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What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness?

by Samuel Shadrach1 min read30th Sep 202188 comments


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I ask because a lot of discourse here inevitably runs into questions about free will, without explicitly acknowledging it.

I can imagine a lot of people here admit to some degree of physical realism as well as to some degree of causal determinism. That however only solves how things work in the physical world, it does not explain why humans feel they are causal agents (whether or not they actually are; this notion of "actually are" being admitted by realists). Even if you have managed to personally convince yourself that "you have no free will", you can't deny the existence of millions of people whose conscious experience is one where they "feel" they are in control. You can't also can't deny that this feeling is usually partial - most people feel they are in control of some portions of their mental process and not in control of some other parts. 

There is a lot of discourse on this site that implicitly assumes that people have partial control over their thoughts and actions. I'm not sure pointing at examples would provide an exhaustive list. But I do feel a lot of debates here on LessWrong would be clarified if we had a common understanding of this topic, so I thought it'd be a useful topic to bring up.

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Eliezer set the problem of free will as a beginners' exercise.

As for the hard problem of consciousness, there's a tag for that also, but nothing substantial under it. Still hard. We have experience, but nothing else we know tells us how there can possibly be any such thing. People's brains tend to go funny when they contemplate this unbridged gulf.

In other news, scientists have recently claimed to have proved the existence of subjective experience in crows, when all they've done is find a relationship between what they do in an experimental task and signals in their brains.

free will as a beginners' exercise.

This is so annoying. Maybe the problem of the nature of counterfactuals should be the "hard problem of free will".

3Richard_Kennaway18dHe presented it as an exercise because he did have a solution to what he described as the easiest of “hard” philosophical problems. He eventually provided his solution. What do you think of it?
2Vladimir_Nesov18dThe sequences don't discuss the nature of counterfactuals. And all accounts of anything in the vicinity of free will or decision theory that look promising to me have a nature-of-counterfactuals shaped hole in them.
3Richard_Kennaway18dCounterfactuals are, for example, discussed here [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/YYLmZFEGKsjCKQZut/timeless-control]. But likely you have seen that at some point, and are familiar with the Pearlian account of counterfactuals as surgery on causal graphs. Can you enlarge on what you think is lacking?
3Vladimir_Nesov18dSurgery has the issue of not describing reality. So if something in the environment takes a look inside your algorithm, for example at a precursor state to that of an action, there will be a discrepancy between the edited-in counterfactual action and the precursor state, which lets the environment notice that it's in a counterfactual and not in actuality, which lets it make absurd sacrifices in order to trick the agent about what that counterfactual would be like. The usual way to deal with this is to sidestep the issue by disallowing taking a look inside the algorithm, but in reality the problem remains. And if an Oracle in the environment recomputes everything without directly taking a look, it's either going to notice the discrepancy, or the counterfactual needs to somehow figure out that the Oracle is doing this and also do the surgery on what it's going to think.
3Richard_Kennaway17dSurgery and counterfactuals are operations on one's model of reality. This is why "These counterfactuals ... do not actually exist". For practical purposes, surgery can often be carried out as well as needed for an experiment. This is what randomisation is for (a point Pearl makes explicitly). The rest of your comment is about the complications of agents that model themselves and each other, and can even know more about another agent than that agent does about itself, and must consider the possibility that they don't exist except as a simulation performed by another agent. This is at the very least an active research area with as yet no settled theory (or name?), and indeed is quite beyond the scope of standard causal DAGs.
2Vladimir_Nesov17dThere are pragmatic models of counterfactuals sufficient for scientific experiments, but there is no clear notion of what these models approximate, or what makes a good model. It's different for actuality, where notions of both computation and physical world go into much more detail than practice can handle. The extreme examples of how the pragmatic models of counterfactuals break down illustrate the much more general problem: instead of an Oracle that thinks about existing only in a simulation you have things like bargaining, basically most multi-player games where the players are allowed to think informally. It's just easier to characterize what's going on in the extreme examples.
-1TAG14dWell, not in the sense that we do know what the fundamental ontology of counterfactuals is. But then we don't know if the universe is fundamentally deterministic or not, which is more or less the same thing. It's not like theres a special problem about counterfactuals thats much worse than all the other problems.
-1TAG17dIf you take a situation A and perform "surgery" on it to turn it into situation B , then situation B is not a description of the reality of situation A....but B could still happen, and might have happened. You can only map 0.0...1 % of reality, so you can't remotely guarantee that the the conjectured situation does not occur in time or space. Whenever you plan to do something that hasn't been done before, you do it by applying known laws to a novel situation...for instance , sending a rocket to the moon is a novel application of Newton's laws. To insist that every situation is unique, and that there is no framework of laws that allow you to answer what-if questions is a basic rejection of science!
-1TAG17dKennaway: There is no conflict between determinism and counterfactuals. Yudkowsky: These counterfactuals are untestable, unobservable, and do not actually exist Me: choose one! We can and do test counterfactuals by by re-running experiments with different starting conditions. The claim that ... ...is profoundly counter-scientific.
1TAG18dSo why is that a problem? In an indeterministic universe , you automatically have real counterfactuals, in the sense that a given situation could have turned out differently....its two different ways of looking at the same fundamental fact. In a deterministic universe , you don't get real counterfactuals, but you still can have logical counterfactuals. What's the actual problem?
2Vladimir_Nesov18dThe possibilities given by nondeterminism are not the counterfactuals relevant for decision making, there's still need for counterfactuals there that are additional constructions (in a counterfactual, the probability of the state transition corresponding to the possible decision being considered is going to be high, unlike "a priori" probability of that transition, but they are the same in the actual world). Any problem with logical counterfactuals is still present in the nondeterministic case, because you can build computers out of nondeterministic components, and there is logical uncertainty about probabilities. There is no satisfactory account of logical counterfactuals. There are mostly unprincipled constructions that don't work very well or decision principles that try to do things without counterfactuals (even in semantic accounts), but then it becomes unclear how well they work as decision principles.
1TAG18dIn an important sense, the possibilities given by nondeterminism are the only ones important for decision making, because without them, there is just one thing you can will and must do. Why? You don't have omniscient knowledge of the world, and you don't have perfect insight into yourself either. You need to explain why there is any problem with logical counterfactuals. Sure there is. There isn't an account of logical counterfactuals given 1) determinism 2) effectively omniscient knowledge of how the world works , and 3) no sandboxing, erasure of knowledge, etc. But 1 isn't known to be true, 2) is known to be false, and 3) is always available anyway.

I'm not sure there is any tension between qualia and determinism. As to why humans feel they are causal agents. IMO... The experience of causally making a choice is the experience of actively modeling those choices as meaning representations. Essentially a representation of higher ordered meaning hiding the sophisticated neural exchanges that performed some sort of bayesian inference to induce the choice. This representation allows individuals to communicate the why to others and adds to the representational modeling of self. The experience of that representation is like perceptional experiences capable of emotion, a sense of cognitive dissonance, etc.. and can lead to alternative actions/choices. This feedback loop of meaning making and subconscious algos explains the sensation of deliberation.

There's a tension between 1) non physical qualia 2) having causal effects 3) on a causaly closed physical universe.

1inanetranshuman16dI follow you, I had a notion that framing qualia and determinism in certain ways can give rise to tension, it's just that within my framing none exist.

The hard problem of consciousness is hard. Nobody has solved it in any sort of satisfactory way, but I don't see it as having any sort of connection to free will or determinism. All three questions appear to be orthogonal to each other, in the sense that it seems plausible for almost every combination that has been discussed to logically exist regardless of whether or not they actually exist.

Personally I certainly feel that I have free will, but I recognise that there is no logical necessity for that to mean that I actually have free will in any of many different meanings that have been assigned to the phrase. My expectation is that I do actually have free will in the sense of some meanings, and do not in others.

I think that determinism is also an overloaded term, and reality may well be deterministic in some senses, not deterministic in some others, and yet more may be either meaningless or at least impossible to test even in principle.

Basically all discussion on these sorts of things seems to end up in a combinatorial explosion of mutually incompatible ideas of what people actually mean by the words and hardly any exploration of useful things like testable consequences.

I assume by determinists you've meant the so called "boring view of reality" something in a cluster of causal determinism and reductive materialism. I seem to fit quite good in there, so here is my take:

Humans have free will in a sense of decision making, planning, achieving our goals and shaping the future the way we would like it to be. It (spoiler alert) requires causal determinism or, at least, quite a lot of it. It does not require indeterminism or the existence of conterfactual worlds outside of ones mind at all. Libertarian definition of free will doesn't seem to make any sense.

All the philosophical groundwork for solving the hard problem of consciousness is already done. We can understand in principle how apparently-different-in-kind entities can be reducible to one thing. Now it's a scientific problem to figure out the exact reduction. Qualia are phisical. 

Humans have free will in a sense of decision making, planning, achieving our goals and shaping the future the way we would like it to be. It (spoiler alert) requires causal determinism or, at least, quite a lot of it. It does not require indeterminism or the existence of conterfactual worlds outside of ones mind at all. Libertarian definition of free will doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Libertarian free will, if possible, offers more than compatibilist free will.

Determinism doesn't allow you to influence the future in a way that makes future A more likel... (read more)

2Ape in the coat3dI don't see how what you explained is more than decision making. As soon as we understand that probabilities are part of the map, not the territory, it's clear that causing the future is exactly the same thing as influencing it in a way that makes future A more likely than future B. I also do not understand why would anyone feel more free if their decision making algorithm existed outside of their mind and how it's even possible in theory. Another thing that I have troubles understanding, is how the objective existence of counterfactuals follows from, or even is compatible with indeterminism. When we model some event with multiple outcomes we can either perceive it as random in one world, or determinable in many worlds, where each world correspond to each outcome. But you claim that it won't be enough for libertarians. For some reasons they need both at the same time? The most confusing thing for me, is the whole idea of objectively indeterminable event. If it's indeterminable even for the universe itself, how can it happen at all in this universe? I can think of some justification via our universe being an interventionist simulation, but this will just pass the buck to the universe from which the intervention is performed. I can definitely determine what my decision is. I do it every time when I make one. And I do it via my decision making algorithm, which can be executed in this universe, specifically on my brain. This requires quite a lot of determinism. And I don't see how it can make sense if my decisions can't be determined. And if someones defenition of free will requires decisions to be undeterminable, I claim that such definition doesn't make any sense. What does novelty have to do with anything here? Anyway understanding that we have already dealt with similar problems before, can give some valuable insights.
1TAG3dThat's equivalent to assuming determinism. If you assume determinism, then all the best things you have said are indeed the best you can do with regard to decision making. But I am not assuming determinism. The argument that probabilities are only in the map is invalid, because "only in the map" doesn't follow from "in the map". What? Where did I say that? I don't know what you are referring to. Counterfactuals follow from indeterminism because indeterminism means an event could gave happened differently. It's quite straightforward. Why wouldn't it happen? To me that looks like a circular argument: nothing can happen unless it is determined , so everything is determined. Determinism, therefore determinism. Why would it need to be a simulation? You are assuming that a law of physics must be a deterministic law. But it doesn't say that anywhere. Whether indeterminism based freewill makes sense is a separate question from whether indeterminism makes sense. Why haven't we reduced qualia already, if reductionism is an old idea?
1Ape in the coat2dYou said that some people would feel more free if counterfactuals and probability, which are part of our decision making algorithm, existed somewhere outside of our mind. There seem to be a huge gap between "something could have happened differently" and "there actually exist a parallel universe where this indeed happened differently". If we consider probability and counterfactuals to exist only on the map, it's easy to cross this gap via using different equivalent interpretations of our uncertainty. But otherwise I don't see how one follows from the other. Because if the event happened I can now see the actual outcome. Therefore I can determine the outcome (by seeing it), therefore the event is not indeterminable. I agree that it's an obvious tautology, that's exactly the reason why I feel so confused trying to imagine an alternative. I agree. But that's what my initial claim was about: libertarian free will not making sense. For the same reason why we haven't yet developed means to be immortal. It requires lots of actual scientific work in the direction that philosophy's showed us. Philosophical ground work may have been done, but scientific is not yet. That's exactly what I've said in the first comment.
1TAG1dNo I didn't. For future reference, you should respond to that kind of question using direct quotation. In particular, I had no intention to comment on the feeling of freedom as opposed to actual freedom. I think you have been mentally translating "free will" into "feeling of freedom" because you believe in the doctrine that "free will just is the feeling of freedom" ....but I don't believe in it, so it doesn't represent my views. Similarly, I don't believe that counteractuals are only only logical or "in the mind". You are doing a thing where you misunderstand me because you are filtering my statements through your beliefs. You are also doing a thing where you change the usual meanings of words to fit a certain worldview. That makes it impossible for to me express any other worldview ...unless you accept that my usages differ from yours Yes. So what? I have never claimed that real counteractals are the same thing as parallel worlds. Nor have I claimed that they are the same thing as logical counterfactuals. There are at least four possible stances 1. No counterfactuals 2. Logical but not real counteractals 3. Logical and real counteractals. 4. Multiple worlds. I don't. I have already stated that the argument is invalid. If "the one" is parallel worlds and "the other" is real counterfactuals, I never asserted that. But maybe you meant something else. Please read AND write carefully. So why bring in counterfactuals? There is no reason to believe immortality is possible. Please understand that I don't agree with most Rationalist doctrine.

I believe that determinism and free will are both good models of reality, albeit at different conceptual level.

Human brains are high dimensional chaotic systems. I believe that if you put a very smart human in a task that demands creativity and insight, it will be extremely difficult to predict what they'll do, even if you precisely knew their connectome and data inputs. Maybe that's not the same thing as a philosophical "free will", but I don't see how it would result in a different end experience. 

There is a lot of discourse on this site that implicitly assumes that people have partial control over their thoughts and actions

There's certainly a lot of discourse that assumes you can choose between a future where Skynet kills us all, and one where it doesn't. Or at least , adjust the relative probabilities.

Surely at least some of that discourse consciously invokes non-accurate decision theory only for the lack of better options? And not because of the belief in real possibility to choose differently.

2TAG17dIf you can't really choose, what's the point?
5Signer17dTechnically, you can choose what you will choose. "What’s the point" have always been arbitrary and future shift to a decision theory compatible with determinism is not expected to be much harder than other ontological shifts because your actions/thoughts/decisions are still supposed to casually influence future.
1TAG13dWhats the point has always been arbitrary , because different people have different goals, but determinism undermines the very idea of achieving any goal.
3Signer13dI mean, people have said the same thing about god. It undermines achievements defined using old ontology - that's what changing ontology means. But what prevents you from defining achievement as "someone achieves their goal when something they want happens"?
2TAG1dBasically, if you settle for decond best, then you lose some potential value... unless you are completely confident that the first best is unattainable.
1Signer1dWhat are the actions that you would take if you thought that true freedom is likely that you wouldn't take anyway? And just saying "true freedom would be nice, but it is unlikely" - i.e. valuing it, but not infinitely - is an option too.
1TAG1dWhat's the point of worrying about decisions if everything is determined? It's like by having a vote that counts as opposed to a fake democracy. Rationalists tend to think about these things in terms of toy problems, where they get so many utilons for making a correct decision, by the toy problem's definition of correct. But there is no objective utilon. People value things subjectively , and a lot of people subjectively value actually making a difference.

I think the so-called "hard problem" is really an imaginary problem. I don't see any reason to think that experience is anything more than what certain sorts of computation feel like from the inside.

Obvious questions for anyone who espouses this view:

  1. Why should any given computation feel like that from the inside, instead of feeling some different way from the inside?

  2. Why should any given computation feel any way from the inside? (Indeed, why should any computation feel any way from the inside?)

  3. Why should there be any “inside” for things to feel some way from?

Unless you can answer these questions, or else explain in detail why they are confused (i.e., “provide a reduction”, in Eliezer’s terms), you have made absolutely no progress on solving the Hard Problem.

1River15dI'm not trying to make progress on solving the hard problem! As I have said, there is no hard problem. There is nothing there to explain. Unless you can point at something needing explaining, you aren't contributing anything. If I interpret your questions as trying to point at something in need of an explanation, I still just don't see it. When I introspect, I don't perceive anything to be going on inside my head besides the computation. With regard to (3), so long as a computation is occurring (and empirically computations generally do occur in human heads), there couldn't not be an "inside". With regard to (1), it also wouldn't make sense for a given computation to feel a different way. Can happiness feel like sadness? It's just an incoherent question. With regard to (2), how could a computation not feel some way from the inside? Again, what you are proposing is just incoherent. Your basic assumption seems to be that the mapping between computations and experiences is somehow arbitrary, or at least could have been different. And I don't think that that is the case. Why would it be? That presupposes that the experience is something different from the computation, and I don't think it is. I think the experience is just a different way of describing the same computation. Taking the English language as fixed, I feel like you are repeatedly asking "why should the integer between two and four be three?"
3TAG15dYet billions of people throughout history have introspected without noticing any computation! Are you quite sure that your introspection isn't influenced by your theoretical commitments? In any case, the HP is supposed to exist in relation to physics...it's not supposed to be discoverable by pure introspection. If the view from the inside is an ineffable, intrinsically subjective feeling , then there is no physical reason it should exist. The idea that physics is a complete map of reality implies that everything can be understood from an objective, mathematical perspective. Can my green be your red?
2Said Achmiz14dIrresistable pedantry: It can’t, incidentally, but that is due to peculiarities of human color vision, and is not of any deep philosophical interest.
1Signer15dSo all computations feel like something - both computations on the level of head and computations on the level of countries?

Yes and no. Maybe there is some basic fact to the effect that computations feel like something from the inside. That's pretty much Chalmers solution. The contentious thing is that he thinks that the basic fact is incompatible with physicalism.

1River16dAnd all Chalmers has to suggest incompatibility with physicalism is intuition, and that is no argument at all. It should be laughed out of the conversation.
1TAG16dAnd all anything else has to suggest compatbility with physicalism is also intuition...
1River15dIsn't the burden always on the person who says that something is incompatible? Like, there just isn't any reason to think the two things would be incompatible. If you tell me that any two things are incompatible, the burden is on you to tell me why, and if you can't, then I am right to laugh you out of the room.
3Vladimir_Nesov15dIt's more efficient for the person who knows an argument to explain it than for others to rediscover it. But if that isn't happening, boycotting the problem is unlikely to be productive.
1TAG15dThat's a reasonable assumption, but it doesnt solve the whole problem. The qualiaphiles need arguments for the in-principle inexplicability of qualia, and they have them.
-1River9dNo, they don't have them. All they have is their unjustified intuition that there is somehow something special about qualia that places it outside the laws of physics. They have no actual argument for it.
2TAG8dSo when I read those arguments in the literature, I didn't, and I was hallucinating?
0River8dI think what I see you doing is applying the argumentative norms of professional philosophers, and those norms are the reason that philosophy, as a discipline, hasn't made any real progress on anything. It keeps having the same old arguments over and over again, because it can't ever move any position into the category of things that we should laugh at rather than take seriously. But given our finite lifetimes, if we are going to make progress and understand the world around us, there has to be a point at which we stop taking an position seriously and just laugh at it. The so-called "hard" problem I think is in that category. You can't just assert that it isn't. If you think I'm wrong, that the so-called "hard" problem is not in that category, you need to give me a reason for thinking so, and so far you haven't even attempted to do that. Again, either put up or shut up.
3TAG7dThat's a a game two can play. Plenty of people laugh at qualia denial, or "feigning anaesthesia". Then you can't just assert that it is.
-1River7dIt's a game two can play at rhetorically, but only one side of this game has ever landed on the moon, improved the length and quality of the human lifespan, etc.
2TAG7dYou don't have to deny consciousness to be a scientist.
1River7dNobody is denying consciousness. I'm just denying that there is any serious argument for consciousness not being explainable in terms of the laws of physics that are already well known and accepted.
-1River8dYou want to tell me what arguments you are referring to? Cause you haven't mentioned any here. Maybe here's where we aren't connecting. You seem to be working on the implicit assumption that when somebody organizes words into sentences and paragraphs and publishes them, that we as critical thinkers should necessarily treat that as an argument and engage with it. I don't think that that is the case. I think that when their words boil down to a pure appeal to intuition, we should not engage with it, we should laugh at it. I don't think there is an actual argument in the literature, and you have not pointed to one. You have simply repeatedly asserted the existence of one, and that is just getting annoying. Either put up or shut up.
1Samuel Shadrach8dI don't think this is true, I see intuitions as more fundamental to phenomenology than say math or logic. I can imagine a conscious person who sucks at reason but yet has intuition, I can't imagine a person who has logic but no intuition to guide them.
1TAG7dI can't see any alternative that is not based on intuition.
1River7dThe alternative is a presumption that everything we observe in the universe is explainable by the laws of physics as we know them, until someone presents a logical argument, starting from the laws of physics as we know them, not relying on intuition, and leading to the conclusion that the observed thing cannot exist. I would have thought this presumption was part of basic scientific literacy. You seem to have been against it all along, how do you not see it? If we didn't have this presumption, we would have to question whether the existence of chairs was explainable within the known laws of physics, since there is no chair term in any of the equations, and it is not intuitively apparent how you can get something as complicated and useful as a chair from such simple equations. The silliness and wasted intellectual effort of Chalmers and his ilk has no more substance to it.
1TAG7dYou are treating the presumption as infallible, as a fixed dogma. Not as a capable of being defeated, in at least some cases. But fallibilism is central to science. Consider the possibilitiy that those you are arguing against are being scientific. If the claim that they every thing has a scientific explanation is capable of being refuted, by some observation..what would that look like? It wouldn't look like rejecting the observation out of hand As a falsifiable presumption it is, as a fixed dogma, it isn't. It is in fact highly intuitive that you can explain a chair in terms of the laws of physics and it's component parts. Chalmers thinks so, too. If he were saying something like chairs are reductively explicable ,but tables aren't, then that would be a problem. But he isn't. And his arguments, are based on intuition. And yours aren't? If they are not, they are based on dogma.
-1River7dThere is no meaningful difference between a table and a qualia here, so yes, what Chalmers is doing is exactly like that. Is the presumption falsifiable? In principle, yes. But consider what that falsification would look like. It would look like trained physicists (at the very least, possibly many more people) being able to look at a new phenomenon and immediately intuitively see how it falls out of the laws of physics. And we know that they can't do that. One of Einstein's greatest achievements was explaining Brownian motion, which he did purely in terms of the laws of physics that were already well known and accepted at the time. It was a great achievement because none of the other great physicists of the time could see how the observed phenomenon could be explained. This sort of thing happens repeatedly in the history of physics. So yes, in principle, the presumption is falsifiable, just as the presumptions that pigs don't fly and that the moon isn't made of cheese are in principle falsifiable. For all practical purposes though, it is still correct to laugh at people who reject the presumption.
3TAG6dThere is a difference . One is objective and of describable, the other is subjective and ineffable. I don't see how that's a falsification of reductionism. You keep talking about understanding phenomena in ternpns of laws alone. As I tried to emphasize last time, that doesn't work, because you also need facts about how things are configured, about starting states. And then you can intuitively see how reductive expanations work...where they work. The basis of reductionism, as a general claim, is the success of specific instances, not an act of faith. And another was overturning the laws of physics of the time. Of you retroactively apply the rule that "any phenomenon iwhich appears inexplicable I terms of the currently known physics must be rejected out of hand", you don't get progress in physics.
1River5dCalling experience "subjective" and "ineffable" isn't doing any work for you - experiences are subjective only in the sense that hair color is subjective - mine might be different from yours - but there is an objective truth about my hair color and about your hair color. And yes, experiences are effable, a lot of language is for describing experiences. You seem to be using the words to do nothing more than invoke an unjustified feeling of mysteriousness, and that isn't an argument. I'm not sure if reductionism is exactly the right word, I don't find it useful to think in the vocabulary of philosophers. But your basic argument is that because you can't intuitively see how human experience can be explained in terms of the laws of physics, therefor we should take seriously the idea that it can't be. That would only make sense in a world where intuition was a good guide to what is explainable in terms of the laws of physics, which is the hypothetical falsification I presented. My point is that intuition is a terrible guide to what is explainable in terms of the laws of physics, as anyone who has spent any time studying those laws knows. You are the one who seems to be going on unjustified faith in your intuitions. I never rejected considering starting states of a system. Where I disagree, as I keep trying to point out, is with "then you can intuitively see how reductive explanations work" - NO YOU CAN'T! Even when you understand the laws and the starting states, it is still usually very very unintuitive how the reductive explanations work. It often takes years of study, if you can get there at all. This is what scientists spend their lives on. Do you not see how incredibly arrogant it is for you to think that you can just intuit it? I am not suggesting such a rule. The point I was making was that the trained physicists of the time couldn't intuitively see how the laws of physics that they knew could explain Brownian motion. If they had done what you want t
1TAG5dHair colour merely belongs to a subject..and that's not the usual meaning of "subjective". Experiences are only epistemically accessible by a subject .. and that is the usual meaning of "subjective". A lot attempts to, but often fails. Where it succeeds, it is because both speaker and hearer have had the same experience. Describing novel experiences is generally impossible..."you don't know", "you had to be there". and so on. Yudkowsky uses the word. Is he a philosopher? And my argument is, still, that intuition is always involved in accepting that some high level phenomenon is reductively explicable,because we never have fully detailed quark-level reductions. All you are doing there is contrasting naive, uninformed intuition with informed intuition. And if it were then case that 100% of scientists were qualiaphobes, you would be into something ... but it isn't. Many scientists agree that we don't have a satisfactory reductive explanation of consciousness. You're assuming I'm not a scientist. Why? Because I disagree with you? Actually. I have a physics degree. So I am not arrogantly disagreeing with the scientists...twice over. And yet some things still can't be explained in terms of our current understanding. You are not advancing the argument at all. "Appear" is just an appeal to your own intuition. I am appealing to the arguments made by Chalmers and other qualiphilic philosophers, as well as those by by qualiaphilic scientists. You have not refuted any of them. You have so far only made a false claim that theydont exist.
1River5dIt may be more difficult to get evidence about another person's experiences than about their hair color, but there is no fundamental epistemic difference. You can in principle, and often in practice, learn about the experiences of other people. Taken literally, those kinds of statements are just false. Sometimes they come from people who just want to be overly dramatic. Sometimes they really mean "explaining it would take more time than I want to invest in this conversation." But they are never literally true statements about what a person can know or how they can know it. Why on earth do you presume that we need to know how in order to know that? Of course we almost never have quark-level or even atom-level reductions. So what? Why on earth would that mean that we need intuition to accept that something can be explained in terms of known physics? We use induction just like we do on many other things in science - most stuff that people have tried to explain in terms of known physics has turned out to be explainable, therefor we infer that whatever phenomenon we are looking at is also explainable. There is no intuition involved in that reasoning, just classic textbook inductive reasoning. How can intuition be more or less informed on something like experience? That doesn't even make sense to me. I agree that we don't have a satisfactory explanation of consciousness. As explained above, that does not justify taking seriously the position that there isn't one in terms of the already known laws of physics. This is not a point on which we disagree. The fact that we don't currently have an explanation for some things is not a reason for thinking there isn't one. No, it is an appeal to the inductive reasoning explained above. You have yet to actually appeal to any such argument, or to even name a scientist who you think is "qualiaphilic". Present one, and we can talk about why it is wrong. As I have said before, the burden is on you.
1TAG5dPerhaps you could tell me what your science background is before we continue.
1River4dSame as you, physics degree. I'm curious why you picked now to bring that up. I don't think anything I've said particularly depends on it.
1TAG3dYou have the intuition that there is not, others have the intuition that there is. You keep stating opinions as facts. Where's the science behind that? You can't prove that an experience has ever been fully communicated. We don't have qualiometers. Because otherwise reductionism is just a dogma. We need to know how A B or C is reducible in order to have evidence for that reduction has ever worked. We don't have quark level reductions , so it is an intuition that the kind of incomplete , hand-wavy inductive explanations we have actually work. Given that you already have reductive explanations of A,B ,C, you can infer that there is a probility of having reductive explanations of D and E in the future. Not a certainty, because induction doesnt work that way. So you haven't shown that intuition isn't needed to accept the validity of a reductive explanation. Also, it's it true that there is an inductive argument to the effect that everything is explicable by exactly the same physics. As I have said, physics is revised from time to time and that happens when it encounters a phenomenon that cannot be explained, and that would not have happened following a rule that unexplained phenomena are always to be derided and dismissed. The topic was reduction. And if it were then case that 100% of scientists were qualiaphobes, you would be into something … but it isn’t. Many scientists agree that we don’t have a satisfactory reductive explanation of consciousness. As explained above, it does, because physics is not static and unrevisable. And yet some things still can’t be explained in terms of our currentunderstanding. You are not advancing the argument at all. The fact that we do have explanations in term of current physics for some things is not certain proof that we will have explanations for everything. Induction is probablistic. The burden isn't on me, because I am not making an extraordinary claim. But anyway, here's Witten and Schrodinger. https://blogs.scienti
1River3dSo because something is based on induction and therefor probabilistic, it is somehow based on intuition? That is not how induction and probability theory work. Anyone with a physics education should know that. And if it were how that worked, then all of science would rely on intuition, and that is just crazy. You have devolved into utter absurdity. I am done with you.
1TAG3dThat's not what I said. You substituted "inductive" for "reductive".
1TAG8dSo when I read those arguments in the literature, I didn't, and I was hallucinating?

What do you mean by "inside"?

1TAG15dI would say that "inside" is a system trying to read its own state.

I can imagine a lot of people here admit to some degree of physical realism as well as to some degree of causal determinism. That however only solves how things work in the physical world, it does not explain why humans feel they are causal agents

There's a standard answer here, which is to explain away the feeling of free will as a delusion. Which it must be if determinism is true, and compatibilism false. But no proof of determinism, or disproof of compatibilism, is supplied.

I think the standard proof of determinism is that the simplest physical theory is deterministic. Also real counterfactuals don't make sense, when in deterministic universe counterfactuals are just epistemology.

0TAG17dYou mean MWI-according-to-Yudkowsky? Well, at least that's not a pure armchair argument. EDIT: and MWI implies real counterfactuals. You know those other branches of the universal WF that you're not in? Those are real counterfactuals!
1Signer17dOther branches are a good illustration: the only sensible way to have real counterfactuals is for them to not be counterfactuals and just be real. Because branches just happen and even have (unmeasurably small) casual influence on my branch.
1TAG17dPeople keep saying that, but no one ever explains why real counterfactuals are illogical or inconsistent . The objection is really a strong bias in favour of determinism.
1Signer16dIt's not so much that they inconsistent (consistency is low bar and all that) as it's that they don't have much content: either real counterfactuals are casually connected to other parts of reality, and then why call them counterfactuals, or they are not, and then what does it mean for them to be real?
-1TAG16dIt means the same thing as nondeterminism, which itself means the future is not inevitable, which means choices and decisions can effect the future, and so on.
1Signer15dWhat's the actual difference with inevitable future? Even deterministic future depends on past decisions. It will be like it will be because you decided like you did.
1TAG15dDepending on decisions, in some sense, is the similarity. Inevitability or not is the difference.
1Signer15dWell how it manifests itself or what does it mean for something to not be inevitable? Like if the idea is that some event in the future may not happen, and something else may happen instead, what's the difference with saying that only events that actually happened are real?
1TAG14dEven if you take the view that only the events that happened are real events, that doesn't show that they happened inevitably...it isn't an armchair proof of determinism. If you take the view that counterfactuals are real, you don't have to regard them as events that actually happened. You have to taken the view that unactualised possibilities are in a different category than actual events. You're kind of saying that counterfactuals/indeterminism can't fit into a two-category ontology of Stuff That Happened and Stuff That Didn't Happen. And that's true ... but it doesn't prove anything, because you you don't know that's the right ontology.
2Signer14dOk, makes sense, thought about third category when said about "no content". Because what is actual difference between unactualized possibilities and epistemic possibilities aka "possibilities that someone thought about"? The way I see it they are just labeling without any properties that don't map to some of the other categories.
1TAG14dReal counterfactuals are in the territory and logical ones aren't. In other words, the semantics work the same as all the other logical/real distinctions. Naturally, you insist that the third category is empty. That, again, isn't an argument. You haven't shown that the idea of counterfactuals is logically incoherent, or false about the world, or meaningless.
1Signer13dIn my world semantics of being real is "someone can experience it". And even without it, you can justify there being one kind of real stuff by difficulty of having zero kinds of staff. But if you want additional kinds of stuff, you need to specify how your category is different. Otherwise it's just artificial labeling and we already call things like this "ethics".
1TAG13dCan anyone experience deterministic causal laws? Or the early history of the universe?
1Signer13dIf real laws are deterministic, then everyone experience them all the time^^. But if you mean "know, that they are deterministic, directly from experience" then no, only through indirect inference. But that's true of almost anything. And universe experiences early history of itself. Your point being that (such) concept of reality is not well-grounded either, so it is fine for unactualized possibilities to be vague too? What about necessity of there being some territory, even if it is vague?
1TAG13dSo would you like to to reconsider you statement that:- What???? I never said that the idea is conceptually vague. In fact , you can express it within the formalism called modal logic. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/ [https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/]