Fred Weiss

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  1. "What is Consciousness For?"

    I guess you've never had the experience of a cat's "in or out" routine? :-)
  2. "What is Consciousness For?"

    Or when he says, "But if your "some bit" is meant to reflect modern times -- to encapsulate our huge, enormous, voluminous amount of scientific knowledge -- then since all of the evidence demonstrates non-volitional causal mechanisms, it would be absurd to conclude otherwise. Hence I give no leeway to modern man attributing volitional powers to rocks, trees, or the woolly mammoth." However, I don't want to get into a "you said-no I didn't" debate. The question on the table is what evidence would you accept to support the possibility of choice in animal behavior? A related question is whether we should even be debating it, assuming it is entirely a scientific, not a philosophical question.
  3. "What is Consciousness For?"

    What concepts do you use when you choose between vanilla and chocolate ice cream? And how is it any different from a cat choosing between two bowls of food, one with tuna, the other with chicken?
  4. "What is Consciousness For?"

    That doesn't change the fact that we can control where we direct our attention. I also think to some extent we can control the degree of our attention, e.g. focusing on something more intently. Furthermore - and most importantly for this discussion - I don't see why that necessarily requires our conceptual faculty.
  5. "What is Consciousness For?"

    "Philosophy and science have discovered two fundamental and causally different modes of action -- deterministic or volitional -- with nothing in between.... In light of all this, it is utterly arbitrary to put forth the notion of volition in other than man, and it is contradictory to reason to demand that the burden of proof lies equally with both sides."
  6. "What is Consciousness For?"

    That's a very interesting claim, Betsy. Do you happen to have a quote(s) from AR where she says that? Or is this your own original view of it? I think volition is a prerequisite for a conceptual faculty, but I don't know that I'd turn that around to say that the conceptual faculty *causes* volition.
  7. "What is Consciousness For?"

    For some reason in responding to Stephen's last post, I couldn't get the block quote function to work, so I created my own somewhat lame separations. _____________________________ I give no leeway to modern man attributing volitional powers to rocks, trees, or the wooly mammoth _______________________________ We weren't discussing rocks and trees. So, why are you waving strawmen at me? ______________________________ As I said before, philosophy and science have discovered two fundamental and causally different modes of action; deterministic or volitional. ______________________________ And Lee is proposing the possibility of a third, providing reasons which I consider plausible and interesting. You can legitimately ask him for his evidence. But when I ask what evidence you will accept, you deny the possibility of evidence. _______________________________ Perceptual-level functioning is automatic _______________________________ This is a chronic equivocation in this discussion. The *content* of perception is automatic and we have no control over it. What is in our field of sight is in our field of sight and we can't make it go away. One assumes the same thing is true of animals. Lee is not denying that. He is merely pointing out that just as we can control *the direction* of our perception, i.e. what we attend to, perhaps animals have some similar control _______________________________ I will repeat what you chose not answer before: _______________________________ And I will repeat that you are still begging the question.
  8. "What is Consciousness For?"

    Yes, of course, as regards human volition. But obviously we can't introspect in regard to the consciousness of animals and of course we can't ask them. We can only observe their behavior. Here's my point: if we study some bit of animal behavior and discover some of its causal components but not all, what do we conclude from that? Do we conclude that we just don't know enough and that with further research we will discover the full causal explanation? Well, what if no matter how hard we try we still can't explain all of it? Does that prove that animals have choice? Or, do we just continually say, we don't enough and in time we'll know. What will you take as proof, then?
  9. "What is Consciousness For?"

    I think that begs the very question we are debating.
  10. "What is Consciousness For?"

    No. If Lee - as you said and as he seemed to have acknowledged - maintains that there is - or even can be - indeterminancy of any kind governing inanimate matter, he and I would part ways on that. (But that should be discussed in a separate thread). Incidentally, I don't necessarily agree with his position regarding animal consciousness either. I just thought he raised some interesting points which are worth considering and I've had some questions myself concerning at least some animal behavior.
  11. "What is Consciousness For?"

    I agree with Betsy that it is impossible to prove that all animal behavior is deterministic. But isn't it equally impossible to prove that some of it is chosen and therefore not deterministic? What would constitute such a proof? If there were some behavior that we could not yet explain the causal conditions which prompt it, do we assume that there are such conditions but we just don't yet know what they are? Doesn't that beg the question? In other words, isn't it just as invalid to put the burden of proof on Lee as for him to put it on you?
  12. "What is Consciousness For?"

    Very good points, Ken. I agree completely. This specific point that you make here is the key one - at least for me. I don't think "our cats" are like that robot you mentioned. Though I'm very doubtful I'd go as far as including bees. :-) Incidentally, Lee did raise this very issue in his post #76 where he says, "I do think that a clear sub-division should be made that distinguishes human choice (which can support conceptual consciousness) from that of all other animals."
  13. "What is Consciousness For?"

    They certainly appear to be doing that, Ken - activating their consciousness. I used to play "fetch" with my cat. In fact from time to time she would drop the item at my feet that she wanted me to throw. I didn't train her to do that. She figured it out herself - that if she brought me an item, I would throw it. If she brought it back, I would throw it again. I wouldn't go so far as to say there was anything conceptual in what she was doing. But she certainly seemed to be choosing, not acting in a mechanical, deterministic way.
  14. "What is Consciousness For?"

    I have a question that I'd like to pose to all - but I'd be particularly interested in Stephen and Betsy's answer. Is there a possible distinction between "the capacity to choose" and volition, such that a creature - including man, for that matter, in certain circumstances, such as young infants - could choose among alternatives, but doesn't necessarily possess volition. By "choose" I mean in this context, the ability to select alternatives where that selection is not completely determined, i.e. where it could have done otherwise? Going back to my example of the cat on the sill and what it does next, is what it does next necessarily always full determined and automatic, such that it could not have done otherwise?
  15. "What is Consciousness For?"

    In response to my example of a cat going upstairs to take a snooze, Are you now just referring to a cat or also including human choice? I hope you are not including human choice because if you are what you are saying is that when you select one ice cream over another you *had to do it* and you had no choice in the matter. But if you didn't have to do it, why did the cat?