• Indirect Realism and Direct Realism

    If you think I have not understood something, then explain why rather than pointless, contentless quips.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    I agree they aren’t the same; but I brought it up to counter your view that: “It seems very straightforward to me that in a scenario where either everyone was going to die or only two people, it is better to choose two.”.Bob Ross

    Its not a counter because it is a completely different scenario with new constraints that change the issue. It's totally reasonable to have a completely different answer to these different scenarios and still be coherent or consistent but the things that make this scenario more difficult are not in the other one at all.

    Are you saying that it is bad to kill a person in self-defense, to some degree, while still being morally permissible to do so (in appropriate self-defense scenarios)?Bob Ross

    Well yes, killing anyone is bad. A death is bad. Its preferable that no one dies during an altercation. If someone does die then that is still a negative thing even if it was due to justifiable self-defence.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    Hmmm. Ok. Imagine a serial killer has 12 people in their basement and are torturing them. Imagine the serial killer tells you that they will let 11 people go if you personally go kill 1 of them: would you do it?

    If so, then you do not think it is immoral to, per se, to kill an innocent person; which is incredible to me.
    Bob Ross

    This is a completely different scenario though witli different connotations where you are introducing another malevolent agent who you are bargaining with. This makes the scenario a lot less straightforward. You have also completely complicated the choice because here it is not about an arithmetic of deaths but also torture.

    This is a totally vastly different scenario to one where you're driving in a car and for whatever reason, lets say just a horrible accident, there are 4 people in the road and you can make a choice to save 0 lives or 2 lives. The scenario you have brought up just now cannot be compared and the car one is much more straightforward.

    An easy example is self-defense: a person is morally permitted to kill another person if that person is an aggressor and their response is proportional. This only works with this kind of “counter-intuitive” thinking your profess hereBob Ross

    My point is that just because its we can mitigate much if not all of the blame for killing someone in self-defence doesn't mean that killing anyone still isn't bad. To my mind, the idea of this forfeit you talk about implies that this badness is completely removed. Thats why I dont like this language. It works better in a kind of legal context, not a moral one imo.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    That’s fine. I just think this indicates that your ethical view isn’t fully fleshed out; and you will have to hierarchically adjust your moral principles to fix this paradox/antinomy. I have my solution, which you already have heard, but if you don’t like it then you will have to come up with your own.Bob Ross

    I disagree. I don't see the need to come up with a fixed solution to this problem if there is no fully satisfactory choice. No ethical view will do that and imo, choosing a strongly well-defined ethical framework may even lead to more unintuitive consequences elsewhere, as I find with your ethical framework from my perspective. Not only am I unsure about the ethics of killing the disobedient man on the tracks in the trolley problem, but this view you have stated below I find explicitly very unintuitive:

    "Secondly, I would say that one must continue to go straight, assuming they cannot try to veer away to avoid all 4 altogether (and have to choose between intending to kill the two to save the other two and letting all 4 die), because, otherwise, they would be intending to kill two people as a means toward the good end of saving two people."

    It seems very straightforward to me that in a scenario where either everyone was going to die or only two people, it is better to choose two.

    In general, I feel like people can have a reasonable sense of right and wrong without an explicit moral framework. I would say maybe people are picking preferred moral frameworks after the fact based on their intuitions of right and wrong - they are clarifying their own prior beliefs rather than choosing some framework which will reveal to them beliefs that they probably did not already hold.

    What do my intuitions say? That flexibility and vagueness (rather than restrictiveness) in terms of a moral framework is more likely to resonate with my moral intuitions as opposed to picking a single more rigid or rigorously defined moral framework which occasionally gives outcomes that I don't morally resonate with at all. And this is the thing with moral frameworks - they all do this from what I can tell. Imo, that is because they all attempt to simplify moral thought into clear, tangible latent principles. I feel like different moral frameworks will then emphasize different intuitions about the underlying regularities of morality, but usually in order to articulate this clearly, they exclude other intuitions. For instance, deontology and consequentialism I think both capture and isolate different aspects about people's moral intuitions in daily life.

    I would say obligation is a duty towards something; and duty arises out of commitment to what is (actually) good (viz., commitment to being moral).Bob Ross

    To be honest, I can almost give the same reply as before:

    I don't even know what it really means to have a duty to do something unless this duty is being enforced by some kind of legislative body or something like that.

    Well, I don’t mean forever.Bob Ross

    I didn't either! By black-and-white I mean it seems implied that once someone gives up their right to something like life then it removes the badness of killing them, which isn't intuitive to me. But again, possibly this is better in some kind of legal or other legislative context.

    You think that the five innocent people should die because the one person was being extremely negligent?Bob Ross

    There is no scenario that has been discussed in this thread I think where the five people should die or deserve to die or that it is morally good that they die. It's not clear to me either that one person deserves to die for being extremely negligent; and so this dilemma doesn't seem a great deal less problematic than the regular trolley problem to me.

    Edit: lots of cleaning up
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    If so, then I would say that one has to trump the other; or some other principle has to supersede them both. This is a half-baked ethical system (otherwise).Bob Ross

    I haven't proposed an ethical system but I haven't seen any that successfully resolve this issue in a fully satisfactory way... which I guess is why it is being talked about in the first place.

    You are saying that one is obligated to save humanity and not to sacrifice a person to do it. Without further elaboration, you just have a moral antinomy in your view.Bob Ross

    Yes, this is the point I was conveying. Sometimes these kinds of paradoxes just exist. But I don't like the word obligated. I find that term a bit loaded. I don't even know what it really means to be obligated to do something unless this obligation is being enforced by some kind of legislative body or something like that.

    It helps avoid morally counter-intuitive (and immoral) conclusions; like in the axeman example where someone may say “it is wrong to lie, so I must tell the axeman the truth even though it will help them find and kill an innocent person”.Bob Ross

    Well I think people can avoid this kind of issue in other ways. I think I am probably more comfortable with it as maybe more along the lines of legal concepts but morally it seems a bit too dispassionate for me and sometimes a bit too absolute in how you can suddenly just lose a "right". Maybe my thinking is along the lines of : just as how many of these antinomies don't feel satisfactory when I apply a black-and-white wrong/right label to their outcomes, I don't think that the idea of losing or gaining "rights" should be so black and white either. Again, I think in a setting more explicitly about law or formal rules, I might think differently.

    I was agreeing with you: I would not pull the lever because he is presumed innocent. I would have to know, without a reasonable doubt, that he is on the tracks due to some sort of severe negligence or stupidity to find it permissible to sacrifice him to save the innocent five people.Bob Ross

    I think some of our wires must have been crossed in this particular conversation, perhaps when I was talking about the "a man on a regular rail" where I meant (maybe unclearly) just a man on a single pair of tracks walking about, no other people involved. My thought then was that even if the man had refused to obey the rules of being on the track we wouldn't normally think he deserved to be killed by the train or that it would br acceptable for the train driver to acknowledge that there was a man on the tracks and plow him down anyway without any intent in trying to stop.

    Its not clear to me either, that if we have a variation of the regular trolley problem where the 1 person on the tracks could have got off but didn't or knew they shouldn't be there but chose to, that it would be vastly more acceptable to pull the lever and run him over than in the regular scenario. I am not entirely sure.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    Interesting analysis, better example of the plane scenario.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    Those aren’t general principlesBob Ross

    I wasn't suggesting general in that sense. My point is that killing an innocent person could be wrong. But saving the human race could be right. At the same time. Irreconcilably.

    Saving humanity is morally permissible but not obligatory: it is not wrong, per se, to not save humanity. You are forgetting about moral omissibility.Bob Ross

    I haven't been assuming anything about obligations but I struggle to see how someone who refusing to save the world wouldn't have any moral significance.

    I happen to think that only beings of rational kinds have the right to not be killed if they are innocent.Bob Ross

    Fair enough!

    I was keeping it generic on purpose: one doesn’t need to know what exactly counts as a morally relevant factor or reason to understand that what obviously isn’t is stubbornly sitting on a track just for the fun of it (or whatever).


    How is that no fault of their own? You just said they are standing on the tracks because they desired it. Are we not held accountable for our actions, even if they spring from our desires?
    Bob Ross

    I guess I am just not as sold on this forfeiting right to life thing, at least, how it was framed in your paragraph. That's obviously not to say I don't understand why the driver might think it morally better to run over the person (afterall I putforward the killing innocent vs. saving the world thing). I am just not necessarily sold on this conceptualization or language in terms of forfeiting life. But maybe I am reading that idea too strongly. Obviously someone can have a strong impulsion to go on the tracks when they have been told not too. I am not entirely that makes it right to kill them. I am not sure I agree with this kind of retributive aspect of it where surely their life would not be forfeit if they were just an idiot on the tracks in a normal situation. But because of these 5 victims, you say now its okay for someone to pull the lever and and change tracks on them. I would have to think that scenario over.

    It means that the person, in the event which is being analyzed, has not done anything which would cause them to forfeit certain rights.Bob Ross

    Alright, sure.

    No, because he is innocent until proven or reasonably demonstrated to be guilty.Bob Ross

    Oh, so what he is guilty of in this scenario is not saving lives ans thats why he deserves to die? Yup, its a tough one for me.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    Hmm, thinking about it, I thought the baseball example was more ambiguous but thinking about it more I'm just thinking that I don't think this would be allowed to happen in a real life scenario. There would be rules that a flight could not land like this in some kind of populated area regardless. Maybe not as ambiguous at all in this particular case at least. Albeit I do wonder what the fallout or public opinion on this would be if some pilot landed a plane and saved 800 people but inadvertantly killed a baseball team.

    Whether you pull or do not pull the lever, you aren’t responsible for any of the deaths.Fire Ologist

    I feel like there is a funny kind of "paradox" in itself here in the sense that in that if I had the mindset that I was not morally responsible for the outcome, it would be extremely easy for me to just pick saving more people in the trolley example. If I did not pick the 5, then I would still feel guilty and feel like I did something wrong by saving less people than I could have. But then if I felt bad about not saving 5, I would probably also feel bad about killing the 1 and then its back to feeling that moral responsibility (I guess the net example doesn't have this particular point though). I think it would be impossible for me not to feel some even under the circumstances you lay out.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    The only way to reduce the destruction and death is to quick land on that baseball field with kids playing. It’s either two teams and some fans die, or probably fifty or one hundred or more people everywhere else.Fire Ologist

    This is very interesting. Much more ambiguous as to whether this is a "kill 5 kids to save 1000" or "To save 1000 you must do a certain move which itself has risk of almost certainly killing kids."

    If killing an innocent person is wrong, then you can’t do: period. You can’t turnaround and permit yourself to do it in instances where you could avoid a bad outcome or create a better outcome—that would be akin to saying that some immoral acts are morally permissible, which is a manifest contradiction.Bob Ross

    I think a question is whether someone can be justified in doing something they think is generally morally impermissible because there is a benefit which is morally right.

    Maybe one factor is that we tend to talk about moral claims in terms of absolutes which are context-independent - "killing is wrong" - but realistically, everything happens in a context and some contexts really test the limits of those principles. I'm inclined to the view that maybe we create these rules as a way of simplifying the moral process even though realistically, things aren't so simple in some contexts.

    By emphasizing the absoluteness of these things we get some weird contradictions like in these examples. On one hand you say "If Killing an innocent person is wrong you can't do it". But then on the otherhand, can you not easily make a claim something like "Saving the human race is right and you should do it.". And there we have a weird contradiction. Both I think are strong valid moral claims that when you ignore context would say are almost imperative. In general, I would say most people would think saving the world is a hugely important imperative - so compelling that so many stories and films are based on this concept, and perhaps it is a large part of the basis for the climate-crisis fixation. Is there a single absolute way of valuating these claims and comparing them? I really doubt it. Its not obvious.

    I think the scenario of killing one life vs. saving humanity is not really representative of the intention of either of these absolute claims which come head to head in direct contradiction. We can wonder whether the fact these claims seem incompatible is because the contexts they tend to occur in don't overlap. In our typical world, it seems pretty reasonable, unproblematic, imperative to put the preservation of innocent life at the top of the list with nothing to push it away or threaten that position. Similarly, saving the world usually implies either accidents or "evil" agents that arguably could justifiably be killed if there were no other way. Thinking about that, that isn't even so clear though; for instance, one might say if Hitler was going to destroy the world, we must stop him! If killing him was the only way, then maybe that would be justified. But arguably the table can be turned in the sense that to stop Hitler you probably would never need to actually kill him unless he was a very powerful entity that needed to be brought down personally. But he is a normal man. Once you had him in captivity, he can't do anything and arguably many would say you shouldn't kill him but try him in court and put him in prison (others may say death penalty though). On the other hand, it is almost necessary to kill lots and lots of men in battle to save the world in this case even though they are arguably much more innocent than Hitler. They fight because they are forced to, to feed families, because they are brainwashed by propaganda.

    But I digressed a bit. Maybe it is still fair to say that generally these concepts regarding saving humanity and the preservation of an individual human life have primacy in different contexts which don'ttend to conflict. But a question is whether if it was more normal for these contexts to overlap, we would find it more permissible to kill an innocent life to save humanity. Do we not already do this with regard to animals? Other innocent living things we kill to survive? And these sentiments have been changing in the western world as it seems people are becoming more and more considerate of animal welfare, and in a world where harming animals on a daily basis is something people generally do not need to do. At the same time, even most vegans probably don't look upon meat eating people in the same way they would look on a murderer or someone who enabled murder. Realistically, we have caveats and context-dependencies in how we treat these moral absolutes. Either that or they are not as absolute as we think. Realistically there are some scenarios where avoiding contradiction is not possible.

    I don’t. I will not permit anyone to kill an innocent human being for any end; because it is wrong.Bob Ross

    But killing is wrong, period! You are permitting a bad thing! Your moral position is more lax than someone who believes it is wrong to kill at all! For instance, what you say here from another posy just above:

    "I think we can blame people for obvious negligence; so if you are stipulating that a person was informed clearly that they should not be on the tracks, that they have the freedom to easily move off of the tracks, they refuse with no good reason to be on the tracks, and the other five people (on the other tracks) do not have the freedom to move nor are they being negligent; then, yes, I would pull the lever because I am no longer killing an innocent person."

    Actually seems pretty brutal. Now obviously I completely get this reasoning and it is very pragmatic, but it seems that this pragmatic pull [b[does[/b] seem to be something that was already in place in the scenario. What does no good reason even mean here? If they believe the track is a sacred religious site is that a good reason? What if they just feel extremely passionate that they have to sit on this track for no good reason through no fault of their own, is that any different? What does innocent mean here? Surely, if this was just a man on a regular rail track you would not run him over and you would say he had not necessarily forfeits his life... or would you? Clearly there is no clear delineation of the context for forfeiting someone's life here. The forfeiting doesn't precisely depend on what that person has done but on the presence or absence of 5 victims. If the person doesn't forfeit their life when there are no victims then what makes them forfeit their life just because victims are present? Its not clear from your paragraph whether the forfeit is because the victims are there period or they shpuldn't be on the track, period. Maybe you can just stipulate that but then I guess this brings up the idea that it is not entirely clear what innocent means, how arbitrary that might be or what degrees of non-innocence mean the forfeit of life or not. From the perspective of someone woth a stricter view of the permisibility of killing, this may seem very lax and context-dependent.

    that would be akin to saying that some immoral acts are morally permissible, which is a manifest contradiction.Bob Ross

    No more or less an absurdity than allowing the world to die to avoid culpability - leading to a world where no people existed and morality was meaningless. I said before maybe someone who believes in God or an afterlife would have a different view but I do not believe in an objective fact of the matter about moral truths. Morality arises in social interaction out of biology. So when society is gone and everyone is dead, then morality is pointless and doesn't exist. I think there is also an interesting question of whether someone letting the world burn to uphold their moral integrity could be seen as selfish and immoral in some sense. You refuse to killin ocent people but at the same time you find it reasonable to not get involved or attempt to intervene in a world where other people kill people. You could try to prevent other deaths but generally people think it is fine to not so this. So when someone allows the world to be destroyed, it is because they want to avoid a bad thing happening or is it because they want to avoid their own culpability? Some see it as admirable to sacrifice their own life for the good of others. Would someone sacrifice themselves in terms or moral culpability in the same way? Is the need not to be blamed greater than other's wellbeing? I'm not necessarily entertaining these things very seriously and the last thought seems to de-emphasize the innocent life at stake in order to look at the motives of the agent. But it is interesting how seemingly you can be very flexible with how you frame moral issues to emphasize one thing or the other. And perhaps that is the very reason why deontological positions are attractive, even useful.

    but I disagree.Bob Ross

    Yes, ultimately in some respects its all turtles going round and round. Sometimes people disagree just on intuition though I think all moral discussion depends on at least some shared values through which we can persuade. But then again, if there are situations when consensus simply does not exist, then its even more difficult. Some moral situations are by their nature insoluble in any way that is totally satisfying. I doubt anyone is totally satisfied with the trolley problem even when they commit to one correct choice.

    Edit: In bold, doesn't changed to does
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    I think I forgot to read these bits:

    So “not blameworthy”, but worthy of a judgment of “worse ethically.” Hmm.Fire Ologist

    Well I don't think its necessarily a black and white issue.

    If you are forced to either kill one or five people, with seconds to choose, and you had no interest in killing anyone at any point, and you can’t be held blameworthy for the outcome, how is the decision you do make better or worse ethically? I would say the decision (should you decide to risk participation in this death trap) is a practical one, not an ethical one. Less death is practically speaking a better outcome. Why ethically?Fire Ologist

    I think the only reason less death is a better outcome here is because we are speaking ethically. There is no practical benefit in the scenario from less death. We want less death because we think that not killing people or perhaps saving lives is some kind of moral goal. I still think you can have ethical scenarios about killing regardless of whether you put the label of murder on it. Death is bad and reducing it is an ethical issue because we think that is the right thing to do.

    morally counter-intuitive to the untrained mindBob Ross

    I'm not sure this is about training but preferences. Some people think saving the human race is pretty reasonable thing to do and I am sure many would-be survivors would agree. That said, killing an innocent person isn't really right. Then again, saving humanity is a right thing to do on its own, and benefits people (at least under some opinions, because I think that the belief that humanity is bad and a creator of suffering is also kind of a reasonable view in some ways) so surely its fair to say there is both good and bad in the choice? I would say it seems to be a similar case in your morality too where people can forfeit their right to life and its okay to kill them in self-defence or if they are not innocent. You permit bad things for an end. Sure, you would say they are justified in a special way, but then there are probably some people who are even stricter than you are on when it is permissible to kill.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    Well we are using absurd in different senses I feel. You're using absurd in a sense to express your moral disagreement while I am using it in the more existential sense. As I said, regardless of the moral view on the issue I think its kind of an incredible thought letting the entirety of human existence die at what is comparatively such a tiny cost. Then with the human race gone, morality has gone with it - what was the point of upholding that moral decision then! I guess you might view that outcome differently if you believed in the afterlife and God. I guess justifying the killing of an innocent by saving the human race could be absurd for you in this existential way also if you were inclined to believe the justification was justified in this scenario - saving the world being a choice you would make even though you thought it was wrong because of the killing of an innocent.

    If you stick to the raw, initial facts first, before moving this into more layered situations and questions - what do you see as the moral issues?Fire Ologist

    Its about killing innocents to save more people. If just sticking to the initial facts, I feel like the only reason to not make a choice is that you object to the idea of not killing innocent people, and that is indistinguishable from having msde a choice - to not pull the lever.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    You don't think there is an absurdity in letting the whole human race die because you don't want to kill an innocent person?

    I think regardless of what you think of the morality of that behaviour, it is most definitely absurd.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    If we are going to start changing the hypo and adding intentions and cheeseburgers, we would have to conduct a new analysis of responsibility and intent and actions in furtherance of these.Fire Ologist

    I think this is a strawman because clearly what is not interesting about the trolley problem is not the trolley problem on its own, but the underlying reasons that people make decisions on it. Changing the scenario is relevant because by exploring counterfactual scenarios we are testing and probing the underlying reasons why people make these choices and how they would react in different scenarios.

    Changing the context to cheeseburgers is relevant - not in the sense of wanting to analyse a new scenario with cheeseburgers - but in the sense of analyzing whether your use of the notion of intent is really consistent here. If the answer to the question of culpability for murder changes when we replace the goal of saving innocent people with eating cheeseburgers, then clearly lack of intent in the sense that has been described in this scenario is not sufficient to remove culpability.

    I think the question the hypo poses is: should the person who either pulls the lever or sits still be held responsible for anyone’s death? And the answer is no, under the existing facts.Fire Ologist

    I think there are layers. Someone may not be blameworthy in some sense that they can't help being forced into a situation where someone had to die. But does that mean there was not a better or worse decision ethically? Not necessarily.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    The key difference is that they aren't experiments, they are theoretical in nature only. You cannot really do these experiments practically and the ethical requirements today are so high that they can't ever be done.Christoffer

    They are experiments. What is being measured is not what someone would do practically but their judgement or opinion. You don't need actual experiments to assess someone's opinion.

    An actual moral experiment where people are acting arguably might bring in many more factors than simply someone's belief or opinion on a moral scenario.

    So imo your criticisms that these may not be representative of real scenarios is misplaced because the goal I have in mind here isn't to talk about what people actually do, its to yalk about the beliefs they have.

    People don't necessarily behave consistently; however, it is usually difficult for people to maintain inconsistent beliefs. People carrying inconsistent beliefs tend to try and explain away the inconsistency with reasoning which is more internally consistent (e.g. you think its bad to hurt living things but okay to kill animals... you need to find an additional reason to explain away this inconsistency).

    Asking about people's opinions or judgements as opposed to their actual behaviour is invaluable in understanding what people hold to be a consistent moral framework and why they hold it.

    When it goes into the real world then things change... people are perhaps more likely to miscalculate the correct option... people get scared... peoples judgements are clouded... peope turn out to not care or not value morality over other motivations for their own behaviour.

    Yes, they work as introduction courses to philosophy, but since there's no validation past the theoretical, and real world examples of similar events show much more complexity in their situational circumstances that they become unquantifiable as statistical data, they end up being just introduction material, nothing more.Christoffer

    So are you suggesting that people change their morality when it comes to complex vs. simple scenarios? Do you personally change your whole moral thinking when it comes to a complex scenario vs. a thought experiment? Or do you believe you are using the same moral framework to tackle different problems? If you agree on the latter then I don't see the obstacle in using simplified scenarios as ways to tap into and clairfy people's reasons on moral scenarios.

    I'm not sure what you're disagreeingChristoffer

    Well your comment looks like its saying these experiments only pinpoint flaws in people's thinking but I don't see how that can be the case when there is no consensus on a correct answer. I don't really understand how strength and depth in moral reasoning would bring about an optimal, uncontroversial solution to the trolley problem.

    sometimes just a question of their current state of mind and mood.Christoffer

    This regularly happens in real life. People often behave in the wrong way and then only realize they were shouldn't have afterwards.

    But still, the problem is that people's justifications rarely correlate to how they actually behave in real moral situations.Christoffer

    Again, it depends what you are interested in - the psychology of moral behaviour or moral beliefs, reasoning and frameworks - and no doubt there is overlap.

    Just reading the audience discussion around the moral actions in The Last of Us part 2 and how people had problems with everything that happened in that story is more fascinating and revealing as a case study in morality than how people justify their choices in the trolley problem.Christoffer

    Well I can only take your word on that because I don't know anything about that.

    the more trivial I've found these thought experiments to be.Christoffer

    Trivial in what way? To me, the lack of consensus
    makes the trolley problem non-trivial.

    But if the person on the trolley said “I need to save the most innocent people I can” and pulled the lever he wouldn’t be culpable for murder because that was not his intent.Fire Ologist

    What if it was about their own life and not innocent people? What if it was about tge reward of a tasty cheeseburger: " I didn't intend to kill anyone, I just wanted that cheeseburger so bad".
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    Yes, thinking about it I see what you mean. When I made this comment I was still stuck on the question of whether this had to be some evil agent concocting the whole scenario. One could then look at it in the sense of someone refusing to participate in their game. At the same time, you could argue that in this context, if there is abetter or worse outcome then one should still make it. One could go even further and argue that if the whole scenario waa concocted by an evil genius then some of the moral responsibility is alleviated from making utilitarian-type choices.

    If the scenario was totally accidental then one could say that there is no reason to refuse to participate. But then again maybe this applies most to non-trolley scenarios: e.g. a basic rescue mission where you could choose to save 5 or 1 or 0... then the choice is pretty obvious. I see though that the trolley-problem complicates this in the sense of the fact that 5 people were always going to die. I guess then one could refuse to participate in the sense of refusing to make such a choice if it meant killing someone. Then again though, the trolley scenario is constructed in such a way that refusing to participate is indistinguishable from making a choice... did you really refuse to participate or did you make the choice based on the idea that killing someone and encroaching on that person's freedom is worse than allowing 5 people to die who were going to die anyway.

    Very interesting. Even if it was the whole human race (including your self?)?

    There then comes the irony and absurdity of committing to your moral standards so strongly that you would allow the human race to die and, arguably in doing so, render your value system meaningless.

    One could also plausibly argue almost a kind of immoral dimension in the sense of someone would sacrifice the rest of the world just so they personally didn't have to bear any moral culpability (though maybe from someone elses perspective they may still be morally culpable for ending the human race).
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    I think a case could be made for a policy of non-interference, but that case falls apart when the numbers get extreme.RogueAI

    It also falls apart when the scenario is accidental / incidental and hasn't been engineered by some evil agent.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    But the messiness of reality strips the simplicity out of the scenarios adding so many moving parts that the scenario in itself has changed so much that the parameters of measurement becomes skewed.Christoffer

    I don't see this much different to how scientific experiments are always much simpler than everyday reality. A dice roll is presumably describable via Newtonian / classical forces but no one creates a direct Newtonian / classical model of a dice roll and then conducts an experiment to validate it.

    But it's not very good at higher level thinking about morality as it's already clear how complex morality can really be.Christoffer

    For me, the point of it isn't to produce moral thinking and correct moral answers but to uncover the underlying reasons and intuitions of moral thought.

    Most of us would assume those reasons are consistent across many different scenarios regardless of complexity or if "the experiment [has] already been conducted".

    Yes, but in that case I much rather look at the scientific experiments that have already been conducted. Since experiments that cannot be actually conducted only becomes theoretical and at best very surface level. The fact that people regularly over-estimate their ability to act morally in every single situation makes it hard to actually get a good "scientific" result.Christoffer

    The thought experiment itself is the conduction of it. I just want to see what the opinion or judgement is of it. The fact that people may over-estimate their ability to act morally would apply to any thought experiment regardless of complexity or realistic-ness.

    Most moral analogies usually only pinpoints the banalities in people's confidence in their own morality, but those people were usually not very involved in critical thinking about morality to begin with.Christoffer

    I disagree. As far as I'm aware there is no consensus on the correct solution to the trolley problem. The fact that people disagree brings up the question of why they disagree and what this says about their moral thinking and what kind of variables make them change their moral choices, which imo is an interesting thing in its own right. The question of how people act and actually behave morally in real life (and whether they actually do what is in agreement with the beliefs, judgements, moral frameworks they have) is also another interesting question in its own right.

    I think my disagreement with people in regard to these things maybe stems from me finding these questions interesting in their own right as opposed to just a vehicle for prescribing practical morality.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    I think there are layers to agency in the sense that one could be forced to make a harmful choice by someone, in which we might reduce responsibility for the action; but then, within that choice context, if there is room to choose a better or worse option, then I think that is still up to you unless that specific choice was forced on you by someone else. So there is a nuance in the sense that you were partly forced but also had some choice.

    Some might even layer it up even further in the sense that some people might argue that in a deterministic world no one has actual responsibillity. But then again I don't think many people strongly commit to that idea, at least in practical ethics.

    Nonetheless, that last point brings up the fact that sometimes we just have to make choices. No one may have forced us to make the choice but it seems that a choice had to be made just as a matter of how events unfolded. You keep talking about the trolley problem as if a choice had been forced (commanded participation by another agent); but I don't think there is anything explicit in the trolley experiment saying this. The trolley problen could have a natural cause - a freak train incident due to no ones fault. Maybe this could be forcing in some sense of diminish responsibility... but it is unremarkable and does not especially stand out. Almost all other difficult moral choices are like this and not participating in a scenario like that would be immoral I think most would agree. The way that the trolley problem is set up, 5 people are going to die anyway so refusing to participate is practically the same as making a choice. But even so, refusing to participate in a rescue mission where either one or 5 people must die would not be deemed to the moral thing to do in that context by most people.

    Again, if there is still wiggle room to make a better or worse choice then I think that one still has moral responsibility for that I think, though obviously people may attribute less responsibility if the choice was unusually extreme or difficult people didn't have the correct information (but trolley problem gives us the correct information). But then that doesn't mean there are not better or worse choices. You may be forced to kill 1 or kill 5 but if you knew you were doing fully in the moment then surely you have to justify the choice. Contrary to what you say, I think morality emerges precisely because "consent" is broken. There is no need for morality if it is just about getting what we want and agreeing to play the game. Morality comes from the fact that we are forced to play games we might disagree with. We wouldn't have all these moral rules if people didn't have conflicting wants.

    Edit: some tidying up.

    Yes, I think most moral analogies automatically fail in that they are too simple for being actually valuable in moral philosophyChristoffer

    I'm not sure I agree that scenarios like the trolley problem never happen - I think they probably do a lot in a messier way and in some ways the fact that the trolley problem has no perfect outcome reminds of the messiness of reality sometimes.

    Nonetheless, I think the value in these analogies is not necessarily in trying to find out what the right thing to do is, but why we have the moral preferences we do and how they differ. Its like an experiment. Scientific experiments need controlled and independent variables to figure out whats going on. If you have a simplified scenario and you change certain aspects of it and see what people think then it may give more clarity as to why we make certain choices or what our preferences are. If you just present a scenario with lots of different factors then its not always clear what is actually guiding peoples decisions.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    I don't think I can agree on your view that the other things are distractions. These "distractions" are part of what make it interesting, and the fact you can vary these different factors and change how the situation seems I think is very informative about morality.

    I also don't think the statement: "if you were forced to kill either 1 person or 5 people with no other options, which would you do?” is an absolute description of the trolley problem. I think stating it like this changes the scenario a bit - from what I can gather, the most common views of it have it that 5 people were going to die anyway. As I said in another post, I'm inclined to think that framing it this way makes the situation different to a simple choice of 1 vs. 5. Viewed this way you could also argue that there is not so much a forcing element here. 5 people are going to die; you can choose to save them if you so wish at the cost of 1 person's life.

    Edit: Thinking about it, maybe someone could view the last description / sentence as forcing if they wish; but at the very least, I think its not absolutely clear there is a single way to interpretate. Depends what you mean by forcing I guess. If you were to view that last description as forcing then perhaps it is not so different from many other scenarios in life someone could choose to engage in or abstain from (in similar way to what has been saying I suppose). On the other hand, does forcing really exempt you from moral responsibility?
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    But you can have a kind of incidental, naturalistic reason for why the event occurred. It could be just to do with trains carrying people like they normally would day-to-day and some unforseeable circumstance happens which requires this choice.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    Aha, I respect that you have doubled down on this. Yes, I think my view on this can change a lot depending on how I picture the scenario or the details like you say. Many times I am inclined to think maybe there are scenarios which just do not have a best answer. I am not entirely sure on this 999 scenario though my first instinct was to not kill them. The less I think of the deed as like an intentional, culpable act as opposed to like a preference, the more I feel inclined to kill the 999. But as a culpable act, the more comes into it the thoughts of it being immoral to impose yourself on someone else's freedom of agency and being alive which seems competitively important, morally. But then again, even just changing how I conceptualize the act itself can make this part seem less salient. You can imagine some kind of rescue scenario where a decision must be made and no one would blame you for having made the decision; but the fact that there is like an initial default set of people who are going to die, then the choice seems less like a necessary thing either-or and more of a culpable act being imposed on people.
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    How can you talk about that without talking about how it works in the real world?T Clark

    When I say regardless, I am not implying exclusion of practical application, not to say that a trolley-type problem can never arise or that people's reactions to a trolley problem won't tell you about how people think about ethics more generally.

    It’s an unreal scenario and doesn’t factor in intent, which is essential to defining an ethical act between people.Fire Ologist

    Surely you can incorporate intent into your consideration of it though?
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    then its a different questionPhilosophim

    Well, what's your answer to the different question?
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?

    What if you had to execute the 999 people yourself?
  • How would you respond to the trolley problem?
    Most philosophical thought experiments are silly. To have any value, a thought experiment should take into account the issues we see in the real world. It can still be simple, but it has to be real.T Clark

    Some people are just interested in morality just because they are interested in morality, regardless of practical application. For them there is no reason to cast away such thought experiments. They are just as informative about morality as anything else. Why people have differing opinions on these experiments tells you about how people think and their view of morality or what motivates moral action.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization

    There's an interesting question. Is there lack of evidence of other intelligent life because it is so rare for it to get started?

    Or because once it starts, it never lasts long.

    Or why not both.
  • Is pregnancy is a disease?

    Aha, that actually made me laugh out loud for several minutes.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'

    I like reading about these ideas, something both very poetic and powerful about them.

    What is the Buddhist view about creating life? If they see life as just suffering and the ultimate goal is ending the cycle of suffering, death, birth - "extinction" - (as far as I understand), then wouldn't they be anti-natalist?
  • Is pregnancy is a disease?

    Wow, very interesting, thanks! Will definitely have a look.
  • Is pregnancy is a disease?
    Pregnancy is actually an interesting example in these kinds of debates that touch on the notion of disease as a construct that is intertwined with social activities and consensus. Not sure why I have never thought of that before, so thanks! At the same time, I wonder what has motivated this post since I have never heard of anyone calling pregnancy a disease.
  • Indirect Realism and Direct Realism
    methodological dualismMww

    I might steal this phrase to describe how even though I am not a dualist, I often refer to both brains and experiences.

    …..and yet, there is currently no plausible explanation for experiential space in terms of sufficiently reduced brain dynamics.Mww

    The experiences aren't explanatorily reducible to brains, but in principle, the dynamics of how these experiences change will map to the dynamics of how brain states change. Maybe to be more intuitive, a "perfect" model of the brain will produce all of the behaviours and reports you would find in normal people. Maybe that model is used to control a synthetic but perfect replica of a human body - no one would be able to tell the difference. Put that replica in a psychology experiment, it would then demonstrate all the findings of psychology and our various cognitions.

    But then, models of brains are just predictive tools that replicate functions and behaviours. They don't tell you anything about the underlying metaphysics or devalue experience imo. A model of a brain we construct isn't necessarily a statement about that, it is a bundle of formal tools and math that we can use.

    I don't think such things are a threat to people's humanity.
  • Indirect Realism and Direct Realism
    Everything in this response further entrenches the clear fact you are confusing cognition and experienceAmadeusD

    No, not at all. I am just pointing out than in the scientific process we construct concepts and models of cognition abstracting from things people observe in their immediate experience. They are just constructs describing experiences and behaviour. "Unconscious" cognition is a category defined by directly observable experiences in the exact same way "conscious" cognition is. When awake, we are always in the flow of experiences, sometimes with the phenomenology of deliberative thought, sometimes with automaticity where we are not really aware of why or how we have behaved in a certain way. We cannot directly observe the root cause for either but in principle, any underlying hidden cause or explanation for exactly why we go through chains of either "deliberate" acts or "automatic" ones will be explainable completely by a sufficiently complete model of the brain. "Cognitive modules" are in principle completely explainable just by dynamics in the brain. With regards to phenomenal experience, both these kinds of cognition are in the same boat in terms of unfolding on the same experiential space with the same category of underlying explanation very broadly in terms of brain dynamics.

    I am unsure why you're bothering with length replies at this stage.AmadeusD

    I am just trying make sure I am articulating my thoughts as thoroughly as I can, even if just for the case of someone else reading.

    The charge that I'm invoking some mysterious unobservable is risible, in that context.AmadeusD

    "We can understand it as an underlying organisational structure that informs experience in some way, but given we already know 90% of our cognition has absolutely no noticeable effect on our phenomenal experience, this is just not plausible. Experience is irrelevant to the explanations and organisations of cognition. There is nothing in cognitive science that would lead us to predict conscious experience from the underlying structure of, lets call it awareness, which is in turn strictly tied to (theoretically) the underlying physical relational structure of information processing in the brain. This is so much more fine-grained than you're allowing for, while simultaneous so much simpler than you seem to think it really is. Cognition has no per se relationship to experience. This is, in fact, in what that mystery largely consists in. Even if we are to grant a 100% reductive concept of 'consciousness' there is no current, plausible way to connect cognition with experience beyond some vague, uninteresting correlates that amount to 'vibes'."

    I didn't write this ...
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'
    One of them started Apple Computer..Wayfarer

    And according to some, that has only exacerbated the culturo-emotional malaise talked about in your other post.
  • Quantifier Variance, Ontological Pluralism, and Other Fun Stuff
    Emotions come already world-directedJoshs

    Maybe Barrett is explaining how emotions are world-directed in terms of how interoceptive states are integrated with external environmental context and allostatic responses to stressors / in service of some kind of evolutionarily basic goals.

    We dont have some general body-maintenance feedback first and then have to decide how to explain its meaning by relating it to a current situation.Joshs

    Well think about all the different kinds of scenarios that may coincide with release of (nor)adrenaline in body and raised heartbeat. This is a dimension of the bodies response to scenarios which is present across many different contexts, anger, anxiety, excitement even. It may seem obvious how this can be distinguished in all these different scenarios but I think to some extent your conscious cortical regions actually have to learn to hone your bodies basic allostatic responses to the environment and then recognize different contexts because knowledge about the self doesn't come for free - under these accounts, what we know about ourselves is inferred in the exact same way as learning about the external world. Different social contexts (e.g. in different cultures) may then result in slightly different emotions which, while perhaps sharing a similar underlying basis in visceral(bodily) motor responses and ethological response programmes similar in various animals, is coupled to environmental contexts in different ways (and probably more complex ways than other animals). And we have to recognize these in our selves as well as in others - and we all have various levels of skill at it from very good to very poor.

    the emphasis is not on WHAT is taking place when one has the sort of experience Barrett describes, but on HOW one has itJoshs

    she could have talked about how one’s heart races where one looks up at the crowd , and calms down when one quickly turns back toward the lecture notesJoshs

    I am not really sure I see an inherent conflict here. What she talks about just may reflect her priorities on what she wants to describe or explain compared to someone else.

    but representationalism seems perhaps to result in an emphasis on arbitrary difference at the expense of what makes the components of emotion belong together as a meaningful whole.Joshs

    But isn't talking about emotion in terms of components together what she is doing?

    How is the way the world appears to change related to the aims of the system, and what lends coherence to these aims? Is there in fact a system at all for Barrett in the sense of an integrated normative directionality? I get the sense that for Barrett all these sources of input into the system are a jumbled accumulation of semi-independent and semi-arbitrary bits of information , and that human goal-directedness is not much more than a more sophisticated, action-oriented pattern-matching version of S-R( judges in a cited study rule more negatively before lunch than after, thanks to the brain's interpreting of the arbitrary negative interoceptive reinforcement from the ‘body budget').Joshs

    If you look at this from a free energy / active inference perspective (not sure if Barrett goes this far but I am trying to show that the contested views you are talking about are not actually inconsistent with each other), emotions would be linked to an organism which modulates its behaviour in response to how well it is minimizing free energy. What is minimizing free energy? It is fulfilling the predictions of an organism about the states it wants to exist in - it is about a goal-directed organism that is actively manifesting the sensory states which confirm its own existence, and when met with different obstacles or successes in this, you may have various emotional reactions and moods which reflect the organisms continual adaptation to its external circumstances in order to realize its own existence.
  • Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism'

    Today, there is an increase of people feeling very disconnected from themselves, from each other, from the world, and from a viable and foreseeable future. Let’s discuss this, let’s work on it together, let’s rationally reflect on it. Getting out of this problem is going to be tremendously difficult. It’s going to require significant transformations in our cognition, our culture, our communities. And in order to move forward in such a difficult manner, we have to reach more deeply into our past to salvage the resources we can for such an amazing challenge.

    Not a fan of this. Just comes across as suggesting this stuff produces some kind of secret sauce to salvation which is independent to other structural factors going on in society. How many times in the past have things like this been offered as solutions. What happened to the hippies of '67? Transcendental meditation.
  • Quantifier Variance, Ontological Pluralism, and Other Fun Stuff
    defines autonomy on the basis of a markov blanket distinguishing between internal and external statesJoshs

    I wouldn't say it is just this, but also organisms acting on the external environment in order to realize the sensory experiences which confirm their own existence - to describe it in a Friston-esque manner.

    I would say the bit at the end of your quote, which Thompson accuses standard cognition of leaving out:

    how certain processes actively generate and sustain an identity

    Is exactly what Friston's theory is about.

    At the same time, I think it's maybe worth noting that on Friston's account, there are Markov blankets within markov blankets on every level. Organisms are comprised of things with Markov blankets; they might also plausibly be construed as part of wider systems which have Markov blankets.
  • Indirect Realism and Direct Realism
    You do not understand what you're talking about given the above. You're conflating the activitiy in the brain with the (abstract) experience which is not of that action. We are blatantly speaking past each other and you are, unfortunately, flat-the-heck-out-wrong.AmadeusD

    Here is the issue. You are talking about the idea of some mysterious unobservable process.

    I am coming from a different angle which is what is actually being studied in psychology. We are studying observable data, right? Thats where all psychological study comes from. We then give names to these events we observe. Some of them we describe as involving conscious, deliberate awareness. Others as unconscious or automatic. But both these categories are things that are observable, just like a reflex is something like an act performed automatically but we are still observing empirical data. Or playing music on the piano in a habitual automatic fashion. Both of these things can be experienced by the one performing these acts even though they are categorized as automatic or unconscious - because they lack deliberation. This is what I am talking about when I am saying that both unconscious and conscious cognition arr manifest in experience and so not fundamentally different in that way. Yes the behaviors are different, but after starting from the empirical observations, it is then that models of cognition are constructed to explain those events after the fact.

    So when I am talking about unconscious cognition I am talking about these observable events and this is a totally valid way to do it because after all, thats how we know these things are happening and thats the entire basis of the categorization. We don't have access to what is going on in someones head when they automatically and fluidly do some kind of intricate automatic event so we therefore we cannot be distinguishing automatic and controlled cognition through direct observation of the unobservable faculty inside someones head. If you look at lists detailing the differences between automatic and controlled cognition, you will find that all of the things on the lists are what you can observe for yourself through your own experience... because unconscious and conscious processes are defined from whats observable, we do it by categorizing the behaviour that is experienced and observed by people. Models might then built to explain that after the fact and obviously people might construct different latent models to explain the same observable facts.

    So by my reasoning we have both of these categories are, on the most superficial level, about behaviours and experiences which are just different in ways which can be directly discerned from experiences or behaviors. They both have in common that we can view them and discerning them through our own personal experience. We can then construct different underling cognitive models to explain them. But at the end of the day brain activity is more fundamental than these models. So at the end, what do we have? Two sets of distinct events observable in experience and, in principle, brains which explain them because the cognitive models can in principle be eliminated as underlying causes. They both can be entirely discerned and explainable in the same two mediums of experience and then the brain in similar ways. The brain is doing all the hardwork for both processes and again the main difference can be thought of in terms of something like temporal and contextual depth of processing. Conscious processes are very sensitive to temporal contexts - to goals, to history, to future - deliberately controlling attention in open ended scenarios. Whereas automatic processing the temporal or contextual depth is thin. Reactions to cues which are indifferent to recent histories or goals and no longer entertain an open endedness in future context presumably due to practise and repetition or expertise. I think it is widely considered though that these are just extremes and most things meet in the middle somewhere; for instance, playing a musical instrument is definitely attentionally demanding but if you are familiar with a piece enough you will be going through passages in a very habitual and automatic pattern. The less familiar you are, the more deliberate is the playing of those passages.

    Which makes it all the more clear that you're confusing not only the concepts you're discussing, but yourself in the process.AmadeusD

    No, because that incoherence being referred to ia just referring to the paradox of phenomenal judgement as stated in Chalmers' book.
  • Indirect Realism and Direct Realism
    I'm not. This follows from what i take to be your (rather extremely) misguided conception of cognition in relation to phenomenal experience. It seems quite clear to me your monist conception is arbitrary and counter to what's presented to you. The line of yours I quoted should make it sufficient clear that your objection here is not apt, at all, in any way, to my objection/s.AmadeusD

    Nonsense. You didn't understand what I was saying. I don't even think what I was saying actually depends on any metaphysical stance. It just depends on you understanding what I mean by unconscious and conscious cognition:

    And the triviality that we learn about our own cognition through experience and behavioural responses or reports are used in psychological experiments as a way to access these events that take place in the manifold of our experiences.

    Your point about other complex behaviors either does not clearly fit the kind of distinction between conscious and unconscious cognition I was thinking about or it simply begs the question in a way that is sympathetic to dualism by assuming that those certain things don't have experience or that there is a kind of flick of the switch between experience and non-experience. I don't like making claims about what or how things other things would experience because I think ultimately talking about it is ill-posed; but by rejecting the dualism between physical things and experience, my view rejects this notion you have that one thing clearly has experience and another does not. Again, where I was coming from in the first place was a notion of human cognition where.we all agree on the role of experience operationally.

    an underlying organisational structureAmadeusD

    Structure of what.

    but given we already know 90% of our cognition has absolutely no noticeable effect on our phenomenal experience, this is just not plausible.AmadeusD

    You will have to be clear what you mean by this and give examples and then it will probably be easier for me to show you what I mean by interpreting these examples through my lense.

    Experience is irrelevant to the explanations and organisations of cognition. There is nothing in cognitive science that would lead us to predict conscious experience from the underlying structure of, lets call it awareness, which is in turn strictly tied to (theoretically) the underlying physical relational structure of information processing in the brain.AmadeusD

    Cognitive science is not trying to explain phenomenal experience in any sense in the first place. Experience is relevant because cognition is studied by people reporting or behaving in reaction to their experiences, so cognition is tied to experience in that sense. If you went and participated in a study on memory or attention, you are reporting about your experiences to the experimenter, correct? In that sense, cognition is about your experiences. Cognitive models are constructed by scientists to explain the flow of people's experiences after the fact. We trivially wouldn't know about cognition without our own experiences ans ultimately notions of cognition are less fundamental than the brain which in principle explains all cognition purely through the apparatus of neurons.

    This is the entire f-ing point my dude. We dont. And this is a known fact. We have no idea about most of our cognition. Because "as above.."AmadeusD

    I will give you a list of cognitions from wikipedia:

    "functions and processes such as: perception, attention, thought, imagination, intelligence, the formation of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and computation, problem-solving and decision-making, comprehension and production of language."

    Not one of these is not something you are not directly aquainted with by experience. Perception? Obviously experience. Attention? Obviously attending to experiences. Imagination? Bring up mental images, talk about narratives. Intelligence? Do an intelligence test, you have the experience of doing it and coming up with the answers. Memory? You experience your recollection of a fact or event. Judgement? You experience yourself looking at something and experiencing it and then making the judgement or reporting it and how you feel. Problem Solving? you experience yourself thinking and engaging with a problem. Language? You experience yourself reading or bringing up words.

    All of these functions are describing things happening in experience.

    Where we ascribe the term unconscious is when we don't really know how we do some of these things. We are unaware of where they came from. They seem automatic. They are not deliberative. But at the same time all of these tasks are being performed experientially and arguably deliberative processes are just products of automatic processes which perhaps show traits of temporal depth as I suggested before. Therefore, "unconscious" and "conscious" cognition has the same foundations in terms of flows of experience which are in some sense automatic. What explains the transition from one experience or behaviour to the next? The brain. The brain in principle is all that is required to explain the changes in the sense of isomorphia., though not the phenomena itself in the sense of the hard problem. This is how I view "conscious" and "unconscious" cognition as inherently separate. Afterall, they are both being performwd by the same brain, perhaps just with different patterns of brain behaviour which nonetheless don't have a strict divide.


    So how do you know when you have been distracted? There ia obviously a pattern of experiences which characterizes someone who has been distracted and deviates from a task.

    I have no idea what you thought this was addressing?AmadeusD

    I am talking about the fact that if you lack access to the fundamental nature of reality you don't have to take intuitions about dualism to be ontological. It is therefore not waving away anything but embracing the reality of the limits to our knowledge.

    But no.AmadeusD

    All you had to say.

    You think a reductionist account is incoherent?AmadeusD

    I was talking about dualism being incoherent, i.e. conscious experiemce arising out of and separate to something elae.

    I guess its just agree to disagree then since I don't find your justifications compelling.Apustimelogist

    It's difficult to when you misunderstand about 85% of what I say.

    If property dualism were true, we could formulate and test psychophysical laws the same way we test physical laws, and come to the same levels of causal, relational and phenomenal certainty about themAmadeusD

    This wouldn't explain why physical things were connected to the particular phenomena though it is beside the point because I was talking about phenomenal experience being irreducible to functional explanations of "mental stuff".

    here is though. I think i'll just leave you to discover the discussions on your own, at this stage. Chalmers himself deals with these issues in the work we're referring to.AmadeusD

    I have already explicitly coveredthis with you and told you his responses are irrelevant to my position.

    It seems you simply have no idea about hte arguments in this area.AmadeusD
    Chinese Room*. Chalmers deals with it head-on aimed at Searle.AmadeusD

    I don't know. Someone who earlier admitted to misconstruing the hard problem, was seemingly unaware of some very general definitions of idealism and now has shown they are unaware of the knowledge argument, I think it is you who seem to have much less familiarity with this whole topic.

    This, again, has literally nothing to do with the discussion we're having.AmadeusD

    Again, more evidence that you just don't understand anything I say. The point is that we can functionally explain why people have an intuition for dualism without requiring the distinction to be about fundamental ontology.
  • Indirect Realism and Direct Realism

    There are extant examples of complex behavioural outputs from complex reaction and adaptive cognition without any hint of anything like conscious experience.AmadeusD

    I have made it clear in this discussion that I am not a dualist so why are you interpreting my words in a dualist fashion?

    I have used the notion of p-zombie in my posts in a way that specifically alludes to the idea that all cognitive functions can be functionally explained in terms of the brain in the sense that all our reports and behaviours can be seen as following a causally closed chain of interactions as described by entities from physical science.

    Given that your interpretation of what I have said is in fact inconsistent with the views I have already set out in this thread, there is no way that what I have said in the last post could "explain [my] entire rationale".

    The following that you have pointed out:

    Ants, cilliates and even slime molds are examples which make the vast majority of what you're saying, which basically relies on the assumption above more-or-less moot arguments. There are extant examples of complex behavioural outputs from complex reaction and adaptive cognition without any hint of anything like conscious experience.AmadeusD

    Is therefore in no way contradictory to anything that I have said. The issue is you are interpreting what I have said as some kind of dualist would even though I am not one.

    Either way, what I had in mind was specifically human cognition as studied in psychology. The medium through which we study cognition is 1) what we experience and how those experiences flow; and 2) behavioural responses which is inevitably required to catalogue the former. We can think of cognition as latent models created to explain this empirical data in the flow of experiences and behavioural responses. What we call unconscious and conscious cognition in terms of things like memory, attention, automatic behavior, dual processes, perception, etc., are all embedded and instantiated in the same flow of experience and responses albeit in different ways, perhaps with different latent models or explanations. But ultimately the functional behaviour of the brain is more fundamental than any of the typical kinds of latent cognitive model and it is responsible for both "conscious" and "unconscious" cognition. So I don't see any fundamental difference between "conscious" and "unconscious" cognition. They are both embedded in experience and have the same fundamental explanation. What is different about them I think is something that can be talked about in terms of something like context-sensitivity in terms of things like temporal context, goals, trajectories and similar: e.g.

    This is a functional difference, not about experience. We can talk about attentional awareness in terms of functional explanations.

    Probably worth noting. cognition is not 'things', it is not 'experience' - cognition is the processing element of perception. thinking.AmadeusD

    At this point, I don't know what you mean by things. But "cognition is the processing element of perception." seems more or less a reasonable definition probably. Purely operationally (don't interpret it metaphysically but simply what is required to make the concepts empirically articulable), perception involves our experiences and behavioural responses. What do we mean by processes? I am not sure but maybe another question is how do we know we are "processing" or engaging in cognition? Well, we are experiencing it or experiencing its consequences. Before psychcology was a field I am sure people were aware (or meta-aware) of their own cognition... attention, memory, thought... purely through experiences. Otherwise how else you would know about these things? You are aware of memory through experiencing your recollections or failure to recollect. You experience your losses of attention.

    Any cognitive model of that is either a latent explanation constructed to explain those experiences and responses or just an abstract, non-latent description of the flow of experiences (e.g. when talking about memory, you may just be referring to the ability to behave (and experience) with a sensitivity to historical information). But again, if you believe functional brain interactions are ultimately what is both necessary and sufficient to produce cognition as observed in experience or behaviour, then what exactly is the status of the latent cognitive models? Do you really believe they float around in some other realm which is neither experiential or physical? Or possibly are they just models we construct to organize what we empirically observe and have called cognition (or synonyms) before psychology was even a field? Again, there is the non-latent way of thinking about it but as someone who rejects dualism this is ultimately not distinct in a fundamental ontological way from the latent view from my perspective. Only in a superficial sense (e.g. someone might posit different ontologies or paradigms for different scientific fields e.g chemistry vs biology without thinking these represent fundamental ontological distinctions in the same way a dualist would think of experience vs. the physical. We can explain away the ontological difference in different scientific fields simply through the fact that they approach the same world from different perspectives).

    Even on the reductionist account, the missing piece of the puzzle is still how consciousness arises from any level of cognition. It clearly does, though.AmadeusD

    Well, I can only say that I have already outlined why I believe such a view is incoherent.

    I think my previous comments are adequate to outline my thoughts. If they are not convincing, so be itAmadeusD

    I guess its just agree to disagree then since I don't find your justifications compelling.

    Waving it away wont do.AmadeusD

    I don't think my view is waving it away in any sense because as I have already said, I believe there is very good reason to think that we cannot have access to the fundamental nature of reality in any objective sense while what we perceive and the beliefs about them we come to are obviously constrained by the informational processing of a brain.

    On the other hand, you seem to think the problem of irreducibility can be solved when arguably irreducibility by virtue of its meaning means it will never be solved. Even if somehow, science empirically discovered "mental stuff" separate to the physical, such functional explanations of "mental stuff" would still not be able to explain phenomenal experiences and so the problem will still persist. Stands to reason that if dualism is true and we have a complete explanation of both "mental" and "physical" stuff, there would still be a problem of consciousness and it would still suffer from Chalmers' paradox of phenomenal judgement but this time in terms of "mental stuff". There is no possible explanation of experience in virtue of its irreducibility and positing "mental stuff" doesn't help. The basic stipulation of two substances / properties is really as far as you can get; the irreducibility hurdle cannot be overcome because thats what irreducibility means.

    There doesn't seem any way to get away from Chalmers' paradoxes without getting rid of dualism, and I don't see any additional reasons to keep it. The fact that dualism is intuitive need not be explained by direct observations about inherent ontology but by discrepancies due to epistemics. If you recall the Mary's room knowledge argument against physicalism, it seems reasonable to think that a p-zombie Mary would give the exact same response to regular Mary in some scenario where she was previously colorblind and then come then became color-able (e.g. due to gene therapy). Her inability to reduce phenomenal experience to physical stuff then is inherently tied to the information processing in her brain in a functional sense. I feel like dualists sometimes underplay that what we are capable of perceiving and believing is not totally unconstrained by brains; in principle there are reasons we think or perceive things in the way we do which are constrained by physics in the same way a car runs in ways constrained by physics. Obviously some dualists may underplay this because they believe in some kind of interactionist substance dualism where the mental actively causally affects the physical but I don't think there is any good scientific reason to believe in this kind of model - I would need good evidence to entertain that.

    Imo there is no reason to think these functional capabilities of a brain give an insight into the intrinsicness of reality... in fact when I am talking about a brain, I am invoking a family of constructed models and explanations, not inherent ontologies.
  • Quantifier Variance, Ontological Pluralism, and Other Fun Stuff
    Well for one, an explanation of the words "dog" or "swimming," seems like it should require reference to dogs and water respectively, rather than just neurons. Explanations that draw a line around the brain seem to forget that brains do not work in isolation and do not produce consciousness in isolation.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Hmm, I don't think anyone could create any kind of explanations for language or the use of words without including what words are referring to or connected to - that wouldn't make sense! I don't think many people are that reductive. Similar I think can be said for other questions you talk about like the why and how word use is created. I think word use is more or less about the contexts that surround the utterance and reception of words (maybe counterfactually), whether you want to talk about context in terms of experiences or the role of the brain and physical interactions with external stuff (at least in principle). I think the questions of why and how is just a matter of expanding these contexts, the chains of causes.

    I get the impression you won't disagree with what I say and maybe you have been just attacking this truncated version of use you briefly mentioned which is not intuitive to me.


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