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Does Free-Will Falsify Naturalism? Allen Hainline Reasonable Faith UTD Oct 2, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Does Free-Will Falsify Naturalism? Allen Hainline Reasonable Faith UTD Oct 2, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Does Free-Will Falsify Naturalism? Allen Hainline Reasonable Faith UTD Oct 2, 2014

2 Why is this Topic Important? Naturalism is dominant view in Academia – “free will is so often the focus at the Center for Naturalism” – “assumption [of free will] expresses itself in our concepts of blame, credit, responsibility, self- worth and deservingness, to challenge it has all sorts of ramifications, personal, social and political”

3 Definitions Libertarian free will means that an agent is truly free to have chosen differently – Human actions not dictated solely by physics What is naturalism entail? – Nature is all there is – Could be emergent non-physical entities but they are solely determined by the physical

4 Can free will exist under naturalism? – Naturalism entails that physical laws solely dictate what happens There are no if statements in the equations of physics Physical brain states solely determine mental states – Libertarian free will entails that physical laws do NOT solely dictate what happens There would need to be a non-physical component to humans in order to act on physics Do you agree that there is a conflict here? Why or why not?

5 What does Theism claim? Humans are made in the image of God – God wanted humans to be conscious and to have free will as moral agents and stewards over creation We can express creativity Humans have true libertarian free will

6 Do we have libertarian free will? Mind Brain ?

7 But do Humans have Free Will? Aren’t you doing experiments constantly in which you’re validating free will? – No one really lives as though they don’t have free will If humans don’t have free will, why would we have evolved to be tricked into thinking we have free will? – There could be no fitness advantage to such a deception Is it even coherent to say that free will could be an emergent property? – This would entail that the first free will action was determined by a causal chain of physical events In which case it wouldn’t be an action that a human truly chose to perform

8 Evidence that mental states affect brain states First-hand Personal Experience Placebo Effect Scientific Studies “We have literally thousands of years of experiences of human and animal consciousness causing behavior.” John Searles in 2013 PNAS article

9 Placebo Effect A placebo is a “fake” treatment of some type The Placebo Effect is so powerful that scientific studies are done as double-blind studies – A placebo is used for the control group – Neither the doctors nor the patients are allowed to know whether or not they’re part of the control group

10 Placebo Examples Placebos work for more than just pain and depression – “Because the act of performing surgery itself has a profound placebo effect, a true treatment effect is impossible to distinguish from nonspecific (placebo) effects without a sham comparison group.” – Sham surgery was just as effective as knee surgery in one test – Parkinson’s patients who thought they had stem cells injected – Retinal surgery, cancer of lymph node, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, … Why under naturalism should there even be a placebo effect? – Isn’t this evidence for mental states affecting the physical?

11 Placebo /putting-the-placebo-effect-to-work /putting-the-placebo-effect-to-work An effect of care that's caring There's also evidence that some of the placebo effect is a favorable reaction to care and attention from people who patients believe can help ease their suffering and distress. Researchers associated with Harvard's placebo studies program published a study in 2008 that illustrates this aspect of the response very nicely. The volunteers for the study were people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements in the absence of any discernible changes to the bowel. The placebo treatment was sham acupuncture, which involves the use of needles that, unbeknownst to the patient, retract into their handles instead of penetrating the skin. The placebo effect of the sham acupuncture needles was impressive: 44% of those treated with just the sham needles reported relief from their IBS problems. When sham acupuncture was combined with attentive, empathetic interaction with the acupuncturist, the placebo effect got even larger, with 62% reporting relief from their IBS woes.

12 12 Mind-Body interaction.  Materialists point out that brain damage affects the mind (bottom-up causation)  This doesn’t show that the mind reduces to the brain  Compare dropping a phone when someone is speaking. The phone doesn’t generate the voice - it transmits it.  The brain is necessary to transmit thoughts not generate them. Source for blue slides: Angus Menuge

13 13 Correlation is not identity  Water comes from pipes (correlation)  If pipes damaged, there is less water  Yet pipes don’t generate water. Water not identical to a property of the pipes  Pipes are conduits of water  Likewise the brain is a conduit of consciousness

14 14 Top-Down Causation  The mind cannot be the same as the brain, because the mind ALSO has a top- down causal influence on the brain (cognitive therapies exploiting neuroplasticity) and the immune system (psychoneuroimmunology).

15 15 Evidence that mental states affect brain states: Cognitive Therapy for Neural Disorders “willful, mindful effort can alter brain function, and...such self-directed brain changes— neuroplasticity—are a genuine reality... In other words, the arrow of causation relating brain and mind must be bidirectional.” -- Jeff Schwartz, The Mind and the Brain, 94-95

16 16 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)  Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for OCD using conscious selective attention to relabel and reattribute the disorder (e.g. obsessive hand-washing) and refocus on an alternative behavior (e.g. gardening).

17 17 The mind changed the brain  “PET scans after treatment showed significantly diminished metabolic activity... There was also a significant decrease in the abnormally high, and pathological, correlations among activities in the caudate, the orbital frontal cortex, and the thalamus in the right hemisphere....[T]herapy had altered the metabolism of the OCD circuit. Our patient’s brain lock had been broken.” Jeff Schwartz, The Mind and the Brain, 89-90 Jeff Schwartz, The Mind and the Brain, 89-90

18 18 Systematic neuroscientific study of the power of the mind  “the results of these [neuroimaging] studies strongly supports the view that the subjective nature and intentional content…of mental processes (e.g. thoughts, feelings, beliefs, volition) significantly influence the functioning and plasticity of the brain…mentalistic variables have to be seriously taken into account to reach a correct understanding of the neurophysiological bases of behavior in humans.” --Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard --Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard

19 19 Problems addressed by mind-based therapies, verified by brain-scans. 1) Depression and sadness 2) Tourette’s syndrome 3) Stroke rehabilitation 4) Focal hand dystonia 5) Dyslexia 6) Panic disorder 7) Spider phobia 8) Stress reduction 9) Follow up care for cancer patients

20 An analogy Naturalism views the human brain as sort of a multiprocessor computer that is connected to a body Can you in physically detect whether or not free will exists by studying what is happening within the CPU? Can’t distinguish a user interface from an interface to another physical computer-like entity Is it possible that an interface to a free will agent exists?


22 Naturalism Cannot Account for Free Will Many naturalist philosophers & scientists argue that libertarian free will doesn’t exist 1.Under naturalism, humans are solely physical 2.Humans would then be completely subject to the laws of physics 3.The laws of physics leave no room for free will – One cannot choose to compute math differently 4.Under naturalism, humans don’t have free will 5.Humans do have free will Thus, naturalism is false!

23 What if Free Will is an Illusion? There is no morality Nothing is blameworthy or praiseworthy Naturalism can’t be rationally affirmed for belief in it based on blind forces & arational material causes Evolution cannot explain how consciousness arose – There would be no benefit whatsoever whereby natural selection could have favored consciousness and likely a fitness cost for driving the necessary chemical reactions

24 Next Week: Are Humans More Than Just Matter? Beau Bishop Reasonable Faith UTD Oct 9, 2014


26 26 Consciousness also unexpected and unexplained under atheism  “No explanation given wholly on physical terms can ever account for the emergence of conscious experience.” David Chalmers  “It is not that we know what would explain consciousness but are having trouble finding the evidence to select one explanation over the others; rather, we have no idea what an explanation of consciousness would even look like.” Colin McGinn

27 27 Objections 1. Maybe consciousness is just a illusion  But an illusion is itself a conscious state that needs to be explained  We have more justification that we’re conscious than we do for any other belief  Sensory inputs are obtained through our consciousness  We learn about science through conscious activity such as reading, listening, performing experiments

28 28 Objections 2) Maybe consciousness is an emergent property  Under atheism it would still need to emerge from a physical process such as evolution.  Stephen Jay Gould and others have argued that consciousness is just a “fluke” – not necessarily that likely to emerge  Most life gets along just fine without being conscious  We can program computers to do lots of things effectively but don’t know how to make the computer aware of itself  Unless we also have free will, it would lack a fitness advantage  Even if it was emergent it’s been so elusive that the set of possible chemicals that you can mix together to become self-aware must be a small subset among possibilities or we would have already discovered it’s physical origins


30 No PPT but handout, discussion After discussing OCD, placebo, revisit analogy of computer and point to program where scripts can be setup by human – Better design for mind-body interaction

31 Key on discussion questions Look at predictions of theism and atheism – Image of God vs. accident of nature Evolution optimizes for survival to reproduction Show Garrett clip (?) Show video testimony … Naturalism -> entails nothing beyond physics? Agree – Emergent properties, epiphenomenalism -> but causal direction one-way Look at objections from Stanford encyc. … Now consider evidence from placebo effect (including importance of double-blind studies) Consider analogy of user interface in computing – Cannot learn anything about human user by studying computer code In discussing sham surgeries, there was one where they drilled a hole in people’s skulls just so they would think they had surgery: how would you like to be a part of that control group? Belief in free will – the irony that some who doubt it debate telling people because of implications -> acknowledging causal direction of mental on physical Libet could at most go against a naïve view that no unconscious intentions could exist + random number gen. Recent experiments show that the original experiments were flawed. If you ask the subjects to look at a clock and decide not to perform an action, you get the same readiness potential. As far as we can tell, the readiness potential was produced by watching the clock. Take away the clock and there is no readiness potential (15). (John Searle – PNAS 2013!)15 – – I believe the history of the readiness potential is an unfortunate chapter in recent scientific history and it raises the question: Why were people so eager to believe these implausible conclusions? The answer I think is that they wanted to discredit consciousness. Consciousness has typically been an embarrassment to the natural sciences, and, in these cases, it looks like we have scientific proof that consciousness does not really matter very much for our behavior.

32 Are humans composite? Are protons composite? Early clues: – When we smash open atoms, we get other particles that do take up space and have rest mass, the electron, proton, and neutron. When we do deep inelastic scattering, we see that the proton and the neutron have three points of deflection, IE three particles that make them up. Are strings fundamental? Analogy – physical world (inside CPU) is it deterministic? Yes but then no – answers vary

33 Free Will/Consciousness Intro prob that atheism has trouble explaining Atheists either believe in naturalism -> nothing beyond nature – Or have to admit that there are non-physical entities (e.g. humans have properties that are not just products of physical processes – no evolutionary explanation possible since it’s a physical process) – Emergent property (1 st free will event incoherent), realm beyond physics – fits with made in image of God – Consciousness – Gould, life could evolve and get along without this; only plausible benefits are if you actually have free will (else making you aware serves no purpose since you don’t have free will anyway) FT because otherwise we would have found it Be clear that my arg not assuming a physical cause for consc. Found Am arguing that a physical cause for free will will not be found – not if physics can be modelled mathematically – A kind of constant intervention; non-physical components to humans – Libet experiments don’t 33


35 Libet Rebuttal AAlso Reference PNAS article too -> rebuttal to Libet interpretations (develop a model that replicates results and distribution of timing delays etc. based on stochastic-decision model and implement it using a leaky stochastic accumulator process; made a new prediction and performed an experiment with interrupts that matched expectations under the model! (Aaron Schurger et al)Aaron Schurger

36 Case 2: Examine Prediction of Naturalism: Free Will Why not just believe this great scientist? Do you think free will exists? – What evidence do we have for or against free will? Has Neuroscience disproven free will? Libet Experiments

37 Critique of Libet Interpretation Libet asked test subjects to "let the urge [to move] appear on its own at any time without any pre-planning or concentration on when to act" – This is not a good example of a consciously caused/planned event – Only a problem for a naïve account of free will – Wrongly assumes that if something comes before an event it causes the event Correlation does not necessarily imply causation – Libet himself interpreted experiments as supporting “free won’t” Newer studies by Brass & Haynes – Found brain correlations as much as 7 seconds before reported intention but only at correlated 60% of time (50% would be randomly selecting) Marcel Brass’s interpretation: – “There is not much evidence that free will doesn’t exist” (or that it does) – “First of all, I do not really think that neuroscience will solve the old philosophical problem of whether free will exists or not and I’m even sure whether any science can solve this problem” – Naturalists frequently overstate these results See a critique: hlHBPyLRWgFjzhPT

38  Some philosophical problems can be stated in terms of questions about supervenience. For example: do mental properties supervene on neural properties? (Externalists in the philosophy of mind say "no", internalists say "yes.") Do the aesthetic properties of an art object supervene on physical properties of that object? Externalists aestheticExternalists aesthetic  Though it is intuitively clear what supervenience is, formally specifying what it means involves a complex technical apparatus and a family of related but subtly different definitions. Most definitions involve comparisons of objects for indiscernibility. According to one standard definition, a set of properties A (e.g. mental properties) supervenes on a set of properties B (e.g. neural properties), if and only if any two objects x and y which share all properties in B (are "B-indiscernible") must also share all properties in A (are "A-indiscernible"). The intuitive idea is that if you could make a physical copy of a person, you'd also be making a psychological copy of that person. The reverse does not hold: two people could be in the same mental state, but that mental state could be supported by different brain states (the same mental state could be "multiply realizable" by different brain states). The properties in B are called the base properties (or sometimes subjacent or subvenient properties), and the properties in A are called the supervenient properties. indiscerniblemultiply realizableindiscerniblemultiply realizable 38

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