on the basis he didn’t personally witness the crime.

    If we follow your rationale to it ultimate end, we can only offer an opinion about the origin of life on this planet if we first A) observe an agent starting life on other such planets, or B) witness life starting on its own accord. Your desperate need to criticize ID extracts a heavy toll my friend. When you say ID is wrong, you are also saying that Darwin was wrong, Sagan was wrong, Monod was wrong, Dawkins is wrong, Mayer is wrong, the NCSE is wrong, all materialists are wrong along with every biology department with standard issue textbooks throughout the world.

    Is that your position? If it is – and it must be for the reasons you’ve argued here – then please tell me one thing. Make a case why anyone interested in origins should care to follow your ideas. They end before they begin.

  280. aiguy:

    Well, personally I would entail those things. but from a stocy ID point of view, I would say:

    1) is true, but incomplete: the cause of new FSCI in all organisms is one (or more) conscious entity. ID is not only about OOL, but also about evolution of life.

    2) is true only if the designer is (directly) a spiritual god. That is really not the only possibility, although it is certainly the simplest one.

    3) is certainly true for the first part. The second part depends: it is true for a spiritual god, not necessarily for any other agent.

    For instance, there could be in reality agents who have bodies which don’t correspond to our concept of physical body. I am not sponsoring the idea, just saying that we must really be open to all possibilities. From a philosophical point of view, I would say that only God exists independently of a living body.

    But my personal opinion is that we must stick to the scientific method:

    1)first detect the formal characteristics that allow to infer design (CSI);

    2) then verify the presence of CSI in biological information, and falsify all present alternative theories about a non conscious origin of that biological information;

    3)then infer a designer as the origin of biological information and build a design theory for that;

    4) finally, try to build theories about the other important aspects: the nature of the designer, the modalities of implementation of the design, the characteristic of the design,and so on. But all these things must be done in a strictly empirical way, starting from facts and good reasoning, and without any ideological prejudice.

  281. —aiguy: “First of all, I am not the one alluding to this mysterious something that guides nature, directs contingencies, and enables processes to “see”.”

    First things first. You began this discussion by making a claim that was, in fact, wrong. ID science does not depend on dualistic metaphysics in any way. There is no way to extract metaphysical speculations from “specified complexity” or “irreducible complexity.” Do you, or do you not, acknowledge your error. Once that point is settled, we can move forward. If not, then I need to spend more time on the point until you get it.

  282. UB,

    I’m not certain what planet you are living on, but on this planet the observed “complex patterns, form, and function” are only allowed to be labeled as “apparent design” by the tribal power of an academic edict. These patterns cannot under ANY circumstances be the result of an actual design.

    The issue I’m concerned with here is what distinguishes “actual design” from “apparent design”. Gpuccio was forthcoming enough to state outright that ID proposes a “conscious entity” as the cause of biological systems. This is also the position of Stephen Meyer. Is this your position as well?

    Now I can answer you. My response is that you are completely correct, insofar as we don’t need to detect complex patterns, form, and function. What we need are explanations that are actually suited to explain the patterns we see driving biology. SOME of these patterns have a singular entry into our knowledge of causes. We don’t find, and have not found, multiple reasons for SOME patterns to exist. When we see them, they ALWAYS come from a singular source. Moreover, we have studied them relentlessly from a variety of disciplines, and we understand the characteristics surrounding them, and we understand why they come from a singular source.

    You are being very coy about this “singular source”, but I’ll hazard a guess at this point… you are talking about human beings. Is that right?

    Now, you can generalize your findings and say this “single source” is “living things” or that it is “complex organisms” or that it is “intelligent agency” or that it is “things with brains” and so on… but in terms of our actual observations, this “source” is human beings. Whatever else is true of human beings, it is human beings that you are talking about, and nothing else.

    AIGUY: What I really argue with is not the hypothesis per se, but rather the claim that ID offers a cause known to our experience (which it doesn’t). Maybe some conscious agent created life, and maybe not. But we have no experience of conscious agents that are not themselves complex life forms…
    UB: Full stop. In its primary formulation, ID does not posit any attribute to the designer other than the ability to create the patterns we observe.

    I will repeat what you just said: In its primary formulation, ID does not posit any attribute to the designer other than the ability to create the patterns we observe.

    In that case, ID is saying the following: The patterns we observe were caused to exist by the ability to create the patterns we observe.

    Read that again, UB. According to your definition, the theory of Intelligent Design says absolutely nothing! It is like saying you have a theory that explains sunspots: Sunspots are caused by that which creates sunspots. Or a theory that explains protein folding: Protein folding is caused by that which can fold proteins.

    Hopefully you will join the rest of us in agreeing that these sorts of theories are no more than tautologies, and do not actually say anything that adds to our understanding of anything. In order for ID to have any content at all, it actually must say something about the cause of these patterns besides that it is able to cause these patterns.

    The reasons for this are appropriate to the evidence – because the patterns are all that is accessible to us. Anything beyond that may be interesting, but it does nothing to change the fact that the patterns exhibit the signature of purposeful design (the central ID thesis).

    What???? You just got through saying that ID does not posit any attribute to the designer other than the ability to create the patterns we observe. But now, all of a sudden, you are making a completely different claim!!! Now you are saying that the cause of these patterns is purposeful!

    That’s just fine, of course – you can make any claim you’d like to make. But if you keep changing your mind our debates will simply go around in circles. So now your statement should read as follows:

    The patterns we observe were caused to exist by the ability to create the patterns we observe, and that the patterns were created purposefully.

    Ok, now we can talk about what you mean by “purposefully”. Do you think that something can be purposeful without being consciously aware of it? If so, then I’m not sure what you mean by “purposeful”. If not, then wouldn’t you say you are also claiming that the cause of these observed patterns was also conscious?

    Since you are obviously not suggesting we have no experience with conscious agents, you are left to repeatedly insist that that we have no experience with conscious agents who also happen to create life on planets like earth?

    The only things we have experience of to which we attribute consciousness are complex, FSCI-rich life forms (viz. human beings and perhaps some other animals). Do you claim we have experience of any other sort of conscious agent?

    For you, this means that we have no reason to suggest we have any experience with what causes the patterns we observe in biology BECAUSE we observe them in biology.

    For me, this means that if ID posits a known type of cause for the patterns we observe in biology, and it also posits something conscious, then it must be talking about the only known type of cause that is conscious and can create similar patterns, which would be human beings. Since it makes no sense to say human beings caused the first life, then ID must not actually be offering a known cause at all. Instead, ID is speculating that there is a very different sort of entity that exists – one which is not itself a complex life form but still somehow has the mental and physical abilities that life forms have.

    This is very far outside of our experience. In my experience everything that I think is conscious (or intelligent) is a complex living thing. Have you ever seen anything which you think is intelligent or conscious that wasn’t a complex living thing?

    Honestly Aiguy, it’s hard to imagine such an illogical position being taken by what is an otherwise intelligent person. Where else does such an assessment come into play? Thank goodness you are not a fire investigator or in another such discipline. Defense attorneys would love you. To hell with the evidence, you want the prosecution to request that the Judge recant himself on the basis he didn’t personally witness the crime.

    This is funny. Imagine I was a fire investigator and I reported that I had figured out what was responsible for a fire:

    AIGUY: I have decided that this fire was set by something that was intelligent, but it wasn’t a living thing.
    CHIEF: WHAT? Have you lost your mind? Are you talking about a ghost? A spirit? A poltergeist? A demon? A god?
    AIGUY: I won’t say. I know it wasn’t human, but I know it was conscious!
    CHIEF: Fires are set by human beings, AIGUY – not by disembodied consciousness.
    AIGUY: What? You closed-minded ideologue! What about my academic freedom as a fire investigator!
    CHIEF: You’re fired.

    See? Nobody ever infers “intelligent agency” as the cause of anything, UB. Never. We infer specific sorts of living things. The watch was built by a human being. The hive was built by bees. The dam was built by beavers. The mound was built by termites. The nest was built by a bird. The web was built by a spider.

    We have no experience with anything that isn’t a living thing that still builds these sorts of things. If you would like to imagine some other type of thing that could have caused first life, then you are hypothesizing something that nobody has ever seen.

    Your desperate need to criticize ID extracts a heavy toll my friend. When you say ID is wrong, you are also saying that Darwin was wrong, Sagan was wrong, Monod was wrong, Dawkins is wrong, Mayer is wrong, the NCSE is wrong, all materialists are wrong along with every biology department with standard issue textbooks throughout the world.

    Wow, you seem upset. Relax. I’m not desparate, and you shouldn’t be either.

    Anway, I’m not saying these folks are wrong at all. None of them think that ID is science either, so as far as that goes I’m in complete agreement with all of them.

  283. gpuccio,

    aiguy:
    1) The cause of FSCI in the first organisms was a conscious entity
    2) This entity was not itself an FSCI-rich organism
    3) Consciousness is a causal factor in the universe and exists independently of living bodies

    Gpuccio:
    Well, personally I would entail those things. but from a stocy ID point of view, I would say:

    1) is true, but incomplete: the cause of new FSCI in all organisms is one (or more) conscious entity. ID is not only about OOL, but also about evolution of life.

    Right – that’s what I meant too.

    2) is true only if the designer is (directly) a spiritual god. That is really not the only possibility, although it is certainly the simplest one.

    Either (2) is true the way I put it, or ID fails to explain the origin of the first FSCI-rich organisms. Correct?

    3) is certainly true for the first part. The second part depends: it is true for a spiritual god, not necessarily for any other agent.

    Likewise, either (3) is true the way I put it, or ID is merely saying that life on Earth came from life elsewhere (either by engineering or by biological reproduction).

  284. StephenB,

    AIGUY: “First of all, I am not the one alluding to this mysterious something that guides nature, directs contingencies, and enables processes to “see”.”
    SB: First things first. You began this discussion by making a claim that was, in fact, wrong. ID science does not depend on dualistic metaphysics in any way.

    I think it does, but it’s hard to tell because so many ID proponents have so many different ideas about what ID says.

    There is no way to extract metaphysical speculations from “specified complexity” or “irreducible complexity.” Do you, or do you not, acknowledge your error. Once that point is settled, we can move forward. If not, then I need to spend more time on the point until you get it.

    I understand you are denything that ID is predicated on dualism. Fine. In that case, you believe that intelligence may (or may not) be another word for physical cause. If that is the case, and dualism is false, how does ID distinguish “intelligence” from all other types of cause in the universe? Once you tell me how intelligent cause is distinguished from unintelligent cause in a way that we can empirically test, we can talk about how this test can be applied in the context of ID.

  285. —Green: ““Self-determined free will” – well I’m not sure how you defined that earlier, but if you mean libertarian free will (i.e. the ability to choose otherwise in an unconditional sense), then I have no obligation to believe it because I don’t think Scripture affirms it.”

    I could provide a hundred examples where the Scripture advances the argument that the will is free. I will just provide ten.

    —”I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

    [That means that one has the power to choose either life or death]

    —”If you love Me, keep My commandments.

    —”The power of life and death is in the tongue.”

    We can choose life or death by the way we use our words]

    [That means that love is a choice and one can either consent or refuse.]

    “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

    [The decision to abide is a free choice and is not determined]

    ..”but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

    [Good behavior is rewarded. Rewards make no sense from a deterministic framework. Why reward anyone for something that they cannot control?]

    —”Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”

    [Some may choose to quit or choose not to quit]

    Also, [to be "temperate" is to choose the golden mean between two opposite extremes. That requires the capacity to resist one's desires rather than act on them.

    ---"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and [before] Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep [this] commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing.”

    [Why urge anyone to do anything if they cannot make choices that will affect their destiny. How can someone be blamed or be blameless without the capacity to choose good and the capacity to choose evil]

    –”Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

    [If one can choose to cleanse himself and prepare, and one can also choose to not cleanse himself and not prepare.]

    —“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise.”

    [The wise virgins made the right choice; the foolish virgins made the wrong choice.]

    —”Depart from me, ye cursed”

    [They are cursed because they made a conscious choice to refuse love when they could have made another choice]

  286. AIG, 274:

    If you would like to refer the cause you propose for FSCI as “directed contingency”, that’s OK, but I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you mean, as Stephen Meyer does, a conscious entity? If so, then we disagree about the warrant for that conclusion. If that is not what you mean, then the term doesn’t mean anything at all to me, but I’m not interested in pursuing it.

    First, as already pointed out, we have been using “design” in a specific context; so when you introduced a different one, I corrected that what you were choosing to term “design,” has an established adequate descriptive term in this context. That is not a matter of my idiosyncrasy, it is a matter of clarity.

    Now, I see you trying to suddenly suggest that directed contingency is not a clear term.

    This, after many, many examples in point have been given, and where to post a comment — event the above — YOU gave [purposeful!]direction to the possible contingencies of ASCII text strings, creating a message in English in response more or less to a context.

    Directed contingency, as has been described and exemplified many many times, is about just that: especially, text strings that are:

    (i) not random: eqwg3ogoqag . . ., or

    (ii) restricted to a specific orderly repeating pattern:atatata . . ., but:

    (iii) text in a directed pattern that functions (per observation) in a context.

    Such strings routinely appear in language contexts, and in computer programs. You either know this, or should know this. Pardon me, long since.

    (You may wish to look at Trevors and Abel here on the subject of string patterns; esp cf. Fig 4 as pointed out previously.)

    However, the point of the sudden question comes in your onward remarks: you unfortunately have a persistent rhetorical agenda to infer and project that the design inference is about assuming a dualist philosophical position a priori, and from that to dismiss the design inference.

    You have repeatedly been corrected on the point,in details [including for instance how earlier today I again pointed out where the design inference from reliable sign to signified causal process based on directed contingency, is an inductive inference to best explanation] but keep going back to it.

    That is what you need to explain, why you keep resorting to a strawman caricature of design thought, regardless of how many times it is corrected.

    That suggests a fixed controlling notion — one premised on a SLANDER, BTW [kindly cf the UD Weak Argument Correctives] — and the attempted rhetoric of “gotcha.”

    So, first, no: design as used in design theory is about the observed causal process of directed contingency that often — and that is a matter of massive experience including your own as a designing intelligence — creates functionally specific complex organisation and associated information.

    And, as was yet again pointed out today, such inference from empirically reliable sign to signified causal process of directed contingency AKA design is an INDUCTIVE exercise on inference to best explanation per reliable and routine observation of the design process in action and its results.

    Now, if you wish to reject Mr Meyer’s observation that the directed contingency process of causation that we routinely see creating dFSCI — and that is the particular kind of complex specified information he is dealing with and we are dealing with — is in our general experience empirically associated with the work of conscious intelligent designers, you are welcome to produce an empirical counter example.

    Just as design thinkers have put on the table for years and years now as a decisive test and potential falsification.

    When we do not see such examples coming forth, but instead rhetorical tactics that try to embroil and entangle us in debates on worldview level assumptions [even putting definitions in our mouths that do not belong there],that says loud and clear: strawman fallacy.

    That is telling.

    Sorry, kindly provide well-warranted empirical counter-evidence, or concede that the inductive inference from dFSCI to its consistently observed cause, directed contingency aka DESIGN, is a well-warranted one.

    I will go further than that.

    Actually, the evidence and inductive inference from signs to directed contingency as causal process, leads to the inference that C-chemistry cell based life is designed. A similar inference on the significance of a complex, finetuned cosmos to support such life, points onward to ultimate design of the observed cosmos by an extra-cosmic intelligence that is credibly immaterial [matter cannot credibly be the necessary being, on heat death grounds] and a necessary being.

    That suggests that transcendental Mind is a reality, i.e. that on empirical evidence and inductive inferences connected thereto, dualism is a reasonable — as opposed to irrational or ill-informed — worldview.

    Even, theism is a reasonable worldview in that context.

    And the recoiling in horror — real or histrionic — of the a priori evolutionary materialist magisterium that has recently tried to redefine science as applied materialism moves me and a lot of others not one bit on that.

    All it shows is their ideological worldview level question-begging closed-mindedness, frankly. (Remember, I cut my intellectual eye-teeth on Marxists.)

    Pardon me if I sound a bit plain-spoken, but you must realise that after unresponsiveness in the face of literally dozens of attempts at correction, little alternative is left.

    GEM of TKI

  287. —aiguy: “I understand you are denything that ID is predicated on dualism. Fine.

    I am doing more than denying that ID methods are predicated on dualism, I am stating, as fact, that they are not–a fact that can be verified very easily. Since you have not yet acknowledged that fact, it seems that I have more work to do. Do you acknowledge it?

    .

  288. StephenB,

    I am doing more than denying that ID methods are predicated on dualism, I am stating, as fact, that they are not–a fact that can be verified very easily. Since you have not yet acknowledged that fact, it seems that I have more work to do. Do you acknowledge it?

    Well, StephenB, I’ve already said that different people have different ideas about what ID theory says, what it entails, and what it assumes. You seem to think that there is one, single, genuine, canonical version of ID that everybody adheres to, but I’m not aware that such a version exists. I have lately been taking Stephen Meyer’s comments to be generally representative of ID theory, but there are people here who disagree with what Meyer says (in particular, that Meyer identifies a “conscious being” as the cause of the first living cell). Green here appears to be an ID proponent who disagrees with you as well.

    In any event, I am perfectly willing to acknowledge (as I already have) that you have a version of ID theory that is not predicated on the truth of dualism. So let’s move forward and accept your version of ID in our debate.

    Now, please tell me: Since ID theory is not predicated upon dualism, “intelligence” may refer to a causal, libertarian, disembodied consciousness, or it may refer to nothing but physical cause. So I ask again: How does ID distinguish “intelligence” from all other types of cause in the universe? Once you tell me how intelligent cause is distinguished from unintelligent cause in a way that we can empirically test, we can talk about how this test can be applied in the context of ID.

  289. 289

    Aig @282

    The issue I’m concerned with here is what distinguishes “actual design” from “apparent design”.

    And what do you think that is?

    Gpuccio was forthcoming enough to state outright that ID proposes a “conscious entity” as the cause of biological systems. This is also the position of Stephen Meyer. Is this your position as well?

    And GP is more than welcome to make an inference to consciousness. I agree with him on the point. Just like I agree with others who have argued that it entails foresight. Abel refers to it as volitional agency. I myself argued it under the banner of intelligence. Your response was to immediately pack on physicality – since we know of no conscious intelligent foresighted agent that does not also have physicality. You might as well add in hair color and a neural response to the taste of fat, correct? If not, then why not?

    You are being very coy about this “singular source”, but I’ll hazard a guess at this point… you are talking about human beings. Is that right?

    No, I am talking about intelligent agency. And as I have already noted you may add volition, foresight, and consciousness as well. If it suits you, you are even free to make up your own word and provide a definition. Have you ever heard of Karl Popper?

    Now, you can generalize your findings and say this “single source” is “living things” or that it is “complex organisms” or that it is “intelligent agency” or that it is “things with brains” and so on… but in terms of our actual observations, this “source” is human beings. Whatever else is true of human beings, it is human beings that you are talking about, and nothing else.

    FCSI was in operation on this planet long before humans existed. We came along and noticed it later.

    I will repeat what you just said: In its primary formulation, ID does not posit any attribute to the designer other than the ability to create the patterns we observe.
    In that case, ID is saying the following: The patterns we observe were caused to exist by the ability to create the patterns we observe.
    Read that again, UB. According to your definition, the theory of Intelligent Design says absolutely nothing!

    It may not have occurred to you, but I was not giving a definition of ID. Your reformulation was purely rhetorical (and meaningless).

    In order for ID to have any content at all, it actually must say something about the cause of these patterns besides that it is able to cause these patterns.

    It does. The first is that the “I” in Intelligent Design stands for “intelligent”. You have been repeatedly given attributes that are the causal factors that lead to CSI but you refuse them all. Let’s add it up: You’ve been told intelligence – “no good, we know nothing of what constitutes intelligence”. You’ve been told volition – “no good, we have no idea what intentionality is”. You’ve been told foresight – “no good, we have no way to measure foresight”. You’ve been told purpose, “no good, we have no idea what does and does not have purpose”. You’ve been told consciousness – “no good, we have no idea how consciousness works.”

    Isn’t that about the heart of the matter? By the way, since we have no operational definition of Life, should biology class be called off until we do? If not, why not? And also, since there are philosophers who debate over the meaning of many words we use constantly, how can we use these words without confusion? What is the answer to that question?

    What???? You just got through saying that ID does not posit any attribute to the designer other than the ability to create the patterns we observe.

    Are you saying that I may not add an adjective to my comment, or are you saying “WOW I have a new concept to obfuscate?” Lets us be honest here, you are not searching for clarity, only tools.

    Ok, now we can talk about what you mean by “purposefully”. Do you think that something can be purposeful without being consciously aware of it?

    Cha-ching.

    If so, then I’m not sure what you mean by “purposeful”. If not, then wouldn’t you say you are also claiming that the cause of these observed patterns was also conscious?

    I never said differently, but here is what I have said: “Living things operate from a semiotic (correlated) mapping of chemical structures in the abstract (within DNA), to other chemical structures which result from that abstraction after it is transcribed by cellular machinery (resulting in proteins and regulatory networks, etc). This is the “FSC” part of the information transcribed by the cell. FSCI is a subset of information. Beyond whatever more strict definitions it may have, it certainly has semantic meaning, and is not simply random noise, nor is it an object of chemical necessity.”

    To which you responded: “The problem of intentionality (how symbols mean things) is a difficult and contentious area of philosophy.”

    To which I responded “Yet the mapping to which I am referring to is hardly a philosophical question. It is entirely observable; in fact, our entire understanding of biochemistry surrounds it being elucidated.”

    And you responded with: zilch

    The only things we have experience of to which we attribute consciousness are complex, FSCI-rich life forms (viz. human beings and perhaps some other animals). Do you claim we have experience of any other sort of conscious agent?

    This comment has no meaningful connection to the comment it was purporting to respond to.

    Since it makes no sense to say human beings caused the first life, then ID must not actually be offering a known cause at all. Instead, ID is speculating that there is a very different sort of entity that exists – one which is not itself a complex life form but still somehow has the mental and physical abilities that life forms have.

    No one has suggested that the physicality of a life form is a mark of intelligence.

    This is very far outside of our experience. In my experience everything that I think is conscious (or intelligent) is a complex living thing.

    How do you know if something is intelligent?

    See? Nobody ever infers “intelligent agency” as the cause of anything, UB. Never. We infer specific sorts of living things. The watch was built by a human being. The hive was built by bees. The dam was built by beavers. The mound was built by termites. The nest was built by a bird. The web was built by a spider.

    And you see absolutely no pattern running through your list of artifacts beyond the fact they are all the product of living things? What could it be? What if you noticed that none of them could exist without purpose, intentionality, and foresight? What if you noticed that none of them could be the product of unguided natural forces? Let us say that a new artifact comes in question that exhibits these same qualities, but its origin is a mystery. Are you going to say “we don’t know” before of after you recognize what you do know?

    Can you offer any credible answers to these questions?

  290. “FCSI was in operation on this planet long before humans existed. We came along and noticed it later.”

    UB Excellent empirical observation

    Vivid

  291. —aiguy: “In any event, I am perfectly willing to acknowledge (as I already have) that you have a version of ID theory that is not predicated on the truth of dualism. So let’s move forward and accept your version of ID in our debate.”

    Why should I move forward with you to discuss theories and opinions when I can’t even get you to acknowledge a fact.

    —”You seem to think that there is one, single, genuine, canonical version of ID that everybody adheres to, but I’m not aware that such a version exists.”

    No, I have not indicated anything like that.

    —”I have lately been taking Stephen Meyer’s comments to be generally representative of ID theory, but there are people here who disagree with what Meyer says (in particular, that Meyer identifies a “conscious being” as the cause of the first living cell). Green here appears to be an ID proponent who disagrees with you as well.”

    Meyer’s conclusion comes after the facts in evidence have been considered, it is not an operating assumption that precedes the investigation, which is the mistaken point that you are tying to peddle.

    I am happy that you are making the rounds with other ID bloggers, however, no one that I know of has ever indicated that they think ID depends on dualistic metaphysics. So, you are chasing the wind on that count. If, indeed, ID did assume metaphysical dualism, then an inference to design would not be a inference at all but rather a trivial tautology. To assume a conscious designer prior to the investigation is to smuggle the conclusion into the hypothesis.

    So, whatever you are reading in to the comments of other ID bloggers, it can’t be that ID depends on metaphysical dualism. In keeping with that point, if I can’t get you to understand basic ID, I am certainlly not interested in discussing advanced ID with you.

  292. aiguy:

    in one of my previous posts I stated that I could give you the full ID inference using only the kind of empirical definitions that we have discussed in some detail.

    Even if you may still have problems with those definitions, I would like to show here that such a claim is not unfounded. Therefore, I will give a very quick outline of how that is done, so that, if you want, we may discuss any single point on which you like to have more details:

    1) We start by observing that we, human beings, have a kind of experience that we call “conscious representations”. We call that condition “being a conscious entity”.

    2) We observe that many of those representations have a cognitive content. We call those representations “conscious intelligent representations”, and the condition being a “conscious intelligent entity”.

    3) We observe that conscious intelligent representations are often associated (I am not stating that they are necessarily the cause of) to the output of purposeful objects, to which the agent imparts some meaning or function. We call that kind of output “design”, the process of the object creation “design process”, the conscious intelligent representations “conscious intelligent representations associated to the design process”, and the entity which performs the design process “conscious intelligent designer”. We call the outputted object “designed object”. It is important to notice that the designed object needs not have any special characteristics, other than being the result of the design process, which implies having receive some form of meaning or function from a conscious entity through a process associated to conscious intelligent representations, which obviously include the representation of that meaning or function. For the rest, it can be anything: simple or complex, analogical or digital, and so on.

    4) The meaning or function represented by the designer in the process, and imparted to the designed object, we call “specification”. The specification originates in the designer’s representations (or, to be even more rigorous, is associated to them in the process of design. But, if the circumstances permit it, it can also be recognized in the object by another conscious intelligent being. Sometimes that cannot happen (for instance, I may not recognize a string of symbols if I do not know the symbolic code used by the designer). But if and when it happens, we call that “recognition of a specification by a conscious intelligent observer in an object”.

    5) Now the problem is: how do we know that an object is a designed object?

    6) The general answer is easy: when we know for certain that it was designed, because we designed it ourselves, or we could witness the process of its design, or we have indirect evidence of that process. In that case, we say that the object is designed because we have observed, directly or indirectly, the process of its design. This is a simple fact, and not an inference. It does not require that the designed object have any special characteristics, other than being the output of an observable design process.

    7) But what about objects for which we cannot have the information mentioned in the above point, but that we suppose may be designed? For them we must perform a procedure called “design detection”, or “design inference”.

    8) The procedure starts by looking for some formal property of designed objects which empirically is specific for them (which is always associated only to designed objects, and never to non designed objects). We need a very high level of specificity for that inference.

    9) We find such a property: it is CSI. Objects exhibit CSI when two conditions are satisfied:

    a) A specification can be recognized in the object explicitly and clearly by conscious intelligent observers. By “explicitly” I mean that the observers, after recognizing the specification, must also be able to clearly define it, and define how the presence of that specification can be objectively verified, and if possible quantitatively measured. If the object satisfies that, we call the object “specified object”.

    b) The specification must be obtained through a high level of complexity in the object. Here, “complexity” has the usual meaning of Shannon entropy, or any equivalent definition. In general, it corresponds to Kolmogorov complexity (non compressible). We use some pre-defined threshold of complexity. If that threshold is satisfied, we call the object “complex”. The complexity must obviously be connected to the specification.

    If our object satisfies both a) and b) we call it “complex specified object”, and we say it exhibits CSI.

    10) For all practical purposes, we can choose (I usually do that) to work with some subset of CSI which is easy to treat, provided that such a subset can be applied to the objects we are studying. The subset I usually refer to is dFSCI, which is any kind of CSI where:

    a) The specification is an observable, definable, and measurable function

    b) The complexity is in digital form

    From now on I will refer to dFSCI, and not to CSI in general.

    11) We observe that dFSCI is a property which empirically is observed only in designed objects, and never in non designed objects. That is a completely empirical statement. There are also theorical reasons to affirm that in principle, and they are certainly an interesting part of the ID theory, but being theorical they are more questionable, and we will not use them here.

    12) The above statement is always observed to be true, with the notable exception of a very special set of objects: biological objects. Many biological objects, more specifically all the genomes and proteomes, seem to exhibit dFSCI. As their origin is not known with certainly, we will for the moment put them apart, and we will not consider the an exception to the generally observed rule.

    13) On the basis of our empirical observations in 11), we decide to use dFSCI as a tool for design detection.

    14) We develop a rigorous procedure to verify if an observed object exhibits dFSCI. That is more or less the explanatory filter. We define the specification and ascertain its presence, we measure complexity, we rule out any known model based on necessity which could have originated that object.

    15) If the object satisfies 14), we say that it exhibits dFSCI.

    16) That empirically works perfectly: the procedure seems to exhibit 100% specificity. No exception is known to that detection rule. No single example of objects exhibiting dFSCI which are non designed is known. So, we affirm that design is the best explanation for objects exhibiting dFSCI.

    17) On the contrary, the procedure is not good at all from the point of view of its sensitivity. There are a lot of false negatives. Any designed object which is simple will not be recognized by that method as designed.

    18) We call the whole process “design detection”.

    19) So, to conclude, through the design detection process we can classify objects in different categories:

    a) Non specified and non complex objects: they are usually non designed. They can be designed, because recognition of specification is not always successful, and complexity is not needed for an object to be designed. For this class, design can only be affirmed if the design process has been directly or indirectly observed.

    b) Specified non complex objects: These are often designed, but again we cannot be sure of that unless the design process has been directly or indirectly observed.

    c) Non specified complex objects: these are very common, and are usually non designed. In ID we know very well that complexity is easy to find, and that it does not imply design at all. Still, some of these objects could still be designed, if they exhibit a specification but we failed to recognize it.

    d) Specified complex objects: we can affirm, on the basis of empirical experience, that they are always designed.

    The above summary tries to clarify with some rigour what design detection is. As you can see, I have not even started to apply that system of thought to biological information. I am ready to discuss in detail any part of it, if you or others want to do that.

    I affirm that the above model of thought is completely empirical and scientific, and that it needs not special theory of anything, out of what is usually accepted in scientific reasoning.

  293. Gpuccio @ #270 (also Green @ #267)

    Mark:
    I don’t want to fight with you about that. But I never said that there were definable differences in the behaviour.

    I would never want to fight with you – just debate.

    I said:
    “I think we can agree that the free will of compatibilists is a completely different concept form the free will of “libertarians” like myself.” (emphasis added)
    Since when is a difference in concepts a difference in observable behaviour?

    If you cannot define any difference in how people with your concept of free will behave and people with my concept – then how can you tell the difference between the two concepts? After all free will is about actions.


    For instance, just using Green’s terminology, we libertarian believe in PAP and incorporate PAP in our concept of free will, while you compatibilists don’t.

    What is the difference between PAP and any event which happens with nothing to cause it to happen in that direction in that particular time (we might call them “random” although that is a much abused word) – such events are logically possible. I define determinism to include random in this sense.

  294. Mark:

    I don’t believe that free will is at present accessible to scientific evaluation. It is a philosophical concept, and certainly an important one.

    Libertarians and compatibilists have different philosophical concepts about that problem. Even if they use the term “free will” in their philosophies, the term means completely different things in the two contexts. That’s what I mean, nothing more.

    I can certainly tell the difference between two concepts just by examining and understanding how they are formulated, even if I have not an empirical way to test those concepts. Concepts are products of our mind, and two different concepts are two different concepts, even if they had no bearing to the real world.

    PAP is a philosophical concept. You can accept it in your philosophy (libertarians do that) or not (compatibilists don’t). A definition of free will based on the concept of PAP is certainly different form a definition of free will which refuses that concept. I don’t think you can deny that simple fact.

    You can certainly include random in your definitions. For me, old libertarian that I am, randomness has nothing to do with free will. Again, that proves that our concepts of free will are completely different.

  295. AIG, 288:

    I’ve already said that different people have different ideas about what ID theory says, what it entails, and what it assumes. You seem to think that there is one, single, genuine, canonical version of ID that everybody adheres to, but I’m not aware that such a version exists. I have lately been taking Stephen Meyer’s comments to be generally representative of ID theory, but there are people here who disagree with what Meyer says (in particular, that Meyer identifies a “conscious being” as the cause of the first living cell).

    First, name any significant academic discipline where there is 100% consensus across scholars in the field. You cannot, and indeed, anyone who knows academia will recognise that it is the nature of academics to have various views on a matter.

    So, the root of this latest objection, unfortunately, is selectively hyperskeptical special pleading.

    It is also distractive.

    What fundamantally counts is observable facts and how inferences can be constructed relative tot hose facts that warrant an objective conclusion. So, we go around the loop yet again:

    1 –> We are conscious intelligent observers of our world, with an insider access to the world of intention, foresight, goal-oriented interventions into the world, linguistic communication based on conventional symbols and rules for using them, etc etc.

    2 –> Indeed, we access experience of the world by our conscious intelligence.

    3 –> Any theory, any worldview [and per Lakatos, research programmes embed worldview level commitments in their protected cores], that requires us to willfully shut our eyes to these first facts is by that claim fundamentally self-referentially inconsistent and absurd.

    4 –> In particular, experience of these first facts is prior to intellectual life, and so is prior to all exercises intended to create precising definitions. We therefore point to examples and seek to describe, but any failures of such definitions, real or imagined, does not thereby dis-establish the reality being referred to. That is absurd, as to define we have to use these very same first realities.

    5 –> Next, we turn to the observed causal patterns of our world. Using simple illustrative [but not exhaustive] examples, again:

    (i) mechanical necessity tracing to lawlike regularities and forces: an unsupported heavy object, falls.

    (ii) chance, manifesting itself as credibly undirected stochastic contingency: if the dropped object is a fair die, on repeated trials, it settles to a reading from 1 to 6 at random on a flat distribution. (This could be seen from recording a string of 240 tosses.)

    (iii)design based on choice-directed contingency: we could by hand, set a string of 240 dice to read say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, in succession, over and over again.

    6 –> To store information, we require contingency, and to store a lot of information, we also need complexity [a large set of possible arrangements]. But the contingency has to be directed based on symbols arranged according to rules, e.g. the ASCII characters of this post.

    7 –> We routinely experience and observe digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information [dFSCI], especially in linguistic contexts and in algorithmic contexts. When we do so, we see that routinely and reliably the causal process for dFSCI is directed contingency.

    8 –> This is consistent with the further observation that on the vast — 1,0000 bits of storage capacity has 1.07*10^301 possible configurations — configuration spaces for dFSCI, random walk search strategies on the scope of the observed cosmos [up to ~ 10^150 Planck time states of its atoms across its thermodynamic lifespan] will be unable to sample an appreciable fraction of the space.

    9 –> So, islands of specific function will be practically unreachable by undirected search strategies, on want of adequate search resources relative to the gamut of the config space.

    (This is the context of the Dembski-Marks discussion on the difference active information makes to getting to hot or target zones or islands in the spaces: using knowledge, intelligence and purpose, designers can cut across the space and land close to or on islands of desired function. My son’s first bow-making attempt worked well enough to project arrows a considerable distance: bringing together objects as diverse and apparently unrelated as guava tree shoots, spokeshaves, machetes, knives, volcanic boulders in our backyard, bootlaces, duct tape [flight feathers] and Youtube videos. His second attempt will improve on that performance.)

    10 –> So, we have reason not only to empirically associate the observation of dFSCI with directed contingency instantiated by intelligence [as observed, without any attempt to speculate on its ultimate nature], but to see that such dFSCI is not credibly produced by stochastic contingency, and mechanical necessity is a non-starter.

    11 –> Thus, we infer that dFSCI is a reliable empirically observable sign that points to directed contingency as cause, a cause equally reliably known to be instantiated by intelligence. (And intelligence is not to be equated to embodiment or even embodiment as humans, e.g. without skill and expert knowledge, you will not be a successful smith of a katana, or a PC.)

    12 –> Onlookers, observe how, yet again, we do not see the offering of a credible empirical counter-example; but instead, attempts to raise rhetorical objections. That strengthens the force of the inference from dFSCI to the directed contingency as credible cause it points to.

    13 –> Now, we see just such dFSCI as algorithmic information in the living cell, associated with a complex organised network of molecular nanomachines; indeed the DNA codes for the machines too. We have a metabolising entity that transforms available materials into the machines of life, and it is capable of self-replication based on the stored coded information.

    14 –> That is more advanced tech than we have for now, but it is recognisable, per the von Neumann self replicator and digital information technology. So we have good inductive reason to infer on best explanation to the cell as just that: a product of art, not chance and/or mechanical necessity.

    15 –> In turn such identification of credible causal process implies that the most likely underlying explanation is intelligence purposing to create life.

    16 –> This does not start from the a priori assumption of intelligence in the remote past, as, if the evidence had pointed to blind mechanical necessity and/or chance, that would have been the default inference.

    17 –> And when we compare those who try to argue that we must only explain on chance plus necessity when we come to maters of origins, and the manifest inadequacies of their theories or models, that highlights the strength of the inference.

    18 –> On observing the increments in dFSCI to originate major body plans [10+ mnbits, dozens of times over], we likewise see that directed contingency is the best explanation.

    ___________________

    So, the design inference is not an a priori procedure based on inadequate definitions but a step by step empirical inference based on basic facts.

    GEM of TKI

  296. #294 gpuccio

    PAP is a philosophical concept. You can accept it in your philosophy (libertarians do that) or not (compatibilists don’t).

    Surely even philosophical concepts can be described? I still feel like you have offered my no description of the difference between libertarian free will and compatabilist free will. You have shifted the difference to PAP but Green defines PAP as:

    “PAP means that even given all the same antecedent conditions, an agent’s actions could have been otherwise”

    To me this sounds like random.

    Maybe it is not possible to define your concept of free will. But in that case does it matter? It is in some indescribable way different from mine – but mine includes everything that we care about – moral responsibility, freedom to choose, etc. Why worry about an indescribable additional factor X?

  297. Mark:

    I don’t understand why you say that mi position (and in general the libertarian position) cannot be defined or described. I have amply made exactly that in this thread, see especially my posts #59, 64, 91, 126, 128 and 129. I don’t want to say all that again. Please, read my posts if you want and we can discuss any single point you find convenient.

    One thing is that you don’t agree with my positions, another that you deny their existence. I don’t deny that compatibilism exists, or that it can be defined or described. I affirm that, if correctly described, it supports a conception of free will which absolutely is not the same thing as the traditional, libertarian concept of free will.

    Compatibilists have just created a new concept of determinism, and they have baptized it “free will”. But playing word games cannot change things. The old, libertarian concept of free will, which has inspired for centuries most philosophies and religions, is all another thing. You may refuse it, you may find it inconsistent, you may consider it just a figment of imagination: but to say that it cannot be described, defined, or differentiated from compatibilism is really too much for me…

  298. MF Onlookers:

    Re MF, 296: “PAP means that even given all the same antecedent conditions, an agent’s actions could have been otherwise”

    To me this sounds like random.

    Randomness is not the only credible alternative to mechanical necessity.

    Where high contingency exists — and surely there are many cases where this is real, starting with the text strings that form posts in this thread — purposeful direction can shape outcomes.

    Does MF intend that we should understand that text strings posted in this thread are posted by either randomness [lucky noise generating meaningful text in English . . . ] or lawlike necessity [how would ewe be programmed to produce these text strings?] or both in combination?

    When I bring determinism in direct or compatibilist forms down to something like this, it simply does not make sense.

    It does seem that as intelligent agents, we do select particular alternatives from sets of possibilities open to us.

    For instance, just now I decided that since MF has an announced policy of refusing to address points I make, I would address the onlooker instead.

    That the change I just made — see I actually used two alternatives, shifting from one to the other — is random or programmed by some subtle driving forces that run me like a PC, is not at all reasonable.

    GEM of TKI

  299. StephenB:

    Thank you for your thoughts on those verses. You noted how rewards and punishments in heaven make no sense from a determinist perspective. I agree. But I also think they make no sense from a libertarian perspective. As I’ve noted earlier, noncausal and event causal theories of libertarianism just inject a bit of indeterminism into the causal chain leading to an agent’s decision in order to satisfy PAP. Randomness cannot ground responsibility, though. With regards to the agent-causal theory of libertarianism, for all the reasons I’ve given above, it cannot ground moral responsibility either. Thus rewards and punishments make no sense on either a libertarian or a determinist perspective.

    With regards to all those verses where God exhorts and urges his people to act in a certain way. None of those are inconsistent with determinism. God’s exhortations are the means he uses to change his people. You might ask, well, if people resist, then how can God still blame them, since they are not the ultimate source of their desires? This question is parallel to the one Paul addresses in Romans 9. Paul writes;

    “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this? Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use?”

    Paul goes on to say that God does it to display all the facets of his glory. The main point to note, however, is that Paul does not appeal to man’s libertarian free will in order to solve the problem (which is good, because as we have seen, philosophical theories of free will do not solve the problem). Instead Paul insists that human’s not question God’s ways; God has a right to what he wants with creation. So Paul holds men morally responsible for their actions, but also insists that ultimately God (not man) is in control. So this is the paradox the bible teaches, and no resolution is offered. Libertarianism should not be embraced to solve the problem (Paul does not embrace it), and even if one did embrace it, it doesn’t help anyway.

  300. A couple of other thoughts regarding ID, dualism, libertarianism, and the points that aiguy has been making:

    Firstly, I think it’s helpful to separate libertarianism from dualism. The two do not go hand in hand. It is perfectly rational to embrace the latter but not the former.

    Now which does ID need? Libertarianism or dualism, both, or none?

    I think Dembski might require libertarianism and Meyer might require dualism. Let me explain:

    Aiguy and GP seem to have come to the conclusion that Meyer needs to posit a conscious agent to make sense of design, because intelligence requires consciousness. I’d argue that consciousness cannot be made sense of within a physicalist ontology, and thus that Meyer requires dualism. BUT, this is not a priori. If consciousness can be made sense of within a physicalist ontology, then I think it would be fine to embrace a materialist conception of intelligence, and thus a materialist conception of design. So the commitment to dualism is a posteriori here.

    With regards to Dembski, he uses a different definition of design than Meyer. Dembski defines design in a negative way; he tells you what it is not, not what it is. Essentially he defines design as the negation of chance and necessity. This is not the standard agent-based notion of design that Meyer uses. And he writes quite explicitly in The Design Inference that there is no necessary connection between his negation concept and the standard agent-based concept (e.g. see p8, p227).

    So the reason I think Dembski may require libertarianism is because the only thing that is not chance and necessity is libertarianism. This does not necessarily require dualism (as Tim O’Connor has been keen to point out).

    I don’t know if that makes any sense?

  301. Green:

    The decisive issue, as has been pointed out already, is responsible power of choice and decision.

    I do not usually wear a theology hat at UD, but kindly observe Jn 3:16 – 21 with the support of Rom 2:5 – 8:

    ____________________

    >> Jn 3:16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.[g] 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” >>

    –> This speaks to willful turning away from truth one knows or should know, vs willingness to seek, live by and turn to the truth one has access to.

    >> 1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things . . . .

    6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger . . . 11For God does not show favoritism. . . . >>

    –> Here one condemns oneself out of his or her own mouth by passing he judgement on others that they ought to have done better, then failing to live by the same standards we set for others. [This one catches us ALL, just think about how we quarrel by claiming "you unfair me.".]

    –> But then it underscores persistence in the path of the truth and the right based on the light one has: we all stumble but we are obligated to get up and press on to the good and the true.

    –> those who turn from the truth and the good they know or should know, condemn themselves.
    ______________________

    These are not obscure or minor or unclear texts. And they are premised on responsible choice.

    Which is intuitively highly relevant to fairness in judgement.

    It is possible to construct systematic theologies that are more or less deterministic, but they struggle in the face of abundant testimony of the Scriptures.

    My favourite view on this is that it is like playing chess with a grandmaster. You have freedom to move, but you are dealing with one who knows and understands far beyond your capacity, so the end is not in doubt, unless mercy is shown.

    And, we know how that mercy was shown, in love, at what cost.

    GEM of TKI

  302. Green (#300):

    I think you observations make some sense. And yet, to your question:

    Now which does ID need? Libertarianism or dualism, both, or none?

    I would still answer: none.

    I am certainly a libertarian, and I am absolutely sure that, to use your words, “consciousness cannot be made sense of within a physicalist ontology”. So, if that makes me a dualist, then I am a dualist (but still don’t like the concept).

    Meyer and Dembski may have different approaches, but they are saying essentially the same thing. The design approach is a very basic paradigm which has vast consequences, and can be formalized in different ways: none of that changes its essential strength and depth.

    I have tried in my post #292 to demonstrate to formulate the whole UD theory without any necessity to make inferences about:

    1) The nature of consciousness

    2) The nature of intelligence

    3) Free will

    4) Dualism

    It’s enough that we accepr that consciousness exists, that its inner representations can be described and that associations between those representations and outer facts can be traced.

    I think that both Meyer and Dembski accept that consciousness cannot be explained in purely physical terms, and probabvly both are libertarians. But neither of those things is necessary for the ID theory, so each one of them chooses ( :) ) to develop his personal discourse in the way he finds more congenial.

    But they are essentially making the same discourse.

    As I have always tried to say: ID is stronger and more important than each of its supporter’s views about it.

  303. Green:

    Why do you keep trying to inject a prioris into the design inference process?

    We deal with a simple induction on facts readily in evidence. Such as, that designers exist and that when they exert directed contingency they often leave characteristic traces of that causal pattern behind. For instance, there is little doubt that texts of posts in this thread are intelligently created, not the product of undirected stocahstic contingency — lucky noise.

    Similarly, when we observe the origin of digitally coded functional information and of the machines that process it, it is reliably the product of design.

    That empirical reliability, per the uniformity principle so often used in origins science, then allows us to infer that similar signs tracing to the deep past credibly — on inference to best explanation of the cause of such signs — were similarly produced by directed contingency.

    We then see that it is not an unreasonable inference to conclude inductively that C-chemistry cell based life is a product of directed contingency. That is not a proof, it is an induction, on warrant by the technique that undergirds the general work of science.

    And on that inductive ladder, we then may further infer on the observation that, reliably,cause by directed contingency has its source in intelligent agents. So, a further rung of inference is that life had one or more designers, possibly a team.

    Lifting our eyes to the observed [that's important, we are not looking at speculative metaphysical claims . . . ] cosmos as a whole, we may then observe that it too shows signs — finetuning — that point to design, and design to facilitate C-chemistry cell based life. But in this case an extracosmic designer of a contingent material cosmos is credibly both intelligent and powerful. Further, the ultimate designer — per the association between signs and designs and designs and designers — is arguably a necessary being, and that implies an immaterial one [on the simplest grounds, an infinitely old material cosmos will have long since suffered heat death], with an active Mind, and power to create a material cosmos.

    So, it is not unreasonable to use design inference empirical methods to infer to design of life, thence design of the cosmos that facilitates life, and onward to the designer of that cosmos. And, to see such a designer as immaterial, and to be Mind with power, is not unreasonable. This is now phil not sci, but that sounds a lot like the God theists speak of. That is theism is not unreasonable or irrational.

    And in this context, we have inferred from the empirical to the implications and best explanations. We have not injected questionable a prioris, just we have not a priori ruled out relevant possibilities.

    And as to the notion that design thinkers and theists will ruin science, let us jut observe that hey are a very large part of he circle of founders of modern science. On the whole, they are still a big slice of the scientific and allied professions. So, that slander should be put out to pasture.

    And so, I return to the issue that directly concerns me: where in the above chain have I (per good argument) smuggled in an a priori, as opposed to refusing to shut the door, a priori, to a possibility?

    If you [or others] cannot credibly show the step where such smuggling happened [and remember design and designers are defined by known example and family resemblance, not some a priori attempted one size fits all definition], the worldview level motive mongering that I see too much of in this thread is utterly irrelevant and uncalled for.

    GEM of TKI

  304. Green @299, I have read your latest comments on the subject of determinism and free will. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that, on this matter at least, you are impervious to reason. I never make personal judgments, but I will simply offer an observation about human nature.
    Most of us tend to look for the easy way out, and deterministic compatibilism certainly leads down that road. It is very to avoid the painful process of exercising and strengthening our will, which is the cost that every human must pay when he strives for virtue, a process that always involves saying yes to our good impulses and no to our bad impulses.

    In effect, the compatibilist renders virtue meaningless, since virtue, by its very nature, consists of forming the will to prefer that which it ought to prefer and disdain that which it ought to disdain. The compatibilist is inclined to act on all his desires and disinclined to resist those which he ought to resist. In the final analysis, he can use his philosophy to avoid virtue’s demands by simply saying that he has no control at all over his impulses and cannot, therefore turn toward good and away from evil.

    On the contrary, he can only turn in the direction that his cravings and appetites would lead him. He is, or soon will become, a slave to his passions. Virtue, after all, requires the moral strength to turn away from evil, yet the compatibilist has forfeited his capacity to make the requisite act of the will by claiming that he has no such capacity. Thus, he cannot follow his Savior’s advice to, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The compatibilist, to the extent that he lives his philosophy, is, like the materialist determinst, a slave to his lower nature.

  305. @304 should read, “It is very [easy] to avoid the painful process of exercising and strengthening our will, which is the cost that every human must pay when he strives for virtue, a process that always involves saying yes to our good impulses and no to our bad impulses.

  306. Green,

    Firstly, I think it’s helpful to separate libertarianism from dualism. The two do not go hand in hand. It is perfectly rational to embrace the latter but not the former.

    Now which does ID need? Libertarianism or dualism, both, or none?

    I think Dembski might require libertarianism and Meyer might require dualism. Let me explain:

    Aiguy and GP seem to have come to the conclusion that Meyer needs to posit a conscious agent to make sense of design, because intelligence requires consciousness.

    That is not my position, no.

    First of all, I think cognitive science has clearly shown that intelligence (i.e. planning and problem-solving abilities) does not require consciousness. It remains completely unclear what consciousness does; all that we really know is what consciousness feels like. Some people think that it can affect matter, and some have tried to test this hypothesis (i.e. paranormal researchers); but at present we have no empirical grounds to claim that dualist interactionism is true, so it remains in philosophical debate.

    However, in order to make any sense at all, ID needs to be able to distinguish the explanation it offers, which is “intelligent causation”, from all other causes. Simply saying that “something intelligent” was the cause of some phenomenon tells us absolutely nothing about it – not one single thing. We don’t know if that means that this something can talk, or that it can read, or take an IQ test, or understand a melody or play Jeopardy or… anything else. And as we’ve seen repeatedly here, it really doesn’t help for ID to say that intelligent causes are “those capable of producing FSCI”, because that renders ID’s central premise as perfectly vacuous: The FSCI we observe in biology is cauesd by that which can produce FSCI”.

    So what it is that will serve to set “intelligent causation” apart from all other causes, so that we can know what ID is trying to say? Unless ID can characterize this “intelligent cause” in a way we can understand in terms of our experience, then quite obviously ID has no reason to claim it is an empirical science.

    The following have been offered by various people in order to address this problem:
    volition This is some variety of free will, but as this thread has amply demonstrated, even Christian ID proponents disagree about volition is and what it does.

    foresight When scientists test for foresight in animals, they place the animals in novel environments to see if they can generate novel solutions. They put food in jars and in tubes and under buckets, put obstacles in their way, they give them things to make tools out of, and so on. If the animal can figure out what to do to get the food, the scientists attribute foresight to them, which is generally considered to be one aspect of intelligence.

    But scientists never, obviously, assume that some animal has foresight simply by observing the artifacts it makes! It would be completely mistaken to find that some animal had produced an artifact that had complex form and function and then assume that the animal had used foresight in order to build it. Unless the scientist can observe the animal in a novel situation, there is no way to assess the animal’s ability to solve problems. Termites build complex mounds with specialized chambers with irrigation for growing fungus, and shafts for efficient ventilation, along with archways that are built from both sides and meet in the middle. But termites display no ability to solve novel problems; the problems they can solve are restricted to “building a termite mound” (which they do very well). Before scientists tested termites they may have mistaken termites for general problem-solvers, but as far as we know termites can’t figure out other problems at all.

    So there is no scientific way to infer what abilities something has simply by finding artifacts; we actually need to interact with something to assess its problem-solving abilities (or “foresight”). In the context of ID, then, there is simply no way of inferring what abilities the Designer had besides producing that which we are trying to explain (FSCI in biology). Just because human beings have a lot of different mental abilities doesn’t imply that the cause of life does too.

    Perhaps the Designer could produce the biological structures we see, but could do nothing else at all – it couldn’t read a book, or understand a melody, or play Jeopardy, or… anything. Unless ID specifies some particular thing that the Designer is supposed to be capable of besides producing the FSCI we observe in biology, then ID is saying nothing at all about the Designer in terms of our experience.

    intentionality A specific codon causes cellular machinery to append a specific amino acid. We say that the codon encodes the amino acid, or that it has a meaning of “append this amino acid”. But anyone familiar with the problem of intentionality will realize that it is very difficult (impossible) to say where this “meaning” resides. What is it that determines what means what? Where does this meaning reside – in the DNA? In the cellular machinery? In our understanding of this system of physical causes?

    So it’s clear that without some operationalized definition of “intelligent cause” – and the opportunity to perform the tests implied by that definition – ID is saying nothing about this cause that has any meaning with regard to our experience.

    Now, what Meyer and I agree on is this: The claim that this “intelligent cause” is conscious actually does make a meaningful statement that we all can understand about what distinguishes “intelligent cause” from all other causes. We each know what conscious experience is, so we can inter-subjectively agree that conscious experience exists, and by inductive inferences of varying strenghts we attribute this property to each other (and perhaps some other animals). If Meyer says that the cause of first life was conscious (and he says exactly that), then he really is saying something meaningful in terms of things we can experience.

    The problem with this, however, is that the hypothesis that the cause of life was conscious cannot be tested, and there are no good grounds to infer it:

    1) We have no scientific tests for evaluating the consciousness of unknown entities that we can’t interact with. The tests we do use to infer consciousness (such as the mirror test) are obviously not applicable in the context of ID.

    2) We infer consciousness in other humans because (1) we are alike in so many other ways, (2) we know that certain brain structures are required to be working in order to support consciousness in humans and we can perform neurological tests to see similarities across human individuals (and perhaps other animals), and (3) we provide verbal reports of consciousness that are best interpretable as referring to the same thing across subjects. None of these three methods are applicable in the context of ID.

    3) We do not know if consciousness is causal and there are reasons to think that complex form and function can be produced without it. Much of our thought occurs without conscious awareness, and other animals to which we do not typically attribute conscious (like termites) manage to produce FSCI anyway.

    So that is why ID cannot scientifically explain life by appeal to “intelligent causation”: Either the mentalistic concepts involved are meaningful only for specific organisms and not in the abstract, or we have no way of ascertaining if they apply to the cause of life.

    Some complain that we can’t define “life” any better than we can define “intelligence”. Exactly! That is why no scientist has ever tried to explain any phenomenon by offering “life” as the answer (except perhaps for vitalists!). “Life” is a general, hard-to-define term that describes what biologists study, not something we offer as an explanation for what we observe! Likewise, “intelligence”. I study “artificial intelligence”, but this just loosely describes the sorts of abilities we try to recreate in computers. No scientist ever explains anything by saying “intelligence is the cause!”.

    Again: No scientist ever explains anything by saying “life is the cause” or “intelligence is the cause”. These terms have no operationalized definitions, and so it doesn’t mean anything in terms of our experience to say that “life” or “intelligence” caused something.

    So, without an operationalized definition of intelligence, ID is forced to distinguish it’s cause some other way. The way ID does it is to implicitly resort to metaphysics, playing off people’s intuitive dualism without admitting it. Terms like “directed contingency” clearly refer to some variety of free will, but people accept it like it is a perfectly clear and observable fact known to science. Green has discussed the varieties of dualism and free will that various ID proponents appeal to, but none of these assumptions can be supported or refuted by appeal to our experience; they remain in philosophical debate.

    This is precisely what I object to, and all of my posts here are directed at this very aspect of ID. I’m not a materialist, and I’m not a Darwinist, but I have studied minds for my entire career and I find it clear that ID fails utterly to define its terms and lay out its case for empirical support for the existence of some life-creating entity that supposedly shares mental abilities with human beings.

    I’d argue that consciousness cannot be made sense of within a physicalist ontology, and thus that Meyer requires dualism. BUT, this is not a priori. If consciousness can be made sense of within a physicalist ontology, then I think it would be fine to embrace a materialist conception of intelligence, and thus a materialist conception of design. So the commitment to dualism is a posteriori here.

    I disagree. Meyer explicitly says that his hypothesis is to a conscious agent. He is using “consciousness” to define his cause; otherwise nothing distinguishes his cause from all other causes in the universe.

    I agree that Dembski implicitly assumes something like dualism when he explains life by something that is “not law and not chance”, and he has even admitted that his view requires “an expanded ontology”.

  307. 307
    William J. Murray

    aiguy,

    Your protestation that science cannot make scientific findings of “intelligent design” is belied by the fact that it does, as in cases of archaeology and forensics.

    Unless you wish to argue that, if we were to find what appeared to be an artificial construct of some sort on an otherwise desolate and uninteresting planet, there is no way to scientificallt establish as best explanation that the object was most likely the product of intelligent design (some intelligent non-human race, perhaps), then your argument here fails simply because we know such findings are made, and can be made, no matter if “intelligence”, “consciousness”, and “design” is poorly defined or not.

  308. gpuccio:

    8)The procedure starts by looking for some formal property of designed objects which empirically is specific for them (which is always associated only to designed objects, and never to non designed objects). We need a very high level of specificity for that inference.

    9) We find such a property: it is CSI. Objects exhibit CSI when two conditions are satisfied:

    a) A specification can be recognized in the object explicitly and clearly by conscious intelligent observers. By “explicitly” I mean that the observers, after recognizing the specification, must also be able to clearly define it, and define how the presence of that specification can be objectively verified, and if possible quantitatively measured. If the object satisfies that, we call the object “specified object”.

    b) The specification must be obtained through a high level of complexity in the object. Here, “complexity” has the usual meaning of Shannon entropy, or any equivalent definition. In general, it corresponds to Kolmogorov complexity (non compressible). We use some pre-defined threshold of complexity. If that threshold is satisfied, we call the object “complex”. The complexity must obviously be connected to the specification.

    If our object satisfies both a) and b) we call it “complex specified object”, and we say it exhibits CSI.

    Please excuse me for asking simple questions. I’ve read about CSI on this site before posting, but there seem to be different opinions. My first question is: Is CSI quantitative or qualitative?

    If it is quantitative, which seems to be the majority view from my reading, can you please point me to some examples of how it is calculated for a real world biological system (e.g. a cell, a genome, a giraffe, a biochemical pathway, or something similar)?

  309. 309
    William J. Murray

    That such findings are made, and can be made, is really non-controversial; the only real question is if a rigorous methodology – such as the FSCI bound – can be found to specifically quantify when such a finding is appropriate, even when it is not suspected that humans (our only current bona-fide example of ID) were not involved with the phenomena in question.

  310. Gpuccio

    I certainly don’t want to make you repeat all your comments. I have looked through them and I cannot find anything that describes the essential difference between my concept of free will and yours. Let me try and explain by tackling it from an epistemological view. (I don’t think Green has done that – but I haven’t read all this posts).

    How do you know about your type of free will? It can’t have been by observing it in other people. We have already determined that there is no defining difference in behaviour between our two versions. So presumably you know about it by introspection of your own exercise of free will. But how does this introspection inform you that when you exercise your free will it is not determined? I guess it is doesn’t come with a label saying “not determined”. Even if it did the label might be wrong. You might say that it is obvious to you from the nature of the experience that you are choosing. But imagine this. Suppose you deliberately and consciously exercise your free will over some simple decision e.g. whether to raise your hand or not (you can do it now perhaps). You luxuriate in your “simple glory of free will” and decide to raise your left hand after 7 seconds. But suppose as soon as you finish, an expert neuroscientist comes your from behind a screen and shows how he knew that you would spend 7 seconds luxuriating your free will before raising your left hand because he could trace the causal chain through the neurons leading to your decision. Is there anything that makes this logically impossible? Would this suddenly mean that you were not exercising true free will but only had the illusion?

  311. William,

    Your protestation that science cannot make scientific findings of “intelligent design” is belied by the fact that it does, as in cases of archaeology and forensics.

    No, William, of course we do not do that at all. There has never been an archaeologist or a forensics expert who has determined that “intelligent design” in the abstract was responsible for anything, obviously. What they invariably infer is the action not of an “intelligent agent” in the abstract, but rather of a “human being”.

    Read what I said again: Either the mentalistic concepts involved are meaningful only for specific organisms and not in the abstract, or we have no way of ascertaining if they apply to the cause of life.

    We infer the activity of animals – specific animals, including human beings – and not the activity of some abstract class of things called “intelligent agents”.

    Here’s what I wrote upthread vis-a-vis this issue, showing that a fire investigator infers not “intelligent agency” but rather “human beings”:

    AIGUY: I have decided that this fire was set by an “intelligent agent”
    CHIEF: What the heck is that?
    AIGUY: It is something that is intelligent, but it isn’t a human being or complex physical life form.
    CHIEF: WHAT? Have you lost your mind? Are you talking about a ghost? A spirit? A poltergeist? A demon? A god?
    AIGUY: I won’t say. I know it wasn’t human, but I know it was conscious!
    CHIEF: Fires are set by human beings, AIGUY – not by disembodied consciousness!
    AIGUY: What? You closed-minded ideologue! What about my academic freedom as a fire investigator!
    CHIEF: You’re fired.

    Unless you wish to argue that, if we were to find what appeared to be an artificial construct of some sort on an otherwise desolate and uninteresting planet, there is no way to scientificallt establish as best explanation that the object was most likely the product of intelligent design (some intelligent non-human race, perhaps), then your argument here fails simply because we know such findings are made, and can be made, no matter if “intelligence”, “consciousness”, and “design” is poorly defined or not.

    SETI seeks intelligent life forms, not intelligent non-life forms. I’ve been through this many times here. If we found a TV set on Jupiter, we would be justified in assuming something with eyes, ears, and hands existed there. If the artifact were similar enough to what humans build that we would assume it was a human-like life form, we might infer that it was sufficiently human-like that it would share other attributes – like a powerful brain that could read, write, understand a melody, play Jeoparday, and so on.

    If, however, the object we found was something we find in nature and not something that reflects a human-like origin, none of these inferences would be justified.

  312. 312
    William J. Murray

    I meant, “when it is not supsected that humans were involved” in #309.

  313. The difference between SETI and ID:

    SETI looks for things that are not found in nature and tries to infer intelligent life.

    ID looks for things that are found in nature and tries to infer intelligent non-life.

    These are very, very different sorts of endeavors.

  314. aiguy:

    I think cognitive science has clearly shown that intelligence (i.e. planning and problem-solving abilities) does not require consciousness.

    Why do you say that? Can you show me an example of intelligence that can plan and solbe problems, and which does not originate from a conscious being? I am not necessarily saying that cponsciousness is the cause (although I firmly believe it): but I affirm that it is always associated with any form of intelligent processes. Which would anyway be a very goos reason to infer that it is the best explanation for all intelligence.

    Regarding your other points, I again disagree. ID does not resort to metaphysics, as I have tried to show in my post #292. Design detection needs no metaphysics.

    But I see your problem. If design detection, which never fails when we deal with supposed human artifacts, tels us that biological information is an artifact (and there is nothing metaphysical in that), what model can we choose to explain that?

    The problem is that some of us think that the only conscious intelligent beings are humans. And we usually don’t believe that humans were present at OOL, or can have caused it, or the following evolution of it.

    But, while I can agree with the second statement, I would say that the first is only a prejudice, and implies a definite view of reality, which needs not be shared by all, which has never been shared by all, and which has definitely beeen shared only by a minority in the past.

    It is definitely possible that other conscious intelligent beings exist. If deosign detection tells us that biological information has all the properties of designed artifacts, and if we agree that humans are not a likely explanation of that, it is simply reasonable to consider that other conscious intelligent beings may be responsible, and try to understand if that is true by scientific inquiry. That’s not only a possibility, it is a scientific duty. There is nothing metaphysical in that.

    Otherwise, we would remain with the only alternative that the origin of biological information cannot ever be explained. Which is not a very satisfying conclusion for science, or for human thought in general.

    Because I am absolutely sure that any theory which does not include cosnciousness and design can never explain the origin of biological information. And that this can be demonstrated, indeed that it has already been demonstrated in the context of the ID theory.

  315. 315
    William J. Murray

    aiguy,

    SETI doesn’t seek intelligent life-forms; they seek evidence of intelligent life forms – IOW, a signal that can be deduced to be artificial – meaning, it must be similar enough to “what humans deliberately produce that is quantifiable different from what nature produces” so that we can recognize it.

    Of course a design inference requires that the intelligence of the designer of the phenomena in question is similar enough, or produces product similar enough, to humans so that it is available to a method of quantification that works in differentiating human ID product from natural processes.

    ID doesn’t claim to be able to identify ALL cases of ID, or even most – only those which are similar enough in kind to the quantifiable human baseline as to be recognizable products of human-like intelligence.

    ID doesn’t purport that all product of ID will be discernible by the FSCI bound, or even by any means of investigation; only that some of it, like some of that which is produced by humans and perhaps other human-like (in intelligence) entities.

    The FSCI bound quantifies what is available to known natural law and chance to produce, and shows that human intelligent design easily and regularly exceeds that bound by huge amounts on a daily basis, and is the only known commodity to do so.

    Which means it is a reasonable inference that if we find a phenomena which exceeds that bound by a considerable margin, a human-like intelligence might be responsible.

    Again, it is a pretty straight-forward inference to best explanation.

  316. 316
    William J. Murray

    aiguy said: “ID looks for things that are found in nature and tries to infer intelligent non-life.”

    False. ID leaves the vehicle for intelligence entirely undefined.

  317. aiguy:

    ID looks for things that are found in nature and tries to infer intelligent non-life.

    Why non-life? Are you saying that our designer, whoever he is, a cosncious intelligent being, would be dead?

    Even if the designer is God, he can well be a living God…

  318. William,

    aiguy: ID looks for things that are found in nature and tries to infer intelligent non-life.
    William: False. ID leaves the vehicle for intelligence entirely undefined.

    The Designer that ID posits is either a complex life form or it is not.

    If the Designer is itself a complex form, then it cannot logically be the cause of the very first living cell (Stephen Meyer claims that ID explains the creation of the very first living cell). And once you posit the existence of extra-terrestrial life, you may as well hypothesize that we are the descendents of that life form, rather than the products of its advanced engineering efforts.

    That leaves only the possibily that ID is positing something that is not itself a complex, physical, FSCI-rich life form. That is why I say (truely) that ID must posit non-life in order to explain what it claims to be able to explain (at least in Stephen Meyer’s view).

    gpuccio,

    Why non-life? Are you saying that our designer, whoever he is, a cosncious intelligent being, would be dead?

    Even if the designer is God, he can well be a living God

    By “life” here I mean “a complex physical organism rich in FSCI”.

  319. –aiguy: “SETI looks for things that are not found in nature and tries to infer intelligent life.

    –ID looks for things that are found in nature and tries to infer intelligent non-life.”

    Define “nature.”

  320. William,

    SETI doesn’t seek intelligent life-forms; they seek evidence of intelligent life forms – IOW, a signal that can be deduced to be artificial – meaning, it must be similar enough to “what humans deliberately produce that is quantifiable different from what nature produces” so that we can recognize it.

    You are completely wrong about SETI. I can provide links if you wish, but I assure you that SETI hires astrobiologists and performs analyses regarding encephalization quotients that all assume (in their own words) that they are seeking life as we know it. They assess the probability of finding living things with complex brains on other planets, and focus their search on looking for places where life as we know it may have evolved.

    Like I said I can find the links, but SETI researchers are quite clear that they are looking for life forms in outer space.

    The FSCI bound quantifies what is available to known natural law and chance to produce, and shows that human intelligent design easily and regularly exceeds that bound by huge amounts on a daily basis, and is the only known commodity to do so.

    You are again mistaken. Nobody knows if human brains do anything that is not by “law and chance”. If we do, that would mean dualism is true, and that is a metaphysical speculation that is not supportable scientifically.

  321. MathGrrl:

    Please excuse me for asking simple questions. I’ve read about CSI on this site before posting, but there seem to be different opinions. My first question is: Is CSI quantitative or qualitative? If it is quantitative, which seems to be the majority view from my reading, can you please point me to some examples of how it is calculated for a real world biological system (e.g. a cell, a genome, a giraffe, a biochemical pathway, or something similar)?

    But I do like simple and clear questions. We have debated these points many times. I will try to sum up my answers, and then if you want we can go into further details.

    1) CSI is quantitative, but requires also a qualitative part. To be more clear, I will refer from now on to the specific subset of CSI which is dFSCI, as defined in my post #292.

    2) The qualitative part is the recognition of the functional specification. That means that a conscious intelligent observer must be able to recognize a function in the supposed designed object, to define it explicitly so that any conscious intelligent observe can verify its presence, and if possible to give an explicit way to measure that function, either as present or absent through some threshold, or even quantitatively through a definite numerical measurement.

    So, as you csn see, this part is qualitative because an observe has to recognize and define the function, but in the end it gives us a quantitative result. The measurement of the function can be used as a coefficient for dFSCI.

    Let’s make an example. We want to measure dFSCI in a protein, an enzyme. We recognize that the enzyme accelerates a specific reaction. So, we define that as its function. Then we define an arbitrary, but reasonable, threshold for that function (for example, that the reacttion must take place at least at a certain rate in standard conditions), and if that condition is verified we give a value of 1 to the specification coefficient, otherwise we give it a value of 0. In that way, for any molecule tested for that function, the function will be present or absent.

    3) Then comes the measurement of the complexity of the protein. That’s the most difficult part. There are at least two ways to do that. One is valid in principle, but can be applied only with some approximation to proteins, at least until we have better understanding of them.

    The general principle is that the complexity is the rate between the functional space and the search space. The search space for a protein is easy to calculate, it is 20^length of the protein in AAs.
    The functional space, or target space, is the difficult part: it can be defined as the number of sequences of the same length which, if tested, would exhibit the function according to our definition.

    Obviously, the measurement of the target space cannot empirically be made that way. So, we have to make reasonable inferences based on what we know of proteins and of the relation between structure and function. This is a subject of reseatrch and debate, and we are certainly making progress towards a better understanding.

    If we have a reasonable assumption about the size of the functional space, the complexity of that protein can be easily calculated and expressed in bits, exactly like any other complexity (Kolmogorov complexiy, Shannon’s entropy).

    4) If the specification coefficient is 1 for our original molecule (that is, if we confirm that it has the function), then the measurement of its complexity is also the measurement of ots functional complexity, expressed in Fits (functional bits). We have measured dFSCI.

    5) Luckily, there are indirect methods to make that calculation. We have many times discussed the important paper by Durston, which makes that calculation for many protein families, using the concept of Shannon’s entropy, and gives the values in Fits. This is the title:

    “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins”

    and this is the URL:

    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/4/1/47

  322. StephenB,

    aiguy: “SETI looks for things that are not found in nature and tries to infer intelligent life.

    ID looks for things that are found in nature and tries to infer intelligent non-life.

    Fair enough: “Nature” here means “anything that is NOT the product of HUMAN activity.”

  323. 323

    “Nature” here means “anything that is NOT the product of HUMAN activity.”

    How can you tell?

  324. Mark:

    You are equivocating my position.

    I don’t believe that we can have any empirical proof of free will (neither verification nor falsification). At least, not with our current knowledge.

    So, I am not treating free will like I treat design. It is not a subject for which we have any real scientific or empirical argument.

    In that sense I agree with you, empirical arguments cannot distinguish between different conceptions of free will. That means that neither mine nor yours can have empirical support.

    That’s why I say that free will is a philosophical problem, and not a scientific one.

    But that does not mean that we cannot have philosophical conceptions about it, and that those conception cannot be different. Those conceptions exist, and are different.

    We don’t build our conception of reality only form empirical data.At least, I don’t believe that. You can believe as you like.

    I believe in free will for many reasons, including my intuition, and a very clear consideration of what its negation implies for all our conception of reality and of ouhrselves. None of these reasons is really empirical, but all of them are very valid for me.

    Compatibilists have a different conception, but I refuse their conception not only because it is different from mine, but also because I find it internally inconsistent and confused. For instance, I don’t believe that compatibilists have found any way to preserve moral responsibility under a non libertarian view of free will. They may think they have, but I continue to think that they are only using their words and their reason very badly.

    From that point of view, I really prefer strict determinists. At least, they have the courage to face the cognitive consequences of what they believe.

  325. GP,

    AIGUY: I think cognitive science has clearly shown that intelligence (i.e. planning and problem-solving abilities) does not require consciousness.
    GP: Why do you say that? Can you show me an example of intelligence that can plan and solbe problems, and which does not originate from a conscious being?

    Human beings are conscious beings, but much of our thought occurs without conscious awareness. The simple act of walking requires a great deal of planning and coordination; it takes a huge amount of programming to make a robot walk. Yet we can do it without conscious awareness, even in our sleep. Mathematicians commonly report that they do their most creative work when they are not consciously working on the problem; the solutions to difficult problems “come to them” out of “nowhere” without conscious attention. And so on.

    I am not necessarily saying that cponsciousness is the cause (although I firmly believe it): but I affirm that it is always associated with any form of intelligent processes.</blockquote
    That is not the case at all. Although humans create computer sytems, these systems become general problem-solvers on their own, and can learn, design, and be creative on their own (like human beings, who are creative on their own despite you thinking they are created by yet another intelligent designer, right?). So computers can design things on their own, and we don't believe that they are conscious.

    The problem is that some of us think that the only conscious intelligent beings are humans.

    As far as our experience goes, that is ture (aside from other animals perhaps).

    And we usually don’t believe that humans were present at OOL, or can have caused it, or the following evolution of it

    It would not be logically possible for human beings to have existed prior to the origin of first life, obviously.

    But, while I can agree with the second statement, I would say that the first is only a prejudice, and implies a definite view of reality, which needs not be shared by all, which has never been shared by all, and which has definitely beeen shared only by a minority in the past.

    It is simply a statement about our uniform and repeated experience. (Unless you count paranormal sightings of ghosts, demons, etc).

    It is definitely possible that other conscious intelligent beings exist.

    Yes, it is possible. But we have no evidence of them.

    If deosign detection tells us that biological information has all the properties of designed artifacts, and if we agree that humans are not a likely explanation of that, it is simply reasonable to consider that other conscious intelligent beings may be responsible, and try to understand if that is true by scientific inquiry. That’s not only a possibility, it is a scientific duty. There is nothing metaphysical in that.

    You can consider whatever you’d like to consider, of course. What you can’t do is to claim that you are invoking a known cause, because we do not in any way know that consciousness is causal, or that only conscious things can create FSCI, or that consciousness can exist apart from a human-like brain. None of these things are evident from our experience, and all of these things would require empirical evidence in order to claim that the conclusions of ID are scientific.

    Otherwise, we would remain with the only alternative that the origin of biological information cannot ever be explained. Which is not a very satisfying conclusion for science, or for human thought in general.

    We can’t possibly predict what we will discover in the future. Perhaps paranormal psychology will reveal that consciousness is causal and transcends law+chance. Perhaps we will learn more about quantum physics and discover that information is conveyed from the environment into the genome in unanticipated ways. Perhaps we will come up with evidence that there are an infinite number of universes, so that an infinite number of astronomically unlikely life forms exist… We will of course continue to follow any hypothesis we can think of, and perhaps someday we will actually know the answer.

    Currently, however, we have no idea.

  326. 326
    William J. Murray

    aiguy:

    I’m not sure how your appeal to causal regress of life rebuts or even correlates to my comments in #315.

    Intelligence – however it exists, even if discorporate and immortal – either produces product “like” human intelligence produces, or it does not; if it does, such product can be reasonably inferred to be the product of a human-like intelligence, even if isn’t housed in a human-like body.

  327. UB,

    “Nature” here means “anything that is NOT the product of HUMAN activity.”

    How can you tell?

    SB asked me for a definition of what I meant by “nature” in my description of why SETI was virtually the opposite of ID. I defined “nature” in that statement to mean whatever is NOT the product of human activity. Obviously we know what is the result of human activity because we all observe ourselves and other humans every day, and we know quite well what we build.

  328. gpuccio:
    Thanks for the quick and detailed response. I’ve seen similar calculations to yours in my reading here:

    The general principle is that the complexity is the rate between the functional space and the search space. The search space for a protein is easy to calculate, it is 20^length of the protein in AAs.
    The functional space, or target space, is the difficult part: it can be defined as the number of sequences of the same length which, if tested, would exhibit the function according to our definition.

    The problem with this calculation is that it assumes that the protein came into existence all at once, in its current form. That’s not what biologists see.

    In fact, we known that various mutational mechanisms and the effects of natural selection and genetic drift can iteratively improve the performance of a particular protein for a given function and can generate proteins that have new functions (nylon eating bacteria and Lenski’s citrate consuming e. coli being two well-known examples).

    Unless I’m missing something, that shows that, by your definition, CSI can be created without the intervention of an intelligent agent.

  329. William,

    I’m not sure how your appeal to causal regress of life rebuts or even correlates to my comments in #315.

    My point was that SETI does not consider intelligence in the abstract; rather, it looks for life-as-we-know it. Since life-as-we-know-it cannot logically be the cause of life-as-we-know-it, SETI is doing something very different from ID.

    Intelligence – however it exists, even if discorporate and immortal – either produces product “like” human intelligence produces, or it does not; if it does, such product can be reasonably inferred to be the product of a human-like intelligence, even if isn’t housed in a human-like body

    In our constant, uniform, and repeated experience, FSCI is produced by complex physical FSCI-rich organisms. You may imagine that something else is capable of producing FSCI, but you have no scientific evidence of such a thing. As far as we can tell, complex information processing requires complex physical mechanisms – there are no known exceptions. So if ID is going to hypothesize that the first FSCI-rich organism was created by something with a human-like mind, they must provide some reason to believe that such a thing is possible.

    The only scientific endeavor to investigate such claims is paranormal psychology, which hypothesizes that mental cause can act independently of physical mechanism. I am actually open to the possibility of paranormal events, but I think the evidence to date is exceedingly weak. If ID explicity started doing paranormal research to ascertain if its hypothesis was even plausible, then I would have a great of interest in that! However, unfortunately, ID proponents for some reason do not involve themselves in the scientific study of mind, so they have nothing at all to show as evidence that anything but a complex, physical, FSCI-rich organism can produce FSCI.

  330. aiguy, in order to understand where you are coming from, I’m just curious …

    1. For starters how do you scientifically demarcate life from non-life and the products of intelligence from non-intelligence? I’m asking since it appears that you have no problem with SETI being scientific in its research program, so you must be able to tell us how to demarcate between the two points above. If, indeed, SETI is able to separate intelligent life from all other combinations of life, intelligence, non-life and non-intelligence, then there must be some scientific methodology and definitions of key terms [intelligence and life], no?

    Basically, I’d like to get your position on whether or not we could infer intelligent life as a source if we received a specific type of radio signal — you know, something wild like instructions on how to generate life from scratch and seed planets — from our radio telescopes. If not, what is your reasoning that we presently have or even theoretically could have a better explanation than intelligence life?

    2. Even if you disagree that SETI is a scientific research program, you seem to believe that life is indeed a well enough defined concept to be utilized in science classes. So, how do you define life?

    3. Next, even though we may not know how life and intelligence are generated, can we still say that there are specific molecules and patterns that require the existence of previous life and intelligence respectively?

    For example, since proteins are most likely not ever generated by only law+chance absent the structure that you may or may not have been able to sufficiently define as “life,” if we see a protein — let’s say frozen in time in amber — can we reliably infer the existence of a previous living organism as a necessary cause?

    4. Finally, if you have been able to define life and if you believe that the existence of proteins do not require the structure that you have defined as life, can you provide evidence for your position?

  331. MathGrrl,

    Here are my thoughts on CSI, if you are interested, including more in depth discussions that I’ve had on the subject. The first link contains a calculation. The other links expand and discuss different aspects with ID critics.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-341828

    http://telicthoughts.com/puzzl.....ent-255961

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-345511

    http://telicthoughts.com/puzzl.....ent-257384

  332. MathGrrl:

    No, that’s not true. Your examples refer to instances of microevolution, where the function is already present and very small mutations (1-2 AAs) can tweak that function a little. Nylonase, for instance, is only a small variation of penicillinase. All these models are similar to those of antibiotic resistance, and no CSI is created in them, because the function is the same and the variation is vastly above the threshold of complexity for CSI.

    There is absolutely no example of emergence of a new complex function through microevolution. I have said many times that, if functions could be deconstructed in samll funbctional steps, each of them selectable for a reproductive advantage, then the model RV + NS could work. But that assumotion is simply not true.

    Protein domains are structurally unrelated one to the other, and there are tousands of them They appear at OOL and then during evolution, and darwinian theory has no single model of how one of them appeared, they cannot be deconstructed into simple functional variations from a pre-existing different protein domain. Please, refer to the recent Axe paper for that. Or, if you don’t agree, just bring your arguments.

  333. aiguy:
    “they have nothing at all to show as evidence that anything but a complex, physical, FSCI-rich organism can produce FSCI.”

    First, I’m a little confused as to why you keep sneaking in the term “physical” since you have on a couple occasions stated that you physical can’t be properly defined.

    Other than that …

    So, then you agree with ID Theory proper, that intelligence (foresight, as I have defined it) — with the caveat that it is complex and FSCI rich — is required to produce FSCI?

  334. aiguy:

    Human beings are conscious beings, but much of our thought occurs without conscious awareness. The simple act of walking requires a great deal of planning and coordination; it takes a huge amount of programming to make a robot walk. Yet we can do it without conscious awareness, even in our sleep. Mathematicians commonly report that they do their most creative work when they are not consciously working on the problem; the solutions to difficult problems “come to them” out of “nowhere” without conscious attention. And so on.

    I have already cvommented on the subconscious mins. As for really unconscious processes, or automatic ones, they are obviously based on intelligent information already present in our body and nervous systen structure, and that comes form the genome, os it is included in the set of biological information.

    You still have to give one single example of intelligent processes which do not originate form conscious beings, or from biological information.

  335. 335

    Aig,

    “SB asked me for a definition of what I meant by “nature” in my description of why SETI was virtually the opposite of ID. I defined “nature” in that statement to mean whatever is NOT the product of human activity. Obviously we know what is the result of human activity because we all observe ourselves and other humans every day, and we know quite well what we build”

    This doesn’t like a rigorous delineation between what nature can accomplish versus what humans can do.

    Reading your description, you make the distinction based upon the idea that we have all seen what humans do, and we can tell from that.

    So if I understand your description correctly as you have stated it, should an instance come up where we find a (pick your own scenario) set of markings in a volcanic formation, we would start to assess the issue by first asking around to see if anyone had seen a human do it? Or is there something more substantial you’d like to add?

  336. errata corrige:

    “subconscious minds”

    “comes from the genome, and it is included in the set of biological information”

  337. Hi CJY,

    1. For starters how do you scientifically demarcate life from non-life

    I have no answers to this at all. “Life” is just a general descriptive label for the things biologists study, not a theoretical term used to explain anything. When I talk about FSCI coming exclusively from “life forms” here, I mean (and I’ve made this clear repeatedly) “complex, physical, FSCI-rich organisms”. So, to the extent that FSCI is an objectively clear concept, my statement about FSCI coming invariably from life forms is also objectively clear.

    …and the products of intelligence from non-intelligence?

    This has no meaning whatsoever. Things do what they do, and if you choose to call them “intelligent” then that’s fine. When I show some computer system I’ve built to somebody, it either does what I say it does or not. It doesn’t add anything to our understanding for us to try and decide if my system is “intelligent” or not!

    I’m asking since it appears that you have no problem with SETI being scientific in its research program, so you must be able to tell us how to demarcate between the two points above.

    SETI has not actually produced scientific results, but they do try to use science to inform their search. They are (as they say) looking for life-as-we-know-it, which means that in particular that they are looking for organisms with large brains. Astrobiologists at SETI compute what they call “encephalization quotients” (measures of brain evolution) in order to inform their search.

    If, indeed, SETI is able to separate intelligent life from all other combinations of life, intelligence, non-life and non-intelligence, then there must be some scientific methodology and definitions of key terms [intelligence and life], no?

    They use evolutionary biology as a foundation for astrobiology, and astrobiology as a foundation for looking for life forms in outer space. SETI is a distinctly non-ID-friendly endeavor, and SETI researchers have made that quite clear.

    Basically, I’d like to get your position on whether or not we could infer intelligent life as a source if we received a specific type of radio signal — you know, something wild like instructions on how to generate life from scratch and seed planets — from our radio telescopes. If not, what is your reasoning that we presently have or even theoretically could have a better explanation than intelligence life?

    If we get some signal that looks like a life form sent it, we could tentatively infer some life form was behind it. To the extent that we have evidence that the life form was similar to humans in various ways, we may gain confidence that human-like physical and mental abilities could have been responsible. The conclusion would be that a complex, physical, FSCI-rich organism with sense organs, brains, muscles, and other human-like attributes was responsible.

    2. Even if you disagree that SETI is a scientific research program, you seem to believe that life is indeed a well enough defined concept to be utilized in science classes. So, how do you define life?

    No, it isn’t well-defined at all. Nobody offers “life” as an explanation for anything in any scientific theory. Same with “intelligence”. Or “dexterity”, or “athleticism”. These are all general descriptive labels, not rigorously defined concepts. They can’t be used in scientific theories to explain anything. In AI, we never explain anything by appeal to “intelligence”, and if somebody asks what we mean by “intelligence” we just say “you know, whatever you might call ‘intelligent’ if you saw a human being do it”. That is a distinctly subjective and vague definition, but that is all it means – which is why it can never be offered as an explanation for any phenomenon.

    For example, since proteins are most likely not ever generated by only law+chance

    We do not know if there exists anything except law+chance. (In other words, we do not know if dualism is true).

    …absent the structure that you may or may not have been able to sufficiently define as “life,” if we see a protein — let’s say frozen in time in amber — can we reliably infer the existence of a previous living organism as a necessary cause?

    I don’t really know what we would infer from a protein… if we found a protein on a meteor, maybe we’d infer it was produced some other way? I really don’t know.

    4. Finally, if you have been able to define life and if you believe that the existence of proteins do not require the structure that you have defined as life, can you provide evidence for your position?

    No good definition for “life”, no. And no theory about how proteins form aside from where we see them synthesized in biological systems.

  338. gpuccio:

    There is absolutely no example of emergence of a new complex function through microevolution.

    The ability to digest citrate that evolved during Lenski’s long-running experiment seems to contradict your claim. Why do you think it does not?

  339. 339

    “If we get some signal that looks like a life form sent it, we could tentatively infer some life form was behind it”

    Again, how would you know?

  340. 340

    “…and if somebody asks what we mean by “intelligence” we just say “you know, whatever you might call ‘intelligent’ if you saw a human being do it”.”

    Again, how could this person possibly know to what you are referring?

  341. Onlookers:

    Look above.

    Ask yourself: who have put forward empirical evidence with explicit steps of inductive inference therefrom, and who have raised philosophical debates on distractive side-points, for dozens of comments now?

    What does that tell you of he balance on the empirical merits?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: MG, the problem with the incremental function of a protein claim is that proteins exist in islands of function [as studies of protein spaces show].

    Until you are on the shoreline of function, discussion of incremental improvement is irrelevant. The calculation you have seen, a simple model [Durston et al have a much more serious but less comprehensible model], is premised on observed function and specificity, AND complexity beyond a reasonable threshold. For a protein, 1,000 bits of basic information storage capacity [on a flat distribution across AA's] comes in at 2^1,000 = 20^x => x ~232.

    In a small warm little pond, the dozens to hundreds of proteins, many of about this complexity, plus storage media, codes, algorithms etc would have to be formed to create the system in which the proteins have function. So, the threshold is already telling us that the cosmos we observe does not have the search resources to credibly at-random create just ONE of the relevant proteins. And that is before we get into issues over chirality, uncontrolled reaction environment — contrast the controlled programmed chemistry in the Ribosome, with chaperoned AA’s carefully chained — and worse.

    When we look at a first organism, we then have to innovate 10′s of mns of DNA base pairs of information to get embryologically viable novel body plans, dozens of times over. The search space challenge just exploded far beyond the already insuperable level. It is not just one protein in isolation, but even for that, a viable protein [just on its information content] is maximally hard to get to without intelligent control, which is exactly what is going on in the cell, programed intelligent synthesis of specific nanotech, molecular scale machines.

    The FSCI threshold is very useful for helping us see that.

  342. 342
    William J. Murray

    aiguy:

    That’s a really good argument. You’ve made some really good points worth further consideration, and I appreciate your time and patient responses.

    I see your point; from your perspective, we have no good reason to consider intelligence to be transferrable outside of complex biology we find our only tangible example in; yet it seems that is precisely what we must do in order to make the case that life itself was generated by similar intelligence – regardless of whether or not our particular form of life was intelligently engineered by another human-like organic intelligence. The complex-organic buck has to stop somewhere.

    That leaves human life open to explanation by ID, but not all FSCI-producing life (from the perspective of your argument).

    I think the weak link in your argument is the idea that we do not have good or sufficient reason to suspect (for the purpose of justifying ID theory for the origin of life in our universe, not just human life) that FSCI-producing intelligence is, or can be, an extra-biological phenomena.

    I think we can find one such “good reason”, which you supplied yourself when you said:

    —————-

    “In our constant, uniform, and repeated experience, FSCI is produced by complex physical FSCI-rich organisms. You may imagine that something else is capable of producing FSCI, but you have no scientific evidence of such a thing.

    ———————-

    Yet … what produced complex, physical, FSCI-rich organisms, if the only thing that can produce such FSCI is the thing itself?

    So, “something else”, besides “complex, physical, FSCI-rich organisms” must in fact be capable of producing FSCI-rich product. On that, we must agree.

    It cannot be a reasonable conclusion, then, that FSCI is generated only by complex organisms (recursive problem). Since the ability to produce FSCI is a definitionally intelligent process, then intelligence (at least to the degree that is required to produce FSCI product above 1000 bits) **must** exist outside of complex organisms, unless one wishes to refer to infinite regress.

    Thus, we have logically concluded that intelligence to the degree that it is defined as the ability to produce levels of FSCI over 1000 bits must in fact exist outside of complex biological organisms, or else complex, FSCI-rich organisms wouldn’t exist.

  343. Gpuccio – I don’t normally do this to you but I really would like to know the answer to the question I asked above. Given the scenario I outlined …Suppose you went through exactly the mental processes of making a decision that you do at the moment and someone demonstrated how it was caused.

    Would this suddenly mean that you were not exercising true free will but only had the illusion?

  344. gpuccio:

    “Nylonase, for instance, is only a small variation of penicillinase. All these models are similar to those of antibiotic resistance, and no CSI is created in them, because the function is the same and the variation is vastly above the threshold of complexity for CSI.”

    So, in your opinion, the ability to digest Nylon is the same “function” as the ability to resist Penicillin? Do you realize that that is about as absurd as claiming that a horse’s ability to digest grass is the same function as it’s ability to kick a mountain lion in the head?
    Moreover, your criteria for the existence of CSI would mean that your composition of an english sentence requires no CSI, because it has the same function as a french sentence, and the difference of any particular sentence you composed from at least one of all the other english sentences in existence before this one is vastly above the threshold of complexity for CSI.

  345. UB,

    AIGUY: If we get some signal that looks like a life form sent it, we could tentatively infer some life form was behind it
    UB: Again, how would you know?

    Well, I don’t think we would know at all – I think we would form a hypothesis. In order to think of this as justified by empirical evidence, we’d have to investigate further. If the signal came from a planet that appeared to be habitable to life that would count as evidence for our hypothesis; if the signal came from inside a star, that would count against it. (SETI/astrobiological papers already discuss these sorts of things).

    …and if somebody asks what we mean by “intelligence” we just say “you know, whatever you might call ‘intelligent’ if you saw a human being do it”.

    Again, how could this person possibly know to what you are referring

    That’s just the point: We in AI don’t have any need to define this general descriptive term, because we aren’t trying to say that it is a scientific concept at all. It is just what we call our discipline, and our discipline studies how to make computer systems which have the same sorts of abilities we see in humans and other animals. (Things like visual recognition, speech recognition, natural language understanding, planning and scheduling, and so forth).

  346. William,

    That’s a really good argument. You’ve made some really good points worth further consideration, and I appreciate your time and patient responses.

    Thanks very much!

    I see your point; from your perspective, we have no good reason to consider intelligence to be transferrable outside of complex biology we find our only tangible example in;

    Yes, part of the problem with ID is its failure to provide an empirically-grounded definition of “intelligence”. The other problem is that if they really are talking about human-like minds including conscious awareness, then it does not follow from the evidence at hand that any such thing can exist without the complex physical information processing mechanisms we see in biological systems.

    I think the weak link in your argument is the idea that we do not have good or sufficient reason to suspect (for the purpose of justifying ID theory for the origin of life in our universe, not just human life) that FSCI-producing intelligence is, or can be, an extra-biological phenomena.

    I really do have an open mind regarding what might be conscious… perhaps computers will someday be conscious and perhaps not – I think that is an open question. And perhaps disembodied immaterial mind exists too; I just don’t know. I don’t say these things are impossible, but I do object to ID’s rhetorical tricks that obscure the fact that these are precisely the questions that ID needs to address, rather than (as folks like Stephen Meyer says) simply inferring a cause already known to us as the cause of first life. That just isn’t true at all.

    I think we can find one such “good reason”, which you supplied yourself when you said:

    —————-

    “In our constant, uniform, and repeated experience, FSCI is produced by complex physical FSCI-rich organisms. You may imagine that something else is capable of producing FSCI, but you have no scientific evidence of such a thing.

    ———————-

    Yet … what produced complex, physical, FSCI-rich organisms, if the only thing that can produce such FSCI is the thing itself?

    The answer is currently this: We do not know.

    So, “something else”, besides “complex, physical, FSCI-rich organisms” must in fact be capable of producing FSCI-rich product. On that, we must agree.

    I suppose; else maybe FSCI exists eternally, or maybe there is an infinite number of universes so that an infinite number of them contains astronomically improbably FSCI… or…

    It cannot be a reasonable conclusion, then, that FSCI is generated only by complex organisms (recursive problem).

    It would seem to be the case, yes… unless perhaps infinite regressions actually do exist…

    Since the ability to produce FSCI is a definitionally intelligent process,

    ???? No. If you define “intelligent” as “that which produces FSCI”, then as I’ve shown, ID is reduced to a vacuous tautology (FSCI is produced by that which produces FSCI). No, you need another way to define intelligence in order to make this a synthetic rather than an analytic proposition (that is, in order to make a statement about the world rather than just a statement about the meaning of the word “intelligence”).

    … then intelligence (at least to the degree that is required to produce FSCI product above 1000 bits) **must** exist outside of complex organisms, unless one wishes to refer to infinite regress.

    What do you mean by “intelligence” in that sentence? If all you mean is “able to produce FSCI”, then you really are arguing a very tight circle: You define intelligence to mean “that which produces FSCI”, and then you explain FSCI by appeal to “intelligence”.

    Thus, we have logically concluded that intelligence to the degree that it is defined as the ability to produce levels of FSCI over 1000 bits must in fact exist outside of complex biological organisms, or else complex, FSCI-rich organisms wouldn’t exist.

    I do agree (modulo the possibility of infinite universes, infinite regress, or eternal FSCI). But I strongly object to the use of the word “intelligence” if all you mean is “whatever creates FSCI”, because “intelligence” has so many other connotations (including “consciousness”, which most people – like gpuccio here – do associate with intelligence).

    It is exactly this confusion – this equivocation – that makes ID so difficult to debate. The authors of ID have done a fine job in creating a way of talking about these things that obscure these implications and commitments.

  347. molch:

    So, in your opinion, the ability to digest Nylon is the same “function” as the ability to resist Penicillin? Do you realize that that is about as absurd as claiming that a horse’s ability to digest grass is the same function as it’s ability to kick a mountain lion in the head?

    You are simply wrong. Both molecules are esterases, and share the same fold:

    “Mutational analysis of 6-aminohexanoate-dimer hydrolase:
    Relationship between nylon oligomer hydrolytic and esterolytic activities”

    Taku Ohkia, Yoshiaki Wakitania, Masahiro Takeoa, Kengo Yasuhiraa, Naoki Shibatab,
    Yoshiki Higuchib, Seiji Negoroa

    FEBS Letters 580 (2006) 5054–5058

    “Based upon the following findings, we propose that the
    nylon oligomer hydrolase has newly evolved through amino
    acid substitutions in the catalytic cleft of a pre-existing esterase
    with the b-lactamase-fold”.

    Moreover, your criteria for the existence of CSI would mean that your composition of an english sentence requires no CSI, because it has the same function as a french sentence, and the difference of any particular sentence you composed from at least one of all the other english sentences in existence before this one is vastly above the threshold of complexity for CSI.

    Excuse my obvious dumbness, but I really can’t understand what you mean here. Could you please clarify?

  348. MathGrrl:

    The ability to digest citrate that evolved during Lenski’s long-running experiment seems to contradict your claim. Why do you think it does not?

    I will just mention what Behe says:

    “In his new paper Lenski reports that, after 30,000 generations, one of his lines of cells has developed the ability to utilize citrate as a food source in the presence of oxygen. (E. coli in the wild can’t do that.) Now, wild E. coli already has a number of enzymes that normally use citrate and can digest it (it’s not some exotic chemical the bacterium has never seen before). However, the wild bacterium lacks an enzyme called a “citrate permease” which can transport citrate from outside the cell through the cell’s membrane into its interior. So all the bacterium needed to do to use citrate was to find a way to get it into the cell. The rest of the machinery for its metabolism was already there. As Lenski put it, “The only known barrier to aerobic growth on citrate is its inability to transport citrate under oxic conditions.” (1)

    Other workers (cited by Lenski) in the past several decades have also identified mutant E. coli that could use citrate as a food source. In one instance the mutation wasn’t tracked down. (2) In another instance a protein coded by a gene called citT, which normally transports citrate in the absence of oxygen, was overexpressed. (3) The overexpressed protein allowed E. coli to grow on citrate in the presence of oxygen. It seems likely that Lenski’s mutant will turn out to be either this gene or another of the bacterium’s citrate-using genes, tweaked a bit to allow it to transport citrate in the presence of oxygen. (He hasn’t yet tracked down the mutation.)”

    Have you any new information to show that the mutation in Lenski’s work was complex? IOW, that the changes in AA sequence required for the function change were of higher complexity than a reasonable threshold? (I don’t require Dembski’s UPB. For me, 10^-40 would be enough. I always try to be generous with my interlocutors).

  349. 349
    William J. Murray

    aiguy:

    It is not tautological to define fsci-production as an aspect of intelligence, nor to conclude that fsci-production requires intelligence.

    One might argue that intelligence is poorly defined overall, but fsci cannot be accomplished, insofar as we know, without teleological decision-making; it’s the hallmark of fsci, it’s definining characteristic – functionally specified complex information – information that is specified for a particular function that cannot be arrived at without consideration of the target function being applied to the design process.

    That is how humans achieve FSCI-rich designs; they consider the target function and purposefully arrange materials to acquire the target. No other search mechanism is known to produce FSCI-rich outupt.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to quibble that this necessarily teleological, purposeful, goal-oriented manipulation of materials and processes cannot be defined at least as one aspect of intelligence, even if it is not a comprehensive definition.

    Thus, since the only thing we currently know produces such FSCI is FSCI-rich intelligent organisms (ourselves); whereas other FSCI-rich organisms, that don’t appear to be as “intelligent”, or intelligent at all (even if poorly defined) when compared to humans, do not produce FSCI-rich product.

    Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that since humans are apparently the only reliable, consistent producers of FSCI-rich product out of tens of millions of species of FSCI-rich organisms, and unless one wishes to quibble terms, the significant difference between humans and those other animals is our intelligence-based ability to produce FSCI-rich product; and since FSCI-rich organisms cannot be their own explanation, then it is reasoable to at least provisionally conclude that FSCI-producing intelligence **might** necessarily exist somehwer besides in FSCI-rich organisms.

    None of that is “tautological”;

    it is reasonable to infer that the production of FSCI, at least in the case of humans, requires intelligence;

    and it is reasonable to causally connect it to intelligence;

    it is reasonable to infer that the presence of intelligence is more important than just the presence of FSCI-rich biology (tens of millions of apparently unintelligent species);

    it is reasonable to infer that FSCI-rich, intelligent organisms cannot create themselves, pop into existence ex nihilo, and to not refer to infinite regress;

    it is therefore reasonable theorize that FSCI-producing intelligence must exist somewhere besides in FSCI-rich biology, which makes ID a reasonable theory even if one works from the “regress” argument that it must be suitable for explanation of the first FSCI-rich organism in the universe.

  350. 350

    Aig,

    Well, I don’t think we would know at all – I think we would form a hypothesis. In order to think of this as justified by empirical evidence, we’d have to investigate further. If the signal came from a planet that appeared to be habitable to life that would count as evidence for our hypothesis; if the signal came from inside a star, that would count against it. (SETI/astrobiological papers already discuss these sorts of things).”

    My question was how would you know if you recieved a signal that “looks like a life form sent it”?

    “We in AI don’t have any need to define this general descriptive term, because we aren’t trying to say that it is a scientific concept at all. It is just what we call our discipline”

    Again, my question was how would this person know what you were referring to?

  351. —aiguy: “Fair enough: “Nature” here means “anything that is NOT the product of HUMAN activity.”

    OK. That is a good, precise definition. That would mean, however, that both the human mind, which many believe to be non-material, and the human brain, which is obviously material, are both natural. Thus, if an ancient hunter constructs a

  352. Mark (#343):

    I have tried to express my views as clearly as possible in my previous posts. I will repeat the essence here.

    To prove determinism, you shoud demonstrate that, given the circumstances before an action, that action and only that action was possible. If anybody can do that, I will believe in determinism (but not in compatibilism: I will simply believe that I am a complete automaton).

    What I believe, instead, is that givene all the previous circumstances which act on an agent (both outer and inner), a certain range of actions, even only slightly different, is possible. The origin of tfhose different possible actions is always in a range of different (even slightly) possible inner reactions to the pre-existing circumstamces. That’s what I call “choice”, or “free will”.

    You may say that such a choice would be irrational, or random, or void of value. I say that such a choice cannot be explained in conventional rational terms of cause and effect, because it comes from the transcendental self which cannot be understood in those terms. But that does not mean that the choice has no moral value: on the contrary, the choice consist exactly in a moral “alignment” or “disalignment” with a deep intuition which the self has of what is true and good. It is a choice which is at the same time of cognition and feeling (or probably, beyond both). And it can change our personal destiny for good or for bad, especially through the repeated exertion of good or bad choices.

  353. 351 continued:

    Thus, if an ancient hunter constructs a spear, his activity would be classified as a natural cause indistinguishable from wind, air, and water, which are also natural causes.

  354. gpuccio:

    molch said: “So, in your opinion, the ability to digest Nylon is the same “function” as the ability to resist Penicillin? Do you realize that that is about as absurd as claiming that a horse’s ability to digest grass is the same function as it’s ability to kick a mountain lion in the head?”

    gpuccio said: “You are simply wrong. Both molecules are esterases, and share the same fold”

    I know that both molecules are esterases and share the same fold. What that means is that the two FUNCTIONS share a similar MECHANISM. The functions themselves however, are vastly different. If you can’t see that, then your interpretation of the term function must be very different from the conventional use of the term.

    molch said: “Moreover, your criteria for the existence of CSI would mean that your composition of an english sentence requires no CSI, because it has the same function as a french sentence, and the difference of any particular sentence you composed from at least one of all the other english sentences in existence before this one is vastly above the threshold of complexity for CSI.”

    gpuccio said: “I really can’t understand what you mean here. Could you please clarify?”

    You stated that the difference between Nylonase and a previously existing enzyme, that is assumed to be the predecessor to Nylonase, is small enough to be “vastly above the threshold” of what you consider to constitute CSI.
    Under this definition of CSI, your composition of an english sentence requires no CSI, because the difference of any sentence you compose from at least one of all the other english sentences in existence before this one is above the threshold of complexity for CSI.

  355. aiguy:

    Frankly, I think that the belief that there is no evidence that consciousness can exist out of a physical framework is only a prejudice of reductionism. For centuries human cultures have believed differently. I and many others believe differently today. And I think I have many evidences, but certainly most of them would not make any sense to reductionists.

    BA has often cited NDEs, for example. To me, NDEs are very strong evidence of many things, including a significant independence of conscious experiences from the physical brain. Mario Beauregard has collected many valuable arguments in favor of the spiritual nature of consciousness in his book.

    But nothing of that would ever seem meaningful to a true reductionist. True reductionists are really dogmatic people. I respect their views, as I respect those of all, but I cannot accept that their views be considered a reference for what can be true and what cannot.

    So I stick to my empirical position: if all that we know shows that biological information has the same properties as designed objects, those properties that no non designed object exhibits, I maintain that for me the best explanation is that some conscious intelligent being has designed that information. Reductionists may refuse that explanation a priori, but that is only evidence of their dogmatism.

    So, my science will continue to tell me that we have to look for a designer, and to gather as much information as possible about him form facts.

  356. molch:

    The biochemical fucntion of both molecules is very similar: they are both esterases. And the difference in structure is very small. So, there is no variation of CSI.

    When you say that degrading penicillin and digesting nylon are different functions, you are right, but you arer talking of a higher level function: not the direct function of the molecule, but the function of an existing system in which the molecule is integrated.

    Now, we see in this case that two similar molecules (two esterases) are integrated into two different pre-existing systems (defense, nutrition) through a small twik in the structure of the first which allow a shift in affinity for a substrate.

    But the information for the defense system or the nutrition system has not been created de novo: it was already there. As already there was the plasmid system, which is probably an active agent in the generation and utilization of the molecular change.

    IOW, the only real change which is (probably) attained through a random search is the mutation of those few aminoacids which tweak the penicillinase structure so that it gets higher affinity for nylon. This adaptive change happens in the context of already existent, highly structured systems, and requires a very limited random search, which is perfectly in the range of microevolution, and implies no creation of CSI.

    If nylonase, as darwinists have declared for a long time, had originated from a frameshift mutation of a completely different pre-existing sequence, then you would be right. But that was only a false theory.

  357. molch:

    what you say about words and sentences is simply wrong. Even if you calculate the combinatorics for words, and not for letters (which is not the case in protein domains, where the single aminoacid is the unit), a long enough phrase or discourse is certainly beyond the threshold I have given, even starting form existing sentences. Just to make an extreme (but not too extreme) example, could you please show me hoe you can get the text of Hamlet from a pre-existing text with changes simple enough not to be considered CSI?

  358. gpuccio,

    I have already cvommented on the subconscious mins. As for really unconscious processes, or automatic ones, they are obviously based on intelligent information already present in our body and nervous systen structure, and that comes form the genome, os it is included in the set of biological information.

    Now you are calling information intelligent, which makes no sense at all to me. How can information be intelligent? Honestly I think your terms are getting more, rather than less, confused.

    In any event, information comes from heredity, yes, but it also comes from the environment.

    You still have to give one single example of intelligent processes which do not originate form conscious beings, or from biological information.

    We have no examples of FSCI that does not come from biological organisms.

    Frankly, I think that the belief that there is no evidence that consciousness can exist out of a physical framework is only a prejudice of reductionism. For centuries human cultures have believed differently. I and many others believe differently today. And I think I have many evidences, but certainly most of them would not make any sense to reductionists.

    Oh, come on! They woud certainly make sense to me… and I have actively sought exactly that evidence! The best I can find is from people like Robert Jahn, and it isn’t very good evidence at all. If you know of any better evidence, please provide a reference. But without that, you are projecting your unsupported beliefs onto others! Human cultures have believed all sorts of nonsense for centuries… that doesn’t make it true!

    BA has often cited NDEs, for example. To me, NDEs are very strong evidence of many things, including a significant independence of conscious experiences from the physical brain. Mario Beauregard has collected many valuable arguments in favor of the spiritual nature of consciousness in his book.

    I have consistently pointed out that if ID wants to turn to paranormal research that would indeed make it a scientific endeavor. You ought to notice, however, that most ID proponents deny that paranormal research has anything to do with ID! If you wish to base ID on the strength of current evidence for mind/body independence, then simply say so, and be clear that ID is only scientific to the extent that your evidence for these things is scientific.

    I’ll leave it at that – but someday we can have another thread about how sadly confused Dr. Beauregard (and his cohort Ms. O’Leary) are about these issues! (hint: placebos do not in any way discount physicalism!)

    But nothing of that would ever seem meaningful to a true reductionist. True reductionists are really dogmatic people. I respect their views, as I respect those of all, but I cannot accept that their views be considered a reference for what can be true and what cannot.

    I don’t care about this. This is not an argument about anything.

    I suggest you begin to argue what you’ve laid out here, then. You’re position is that mind can operate independently of mechanism, and your evidence comes from the “spiritual nature” of mind and from evidence like NDEs. That’s fine – I’m all for it. Just be clear where your evidence really comes from.

    ****************
    UB,

    AIGUY: SB asked me for a definition of what I meant by “nature” in my description of why SETI was virtually the opposite of ID. I defined “nature” in that statement to mean whatever is NOT the product of human activity. Obviously we know what is the result of human activity because we all observe ourselves and other humans every day, and we know quite well what we build.
    UB: This doesn’t like a rigorous delineation between what nature can accomplish versus what humans can do.

    That’s right – it isn’t. I wasn’t attempting to provide a rigorous definition of what humans can do, because nobody is attempting to explain anything by saying humans were responsible. On Earth the questions regarding who sets fires, cheats on lotteries, and commits crimes are easily solved because humans are the only animals that exist here with these sorts of abilities.

    Reading your description, you make the distinction based upon the idea that we have all seen what humans do, and we can tell from that.

    Of course – we all have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience regarding the abilities and proclivities of human beings! How could you doubt this?

    So if I understand your description correctly as you have stated it, should an instance come up where we find a (pick your own scenario) set of markings in a volcanic formation, we would start to assess the issue by first asking around to see if anyone had seen a human do it? Or is there something more substantial you’d like to add?

    Sorry, I don’t follow. If we found some English writing inside a volcano, we would obviously imagine some English-speaking human being managed to put it there. If instead we imagined something else – like another sort of animal, or a disembodied spirit – it would be pretty ridiculous, right?

    AIGUY: We in AI don’t have any need to define this general descriptive term, because we aren’t trying to say that it is a scientific concept at all. It is just what we call our discipline
    UB: Again, my question was how would this person know what you were referring to?

    Someone very may well not know, or disagree! It happens all the time… I build a system and show it to somebody, and they say “Hey – that is really intelligent!”, while I think to myself actually this was a pretty trivial hack. Or, I might say “Look at this program – it’s really intelligent!” and my audience says “Oh, I don’t think it’s so intelligent”.

    In the end it couldn’t matter less, because my systems do what they do, and they are either useful or not, and whether we subjectively label them “intelligent” or not makes no more difference than whether we choose to call them “cool” or “interesting” or “awesome”.

    ***********
    William,

    It is not tautological to define fsci-production as an aspect of intelligence, nor to conclude that fsci-production requires intelligence.

    Correct. However, it is tautological to define intelligence soley by reference to its ability to produce FSCI, and then attempt to explain the existence of FSCI by appeal to intelligence.

    One might argue that intelligence is poorly defined overall, but fsci cannot be accomplished, insofar as we know, without teleological decision-making; it’s the hallmark of fsci, it’s definining characteristic – functionally specified complex information – information that is specified for a particular function that cannot be arrived at without consideration of the target function being applied to the design process.

    Human beings manage to produce FSCI by using their brains. We don’t know how brains work. Maybe they operate according to laws we already understand (physics and chemistry) or maybe they operate according to laws we do not understand, or maybe there is some irreducible mental substance involved with libertarian free will too. Who knows?

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to quibble that this necessarily teleological, purposeful, goal-oriented manipulation of materials and processes cannot be defined at least as one aspect of intelligence, even if it is not a comprehensive definition.

    Perhaps this process you describe does not occur as you think it does. Perhaps (this is a theory of many neuroscientists, including Nobel-winning Gerald Edelmann) the brain operates by random-variation and test, in a massively parallel search. As our consciousness and narrative brain functions gain access to the results, it seems as though we have somehow arrived at our solutions as if by magic – or by res cogitans.

    Nobody knows how brains work. We do know, however, that we never see FSCI come from anything that does not have a functioning brain (i.e. a complex FSCI-rich mechanism).

    Thus, since the only thing we currently know produces such FSCI is FSCI-rich intelligent organisms (ourselves); whereas other FSCI-rich organisms, that don’t appear to be as “intelligent”, or intelligent at all (even if poorly defined) when compared to humans, do not produce FSCI-rich product.

    Since you haven’t managed to define “intelligence” in any testable way apart from “able to produce FSCI”, then these statements are vacuous. Why is a human intelligent? Because we produce lots of FSCI. Why isn’t a worm intelligent? Because it doesn’t produce much FSCI. How do humans produce FSCI? By using their intelligence! etc.

    You must EITHER define “intelligence” in terms of what it does (operationally) or in terms of how it does it (functionally). If you define it operationally, then your definition is “that which produces FSCI”… but you can’t then attempt to prove FSCI comes from intelligence, because you have simply defined it so.

    Otherwise, you define it functionally (it uses this or that mechanism, neural networks or microtubules or immaterial mindstuff or whatever). If you do this, then you can attempt to demonstrate that these functions do indeed account for FSCI. Unfortunately, nobody has succeeded in this project. 30 years ago I thought we in AI would make progress toward this, and we have made some very interesting computer systems, but it is very clear that we still do not understand how FSCI is produced by human beings. And saying that we do it by being “purposeful” or “goal-oriented” says nothing at all – how do I know that a river isn’t “purposeful” when it finds a path to the sea?

    Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that since humans are apparently the only reliable, consistent producers of FSCI-rich product out of tens of millions of species of FSCI-rich organisms,

    Well no, I think other animals do produce FSCI-rich products. Termites and bees and wasps and spiders all produce artifacts which are astronomically unlikely to occur by any other means, even if they obviously lack the sophistication of human artifacts. Other animals that we often refer to as “intelligent” because of their learning and problem-solving abilities, like dolphins and chimps, don’t produce much FSCI at all!

    …and unless one wishes to quibble terms, the significant difference between humans and those other animals is our intelligence-based ability to produce FSCI-rich product;

    ??? Intelligence is defined as the ability to produce FSCI, and you are trying to explain why we are able produce FSCI by saying it’s because we are intelligent? What am I missing here?

    …and since FSCI-rich organisms cannot be their own explanation, then it is reasoable to at least provisionally conclude that FSCI-producing intelligence **might** necessarily exist somehwer besides in FSCI-rich organisms.

    None of that is “tautological”

    These explanations are always tautological as long as you define “intelligence” in terms of what it creates (FSCI, the exact thing you are trying to explain) instead of how it works. And since we don’t know how we think, you can’t define intelligence in terms of how it works.

    …it is reasonable to infer that the production of FSCI, at least in the case of humans, requires intelligence;

    Tautologically true, again.

    Let’s pick one, single, clear definition of the term “intelligence” in the context of ID and then stick with it. Otherwise we’ll all be going around in circles forever. You can’t equivocate between the functional and operational defintions… unless you’re goal is to keep the debate as confused as possible :-)

    *****************
    CJY,

    First, I’m a little confused as to why you keep sneaking in the term “physical” since you have on a couple occasions stated that you physical can’t be properly defined.

    Fair enough; let’s just stick with “FSCI”. If FSCI is an objective concept (and I do accept that, at least arguendo) then that will suffice.

    So, then you agree with ID Theory proper, that intelligence (foresight, as I have defined it) — with the caveat that it is complex and FSCI rich — is required to produce FSCI?

    The one thing we know that can produce FSCI is an animal with neurons, cells, sense organs, etc. We do not have any way of explaining how animals produce FSCI, so “foresight” is nothing but another way of saying “however we manage to produce FSCI”. But logically, this can’t be the cause of FSCI in biology. So the answer is that nobody knows how FSCI originally came to exist.

    **********************

    StephenB,

    AIG: “Fair enough: “Nature” here means “anything that is NOT the product of HUMAN activity.”
    SB: OK. That is a good, precise definition. That would mean, however, that both the human mind, which many believe to be non-material, and the human brain, which is obviously material, are both natural.
    Yes.

    Thus, if an ancient hunter constructs a spear, his activity would be classified as a natural cause indistinguishable from wind, air, and water, which are also natural causes.

    Uh, no. Not all natural causes do the same thing. Gravity does not do the same thing as the the strong nuclear force. Termites do not do the same things as crows. I really don’t know where you are going with this.

    This started with my explanation of why SETI was different from ID:

    SETI looks for things not found in nature (i.e. they look for things that are not known to occur outside of human activity), and if they find it, they will infer life (i.e. an FSCI-rich biological organism).

    ID looks for things found in nature (i.e. things that human beings did not produce) and finding those they attempt to infer non-life (i.e. something that is not itself an FSCI-rich biological organism).

  359. 359

    Ciao GP, KF, SB, WJM, and others…

    Aig, I hope you’ll take a minute over the weekend and answer the three questions I asked.

    Reading your description, you make the distinction [between what humans can do and nature] based upon the idea that we have all seen what humans do, and we can tell from that.

    So if I understand your description correctly as you have stated it, should an instance come up where we find a (pick your own scenario) set of markings in a volcanic formation, we would start to assess the issue by first asking around to see if anyone had seen a human do it? Or is there something more substantial you’d like to add?

    - – - – - – -

    My question was how would you know if you recieved a signal that “looks like a life form sent it”?

    - – - – - – -

    Again, my question was how would this person know what you were referring to? [when you describe something as intelligent]

    - – - – - – -

    I’d also like your clarification of something you stated earlier. You said “We in AI don’t have any need to define” intelligence. I find that facinating. Is that similar to Biology, where no universal, uncontested definition for Life can be found, but everyone gets on with it anyway? Tell me, is this lack of a definition the result of no one trying to establish any characteristics associated with intelligence, or is it the result of a discipline-wide ackowledgement that no such characteristics of intelligence are necessary in order to artificially replicate them?

  360. 360

    Aig,

    If we found some English writing inside a volcano…

    I didn’t ask you if we found some words written in a volcano, I asked if we found some markings, how would you decide the cause of those marking (human or natural) based upon your definition:

    ” I defined “nature” in that statement to mean whatever is NOT the product of human activity. Obviously we know what is the result of human activity because we all observe ourselves and other humans every day,”

    The question is – based upon your definition, how would you decide? And if your definition needs additional flushing out in order to begin to answer the question, then by all means do it.

    Someone very may well not know, or disagree! It happens all the time…

    How would someone disagree if they did not know what you meant to begin with? My question, again, is how would they know what you meant?

  361. UB,

    Reading your description, you make the distinction [between what humans can do and nature] based upon the idea that we have all seen what humans do, and we can tell from that.

    So if I understand your description correctly as you have stated it, should an instance come up where we find a (pick your own scenario) set of markings in a volcanic formation, we would start to assess the issue by first asking around to see if anyone had seen a human do it? Or is there something more substantial you’d like to add?

    I’m trying my best to understand what you’re asking here. Whenever we see something that is familiar to us from some animal we know of, we believe that that animal was responsible. If we see a spider web, we figure a spider was responsible. Termite mound? Termites. Bee hive? Bees.

    If we see some sort of “markings” in a volcanic formation, it depends what sort of markings they were. If it was recognizable as human writing, we would figure some human did it. If the markings looked like a lava flow, we would figure it was lava. If the markings didn’t look like anything we’d ever seen, then we wouldn’t know what caused them. This all seems pretty obvious.

    My question was how would you know if you recieved a signal that “looks like a life form sent it”?

    I think I’ve gone over this. If you read SETI papers, they discuss the various things they look for.

    First, they look at everything we see that is not caused by life forms and eliminate those from what they’re looking for. So they don’t interpret the cosmic background radiation as a sign from a life form, for example.

    Next, they look for things that a life form would send if they wanted (like us) to communicate over long distances. These would be narrow-band signals that don’t arise from any known astrophysical events. SETI doesn’t look for codes or languages or anything that looks complex – they look for simple, narrow-band E-M transmissions.

    Finally, if they do pick up some signal like that, they would attempt to locate its origin to see if it comes from a place hospitable to life as we know it. If it did, they might claim that they really do have evidence for astrobiological signals. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to say what it was caused by. Of course SETI hasn’t found anything like that so far, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Again, my question was how would this person know what you were referring to? [when you describe something as intelligent]

    Again, my answer is there may very well be disagreement about what some people think should be called “intelligent”. It is a very loose, informal, subjective label. I may say something is “beautiful”, for example, and somebody might agree with me while somebody else might disagree.

    We could provide some operational definition of “beauty” of course. We might say a face is beautiful if the features are symmetric to within some tolerance, or if the skin is smooth, etc… but these metrics would be arbitrary (not theory-driven) and also they would only apply to faces and not to landscapes for example.

    Same with “athleticism”. We all might agree Micheal Jordan is athletic, but we might disagree about Tiger Woods. And would we call a gorilla athletic? How about a flea? A worm? There are no right or wrong answers here – they are just subjective, descriptive labels we use informally.

    Same with “dextrous” or “interesting” or… “intelligent”. People use these words all the time and we have a general, subjective, intuitive sense of what they refer to. But none of these concepts have rigorous meanings, so none of them can ever be used in a scientific context as an explanation of some phenomenon. In order to provide a scientific explanation of something, we need to provide a precise description of it that will enable independent researchers to reliably agree on when they are observing it and when they are not.

    I’d also like your clarification of something you stated earlier. You said “We in AI don’t have any need to define” intelligence. I find that facinating. Is that similar to Biology, where no universal, uncontested definition for Life can be found, but everyone gets on with it anyway?

    Exactly so, yes.

    Tell me, is this lack of a definition the result of no one trying to establish any characteristics associated with intelligence, or is it the result of a discipline-wide ackowledgement that no such characteristics of intelligence are necessary in order to artificially replicate them?

    It simply isn’t of any utility to even attempt it. Who cares what label somebody applies to my program? AI programs do what they do – they design circuits, or they recognize faces, or they learn to categorize documents, or they play chess, or they play Jeopardy. If you’d like to call these systems “interesting” or “cool” or “awesome” or “intelligent”, that’s fine, but it doesn’t tell us anything new about these systems!

    “Intelligence” is not a thing, not a cause, not a force. It is a property of complex systems… but it isn’t a well-defined property like mass or charge or Kolmogorov complexity. It is a property of complex systems that is a subjective, informal, descriptive label, like “interesting” or “athletic” or “dextrous” or “awesome”.

    Have a good weekend, UB!

  362. gpuccio:

    “When you say that degrading penicillin and digesting nylon are different functions, you are right, but you arer talking of a higher level function: not the direct function of the molecule, but the function of an existing system in which the molecule is integrated.”

    Yes, I am indeed talking about what you call the “higher level function’ – because that is the function that in fact confers the survival value to the individuals that carry the trait. The molecule’s activity in the cell is the mechanism behind the actual functional, survival-relevant trait. If that kind of function is not the one addressed by CSI or FCSI or dFSCI or whatever the current flavor is, then I don’t know what these concepts could possibly mean at all. If the fact that “we see in this case that two similar molecules (two esterases) are integrated into two different pre-existing systems (defense, nutrition)” does not, according to you, constitute a novel function, then I don’t know what in the world would.

    “Even if you calculate the combinatorics for words, and not for letters (which is not the case in protein domains, where the single aminoacid is the unit), a long enough phrase or discourse is certainly beyond the threshold I have given, even starting form existing sentences.”

    Well here is your inconsistency: you want me to start assembling meaningful sentences from random words, but you know very well that, just like in the Nylonase example, where “this adaptive change happens in the context of already existent, highly structured systems, and requires a very limited random search”, sentences are not developed from searching random words, but using rules of grammar and word sequences in the context of already existent, highly structured systems. No matter how “intelligent” or “complex” or “forseeing” you are, you would be completely unable to write a single meaningful english sentence WITHOUT the previous knowledge and practice of all these already existent, highly structured systems. So, you make pre-existing words fit into pre-existing grammatical frameworks by pre-existing rules every day, and you claim that the resulting function of the sentence, it’s meaning, has CSI.

    “Just to make an extreme (but not too extreme) example, could you please show me hoe you can get the text of Hamlet from a pre-existing text with changes simple enough not to be considered CSI?”

    Your example in this context is, in fact, too extreme, because I have never claimed that anything as complex(referring to it’s length)as Hamlet has ever come about in one single evolutionary step. However, a page out of Hamlet could easily be obtained by a reasonably small number of simple re-combinations, “point-mutations”, and frame-shifts (all within the existing complex, highly structured set of rules) from other existing english sentences. Do you doubt that?

  363. molch, the primary reason to presuppose that nylonase is not the random generation of functional information is because it rapidly adapts to detoxify the nylon from the environment, strongly suggesting a designed mechanism,but more importantly, once the nylon is cleaned/removed from the environment the parent strain is found to be more fit for survival than the sub-species nylon strain is. i.e. In fact to prove a gain in functional information/complexity above what was already present in the parent strain, neo-Darwinists must pass the ‘fitness test”.

    For a broad outline of the ‘Fitness test’, required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    Thank Goodness the NCSE Is Wrong: Fitness Costs Are Important to Evolutionary Microbiology
    Excerpt: it (an antibiotic resistant bacterium) reproduces slower than it did before it was changed. This effect is widely recognized, and is called the fitness cost of antibiotic resistance. It is the existence of these costs and other examples of the limits of evolution that call into question the neo-Darwinian story of macroevolution.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....s_wro.html

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    Nylon Degradation – Analysis of Genetic Entropy
    Excerpt: At the phenotypic level, the appearance of nylon degrading bacteria would seem to involve “evolution” of new enzymes and transport systems. However, further molecular analysis of the bacterial transformation reveals mutations resulting in degeneration of pre-existing systems.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....n-bacteria

  364. This was a very interesting discussion to read and it makes me really glad to be part of this community.

    I just want to briefly comment on a few points that I disagree with.

    -“rejected the ‘agent-causal’ view of libertarianism because the idea that a substance, rather than a property of the substance, can cause anything is unintelligible.”

    I’m sorry but there is absolutely nothing unintelligent about a substance causing something. This merely seems like a semantic issue than anything else… a property of a substance is a good explanation while a substance is not? Come on.

    I think gpuccio is absolutely right in referring to it as the transcendent self (or ‘I’). Whether we call it a substance, a pumpkin or the big bad wolf (given the unwarranted and militant stance some philosophers hold against dualism) is irrelevant. In short, what we call it is of no importance.

    I also think that O’Connor is perfectly within his right to insist on the irreducibility of the agent. It is not the case that for an explanation to be acceptable one must provide a reductionist or a mechanomorphic analysis of the object in question. Furthermore, I believe this approach is very misguided as the agent is in fact a subject and not an object and ought to be addressed as such.

    -“Agent-causal libertarianism seriously undermines human rationality because it leads to the conclusion that humans make choices for no reason whatsoever.”

    No. O’Connor defends the position that according to agent causality a framework is provided in which an agent may chose to utilize a specific reason, although the reason itself is not sufficient in determining behavior. Also, just because some actions of the agent might be spontaneous it does not necessarily follow that all the actions will be. So agent causality does not undermine rationality whatsoever.

    I also noticed that you say that the ability to act without reason is irrational. If by that you mean that the action itself is irrational then we’re fine. But if by that you mean that the notion that one can act spontaneously without specific reason to do so, then no. There is nothing irrational about the ability to act irrationally. If fact I believe that our ability to act knowingly and willfully in an irrational way (for example jump on the bed, repeat the words ‘good morning’ in 3 different languages and then kiss the palm of your right hand – something that I assume you’ve never done before nor have any specific motive in doing so) is perfectly coherent and if anything supporting of the view of agent-causation.

    Finally, I believe much of the literature on free will/determinism is ridden with definitional and semantic issues and gimmicks as well as false dichotomies which exacerbate the problem instead of alleviating it. It’s precisely for that reason that I find it more fruitful to use simple language in addressing the matter.

    -“Nobody knows if human brains do anything that is not by “law and chance”. If we do, that would mean dualism is true, and that is a metaphysical speculation that is not supportable scientifically.”

    The term chance is a very loosely defined term, and as I have explained in a previous thread it is often a mere substitute for human ignorance.

    Also, it would be more accurate to state that currently, the discipline of science is incapable of addressing the matter and furthermore, it is unknown if it may ever will. The reason I say this is not to sound rude but rather to remind all, myself included, of the limits of science and how it is not the ultimate decider of warranted knowledge. It is very far from being that actually – in fact, it will never be that – and the reason I explicate it is not so much to undermine the scientific enterprise but rather to keep it honest and grounded as so it doesn’t turn into self-refuting scientism.

  365. This is for everyone!

    I think people that support the free will thesis such as myself will find this video of John Conway (mathematician from Princeton) very interesting. The Free Will Theorem as he calls it.

    Video: http://hulk03.princeton.edu:80.....will.shtml

    Article: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxi.....3286v1.pdf

    Enjoy!

  366. i.e. mulch, if neo-Darwinian evolution can’t even pass the first step for increasing complexity/information above what was already present in the parent strain in the fitness test, why in blue blazes should we presuppose that it could produce countless volumes of encyclopedias of functional information that vastly surpasses man’s ability to code?

    Three Subsets of Sequence Complexity and Their Relevance to Biopolymeric Information – David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors – Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling, Vol. 2, 11 August 2005, page 8
    “No man-made program comes close to the technical brilliance of even Mycoplasmal genetic algorithms. Mycoplasmas are the simplest known organism with the smallest known genome, to date. How was its genome and other living organisms’ genomes programmed?”
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/c.....2-2-29.pdf

    The Coding Found In DNA Surpasses Man’s Ability To Code – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050638

    Bill Gates, in recognizing the superiority found in Genetic Coding, compared to the best computer coding we now have, has now funded research into this area:

    Welcome to CoSBi – (Computational and Systems Biology)
    Excerpt: Biological systems are the most parallel systems ever studied and we hope to use our better understanding of how living systems handle information to design new computational paradigms, programming languages and software development environments. The net result would be the design and implementation of better applications firmly grounded on new computational, massively parallel paradigms in many different areas.
    http://www.cosbi.eu/index.php/.....rticle/171

    The human genome, according to Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft, far, far surpasses, in complexity, any computer program ever written by man. The data compression (multiple meanings) of some stretches of human DNA is estimated to be up to 12 codes thick! (Trifonov, 1989) No line of computer code ever written by man approaches that level of data compression (poly-functional complexity). There are about three-billion letters of code on the six feet of DNA curled up in each human cell. The amount of information in human DNA is roughly equivalent to 12 sets of The Encyclopaedia Britannica—an incredible 384 volumes worth of detailed information that would fill 48 feet of library shelves! If you were to read the code aloud, at a rate of three letters per second for twenty-four hours per day (about one-hundred-million letters a year), it would take you over thirty years to read it. The capacity of a DNA molecule to store information is so efficient all the information needed to specify an organism as complex as man weighs less than a few thousand-millionths of a gram. The information needed to specify the design of all species of organisms which have ever existed (a number estimated to be one billion) could easily fit into a teaspoon with plenty of room left over for every book ever written on the face of the earth. For comparison sake, if mere man were to try to ‘quantum teleport’ just one human body (change a physical human body into “pure information” and then ‘teleport’ it to another physical location) it would take at least 10^32 bits just to decode the teleportation event, or a cube of CD-ROM disks 1000 kilometers on 1 side, and would take over one hundred million centuries to transmit all that information for just one human body even with the best optical fibers conceivable!
    (A fun talk on teleportation – Professor Samuel Braunstein -
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....stein.html)

    On top of that the entire digital output of the entire world is only 10^21 bytes or 10^22 bits and Werner Gitt observes that the storage capacity of just “1 cubic cm of DNA is 10^21 bits. (DNA – deoxyribonucleaic acid.)”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....or-design/

    “To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of 1,000 volumes, containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying, and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist, the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt – the paradigm takes precedence!” – Michael Denton

    Psalm 139: 14-15
    “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;,,, When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”

  367. bornagain:

    “once the nylon is cleaned/removed from the environment the parent strain is found to be more fit for survival than the sub-species nylon strain is. i.e. In fact to prove a gain in functional information/complexity above what was already present in the parent strain, neo-Darwinists must pass the ‘fitness test”.”

    You seem to completely miss the point of the fitness test that you yourself propose. A fitness test is only meaningful in a particular environment, most importantly the one the organism in question currently lives in. In the environment that contains nylon, the nylon-eating strain is obviously a lot more fit than the strain that doesn’t eat nylon. And that the vice versa scenario is also true is not just unsurprising, it would be surprising if it were otherwise. IF there were any organism on this earth that was equally superbly fit in any environment, then that organism would have already out-competed every other organism in any environment there was and is, and we would have a single species of organism left. Humans have gotten pretty successful in out-competing many other species in a variety of environments. But they are obviously not equally fit in all existing environments, because if a human ends up in the middle of the Pacific without a boat, he/she is obviously awesomely unfit in that environment, and will most likely die very quickly. Plankton, on the other hand, are doing just fine out there.

  368. actually mulch, bacteria have dramatically terra-formed the environment of this planet to make it fit for higher life forms. Higher life forms that the bacteria could care less about:

    notes;

    From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria, and to a lesser degree sulfate-reducing reducing bacteria, dominated the geologic and fossil record (that’s over 80% of the entire time life has existed on earth). The geologic and fossil record also reveals, during this time, a large portion of these very first bacterial life-forms lived in complex symbiotic, mutually beneficial, colonies called Stromatolites. Stromatolites are rock like structures the photo-synthetic bacteria built up over many years, much like coral reefs are slowly built up over many years by the tiny creatures called corals. Although Stromatolites are not nearly as widespread as they once were, they are still around today in a few sparse places like Shark’s Bay Australia.

    Michael Denton – Stromatolites Are Extremely Ancient – Privileged Planet – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023098

    Ancient Microorganisms Helped Build 3.4-billion-year-old Stromatolite Rock Structures
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141221.htm

    Both the oldest Stromatolite fossils, and the oldest bacterium fossils, found on earth demonstrate an extreme conservation of morphology which, very contrary to evolutionary thought, simply means they have not changed and look very similar to Stromatolites and bacteria of today.

    Odd Geometry of Bacteria May Provide New Way to Study Earth’s Oldest Fossils – May 2010
    Excerpt: Known as stromatolites, the layered rock formations are considered to be the oldest fossils on Earth.,,,That the spacing pattern corresponds to the mats’ metabolic period — and is also seen in ancient rocks — shows that the same basic physical processes of diffusion and competition seen today were happening billions of years ago,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....152520.htm

    AMBER: THE LOOKING GLASS INTO THE PAST:
    Excerpt: These (fossilized bacteria) cells are actually very similar to present day cyanobacteria. This is not only true for an isolated case but many living genera of cyanobacteria can be linked to fossil cyanobacteria. The detail noted in the fossils of this group gives indication of extreme conservation of morphology, more extreme than in other organisms.
    http://bcb705.blogspot.com/200.....st_23.html

    Bacteria: Fossil Record – Ancient Compared to Modern – Picture
    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/b.....riafr.html

    Shark’s Bay – Modern Stromatolites – Pictures
    http://seapics.com/feature-sub.....tures.html

    Contrary to what materialism would expect, these very first photosynthetic bacteria found in the fossil record, and by chemical analysis of the geological record, are shown to have been preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear from the very start of their existence by producing the necessary oxygen for higher life-forms to exist, and by reducing the greenhouse gases of earth’s early atmosphere. Photosynthetic bacteria slowly removed the carbon dioxide, and built the oxygen up, in the earth’s atmosphere primarily by this following photosynthetic chemical reaction:

    6H2O + 6CO2 ———-> C6H12O6+ 6O2

    The above chemical equation translates as:

    Six molecules of water plus six molecules of carbon dioxide produce one molecule of sugar plus six molecules of oxygen

    Interestingly, the gradual removal of greenhouse gases corresponded to the gradual 15% increase of light and heat coming from the sun during that time (Ross; Creation as Science). This ‘lucky’ correspondence of the slow increase of heat from the sun with the same perfectly timed slow removal of greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere was necessary for the bacteria to continue to live to do their work of preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear.

  369. cont. mulch;

    More interesting still, the byproducts of the complex biogeochemical processes involved in the oxygen production by these early bacteria are (red banded) iron formations, limestone, marble, gypsum, phosphates, sand, and to a lesser extent, coal, oil and natural gas (note; though some coal, oil and natural gas deposits are from this early era of bacterial life, most coal, oil and natural gas deposits originated on earth after the Cambrian explosion of higher life forms some 540 million years ago). The resources produced by these early photosynthetic bacteria are very useful, one could even say necessary, for the technologically advanced civilizations of today to exist.

    The following video is good for seeing just how far back the red banded iron formations really go (3.8 billion years ago). But be warned, Dr. Newman operates from a materialistic worldview and makes many unwarranted allusions of the ‘magical’ power of evolution to produce photosynthetic bacteria. Although to be fair, she does readily acknowledge the staggering level of complexity being dealt with in photosynthesis, as well as admitting that no one really knows how photosynthesis evolved.

    Exploring the deep connection between bacteria and rocks – Dianne Newman – MIT lecture video
    http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/496

    These following articles explore some of the other complex geochemical processes that are also involved in the forming of the red banded iron, and other precious ore, formations.

    Banded Rocks Reveal Early Earth Conditions, Changes
    Excerpt: Called banded iron formations or BIFs, these ancient rocks formed between 3.8 and 1.7 billion years ago at what was then the bottom of the ocean. The stripes represent alternating layers of silica-rich chert and iron-rich minerals like hematite and magnetite. First mined as a major iron source for modern industrialization, BIFs are also a rich source of information about the geochemical conditions that existed on Earth when the rocks were made.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....184428.htm

    Rich Ore Deposits Linked to Ancient Atmosphere – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: Much of our planet’s mineral wealth was deposited billions of years ago when Earth’s chemical cycles were different from today’s.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....193640.htm

    Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing oxygen, and metal, and minerals, which would all be of benefit to modern man, ‘sulfate-reducing’ bacteria were also producing their own natural resources which would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by detoxifying the primeval earth and oceans of poisonous levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ores. Metal ores which are very useful for modern man, as well as fairly easy for man to extract today (mercury, cadmium, zinc, cobalt, arsenic, chromate, tellurium and copper to name a few). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these heavy metals in the ecosystem which are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms.

    Bacterial Heavy Metal Detoxification and Resistance Systems:
    Excerpt: Bacterial plasmids contain genetic determinants for resistance systems for Hg2+ (and organomercurials), Cd2+, AsO2, AsO43-, CrO4 2-, TeO3 2-, Cu2+, Ag+, Co2+, Pb2+, and other metals of environmental concern.
    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....04577v8t3/
    http://www.int-res.com/article.....26p203.pdf

    The role of bacteria in hydrogeochemistry, metal cycling and ore deposit formation:
    Textures of sulfide minerals formed by SRB (sulfate-reducing bacteria) during bioremediation (most notably pyrite and sphalerite) have textures reminiscent of those in certain sediment-hosted ores, supporting the concept that SRB may have been directly involved in forming ore minerals.
    http://www.goldschmidt2009.org...../A1161.pdf

    Man has only recently caught on to harnessing the ancient detoxification ability of bacteria to cleanup his accidental toxic spills, as well as his toxic waste, from industry:

    What is Bioremediation? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSpjRPWYJPg

    As a side note to this, recently bacteria surprised scientists by their ability to quickly detoxify the millions of barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico:

    Mighty oil-eating microbes help clean up the Gulf – July 2010
    Excerpt: Where is all the oil? Nearly two weeks after BP finally capped the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, the oil slicks that once spread across thousands of miles of the Gulf of Mexico have largely disappeared. Nor has much oil washed up on the sandy beaches and marshes along the Louisiana coast.,,, The lesson from past spills is that the lion’s share of the cleanup work is done by nature in the form of oil-eating bacteria and fungi. The microbes break down the hydrocarbons in oil to use as fuel to grow and reproduce. A bit of oil in the water is like a feeding frenzy, causing microbial populations to grow exponentially. Typically, there are enough microbes in the ocean to consume half of any oil spilled in a month or two, says Howarth. Such microbes have been found in every ocean of the world sampled, from the Arctic to Antarctica.,,, Joye has shown that oxygen levels in parts of the Gulf contaminated with oil have dropped. Since microbes need oxygen to eat the petroleum, that’s evidence that the microbes are hard at work. (Thank God)
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews_.....xcl_sc3270

    Here are a couple of links showing the crucial link of a minimal level of metals to biological life:

    Transitional Metals And Cytochrome C oxidase – Michael Denton – Nature’s Destiny
    http://books.google.com/books?.....3&lpg

  370. cont. mulch;

    Proteins prove their metal – July 2010
    Excerpt: ‘Nearly half of all enzymes require metals to function in catalysing biological reactions,’ Kylie Vincent, of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry tells us. ‘Both the metal and the surrounding protein are crucial in tuning the reactivity of metal catalytic centres in enzymes.’ These ‘metal centres’ are hives of industry at a microscopic scale, with metals often held in a special protein environment where they may be assembled into intricate clusters inside proteins.
    http://www.physorg.com/news197728929.html

    As well, in conjunction with bacteria, geological processes helped detoxify the earth of dangerous levels of metal:

    The Concentration of Metals for Humanity’s Benefit:
    Excerpt: They demonstrated that hydrothermal fluid flow could enrich the concentration of metals like zinc, lead, and copper by at least a factor of a thousand. They also showed that ore deposits formed by hydrothermal fluid flows at or above these concentration levels exist throughout Earth’s crust. The necessary just-right precipitation conditions needed to yield such high concentrations demand extraordinary fine-tuning. That such ore deposits are common in Earth’s crust strongly suggests supernatural design.
    http://www.reasons.org/TheConc.....tysBenefit

    And on top of the fact that poisonous heavy metals on the primordial earth were brought into ‘life-enabling’ balance by complex biogeochemical processes, there was also an explosion of minerals on earth which were a result of that first life, as well as being a result of each subsequent ‘Big Bang of life’ there afterwards.

    The Creation of Minerals:
    Excerpt: Thanks to the way life was introduced on Earth, the early 250 mineral species have exploded to the present 4,300 known mineral species. And because of this abundance, humans possessed all the necessary mineral resources to easily launch and sustain global, high-technology civilization.
    http://www.reasons.org/The-Creation-of-Minerals

    To put it mildly, this minimization of poisonous elements, and ‘explosion’ of useful minerals, is strong evidence for Intelligently Designed terra-forming of the earth that ‘just so happens’ to be of great benefit to modern man.

    Clearly many, if not all, of these metal ores and minerals laid down by these sulfate-reducing bacteria, as well as laid down by the biogeochemistry of more complex life, as well as laid down by finely-tuned geological conditions throughout the early history of the earth, have many unique properties which are crucial for technologically advanced life, and are thus indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to the advanced ‘space-age’ technology of modern civilization.

    Metallurgy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metallurgy

    Inventions: Elements and Compounds – video
    http://videos.howstuffworks.co.....-video.htm

    Bombardment Makes Civilization Possible
    What is the common thread among the following items: pacemakers, spark plugs, fountain pens and compass bearings? Give up? All of them currently use (or used in early versions) the two densest elements, osmium and iridium. These two elements play important roles in technological advancements. However, if certain special events hadn’t occurred early in Earth’s history, no osmium or iridium would exist near the planet’s surface.
    http://www.reasons.org/Bombard.....onPossible

    Mineral
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral

    As well, many types of bacteria in earth’s early history lived in what are called cryptogamic colonies on the earth’s primeval continents. These colonies dramatically transformed the primeval land into stable nutrient filled soils which were receptive for future advanced vegetation to appear.

    CRYPTOBIOTIC SOIL -
    Excerpt: When moistened, cyanobacteria become active, moving through the soil and leaving a trail of sticky material behind. The sheath material sticks to surfaces such as rock or soil particles, forming an intricate web of fibers throughout the soil. In this way, loose soil particles are joined together, and an otherwise unstable surface becomes very resistant to both wind and water erosion.
    http://www.nps.gov/archive/jot.....rusts.html
    http://jimswan.com/111/cryptogamic.htm

  371. cont. mulch;

    Bacterial ‘Ropes’ Tie Down Shifting Southwest
    Excerpt: In the desert, the initial stabilization of topsoil by rope-builders promotes colonization by a multitude of other microbes. From their interwoven relationships arise complex communities known as “biological soil crusts,” important ecological components in the fertility and sustainability of arid ecosystems.( Of note: Phylogenetic analyses performed by the researchers have further shown that the evolution of the trait occurred separately in three different genera; an example of “convergent evolution” (read evolutionary miracle story), rather than a tie to a single common rope-building ancestor.)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....203140.htm

    Materialism simply has no answers for why these different bacterial types, and biogeochemical processes, would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear from the very start of their appearance on earth.

    n further related note, several different types of bacteria are found to be integral for the nitrogen fixation cycle required for plants:

    nitrogen fixation – illustration
    http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/.....ncycle.gif

    nitrogen fixation – video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVbHIR2xZ0E

    Just how crucial, and finely tuned, the nitrogen cycle is is revealed by this following study:

    Engineering and Science Magazine – Caltech – March 2010
    Excerpt: “Without these microbes, the planet would run out of biologically available nitrogen in less than a month,” Realizations like this are stimulating a flourishing field of “geobiology” – the study of relationships between life and the earth. One member of the Caltech team commented, “If all bacteria and archaea just stopped functioning, life on Earth would come to an abrupt halt.” Microbes are key players in earth’s nutrient cycles. Dr. Orphan added, “…every fifth breath you take, thank a microbe.”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100316a

    Planet’s Nitrogen Cycle Overturned – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: “Ammonia is a waste product that can be toxic to animals.,,, archaea can scavenge nitrogen-containing ammonia in the most barren environments of the deep sea, solving a long-running mystery of how the microorganisms can survive in that environment. Archaea therefore not only play a role, but are central to the planetary nitrogen cycles on which all life depends.,,,the organism can survive on a mere whiff of ammonia – 10 nanomolar concentration, equivalent to a teaspoon of ammonia salt in 10 million gallons of water.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132656.htm

    Moreover, the overall principle of long term balanced symbiosis, which is in fact what we have with the overall biogeochemical cycles of the earth, is a very anti-random chance fact which pervades the entire ecology of our planet and points powerfully to the intentional craftsmanship of a Designer:

    Intelligent Design – Symbiosis and the Golden Ratio – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4669633

    God’s Creation – Symbiotic (Cooperative) Relationships – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023110

  372. mulch complete;

    Since oxygen readily reacts and bonds with many of the solid elements making up the earth itself, and since the slow process of tectonic activity controls the turnover of the earth’s crust, it took photosynthetic bacteria a few billion years before the earth’s crust was saturated with enough oxygen to allow a sufficient level of oxygen to be built up in the atmosphere as to allow higher life:

    New Wrinkle In Ancient Ocean Chemistry – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: “Our data point to oxygen-producing photosynthesis long before concentrations of oxygen in the atmosphere were even a tiny fraction of what they are today, suggesting that oxygen-consuming chemical reactions were offsetting much of the production,”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141217.htm

    Increases in Oxygen Prepare Earth for Complex Life
    Excerpt: We at RTB argue that any mechanism exhibiting complex, integrated actions that bring about a specified outcome is designed. Studies of Earth’s history reveal highly orchestrated interplay between astronomical, geological, biological, atmospheric, and chemical processes that transform the planet from an uninhabitable wasteland to a place teeming with advanced life. The implications of design are overwhelming.
    http://www.reasons.org/increas.....mplex-life

    As well, Plate tectonics are shown to be finely-tuned and thus tied to the ‘terra forming’ intelligent design perspective in this following paper:

    Evidence of Early Plate Tectonics
    Excerpt: Plate tectonics plays a critical role in keeping the Earth’s temperature constant during the Sun’s significant brightness changes. Almost four billion years ago, the Sun was 30 percent dimmer than it is today, and it has steadily increased its light output over the intervening period. This steady increase would have boiled Earth’s oceans away without plate tectonics moderating the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere.
    http://www.reasons.org/evidenc.....-tectonics

    Once sufficient oxygenation of the earth’s mantle and atmosphere was finally accomplished, higher life forms could finally be introduced on earth. Moreover, scientists find the rise in oxygen percentages in the geologic record to correspond exactly to the sudden appearance of large animals in the fossil record that depended on those particular percentages of oxygen. The geologic record shows a 10% oxygen level at the time of the Cambrian explosion of higher life-forms in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. The geologic record also shows a strange and very quick rise from the 17% oxygen level, of 50 million years ago, to a 23% oxygen level 40 million years ago (Falkowski 2005, 2008). This strange rise in oxygen levels corresponds exactly to the abrupt appearance of large mammals in the fossil record who depend on those high oxygen levels. Interestingly, for the last 10 million years the oxygen percentage has been holding steady around 21%. 21% happens to be a ‘very comfortable’ percentage for humans to exist. If the oxygen level was only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy; if only a few percentage higher, there would be uncontrollable outbreaks of fire across the land (Denton; Nature’s Destiny).

    The interplay of the biogeochemical (life and earth) processes that produce this balanced. life enabling, oxygen rich, atmosphere are very complex:

    The Life and Death of Oxygen – 2008
    Excerpt: “The balance between burial of organic matter and its oxidation appears to have been tightly controlled over the past 500 million years.” “The presence of O2 in the atmosphere requires an imbalance between oxygenic photosynthesis and aerobic respiration on time scales of millions of years hence, to generate an oxidized atmosphere, more organic matter must be buried (by tectonic activity) than respired.” – Paul Falkowski
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20081024a

    The Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide Cycle – video
    http://videos.howstuffworks.co.....-video.htm

    This following article and video clearly indicate that the life sustaining balanced symbiosis of the atmosphere is far more robust, as to tolerating man’s industrial activities, than Global Warming alarmist would have us believe:

    Earth’s Capacity To Absorb CO2 Much Greater Than Expected: Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now. This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141842.htm

    Because of this basic chemical requirement of complex photosynthetic bacterial life establishing and helping maintain the proper oxygen levels necessary for higher life forms on any earth-like planet, this gives us further reason to strongly believe the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support intelligent life in this universe. What is more remarkable is that this balance for the atmosphere is maintained through complex symbiotic relationships with other bacteria, all of which are intertwined in very complex geochemical processes. All of these studies of early life, and processes, on early earth fall directly in line with the anthropic hypothesis and have no rational explanation, from any materialistic theory based on blind chance, as to why all the first types of bacterial life found in the fossil record would suddenly, from the very start of their appearance on earth, start working in precise harmony with each other, and with geology, to prepare the earth for future life to appear. Nor can materialism explain why once these complex bacterial-geological processes had helped prepare the earth for higher life forms, they continue to work in precise harmony with each other to help maintain the proper balanced conditions that are of primary benefit for the complex life that is above them:

    Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. – Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers
    http://www.bioinf.uni-leipzig......g_2008.pdf

    Interestingly, when Dr. Ross factors in the probability for ‘simple’ bacterial life randomly happening in this universe, which is necessary for more advanced life to exist on any planet in the first place, the probability for a planet which can host life explodes into gargantuan proportions:

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt: In another book I wrote with Fuz, Who Was Adam?, we describe calculations done by evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala and by astrophysicists John Barrow, Brandon Carter, and Frank Tipler for the probability that a bacterium would evolve under ideal natural conditions—given the presumption that the mechanisms for natural biological evolution are both effective and rapid. They determine that probability to be no more than 10-24,000,000.
    The bottom line is that rather than the probability for extraterrestrial intelligent life being 1 as Aczel claims, very conservatively from a naturalistic perspective it is much less than 10^500 + 22 -1054 -100,000,000,000 -24,000,000. That is, it is less than 10-100,024,000,532. In longhand notation it would be 0.00 … 001 with 100,024,000,531 zeros (100 billion, 24 million, 5 hundred and thirty-one zeros) between the decimal point and the 1. That longhand notation of the probability would fill over 20,000 complete Bibles. (As far as scientific calculations are concerned, determining how close a probability is to zero, only Penrose’s 1 in 10^10^123 calculation, for the initial phase-space of the universe, is closer)

    Dr. Ross points out that extremely long amount of time it took to prepare a suitable place for humans to exist in this universe, for the relatively short period of time that we can exist on this planet, is actually a point of evidence that argues strongly for Theism:

    Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross
    Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency.
    Moreover the physical and biological conditions necessary to support an intelligent civilized species do not last indefinitely. They are subject to continuous change: the Sun continues to brighten, Earth’s rotation period lengthens, Earth’s plate tectonic activity declines, and Earth’s atmospheric composition varies. In just 10 million years or less, Earth will lose its ability to sustain human life. In fact, this estimate of the human habitability time window may be grossly optimistic. In all likelihood, a nearby supernova eruption, a climatic perturbation, a social or environmental upheaval, or the genetic accumulation of negative mutations will doom the species to extinction sometime sooner than twenty thousand years from now.
    http://christiangodblog.blogsp.....chive.html

  373. bornagain:

    I’ll take some time to read in detail and address your monumental post tomorrow, but just some brief observations:

    1) it’s molch, not mulch (amphibian, not fertilizer) ;)

    2) your points are very interesting, but have nothing to do with the point I was discussing with gpuccio

    3) they also don’t address 367, but seem to rather culminate in your invocation of the anthropic principle.

    that’s fine, and I’ll give you some of my thoughts on that soon.

  374. I wrote: Thus, if an ancient hunter constructs a spear, his activity would be classified as a natural cause [by your definition] indistinguishable from wind, air, and water, which are also natural causes.

    —aiguy: “Uh, no. Not all natural causes do the same thing. Gravity does not do the same thing as the the strong nuclear force. Termites do not do the same things as crows. I really don’t know where you are going with this.”

    You have classified the ancient hunter’s creative effort to build a spear as the same kind of cause as wind, water, and air, defining the word “natural” in a very unnatural way and in a decidedly irrational way. [anything not created by humans].

    By your definition, the human mind, which was not created by humans, is a “natural cause.” If you want to say that Mozart’s creative effort to write a piano composition is the same kind of cause that makes the piano strings resonate, fine. But it makes no sense. If you want so say that the tornado which wreaks havoc on a house is the same kind of cause as a burglar who ransacks a house, that’s alright. But it makes no sense. If you want so say that messages coming from Mars in the form of Morse Code is the same kind of cause the forms a super Nova, I guess you are entitled to your opinion. But it makes no sense.

  375. aiguy:

    Now you are calling information intelligent, which makes no sense at all to me. How can information be intelligent? Honestly I think your terms are getting more, rather than less, confused.

    aiguy, please be compassionate! This is a blog, I often write in a hurry, late and tired. I cannot aòlways be careful to use only term you would not object to. If you have already understood my approach, please be flexible and try to understand waht I mean. Here with intelligent information I was obviously referring to the CSI already stored in the genome, which guides the development of every single biological being. I call that intelligent information because I believe that it is the product of intelligent design, that’s all. There are times I am arguing the details, and times that I am just expressing my point of view, hoping that the interlocutor will understand the difference.

    We have no examples of FSCI that does not come from biological organisms.

    There is a difference: conscious beings create new CSI. The biological information written in the genome just perpetuates itself. Humans have produced Hamlet. That is different from the fact that all biological beings, including humans, acquire some behaviours, like walking, in a repetitive way, using their genetic potential, even if with the contribution of external inputs.

    Hamlet is CSI that had never existed before. We don’t find that except as an output of human consciousness (always with the single exception of the emergence of new CSI at OOL and during evolution, which is the issue at stake).

    Finally, I agree with you that research about the mind body relationship can be useful for ID, but not that it is necessary for it. You seem to believe that the issue is for the moment set in the other sense. That’s not true. Believing that consciousness is a product of physical objects is as arbitrary as the opposite (and, IMO, vastly more inconsistent). So, at worst, ID has as much right to go its scientific way as any phisicalist scientific theory.

    Research about those issues is a duty for all thinking persons, but there is no reason to attribute that duty specifically to ID.

  376. molch:

    Do you doubt that?

    Yes, absolutely. Please show me how a computer could output any page of Hamlet, or any equivalent page with new original consistent (and possibly interesting and beautiful) meaning, the way you describe.

    Regarding the nylonase example, I just showed you that the change achieved though random mutation is not complex. Therefore, no new CSI has emerged, even if the existing complex algorithms have used that change to implement a new higher level function. Isn’t that clear? To have CSI, you need both new specification and new complexity. Here you have new specification (at least at higher level), but not new complexity.

    Again, if nylonase had emerged the way darwinists have so long believed, you would have both. But that’s not the case.

    That’s why darwinists for so long have used nylonase as an issue. Because they believed a wrong thing about it (the origin by frameshift mutation). Now that we know the right thing, it would be better for them to avoid the issue at all.

  377. above (#364):

    thank you for this sensible, pertinent, deep and very pleasant post. I specially liked the following:

    This was a very interesting discussion to read and it makes me really glad to be part of this community.

    That’s my feeling too. And yes, this thread was specially good.

    And this:

    Finally, I believe much of the literature on free will/determinism is ridden with definitional and semantic issues and gimmicks as well as false dichotomies which exacerbate the problem instead of alleviating it. It’s precisely for that reason that I find it more fruitful to use simple language in addressing the matter.

    How true!

    And, obviously, all the considerations about the limits of science. The beauty of it is that its limits its glory, rather than a flaw. The worst enemies of science are those who try to change it into a philosophy or a religion…

  378. #352 Gpuccio

    You didn’t answer my question at #343 – but I appreciate you are responding to many conversations at once on this thread and others. So let’s leave it there.

  379. AIG:

    Overnight, I see considerable discussion has happened.

    In particular BA 77 has raised a whole new realm of issues, on the terra-forming of earth to make a fit habitat for higher life forms and even in support of our economy. Food for thought indeed, delivered in BA’s unique style.

    Now, in 358, you have said something that I think is inadvertently revealing:

    Since you haven’t managed to define “intelligence” in any testable way apart from “able to produce FSCI”, then these statements are vacuous. Why is a human intelligent? Because we produce lots of FSCI. Why isn’t a worm intelligent? Because it doesn’t produce much FSCI. How do humans produce FSCI? By using their intelligence! etc.

    1 –> Why do you keep arguing like this, on “definition”? This rhetorical point seems to be little more than a strained strawman caricature.

    2 –> Already above in the thread, multiple times, we have discussions on how we observe that humans are intelligent and that one of the SIGNS of that intelligence is that we produce dFSCI, which we also observe is never created de novo by things which are not intelligent, in the commonly used sense of that term.

    3 –> In the case of especially dFSCI, a subset of CSI that is particularly relevant to our considerations, we have shown over and over that once we pass say 500 – 1,000 bits of information storage capacity, undirected statistical contingency [how I am using "chance"] — the other observed source of contingency — loses credibility as not only a logically possible but an empirically feasible explanation. This, as the resources of he observed cosmos will only slightly scratch the surface of the configuration space, making the cosmos-scale search round down to zero.

    4 –> Onlookers, FYI: this is very closely related to the statistical justification for the second law of thermodynamics in physics. Cf. Abel’s discussion of the plausibility bound.

    5 –> Of course, almost by definition, mechanical necessity tracing to the action of lawlike forces, is not a credible source of high contingency.

    6 –> Which leaves intelligent choice or unintelligent chance as the two main sources of highly contingent outcomes, and where choice in our observation is a better explanation for being in statistically unlikely — this harks back to the concept of relative statistical weight of recognisably distinct clusters of states that is so central to statistical mechanics — functionally convenient specific target zones, which for convenience we have called islands of function.

    7 –> But, are we going in circles in attempts to “define” intelligence? Not at all, as inferring inductively from empirically reliable sign to the signified causal process strongly associated with it is not a circular argument.

    8 –> That is, AIG, you are actually challenging the credibility of inductive inference, and inadvertently undercutting the epistemological foundation of science itself. At least, if you are going to be consistent in your reasoning; but selective hyperskepticism ever couches at the door.

    9 –> Let us briefly revisit why we label certain observed creatures “intelligent.”

    10 –> Namely, we commonly see a cluster of fairly unique behaviours that gives those creatures — we happen to have some inside knowledge here, too — fairly distinctive characteristics. We could have called it “brzippotism,” but we have traditionally used the term, “intelligence.” As Wiki (cited in the UD glossary summarised c. Jan 2008):

    capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”

    11 –> I would add to that cluster, things like creativity, originality and imagination, and speak in terms similar to the Wiki “definition” of life that was already brought up in previous exchanges on this favourite talking point of yours: “all or most of . . . ”

    12 –> That is, we are here applying the root method of real-world definition: pointing out key cases and extending to others by family resemblance. And at some point we may be able to create a convention by which we set a border, and we may even one day adjust that border. (Despite debates, ostensive definition is the basic type, and is the foundation of our confidence in other types: if a definition does not reliably separate credible cases of X from credible non-cases of X, it is back to the drawing board. Notice how Wiki “mysteriously” does not address this part of the issue in the article on the subject. Some would say, predictably. Ostensive definition, rests on the reliability of the evident fact that we are intelligent, situationally aware creatures who can recognise what pointing out cases and non-cases means. Indeed, by and large we acquire much of our vital vocabulary ostensively. So, to try to dismiss this key learning and defining process is self-referentially incoherent. A very familiar outcome of the kind of skepticism that so often obtains today.)

    13 –> To clarify the process, let us shift for a moment to a less emotionally loaded case. Astronomers of old used the term “moon” for our satellite, then one day Galileo looked at Jupiter through a telescope and lo and behold, four satellites, so “moon” got extended by family resemblance.

    14 –> Planetos– wanderer — was the label for certain stars that did not stay “fixed.” Then, post Copernicus and Kepler [Galileo was a bit of a side-show], it was realised that we too are on a planet. But this did not stop: currently, there is an attempt to reduce the number of recognised solar “planets” to eight, as it seems Pluto and a great many other trans-Neptunian objects share a common cluster of characteristics so now there is talk of dwarf planets, BTW re-promoting Ceres to a more dignified state. (The alternative seems to have been to have up to hundreds or more of solar planets. And Astronomers seemingly have not heard of grandfathering in a traditional case; which would have reduced the controversy.)

    15 –> In short, precising definitions [on whatever technique] and operational definitions anchored on observations [which are again "cases in point"], across time, are flexible and responsive to what happens when we observe key cases and see family resemblance and distinctions.

    16 –> It so happens that the “brzippotism” characteristics come in individuated clusters and have utility so we have traditionally labelled them as signs pointing to a common capacity of such individuals, “brzippotism” intelligence. And, since this is a description of a pattern of capacities,extension to other sufficiently similar cases is a reasonable approach.

    17 –> In short, if we see an entity exerting all or most of the typical characteristics that are signs of intelligence, we would label that entity “intelligent.” And things or processes that show such signs we call ART-ifacts, i.e. produced by art, not by accident.

    18 –> As has been much discussed, such intelligence is not credibly traceable to mere embodiment, or even to having a brain. So, we have no good reason to try to confine possible intelligence to ourselves or to entities like us.

    19 –> Intelligence is a capacity-cluster thing, not a body thing.

    20 –> Q: Why is this issue being debated so stridently then?

    21 –> A: because the traditional, otherwise acceptable approach to inductive learning and definition by example and family resemblance, will lead us where the scientific reigning orthodoxy of evolutionary materialism plainly does not want to go.

    22 –> For, over the past 60 years,we have come to see that the living cell has in it: coded storage of functionally specific, complex digital information, integrated with an organised, equally functionally specific cluster of complex molecular nanomachines.

    23 –> A pattern which we would otherwise — in any non-controversial context — immediately recognise as artifacts of intelligent cause.

    24 –> But, that otherwise “no-brainer” inference cuts across a dominant ideology that is key to the power base of a particular worldview and cultural agenda. So, it is being stoutly resisted.

    25 –> Why? In the end, because of what Lewontin so openly pointed out in his now notorious 1997 article in NYRB:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. (NB: cf here for some remarks on context, as in a previous thread someone made some rather unfortunate attempts to indict this remark as quote mining, mistaking discreet forbearance for context-twisting.)]

    ______________

    So, AIG, the use of dFSCI as a sign pointing to its routinely and reliably observed cause is NOT a case of empty circularity. It would be appreciated if in future you would attend to the points that have been made about how definitions work, and what types are credible.

    Indeed, if you succeed in making a robot that shows sufficient family resemblance to the cluster, we would be happy to accept it as intelligent.

    It would also be — surprise [NOT] — a demonstration case that intelligently directed contingency is capable of creating a new intelligence.

    GEM of TKI

  380. Mark:

    I apologize, I thought I had ansered in my #352.

    “To prove determinism, you shoud demonstrate that, given the circumstances before an action, that action and only that action was possible. If anybody can do that, I will believe in determinism (but not in compatibilism: I will simply believe that I am a complete automaton).”

    But I understanf now that you probably want an explicit answer to the last question:

    Would this suddenly mean that you were not exercising true free will but only had the illusion?

    And my answer is: definitely yes.

  381. F/N: Yesterday, I had an epiphany; triggered by trying to see why the design inference on the dFSCI in the living cell is being so stoutly resisted, and — almost as important — the way in which it is being resisted, as we can see above.

    Reflecting on what has been going on, and walking back from the family car by the rain-dripping Croton row at house front, I suddenly realised just how much the case of the digital information system in the living cell is blatantly obvious as a sign pointing to its credible causal process, and onward to the sort of thing that gives rise to such effects.

    Denton was right, manifestly right:

    __________________

    >> To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [[so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . . However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . .

    Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .

    [[Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler, 1986, pp. 327 – 331. >>
    ___________________

    If we were to see such an entity in a non-controversial context, we wouldn't have he slightest hesitation in instantly recognising it as an artifact of supreme technology, and of the technologists that make such artifacts.

    So, it seems the real problem -- the evidence has been speaking loud and clear for decades now -- is not to be found in the evidence or the logic.

    Instead, it lies in the reigning orthodoxy and what is at stake culturally and maybe even spiritually.

    So, let us listen for a moment to a warning or two in the NT that seem to be all too relevant to our times:

    Jesus, Jn 8:45: "Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!"

    Paul, Rom 1:19: . . . what may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. [This is strongly echoed in Locke's remarks on the candle that is set up in us in his introduction, section 5, to his Essay on Human Understanding]

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles . . . [This particular selection seems almost prophetic. Back then we had statues in temples and scandalous legends, now we have icons of evolutionary materialism and scientific "just-so" stories.]

    ________________

    So, we need to think again about what is the root of the problem. For if a weed’s roots are left in, it will all too soon spring back up.

    [And BTW, why is it that a weed is almost always so much more vigorous than a useful garden plant? It's genes have not been selected artificially to enhance utility for us, at the expense of ability to survive and thrive in the wilds, where the goats are a going to chew if they can. And, why then -- per survival of the fittest -- are not all plants poisonous . . . . ?]

    GEM of TKI

  382. PS: Ironically, I would not even NEED the case of the living cell to hold to a theistic worldview, the mind and enconscienced heart within and the starry heavens without are far more than enough to point to an Intelligence beyond the world of matter and energy as the most credible cause of creation.

    But there it is, lying in the cells of my own body, staring at me and calling to my technical background: a miniaturised complex digital information system using techniques sevferal generations of development beyond where we have reached.

    Why — apart from imposition of a priori evolutionary materialism, however disguised — should I not be permitted to see in such the signs that point to intelligently directed contingency as cause, and beyond that, the intelligences that would be the source of that design?

    And why should such an inference to design be seen as a roadblock to progress rather than an invitation to reverse engineer and apply to our own technologies?

  383. 383
    William J. Murray

    In some spiritualities, the mind is viewed as a sublime machine which goes about generating whatever the soul focuses upon; the soul being free will intent, and the mind being its interpretive/instructional agent, and the physical being the materials and context for the construct.

    IOW, the free will soul intends, and the mind, like an interpreter or a software program, breaks the intention down, or creates symbolic representations from that intent, then views the physical world for ways and means to generate the representation of that intent, and commands whatever it has power over to work towards realizing that intent.

    The soul, of course, has oversight authority to change the mind, alter specific actions, or redirect as the ensuing situation develops.

    IMO, if the soul intends to not see a thing, then the mind happily goes about this task, using all of its tools and tricks. It can just “not see” evidence, or use hyperskepticism, confirmation bias, faulty logic, or just endlessly pollute the evidence and logic so that one can never see clearly.

    For those that intend to not see the evidence, no evidence will do. As I have put forth in other threads or venues scenarios of blatantly obvious intelligent design (the alien artifact example), and then ask how we can recognize them, what we are treated to are not explanations, but rather diversions from the incoherent position.

    The cell is just such an example, only 100 times more apparently designed by intelligence than the crashed alien ship of my example. The reason that the crashed alien ship finding of ID is not controversial, and the cellular finding of ID is, is as kf states: it directly shows what so many intend on not seeing, so they must cover it up, misdirect, camoflage, and deny.

    The example reveals how ID deniers must obfuscate in order to “not see” the hypocrisy involved.

    (BTW, I’m not suggesting we add another entity – the soul – to the mix; one can just see it as two aspects of the mind; the free will part, and the software-like program that leaps into action when there is a command issued.)

  384. WJM:

    You remind me of what they used to say about the soul: it is unitary but has faculties or facilities — mind, will, and emotions/ felt perceptions.

    That is it is self-moved [volitional] and is intelligent, aware self-aware and conscious.

    G

  385. above,

    AIGUY: Nobody knows if human brains do anything that is not by “law and chance”. If we do, that would mean dualism is true, and that is a metaphysical speculation that is not supportable scientifically.

    ABOVE: The term chance is a very loosely defined term, and as I have explained in a previous thread it is often a mere substitute for human ignorance.

    Agreed! With the exception of quantum randomness (where there really may simply be nothing else to know) “chance” is indeed a way to say “the specific deterministic causes are unknown and not systematically related to the observed effect”.

    Also, it would be more accurate to state that currently, the discipline of science is incapable of addressing the matter and furthermore, it is unknown if it may ever will. The reason I say this is not to sound rude but rather to remind all, myself included, of the limits of science and how it is not the ultimate decider of warranted knowledge. It is very far from being that actually – in fact, it will never be that – and the reason I explicate it is not so much to undermine the scientific enterprise but rather to keep it honest and grounded as so it doesn’t turn into self-refuting scientism.

    I could not agree with you more, above. Well said!

    ********************

    SB,

    You have classified the ancient hunter’s creative effort to build a spear as the same kind of cause as wind, water, and air, defining the word “natural” in a very unnatural way and in a decidedly irrational way. [anything not created by humans].

    Yes, that definition was offered when you asked what I meant in the context of SETI (that they look for things “not found in nature”)- that is why I said “‘Nature’ here means “anything that is NOT the product of HUMAN activity.” (emphasis added – post 322)

    By your definition, the human mind, which was not created by humans, is a “natural cause.”

    Yes, that’s correct.

    If you want to say that Mozart’s creative effort to write a piano composition is the same kind of cause that makes the piano strings resonate, fine. But it makes no sense.

    ??? I already explained to you that not all natural causes do the same thing, so again, where are you going with this? Are you trying to make it seem like I believe human activity and harmonic vibration are the same thing?

    If you want so say that the tornado which wreaks havoc on a house is the same kind of cause as a burglar who ransacks a house, that’s alright. But it makes no sense. If you want so say that messages coming from Mars in the form of Morse Code is the same kind of cause the forms a super Nova, I guess you are entitled to your opinion. But it makes no sense.

    I don’t understand your argument. The point here is whether or not anything transcends the laws of physics (law+chance). Dualists believe that human minds transcend physical cause, and materialists do not. Nobody knows the answer. But nobody thinks that tornados and burglars are the same thing, obviously.

    It’s not that every cause is the same. The problem is that you can’t say how to distinguish what you think of as an “intelligent” cause from an “unintelligent” cause, for all the reasons I’ve given (see, for example, #306).

    **********************

    gpuccio,

    aiguy, please be compassionate! This is a blog, I often write in a hurry, late and tired. I cannot aòlways be careful to use only term you would not object to. If you have already understood my approach, please be flexible and try to understand waht I mean.

    Forgive me if I read too quickly, GP. It is indeed very difficult to write these posts quickly without misspeaking; I do it all the time. I’ll try to understand what you mean.

    Here with intelligent information I was obviously referring to the CSI already stored in the genome, which guides the development of every single biological being. I call that intelligent information because I believe that it is the product of intelligent design, that’s all. There are times I am arguing the details, and times that I am just expressing my point of view, hoping that the interlocutor will understand the difference.

    OK. Again, though, information comes into the organism through genetic and epigenetic factors at birth, and then continuously from the environment too.

    We have no examples of FSCI that does not come from biological organisms.

    There is a difference: conscious beings create new CSI. The biological information written in the genome just perpetuates itself. Humans have produced Hamlet. That is different from the fact that all biological beings, including humans, acquire some behaviours, like walking, in a repetitive way, using their genetic potential, even if with the contribution of external inputs.

    I disagree. Humans (and some computer systems) take information from the environment and process it in ways that alter their structure and their future behaviors (i.e. they learn). All of our skills are due to both our inherited structure and to our interactions with the environment. This is true for walking – and talking, and even writing Hamlet.

    Finally, I agree with you that research about the mind body relationship can be useful for ID, but not that it is necessary for it. You seem to believe that the issue is for the moment set in the other sense. That’s not true.

    I believe that ontology (dualism vs. materialism) is an open question – unresolvable at the present by appeal to our experience. I believe that the problem of free will is likewise open. I think science is beginning to inform some of these questions (e.g. research by folks like Libet and Wegner), but as for now we do not know the answers.

    Believing that consciousness is a product of physical objects is as arbitrary as the opposite (and, IMO, vastly more inconsistent). So, at worst, ID has as much right to go its scientific way as any phisicalist scientific theory.

    This is the opposite of the truth: In fact, nothing that can’t be resolved by appeal to our uniform and repeated experience can possibly be scientific. So physicalism isn’t scientific, and dualism isn’t scientific either.

    Only theories that do not depend on the truth of any particular answer to these metaphysical questions can be scientific. Darwinian evolution doesn’t depend on materialism or dualism, and so it is scientific (even though I do not believe it actually accounts for what it claims to account for). I am arguing there that ID depends on dualism and is incompatible with materialism, and so I am arguing that ID is not scientific.

    (I do not believe that consciousness “is a product of physical objects”, by the way).

    Research about those issues is a duty for all thinking persons, but there is no reason to attribute that duty specifically to ID.

    If ID wants to scientifically support its hypothesis that some entity which was not itself a complex physical organism still was able to process information and design things the way a human does, then yes – ID is obliged to come up with some evidence that such a thing might exist. That is why ID needs to perform research in paranormal psychology.

  386. Sorry to interject now that the discussion has moved on. Just a couple of things I wanted to clear up – and I’ll post this in 3 separate posts, so it’s a bit shorter…

    Kairosfocus @ 301 cited lots of verses in order to show that determinism was false. He said that the decisive issue here is “responsible power of choice and decision” and that “These [the verses he cites] are not obscure or minor or unclear texts. And they are premised on responsible choice”. He concludes that deterministic theologies “struggle in the face of abundant testimony of the Scriptures”.
    All I want to point out to Kairosfocus and onlookers here are two things:

    (1) Libertarianism cannot ground moral responsibility either. So libertarianism also “struggles in the face of abundant testimony of Scriptures”. Kairosfocus here seems to be using “free will” as a label to make a claim to moral responsibility. If anyone goes and studies agent-causal theories of libertarianism, though, they will know that it just does not come up with the goods. See my post @ 114 for why.

    For those who have just joined the discussion: GP and StephenB have tried to rebutt my arguments here by saying that agential control only requires that an agent need to be able to control his ‘inner intentions’, not his ‘outer actions’. However, my points in post 114 apply equally as much to inner intentions as they do to outer actions. So we still have not seen how agent-causal libertarianism can ground moral responsibility. Kairosfocus et al. are thus not entitled to claim that libertarianism is any better off when it comes to grounding moral responsibility than the determinist.

    (2) I think moral responsibility is something that the bible teaches. But given that neither libertarianism nor determinism can ground it, I think it is a paradox. So citing verses like Kairosfocus has done does nothing to solve the issue. It just highlights the paradox that I have already highlighted – See my post @ 299.

  387. StephenB @ 304:

    Green @299, I have read your latest comments on the subject of determinism and free will. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that, on this matter at least, you are impervious to reason.

    All I can say here is just that I just hope the onlookers will see that I have provided reasoned arguments for my position. Some of the libertarians here, on the other hand, are still claiming that libertarianism can ground moral responsibility, when I have shown that it can’t (e.g. Kairosfocus @ 301, and GP implied that he thought it could @ 324). So I don’t think that I have been the one ‘impervious to reason’.

    I never make personal judgments, but I will simply offer an observation about human nature… It is very to avoid the painful process of exercising and strengthening our will, which is the cost that every human must pay when he strives for virtue, a process that always involves saying yes to our good impulses and no to our bad impulses..

    I certainly agree, and nothing here is inconsistent with determinism. We too have conflicting desires and inner struggles. There is nothing here to imply libertarianism.

    In effect, the compatibilist renders virtue meaningless, since virtue, by its very nature, consists of forming the will to prefer that which it ought to prefer and disdain that which it ought to disdain. The compatibilist is inclined to act on all his desires and disinclined to resist those which he ought to resist.

    Perhaps some confusion has entered this discussion because I have been using the word “desire” – which has carnal connotations. By “desire” I simply meant to refer to an inner mental state. But it does not have to refer to a carnal desire; it could be to a godly desire. Or a godly value. Or a godly intention. Or any godly inner mental state. So I hope that makes it clear that the determinist is not stuck in his or her carnal state, and that the following passages from StephenB do not follow from determinism:

    “The compatibilist is inclined to act on all his desires and disinclined to resist those which he ought to resist”.

    On the contrary, he can only turn in the direction that his cravings and appetites would lead him.

    He is, or soon will become, a slave to his passions.

    The compatibilist…is, like the materialist determinst, a slave to his lower nature.

    I hope it’s clear that these statements just represent a confusion over what is meant by ‘desire’. Desires (or efforts of the will, intentions, and so forth) can be godly, and thus, contrary to the statements above, the determinist is not stuck in his or her carnal state. God is able to transform us.

  388. Above @ 364:

    I’m sorry but there is absolutely nothing unintelligent about a substance causing something. This merely seems like a semantic issue than anything else… a property of a substance is a good explanation while a substance is not? Come on.

    I’m not that well read on the issue of substance-causation versus causation by a property of the substance, but I know that even agent-causal libertarians themselves agree that substance-causation is a huge challenge (e.g. Taylor, 1992). The reason they allow it, however, is because they think that the potential pay-offs of the theory are so huge (I disagree – the pay-offs just aint there).

    No. O’Connor defends the position that according to agent causality a framework is provided in which an agent may chose to utilize a specific reason, although the reason itself is not sufficient in determining behavior.

    If an agent’s actions are not causally determined by mental states (certain beliefs, desires, and so forth), then one cannot escape the conclusion that agential action occurs – ultimately – for no reason at all. O’Connor is aware of this problem (e.g. see his Agent causation(1995), in, Agents, causes and events: essays on indeterminism and free will. However, his only two responses I could discern were:

    (1) With hindsight, the agent still has reasons she can cite for her action
    (2) Well, sometimes our decisions are irrational

    Regarding (1), yes, an agent has reasons she can cite after the event. But these reasons do not rationalise the action because such reasons are all ex post facto. That is, they are not, ultimately, why the decision was made. Ultimately, the decision was not made for any specific reason at all. Which I would regard as quite irrational.

    Regarding (2), here I think O’Connor is equivocating over the term irrational. Whilst we sometimes make decisions that are irrational in the sense that they are made for bad reasons, or for ill-logical reasons, or for spontaneous reasons, there is no reason to think that sometimes our decisions are irrational in the sense that they are ultimately made for no reasons at all. Even in a scenario where two courses of action are equally preferable, there is no reason to think that the decision is made for no reason at all. In scenarios such as this, a decision will be made because of a desire to choose a course of action. Thus even here, there are reasons that explain the decision. I have already made this point in a response to GP above.
    Finally, you say:

    Finally, I believe much of the literature on free will/determinism is ridden with definitional and semantic issues and gimmicks as well as false dichotomies which exacerbate the problem instead of alleviating it. It’s precisely for that reason that I find it more fruitful to use simple language in addressing the matter.

    I know there are a lot of different terms, but I think we have to be precise about what exactly we are referring to. If you look up “Free Will” on the SEP, then half of the article will be referring to theories of free will that are completely compatible with dtereminism. That’s why I’ve been using the term ‘libertarianism’ rather than ‘free will’ since libertarianism free will is free will that is incomaptible with determinism – and that is what most here probably mean when then say ‘free will’.

  389. gpuccio:

    “Please show me how a computer could output any page of Hamlet, or any equivalent page with new original consistent (and possibly interesting and beautiful) meaning, the way you describe.”

    I don’t know anything about computer programming, so no, I can’t write a program that uses simple “mutations” to create new meaningful output from pre-existing text under a pre-existing framework of rules. I have no doubt that it can be done, though. Computers can now translate text into a great variety of languages with amazing consistency, simulating the use of different vocabulary + grammar + syntax rules of all these different languages by simple probabilistic means. But, although I personally could not create the computer program, I can do it by hand. It would obviously take me some time. Not because the mutations are complicated, but because it would take much searching through existing sentences to find the useful ones. That’s what the pre-existing machineries of mutation + selection, of the computer search algorithm, and of the vocabulary + grammar + syntax structure of language do for us in the different search contexts.

    The additional, and more important issue here is, that, although I am quite sure I could produce a page from Hamlet without reaching what you define as CSI, neither the entirety of Hamlet, nor a page out of it constitutes a single evolutionary step. Shakespeare did not write the entirety of Hamlet simultaneously, or even a page. The unit of composition that is “selected” for its meaning and consistency is the single sentence. Every text is written one sentence at a time. The longer a text gets, the more complex the “fitness environment” for every new sentence gets, but that environment is now obviously pre-existing.

    “Regarding the nylonase example, I just showed you that the change achieved though random mutation is not complex. Therefore, no new CSI has emerged, even if the existing complex algorithms have used that change to implement a new higher level function.”

    That’s exactly my point. If under that definition Nylonase has no CSI, then you writing an english sentence has no CSI either, because you are using pre-existing words fit into pre-existing grammatical frameworks by pre-existing rules, and create new higher level function by putting it in the context of already existing complex text.

  390. Green @ 386, 387 & 388:

    great summaries – I couldn’t agree with you more!

  391. Molch @ 390: Thank you! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this thread ;-)

  392. Honestly to me it seems that people are talking past one another. As best as I can tell no one is denying the fundamental premise that something determines the will. Am I wrong in this assesment?

    Vivid

  393. Bornagain:

    “bacteria have dramatically terra-formed the environment of this planet to make it fit for higher life forms. Higher life forms that the bacteria could care less about”

    So, there are things that bacteria “care” about? I didn’t know that IDers think that bacteria are conscious!!! :)
    But, whether they care or not, higher life forms make excellent substrates for gazillions of species and individuals of bacteria, so I think they would care, if they could…

    On the general issue, that you think bacteria have done anything with the purpose “to make this planet fit for higher life forms”:
    This assumption obviously only makes sense under the pre-supposition that humans, or any other higher life-forms in the form that we see them today, were the “purpose” or “goal” of anything (the universe?) or anyone (the bacteria? a god?).
    I don’t operate under that pre-supposition. So, claiming that bacteria did anything they did to make this planet fit for the eventual arrival of higher life forms makes as much sense to me as claiming that trees in the African Savannah grew tall to make the Savannah fit for the eventual arrival of giraffes, or that hot dogs were made long and skinny to make American BBQers fit for the eventual arrival of modern hot dog buns. The “fitness relationships” are obviously the other way around: hot dog buns were made to fit already existing hot dogs, giraffes evolved long necks and legs to exploit already existing tall trees, and higher life forms evolved to fit the environment that already existed (and then these higher life forms also changed the environment and in their own turn created new niches, that new life forms evolved to fit).

    Absent the assumption that somebody or something wanted life-forms to turn out exactly the way they are today, there is absolutely no reason to assume that different conditions at any turn of anorganic or organic development of our planet would have enabled life-forms, evolved to fit different environments, and thus very different from the ones we see today.

  394. RE 392

    Just a point of clarification. I recognize that exactly what that something is that determines the will may differ between the different participants.

    Vivi

  395. Hi vivid – good to see another determinist back in the mix!
    “As best as I can tell no one is denying the fundamental premise that something determines the will. Am I wrong in this assesment?”

    Well, gpuccio is so far the only libertarian who has laid his cards on the table – he basically exempts his will from cause and effect, and his choices are therefore neither determined nor undetermined. (gpuccio, I hope I summarized that correctly, otherwise feel free to chastise me!)
    Of course, from my (and your, and Green’s) perspective, that doesn’t make any sense at all, but since that’s his religious conviction as opposed to a logically defendable philosophical conclusion, I am fine with that.

  396. AIG:

    385, you can’t say how to distinguish what you think of as an “intelligent” cause from an “unintelligent” cause, for all the reasons I’ve given (see, for example, #306).

    306, ID needs to be able to distinguish the explanation it offers, which is “intelligent causation”, from all other causes [Done long since, have yopu been paying attention?]. Simply saying that “something intelligent” was the cause of some phenomenon tells us absolutely nothing about it – not one single thing. [Red herring led out to Strawman: the design inference is from empirically warranted sign to signified causal process, directed contingency, which in our experience is routinely and reliably the product of known intelligences] We don’t know if that means that this something can talk, or that it can read, or take an IQ test, or understand a melody or play Jeopardy or… anything else. [You have changed the subject entirely, again, from signs to signified observed and relibly known causal process to something else. The signs and inference signify design; and that comes with designers in our experience -- which is a quite big enough conclusion thank you. That e.g. cell based life on its dFSCI was credibly designed is a big enough conclusion to revolutionise origins science] And as we’ve seen repeatedly here, it really doesn’t help for ID to say that intelligent causes are “those capable of producing FSCI”, because that renders ID’s central premise as perfectly vacuous: The FSCI we observe in biology is cauesd by that which can produce FSCI”. [Strawman! To conclude design and infer that design comes from designer, whether we have identified whodunit, is patently NOT vacuous, nor is your attempt to project a circular argument even close to true or fair. Intelligence is empirically identified on a cluster of characteristics from known cases, as you know or should know, and to separately identify signs that on empirical evidence point to directed contingency and the further empirical identification of such activity with its known source is PATENTLY NON-CIRCULAR.]

    The above is simply and directly false, and insistently — by now, sadly, verging on demonstrably stubbornly and closed mindedly — so in the teeth of abundant, repeated correction.

    One last time, in the hope that even at this late stage there can be a reasonable discussion or at minimum, an exchange of thoughts, I have to be fairly direct:

    1 –> AIG, you know or should know that the concept of intelligence starts with ourselves as case studies and key examples. You have seen or refuse to see that definition starts from key examples and patterns associated therewith. (Cf 379 above earlier today, on this. Once we have examples and patterns among such, family resemblance is enough to provide the reasonable conclusion of intelligence.)

    2 –> You know or should know that just the comments posted in this thread, of linguistically functional digital texts of sufficient length are routinely produced by intelligences exerting directed, choice contingencies, and — on search space constraints, are not at all credible for blind, stochastic contingencies.

    3 –> Similarly, you know or should know on observation and experience, that algorithmically functional digital strings of sufficient complexity are are routinely produced by intelligences exerting directed, choice contingencies, and — on search space constraints, are not at all credible for blind, stochastic contingencies.

    4 –> You know or should know that the case of dFSCI covers both of these. On reliable and routine empirical observation we are entitled to infer inductively that directed contingency, i.e design, is the causal process by which dFSCI originates in our observation amounting to many billions of real-world tests. With ZERO credible counter-examples, or you would have been happy to provide such.

    5 –> Notice this onlookers: we are dealing with an inductive inference on abundant observation, and with ZERO counter-examples. That is why resort is being made to rhetorical games on definitional tricks and the like, to hyperskeptically block what is otherwise already long since plainly established. That resort has to be made to such tricks shows both the true balance on the merits and the degree of ideological commitment that lies behind the objections being raised.

    6 –> Now, the real problem is this: dFSCI — and remember, this is just an abbreviation for a very familiar entity, digital symbol strings at work, such as the ASCII text in this post, or the code in a computer — is to be found in abundance in the living cell, and it is at work algorithmically, based on codes and expressed in machines such as ribosomes.

    7 –> Explaining like effects on their observed causal patterns, we have every right to conclude that the living cell is an artifact, a designed entity. (And notice, we are doing so on the very principle of uniformity and inference to best known causal explanation that Lyell and Darwin used to infer a deep and unobserved past of he earth and of life.)

    8 –> What then is the difference?

    9 –> Simple: this time around the evidence and the signs are pointing to a signified causal process that is most unwelcome to the a priori materialist scientific establishment, and by extension to their fellow travellers.

    10 –> So, it is being stoutly resisted. Not because there is a successful chance + necessity model of origin of life with solid empirical support, or of he origin of major body plans, but because the reigning orthodoxy is uncomfortable with where the empirical evidence points.

    11 –> That is the context in which science has been radically redefined away from being an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world based on observation, experiment, analysis and free discussion among the informed.

    12 –> Thus we see the definitional games on natural vs supernatural or non-natural causes above. When all along your friendly local soup can tells you that scientists routinly distinguish and study natural and artificial causes.

    13 –> That too is why — never mind that LIFE [the subject matter of Biology] is only defined on key examples, characteristics and family resemblance — suddenly we see a pretence that “intelligence” is undefined and meaningless or circularly defined on FSCI.

    14 –> In fact, you know or should know that dFSCI is an empirically warranted sign of directed contingency as causal process, and that as we exemplify ourselves, intelligence is the routine and reliable source of directed contingency.

    15 –> As to whether we — as classic exemplars of intelligence — make plans and have purposes or intents, I simply point you to Governments, Corporations, and Armies. Even posts in this thread reflect intentions and directed contingency!

    16 –> I am particularly astonished to see assertions like: “ID needs to be able to distinguish the explanation it offers, which is “intelligent causation”, from all other causes. Simply saying that “something intelligent” was the cause of some phenomenon tells us absolutely nothing about it – not one single thing.”

    17 –> If you were to get down off your Ivory tower long enough to simply click on and read a link here or here for a 101 introduction [much less the UD Weak Argument Correctives you plainly disregard], you would see that design is — routinely even — distinguished from chance and/or necessity, and that based on identifiable and distinct empirical characteristics.

    17 –> This, any number of commenters here have repeatedly pointed out to you; but it is increasingly sadly evident that you are — pardon the directness, but nothing else seems to have a hope of getting through — simply not listening, but are repeatedly spewing out long since repeatedly corrected talking points.

    _________________

    AIG, surely, you can do better than this.

    Please.

    GEM of TKI

  397. Vividbleau @ 394:

    Just a point of clarification. I recognize that exactly what that something is that determines the will may differ between the different participants.

    Yes, this is one of the differences. Determinists such as myself and molch think that decisions or actions are determined by a combination of our inner mental states (our beliefs, desires, and so forth). Agent-causal libertarians (e.g. gpuccio) think that an agent is distinct from the sum of his inner states. What does the determining is not the inner states, but an enduring substance – what gpuccio has referred to as the ‘transcendental self’.

  398. (Vividbleau, incidentally, this is not to say that all libertarians believe that an agent is distinct from the sum of his inner states. Non-causal and event-causal libertarians think an agent is constituted by his inner states. But no-one here seems to have defended either of these types of libertarianism, so they haven’t really been in discussion much) :)

  399. “What does the determining is not the inner states, but an enduring substance – what gpuccio has referred to as the ‘transcendental self’.”

    Wouldnt that mean then that will is self DETERMINED?

    Vivid

  400. Vivid:

    “What does the determining is not the inner states, but an enduring substance – what gpuccio has referred to as the ‘transcendental self’.”

    Wouldnt that mean then that will is self DETERMINED?

    What do you mean by the “will”? Agent-causationists would say that the agent is self determined, but not ‘the will’, I don’t think. I think “the will” seems like an inner mental state – and agent-causationists say that inner states are distinct from the agent.

  401. “What do you mean by the “will”?

    I would define the will the same way Edwards or Locke defines it.

    “That which the mind chooses anything. The faculty of the will is that faculty or power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the will is the same as an act of choosing or choice” Edwards “The Freedom of the Will”

    “The will signifies nothing but a power or ability to pefer or choose” Locke “Human Understanding”

    Vivid

  402. 402

    Green,

    Yes, this is one of the differences. Determinists such as myself and molch think that decisions or actions are determined by a combination of our inner mental states (our beliefs, desires, and so forth).

    Can you parse this out for me please? You always say something to the effect of “and so forth”, what else is involved in this “and so forth”? Does it involve everything that occurs with our whole person? Is every single sensibility and faculty (that a human may have in his power) engaged , in which case this completeness would be no different than just simply declaring the whole endeavor to be a mind with free choice? What is omitted, and what is, in particular, included as to what determines our will, in your scheme?

  403. Vivid: Hmm. Interesting. I’m not sure how that fits in here.

    I know that Jonathan Edwards was not a libertarian, though. He defined free will in a way that was consistent with determinism. E.g. SEP says that Edwards saw free willings as “those which proceed from one’s own desires”.

  404. “Vivid: Hmm. Interesting. I’m not sure how that fits in here.”

    You asked me what I meant by the “will” I answered.

    Vivid

  405. —Green: “I certainly agree, and nothing here is inconsistent with determinism. We too have conflicting desires and inner struggles.”

    Of course, we all have conflicting desires inner struggles. Many of these struggles consist of a will that wants to do one thing but recognizes that it ought to do something else. It is precisely at this point that the individual can command, or if need be, train the will to follow what it should want but doesn’t and avoid that which it does want and shouldn’t. Thus, we can change our destiny. Determinism claims that we cannot make that change of course or that we cannot, by an act of free choice, even ask God to change us.

    Destructive impulses need to be resisted and resistance is only possible through a free act of the will. By your philosophy, anyone who is unfortunate enough to be burdened with the wrong kinds of desires or mental is powerless to change them.

    Further, it is only through a free act of the will that such a person can ask God to change his mental states. Thus, if God has not previously determined that the person should have mental states conducive to salvation, that person will never be saved. He will not be damned through voluntary fault but rather as a result have having been unlucky enough to be created by a God who had planned to damn him all along. It is the most monstrous of doctrines, and it is definitely not Scriptural as I showed earlier with plenty of passages, which you pretty much ignored.

    The determinist/compatibilist is doomed to go whichever way the wind blows. If the wind has determined that he will be a lazy, cowardly, and ignorant lecher, well, that’s the way the wind blows. Ironically, the determinist has decided that he will use his faculty of free will to render himself a slave. What a tragedy. A will is a terrible thing to waste.

  406. Clive @ 402:

    I said: Yes, this is one of the differences. Determinists such as myself and molch think that decisions or actions are determined by a combination of our inner mental states (our beliefs, desires, and so forth).

    Clive replied: Can you parse this out for me please? You always say something to the effect of “and so forth”, what else is involved in this “and so forth”?

    Sure, sorry if this hasn’t been clear. Basically I mean any mental state that you can think of. I think ‘beliefs’ and ‘desires’ encompass most – but have been using ‘and so forth’ just in case anyone can think of some mental states that are not encompassed by these two categories.

    Does it involve everything that occurs with our whole person? Is every single sensibility and faculty (that a human may have in his power) engaged..

    This depends how you define a ‘person’. I’d say yes it does involve everything that occurs within a whole person becasuse I think a person is the sum of his or her inner states.

    Some libertarians, however, (specifically agent-causal ones), say that a person is something over and above the combination of his or her inner states. I don’t think this extra thing (this transcendental self) is involved – but only because I don’t think it exists i.e. because I don’t think a person is something over and above all her inner states.

    ..in which case this completeness would be no different than just simply declaring the whole endeavor to be a mind with free choice?

    Given my view of the self, libertarianism does not follow. An agent can be causally determined by the sum of her inner states.

    The agent-causal libertarian attempts to get around exactly this by saying that the agent is something in addition to – something over and above – her inner states. They posit a ‘transcental self’ (to use gpuccios words) which is a substance and not a inner state. This substance is meant to provide that extra factor which frees the agent from being determined by his or her inner mental states.

    What is omitted, and what is, in particular, included as to what determines our will, in your scheme?

    I hope what I’ve said above has answered this :)

  407. -vivid: “As best as I can tell no one is denying the fundamental premise that something determines the will. Am I wrong in this assesment?”

    The will, like the mind, is a faculty of an immaterial soul. Each faculty has its own work to do; the mind is responsible for seeking truth and the will is responsible for deciding what is worth loving. On the other hand, each can influence the other: The individual can, through the proper use of the intellect, train the will to prefer good things and disdain bad things. On the other hand, the untrained will can influence the intellect to avoid truth and pursue solely selfish interests. Each can have either a positive or negative impact on the other. Typically, though, the intellect provides the target and the will shoots the arrow.

    Quite often, the passions demand one thing but the will, if properly trained and guided by a sound intellect, can override those passions and chose to love what the passions resist–chastity, courage and humility, for example.

    Of course, God can also move the will of an individual just as the individual can also move his own will. Unfortunately, by virtue of original sin, the intellect has been darkened and the will weakened, but not to the point where they have been rendered totally useless. They can still function at some level. In many respects, the will’s health and strength depends on the ways it has been used in the past, and even more importantly, on its relationship with God. Thus, there is both a natural and a supernatural component involved in the use of the human will.

    At the natural level, bad habits can so impair the will that it loses whatever powers it once had. Many addictions are not physical, meaning that, through unwise behavior, an individual weakens his will to the point where psychological, not physical addictions rule him. Thus, the distinction between morality and medicine can become blurred since it is, at that level, difficult to know to what extent that the will has been weakened and to what extend mental and physical pathology come into play. At this point, only God and medicine can help since such a soul no longer has any power of will to resist unwise impulses.

    On the other hand, if an individual has strengthened his will by building the right kind of habits, he can command it to follow the right path even if his passions and appetites bid him to go another way, as is the case with a soldier whose every instinct tells him to run from a battle but whose trained will commands him to move forward.

    At the supernatural level, God can work with the individual who has striven to strengthen his will at the natural level, increasing its powers such that it performs superhuman moral acts. Thus, as it says in Scripture, God is working through the person’s will and the person’s will has, by its own consent, become a slave to God’s will.

    Thus, both the highest and lowest levels of morality involve slavery: The saint, though the use of his will, becomes a slave of God’s will, his intellect having been supernaturally illumniated and his will, supernaturally strenghened. The barbarian, though the use of his will, becomes a slave to his own appetites and passions, his intellect becoming ever more darkened and will becoming ever more weakened.

  408. StephenB: You said that on my view a person “will not be damned through voluntary fault”. But please tell me: what grounds do you have for saying that someone is damned through voluntary fault? As I feel like I’ve said a million times on this blog, libertarianism cannot ground moral responsibility either. So we are in the same boat here: we only have biblical grounds for grounding moral responsibility: neither of us has philosophical grounds.
    Finally, this probably isn’t the place to get into a discussion on the merits of calvinism. I don’t know if I’d class myself as a calvinist, but I do think that the doctrine of total depravity seems biblical and fits with experience. So a lot of what you said about how we can’t change our own spiritual destinies I’d agree with. You said that “It is only through a free act of the will that such a person can ask God to change his mental states.” To be honest, I think that God has to initiate the salvation act, and that even our desire for his help is ultimately an act of grace, and has to come from him. But again, I don’t think this is the place to get into a discussion of the merits (or not) of calvinism. So I’d rather not say any more on this.

  409. Green:

    RE: An agent can be causally determined by the sum of her inner states.

    Does this include his or her will? If so, is the will predetermined? If so, does this not contradict basic realities like deciding how to make up and post a comment here?

    If not, are you not saying that the agent decides and can act on the decision?

    GEM of TKI

  410. Kairosfocus:

    Green: An agent can be causally determined by the sum of her inner states.

    KF: Does this include his or her will?

    I think it does. I’m not used to terms such as “will” being used in these discussions, but I have just looked up how Jonathan Edwards defines the ‘will’ in his ‘Freedom of the Will’ (thanks to vivid for prompting that), and Edwards identifies ‘willing’ with ‘one’s strongest inclination or preference’. In other words, one’s will just is one’s strongest inclination (be that a moral inclination or an immoral inclination). So defined this way, yes – one’s will is simply one of one’s own inner mental states.

    If so, is the will predetermined?

    Yes. I’d say that one’s inner mental states just are the causal product of the external environment along with one’s previous inner mental states.

    If so, does this not contradict basic realities like deciding how to make up and post a comment here?

    No. Why should it? I am posting here because I have an inclination to. Why should the fact that I have this inclination because of previous antecedent factors (previous encounters with this blog that have formed previous beliefs and desires etc.) be contradictory?

  411. “but I have just looked up how Jonathan Edwards defines the ‘will’ in his ‘Freedom of the Will’ (thanks to vivid for prompting that”

    Green if you have not already done so I would highly recommend you get a copy of Luthers “Bondage of the Will”

    Many are not aware that Luther considered the freedom or the lack of freedom of the will as it related to the reformation to be in his own words “the hinge upon which all else turns” The book is Luthers answer to Erasmus’s “Diatribe”

    Vivid

  412. Vivid:

    Green if you have not already done so I would highly recommend you get a copy of Luthers “Bondage of the Will”

    Thanks vivid. Yes, I have been wanting to read that for some time now. :)

  413. Vivid: I know that Luther was certainly no libertarian when it came to matters pertaining to salvation. But I’ve heard William Lane Craig say on a padcast once that Luther did believe man had libertarian free will in matters that did not pertain to salvation. Now as you know, I think libertarianism in any form is philosophicaly incoherent, but just out of interest, am I right on Luther’s position here? Did he think man had it in matters not pertaining to salvation?

  414. molch:

    it’s late, but I owe you a few brief comments:

    1) In your resasoning, you seem to ignore that when we write (putting even Shakespeare in the lot) we are guided by our conscious representations of the meaning we want to express, and not only by grammatical rules or similar. Otherwise, this blog would be fulled of correct phrases which mean nothin, or of correct parts meaning simple and unrelated things.

    The meaning of Hamlet, what it says about human nature, the creation of the characters and the themes, all of that originated in S.’s consciousness. It could never have come out of grammar and syntax, however well programmed.

    Moreover, you could probably painfully derive a page of Hamlet by pre-existing phrases, sticking to gradual variations, but only if you were guided by the previous knowledge of the page you want to obtain. You are only recycling bad argument of the Weasel type, in a slightly different form. There is nothing true in them.

    2) Regarding nylonase, you are wrong again: what you have to explain is the change in CSI, and not the total CSI of the molecule. And the change in CSI is small, and is not CSI in itself. IOW, while the pre-existing molecule (penicillinase) certanly exhibits CSI, the new molecule (nylonase) essentially exhibits the same CSI of the previous molecule (the specific sequence which allows the folding and the esterase activity associated with it). The change which brings to nylonase is a change of very few AAs (I don’t remember how many now, but probably two). A two or three or four AAs change, which tweaks a pre-existing function at the level of the active site so that the esterase activity changes specific affinity for similar substrates, is not CSI: it can well be achieved by a random search. It’s as simple as that. If darwinists made a sincere effort to understand properly the meaning of CSI, they would not be continuosly making bad arguments about it.

    3) Regarding your post #395, I would say that you have summarized my position in a corrrect, even if somewhat incomplete, way. But, obviously, I deeply disagree with your strange statement that mine is a “religious conviction” and yours a “logically defendable philosophical conclusion”. That’s really superficial and arrogant.

    Mine is a philosophical and logically defendable conclusion at least as much as yours. The fact that your philosophy does not agree with mine is perfectly natural: various philosophies have rarely agreed one with the other. But that does not give you the right to decide what is a religious conviciton and what is logically defendable. You can check my posts: I have never made any reference to religion, or to any scripture, or to any authority, to defend my position. I have only “logically and cognitively defended it”. You have all the rights to believe that I have done that badly, but my philosophical and logical arguments have at least the same right to exist and to be evaluated by all as yours.

  415. Onlookers:

    First, let us look at Jonathan Edwards in the very first part of Freedom of the Will, where he does explicitly define “will”:

    IT may possibly be thought, that there is no great need of going about to define or describe the Will; this word being generally as well understood as any other words we can use to explain it: and so perhaps it would be, not philosophers, metaphysicians, and polemic divines, brought the matter into obscurity by the things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think it may be of some use, and will tend to greater clearness in The following discourse, to say a few things concerning it.

    And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the will, is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.

    If any think it is a more perfect definition of the will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuse, I am content with it; though I think it enough to say, it is that by which the soul chooses: for in every act of will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary or rather than the want or non-existence of that thing . . .

    Thus, it is evident that Green has selected, not the actual focal definition of “will,” but instead, more like remarks on particular inclination or impulse at a given time, willing. That does not give a true and fair view of Edwards’ actual definition, but it does give us an insight into Green’s perspective:

    In other words, one’s will just is one’s strongest inclination (be that a moral inclination or an immoral inclination). So defined this way, yes – one’s will is simply one of one’s own inner mental states.

    That is he plainly sees us as under the control of impulses and desires, without effective power of choice. But in fact, to get there, he has provided an idiosyncratic definition of “will,” not in terms of the capacity to choose or decide, but he particular inclination at a given time; presumably after decision has been made. (I find it significant that quite a number of sections in, I am unable to find the quotation used, i.e., it seems to be nowhere near the actual definition in the opening words.)

    Further to this, one’s decision to will and attempt the right in the face of the temptation to the wrong, or inclination to the wrong in the teeth of known duty, cut clean across the account being given. While we struggle to do the right, and are so constituted that we frequently stumble, that by no means indicates that we are simply driven by our strongest impulses or particular states of mind.

    We can change our minds, we can exert the force of will and training in virtue to do duty — I recall here a man of my acquaintance who having been invited “NOW” by a most attractive woman he had been involved with, wrenched himself from his strongest inclination for the good of his soul and hers — and most of all we can open our hearts the power of the transcendent; as I have repeatedly cited from Rom 7 – 8, noting that it was autobiographical and is a common pattern of life.

    And so, it comes right back to the points I have made, and the yet lingering questions I have asked.

    GEM of TKI

  416. —”StephenB: You said that on my view a person “will not be damned through voluntary fault”.

    Yes, that is clear. According to compatibilist/determinism, salvation turns on a fate that has already been decided. The fortunate soul who is saved just happened to be born lucky and the poor fool that is damned had nothing to say about it.

    —”But please tell me: what grounds do you have for saying that someone is damned through voluntary fault?”

    One becomes damned by refusing to cooperate with God’s grace, which is given in abundance. That refusal is done voluntarily; it is not forced, much less is it determined. Cooperation is possible only on the condition that it could have been withheld, and only a free will can give it or withhold it. There is no charm in a yes unless a no is possible.

    —”As I feel like I’ve said a million times on this blog, libertarianism cannot ground moral responsibility either.”

    Yes, I know that you have said it many times. I am sorry to have to say, though, that you have been incorrect each time.

    –”So we are in the same boat here: we only have biblical grounds for grounding moral responsibility: neither of us has philosophical grounds.”

    We are not in the same boat. Free will is reasonable; determinism is not. There can be no such thing as “moral responsibility” without free will. That should be clear. How can one be responsible for thoughts or behaviors that he cannot control?

    —”Finally, this probably isn’t the place to get into a discussion on the merits of calvinism. I don’t know if I’d class myself as a calvinist, but I do think that the doctrine of total depravity seems biblical and fits with experience.”

    Yes, totally depravity fits with determinism like a glove. On the other hand, the Bible is quite clear that no one has been determined for hell. Anyone who goes there, chooses it.

    –Timothy 2: 1-4: “God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”

    Clearly, that means that if someone is not saved, it wasn’t God’s idea.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone or even most will follow God’s will and cooperate with grace, but that decision is solely in their hands. They have a free will which allows them to accept or reject God’s offer.

    —”So a lot of what you said about how we can’t change our own spiritual destinies I’d agree with.”

    Yes. According to compatibilism, your fate is sealed even before you enter the arena. That certainly makes a mockery of St. Paul’s comment about finishing the race: “No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified”.

    It’s not a done deal; its a drama

    —”To be honest, I think that God has to initiate the salvation act, and that even our desire for his help is ultimately an act of grace, and has to come from him.”

    I agree with this for the most part. God is clearly the initiator, and all we can do is respond positively or negatively.

    –”But again, I don’t think this is the place to get into a discussion of the merits (or not) of calvinism. So I’d rather not say any more on this.”

    OK, but any discussion of free will is bound to cover that ground.

  417. Thank you, SB, for your comment,

    “There is no charm in a yes unless a no is possible.”

    That’s probably the most sensible thing stated in this entire thread.

  418. Thus, it is evident that Green has selected, not the actual focal definition of “will,” but instead, more like remarks on particular inclination or impulse at a given time, willing.

    KF I was the one who gave the definition to Green in response to a question he asked of me. It was my selection not Greens.

    Vivid

  419. Kairosfocus:

    You’re right, Jonathan Edwards did not define the will that way in his opening section. But I chose that definition because it was the clearest definition of what he actually means. The definition you gave is not clear: to me that could be consistent with either determinism or libertarianism. However, I know that Edwards was not a libertarian – not by a long stretch. Which is why I did not choose that equivocal definition.