Aristotle & Searle

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19 Apr 2012
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18/04/2012
1
FREE WILL, DETERMINISM, MORALITY AND RELIGION
THE PROBLEM: [1] THERE ARE GOOD RE ASO NS FOR BELE IVING THAT
EVE RY THING THAT HAPPENS OCCURS FO R A RE ASON O R CAUSE.
[2] I F EVE RY E VENT HAS A CAUSE T HAT MEANS WE HAVE NO CONT ROL
OVE R OUR ACTIONS
[3] IF HUMANS HAVE NO CO NTROL OVER T HEIR ACTS WE CANNOT
HOLD ANYONE RE SPO NSI BLE
[4] BUT TO DE NY CAUSALITY SEEMS TO OPEN UP T HE UNIVERSE AND
SOCIE TY TO THE MIRACULO US OR AT LEAST T HE INEXPLICAB LE
ARISTOTLE’S SEA BATTLE AND FREE WILL
Aristotle’s sea battle
1. 4th century BCE: you anxiously await the morning news about an important sea
battle
2. 21st century CE: you anxiously await the news whether your team won last
night’s crucial game.
Aristotle’s idea of Truth
According to Aristotle it was already true before you heard the news and of course
he would say the same to todays sports’ fanatics.
But was it TRUE BEFORE the game or battle begun??
FREE WILL & DETERMINISM
Since GOD is supremely perfect [by df.] then (S)HE knows everything. But if GOD
knows everything then She knew the future. But no-one can know the future unless
it is already determined. If GOD knows I am going to kill someone tomorrow [or
worse yet die myself] then I can do nothing to prevent this. THEREFORE I DO NOT
HAVE FREE WILL. Since I do not have free will, the categories of sin, crime and vice
are undermined.
FREE WILL & DETERMINISM
Suppose a SUPER-COMPUTER :
(1) It has all the laws of nature on its data base and all the relevant facts about nature
and human society so that (2) It can deduce the entire future of the universe
including all human actions and the their results.
3. If the computers knows I am going to kill someone tomorrow then I can do
nothing to prevent this.
4. THEREFORE I DO NOT HAVE FREE WILL. Since I do not have free will, the
categories of sin, crime and vice are undermined.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?
1. Hard Determinism
2. Indeterminism
3. Soft Determinism
4. Libertarianism [a word also used in Political Philosophy]
UQ distinguishes TWO types of Soft Determinism: (1) Traditional Soft Determinism
and (2) Deep SELF-COMPATIBILISM: =
Acts are free if caused by our own AUTHENTIC DESIRES
Whereas Traditional Soft Determinism merely requires that they are caused by the
unforced will of the agent
LAPLACE’S DEMON
“Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by
which nature is animated and the respective situation of the being who compose it
an intelligence sufficiently vast to submit these data to analysis-- it would embrace
in the same formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and
lightest atoms; for it nothing would be uncertain and
the future, as the past would
be present to its eyes
.
ARE FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM COMPATIBLE?
Only if one or the other is watered down and becomes less interesting and
provocative.
Spinoza’s flying rock that becomes conscious and The Argument from Ignorance
When is Absence of Evidence equivalent to Evidence of Absence? Dam good
question!!!
If it is true that we are ignorant of the putative causes of our acts, does it follow
that there are such causes or reasons or explanations or…….?
CAUSES AND REASONS
Some reconcile The Principle of Sufficient Reason with Free Will by distinguishing
Causes and Reasons. This in my parallel to Libertarian Event Causation and Agent
Causation UQ p. 98.
But what is The Principle of Sufficient Reason?
THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON
Epistemic Version
Very similar to W.K. Clifford [UQ, 43-44]
We should have a Sufficient Reason for all of our beliefs, factual claims or theories
Metaphysical Version
There is a Sufficient Reason for every event and so for every thing that exists
Therefore there is an explanation for every human act and for its results
CAUSES AND SUFFICIENT REASON
There are several [physical] causes explaining why my car is now in the Brock
parking lot but the complete explanation includes my REASONS for leaving it there
just as there are several [physical] causes for the various physical phenomena in this
classroom but the complete explanation includes my REASONS and your REASONS
for being here.
The car and the computer and chairs could NOT CHOOSE NOT to be here and
choose to go elsewhere but all of us could have according to one major version of
indeterminism.
We are not like pieces on a chess board.
FREE CHOICE AND FREE WILL
SO maybe the question is whether free will is a pseudo-problem and whether it may
be better to call it: The problem of Free CHOICE
On this view it is either true [or it does not matter] that our will is free or caused by
factors not under our control since we are still free to choose what to do about this
under many constraints [due to physiology, physics etc.]
The LIMITS of PREDICTABILITY: why are we more successful at predicting the
behaviour of stars and planets and many other physical objects than we are at
predicting the behaviour of human beings?
PROBABILITY, DETERMINISM &
FREE WILL
2 key questions [1] Does mathematically based science force us to abandon free
will and become determinists? “Yes” say many respectable thinkers.
[2] Does probability undermine determinism and favour free will? Yes” say many
respectable thinkers.
[3] Are Laplace and Spinoza correct to argue that it is only our ignorance of
causes that leads us to use Probability?
IS DETERMINISM A PESSIMISTIC THEORY?
Five Foils For Free Will:
1.Calvinism:16th Century
2. Spinoza: 17th Century
3. Laplace: 18th Century
4. Marx(ism):19th C
5. B.F. Skinner: 20th C
FREE WILL: MYTH OR REALITY?
Q1: Does probability undermine determinism and favor free will?
Q2: Can we accept both?
J.C. Maxwell and Neils Bohr both argued that modern science does not rule out free
will.
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? YES
The principle of indifference; why does a lever balance? There is no reason NOT to.
Buridan’s Ass: a medieval philosopher Buridan is credited with the following: a
donkey (or jackass if you prefer) is placed at an equal distance from 2 equal piles of
hay. Does the ass have any reason to prefer one to the other?
J.C. Maxwell: Statistical laws are NOT the results of our ignorance “Statistics about
student averages are just averages and do NOT describe the experience of the
teacher” {and the students???}
Quantum Physics: Schrodinger’s Cat: Is the cat dead or alive if we do not know?
See fn. 102-103
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? NO
Laplace: “The present state of the Universe is the effect of the state before and the
cause of the one that will follow.
Einstein: (1) “Ich creden in Spinoza’s Gott
(2) “I cannot believe God plays dice with the world”
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? YES & NO
LEIBNIZ: “For every event there is a reason why it happens as it does and NOT
otherwise”
But he also defended free will!
THE PROBLEM OF PERSONAL IDENTITY
Why is this a Problem? Good question: are you the same person you were 10 years
ago? 10 months ago? 10 weeks? 10days? If you answer “of course I am” then what
is it that makes you the same person when so much has changed in you and about
you?
This problem in linked with the previous problem: Free Will and responsibility as well
as the next one: Mind and Body
All theories intended to solve each of these problems run into what seem to be
insuperable problems
This is what makes a problem a philosophical problem: Each theory seems
reasonable when you first hear it explained or it seems outrageously absurd but
then someone gives an argument in favour of it that needs to be answered
Even my favorite theory “The Continuity of Consciousness Theory” faces obvious
problems
THE FOUR MAIN THEORIES
1. The Illusion Theory
2. The Body Theory
3. The Soul Theory
4. The Memory Theory
One denies the premise of the question depending on how it is worded.
HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
Number 1 denies the premise of the problem arguing that there is no continuing self.
Theories 2 & 3 use a theory of a physical or metaphysical substance a key idea in
much western philosophy
The 4th theory uses a psychological state of an admittedly fallible nature as criterion
THE ILLUSION THEORY
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a Dream*
* Children’s song I remember from my childhood sometime in the 20th century or at
least I think there an I who remembers it ---at least I can rattle it off as if there
were an I that……
Propel, Propel, Propel your craft
Placidly down the liquid solution
Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically,
Existence is but an Illusion*
* Variation of Children’s song I remember from my childhood sometime in the 20th
century or at least I think there an I who remembers it ---at least I can rattle it off
as if there were an I that……
THE ILLUSION THEORY 2
A very important semantic distinction: the word “same” as a qualitative identity and
“same” as a numerical identity
Examples: “You should all have the same edition [qualitative identity] of Ultimate
Questions as the other students although some students may share the same copy.
[numerical identity]
We speak of identical twins but they are NOT really identical or at least they are
NOT numerically identical.
The problem of Personal Identity is a problem of numerical identity.
A human clone, if one is ever produced, will be qualitatively identical NOT
numerically identical.
CHANGE AND BEING AND BECOMING
Is the only permanent phenomena* perpetual change?
Heraclitus [5th 4th C BCE]: “You can never step in the same river twice”
But what he should have said is that “You can never step in the water of the same
river twice”. You can step in the Niagara river twice but the water will have change
in the interim. And you can step in a stagnant pool twice.
So is our consciousness like the Niagara river a river? Or is it like a swimming pool
where the water changes but not as rapidly as a river or is it like a stagnant pool?
Is there no continuing EGO [= self but not necessarily a purely self-centered self]?
CHANGE, BEING, AND BECOMING
If the EGO or self or feeling of continuity is an illusions who [or what] is
experiencing the illusions? If “Life is but a Dream who is dreaming? The word
“illusion” seems to imply both a reality and a subject experiencing it as an illusion.
Sunrise for example or the straight stick in water that appears to be bent: the whole
idea of an optical illusion is that reality is distorted so that it appears to be different
that it really is to some persons or persons [or animals] perceiving it.
* “Phenomena” means any thing perceptible, usually but not always confined to
being perceptible by or to the 5 senses.
TWO INTERESTING ARGUMENTS
A scientific argument “According to recent*
[my emphasis]
biological studies
humans change their physical makeup every 7 years.
While this creates a problem for the theory of continuity it creates a worse problem
for the Body Theory
* I learned this in high skool or at least I think someone learned it and it wound up
in my brain and is still there and was NOT recent. If, or course, my memory is not
deceiving me AND if there is a ME for it to deceive!!!!!!
THE SECOND INTERESTING ARGUMENT
An eastern philosophical argument
The illusion of a permanent self leads to Greed, Regret and Ultimate Suffering and it
is a first step to enlightenment to abandon this belief
OK but enlightenment for whom?
Me or someone else????
Should I stop planning for my retirement and “”Why the hell should I care about my
unreal future self [assuming that I live that long] or at least that some version of
this body I am stuck with survives until 80 or so?
Speaking of the BODY
THE BODY THEORY
George Washington’s axe: suppose someone told you he had the axe used by
Washington [and sold you that axe] to chop down the cherry tree he (allegedly)
chopped down. However he adds that, since that time, it has had 2 new heads and
3 new handles.
The ship that sailed the 7 seas: The Greeks had a story about a ship that got small
repairs at every port where it stopped. When it returned to where it began its trip it
had a totally different set of materials than when it began: wood, iron, rope
etc……but all the same sailors!!! Is it the same ship?
The Human Body and the Self: Similar stories can be told about the human body!!!
THE CASE FOR BODY THEORY
How do we recognize other person who we know or are acquainted with? Whether it
is a SHORT time between sightings or a LONG time is it NOT by recognizing a
similar body or parts, especially the face, but also other signals?
When it has been a LONG time, or when legal issues are involved, we can use DNA
and fingerprints, dental records and so one, so therefore: Same body = Same
person, or so it seems.
Notice that the human body changes continually but at an imperceptible rate:
Neonate, infant, baby, young child, adolescent, adults [and adultresses], middle
age, old age, and then REALLY old and then REALLY, REALLY ancient.
If you really want to see what I looked like at your age there is a picture of me at
Brock U!!
PROBLEMS FOR THE BODY THEORY
Problem re: After life but for some proponents of the Body Theory this is a point in
its favour!!
For Descartes, it was one of his main motives for preferring a non-physical criterion
for
personhood
Others think it should be possible for 2 people to switch bodies!
Total amnesia: Does this imply that the victim is no longer the same person or NOT?
Body Theory is a SUBSTANCE theory but it not the sole theory to involve a
SUBSTANCE: the soul theory is also a SUBSTANCE theory.
THE SOUL THEORY
“Soul” can have many meanings.
In this theory “Soul” means “a nonphysical entity” sometimes called “a nonphysical
substance” or “a
metaphysical
substance”
Descartes regards body and mind as two distinct substances just as Plato treated
body and soul as two distinct entities
For both the body is an extended substance while the soul/mind is an an
unextended substance
But what is a Substance ? Etymology may be of some help here: ‘Sub’ = “Under”
, ‘Stance’ = “Stand’ so a Substance is something that stands under the appearances
and supports them.
SELF, SOUL, MIND, CONSCIOUSNESS
“Soul” and “Mind” are terms that are sometimes used as if they refer to the same
phenomena but often they do not.
The idea of a [the] soul often has religious connotations while that of the mind more
intellectual
connotations.
“Mind” can be used in a large variety of ways and in Descartes it is virtually identical
with “Consciousness” in the broadest possible sense including “Memory”.
The same is true of the term “Soul” especially as used by Plato.
It can also be divorced from religious connotations by identifying it with whatever
makes us conscious of our experiences, other people, ourselves and our memories.
THE MEMORY THEORY
John Locke is credited with being the first to develop this fairly plausible theory
[UQ, 118].
One main advantage is that it can solve problems that the body and soul theories
cannot explain [119].
It explains the possibility of life after death unlike the Body theory and like the soul
theory.
But, unlike the soul theory it can explain how we recognize people we have not seen
in after a long period of time.
Would you trade places with the richest person in the world [or the smartest or most
talented] under the condition that you lose all your present memories? [119]
PROBLEMS FOR MEMORY THEORY
A very neat logical argument:
1. M = Y
2. G = M
3. G = Y but G is not identical to Y [120]
Also by the way 3 follows from 1 and 2 by the axiom “Things equal to the same
thing are equal to each other”
You do not even need the Old General example: How much do you remember of the
first few days or months of your life after birth? I don’t remember anything.
PROBLEMS FOR MEMORY THEORY 2
OK but what if we distinguish indirect and direct memories?
After all we forget a lot perhaps most of what we ever see or learn but still
remember a remarkable amount of what we experience.
If you are a sports fan, or music lover, or reader of novels you may recall the final
score of a crucial game, or the composer, singer and title of a favorite song and
most or all of the words, of the gist of your favorite novel.
But how many details can you recall?
We also have many false memories, [I think].
So do we need a Quasi-Memory Theory?
QUASI-MEMORY THEORY
Don’t worry about the technical details of the argument [123]
The key point is that: causal memory theories make the “self” and inferred entity.
But: Why is this a big deal? and what the hell is an inferred entity?
It is an entity that we do not directly experience in any way but we infer that it
exists because we conjecture that it explains what we do observe and experience.
Three striking examples are Gravity, germs and atoms. But so are witches, goblins,
dragons and so on including the soul or even the mind in some theories.
But as Descartes argued strenuously we directly experience ourselves as conscious
thinking things but we have to infer the body’s existence!
ONE FINAL PROBLEM
People who undergo radical personality changes: Why not Ebenezer Scrooge? “I am
not the same person I was” he tells the last ghost.
What about having two copies made of yourself but at the cost of destroying the
original? Which, if either, is the real “you”?
If they both have your memoires and desires etc., can both be the same person? So
the safest conclusion seems to be: The nature of the self is mysterious.
THE SOLE TRUE THEORY?
The Continuity of Consciousness
OK but how is it different from the memory theory?
Because it includes all of your consciousness not just memory.
Why is this the best answer?
Well I am not sure yet but there is the interesting problem of Self-consciousness.
In addition to our awareness of natural objects, human beings, our own feelings,
pain, pleasure, memories, imagination etc. we are aware of ourselves (unlike, so I
am told, animals or anything else) as different from all these other things.
THE BODY/MIND/BRAIN PROBLEM
Dualism
Monism: 2 types (1) Physicalism [= Materialism]
(2) Idealism [= Mind is an immaterial substance]
There is fourth =4th solution: Consciousness is neither Physical nor non-Physical.
Found in John Searle and in Karl Popper’s 3- World solution to the problem.
BODY/MIND/BRAIN PROBLEM
Notice what the mind enables us to do [UQ, 127]
1. Perceive the world via our 5 senses.
2. Have self awareness.
3. Have dreams, hopes and fantasies.
4. Have memories.
5. Reason about the World [= universe not just Mother Earth].
6. Communicate with others (mostly humans but not just them).
7. Feel emotions.
SUBSTANCE DUALISM
Main Idea is that as Descartes emphasizes: Mind and body are not merely distinct
[so is the heart and the liver] but that they are two distinct substances.
This means “two distinct entities or beings that are independent in the way, for
example, that finger and hands are NOT independent or hand and arm and so on.
If two substances are truly independent then they can exist on their own without
the other.
For Descartes we are a UNITY of mind and body not a dualism. The mind is NOT like
a captain in a ship.
THE ESSENCE OF SUBSTANCE DUALISM
The Body is an extended substance _____________________________________
So if something is extended then it is a body and if something is a body then it is
extended
The mind is an un-extended substance. Like this maybe [ . ]
It cannot be pictured but it can be experienced.
The problem then is supposed to be: How can two such completely different entities
interact causally with each other? [note that it says causallynot “casually”]
FORMS, ATOMS AND MINDS
FORMS
In Plato’s original theory all colours have forms: There is a form of green and red
and blue…....
But the form itself is not green or red or blue…....
Why not? Because it then could not explain why
(1) Apples are red;
(2) Grass is green;
(3) The sky is blue.
ATOMS
In Greek atomic theory “Only atoms and the void [= empty space] are real”
They explain all appearances including red apples, green grass and blue skies
without being any colour themselves!
Why not? See left side for the answer.
METHODOLOGICAL BEHAVIORISM
Methodological behaviorism.
Wanted to male psychology a pure science able to predict and control human
behavior as we predict and control nature.*
It rejected
introspection
since it is too idiosyncratic and anecdotal and so cannot
support general universal laws like physics [and chemistry and astronomy also] since
the great Sir Isaac Newton.
In 20th century it is associated with B.F. Skinner who did lots of experiments with
rats and pigeons [whom he taught to play ping pong]
Similar to Pavlov’s dogs
* but how much of nature can we really predict and how much of what we predict
are we unable to control?
LOGICAL BEHAVIORISM
Logical Behaviorism
In 1971, Skinner wrote
Beyond Freedom and Dignity
, earning a story and picture of
himself on TIME magazine and cited as saying “We cannot afford Freedom”.
He totally rejected free will and wanted to eliminate reference to unobservable
things such as mental states [Beliefs, “pain” etc.]
Despite this latter Skinner said he wanted to use behaviorist psychology to eliminate
bad things like war, poverty, crime and so one and make people happier and better
off than they were then and of course many today still are [although if we cannot
observe other peoples’ suffering then………….]
BEHAVIORISM, MIND AND SCIENCE
Behaviorism need not be deterministic: The basic idea is that “All mental phenomena
can be understood as dispositions to behave in certain ways [so it includes
sensations
] which, of course, are the 5 senses.
It is a theory often presented as if it were radically empiricist and strictly scientific
using “Observations and measurements” [140]
Its main thesis is the (142) “Human behavior can be understood in terms of stimuli,
conditioning and responses and thus it does tend toward a deterministic viewpoint.
TWO PROBLEMS FOR BEHAVIORISM
(1) The date from Hell* [143] and (2) Language Learning [143-44]
Can language be explained in terms of stimulus, response and conditioning?
Many experiment have been done to animals especially primates to get them to
speak but [most] children learn a language in 2-3 years without needing
“conditioning” .
* As compared to a date from heaven: Joke: What do 2 behaviorists say after they
have [really great] sex?
LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIORISM
Consider the following:
(1) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
(2) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
(3) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
THE IDENTITY THEORY
Mental states are brain states [ultimately]
This may and probably should seem to be the most plausible of all these theories.
After all we have a head that contains 4 of our 5 sensory input gates: eyes, ears,
nose, mouth plus our brain is in our head somewhere.
We know we cannot think without it so why not identify the mind with the brain?
The sad case of Phineas Gage [144] is a perfect illustration. “If mind and brain are
the same thing, we can understand all mental phenomena as physical, chemical
reactions” the firing of one neuron to another one.
Brain injuries can change our personality, our memory, our behavior and so one etc.
SEARLE’S 1ST THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
Step 1: Your brain is deteriorating. [145-46]
Step 2: You are losing your vision.
Step 3: Desperate doctors try silicon chips.
Step 4: They restore your vision.
Step 5: The rest of your brain continues deteriorating.
Step 6: Doctors plan more chips [Silicon NOT Potato chips!]
Step 7: Soon your whole brain is replaced by these silicon chips.
Finally the sequence of your mental life continues as before.
FUNCTIONALISM
This theory results from problems with the Identity Theory.
Minds can be realized in different materials.
There are 2 types of concepts: (1) ‘Stuff’ concepts; (2) ‘Functional’ concepts.
(1)‘Stuff’ concepts: Water, Gold and trees are made of some type of material stuff.
(2) ‘Functional concepts’ : Gold can also be used as money and “money” is not a
stuff concept; money has a function played by all sorts of
different stuff.
Similarly the mind is defined as “As a functional concept similar to software”.
THE TURING TEST
Put a human bean in front of a computer.
The tester can type in any questions into the computer 1 and it will be answered by
computer 2 in the other room.
The tester cannot see the inside of that room.
She does not know if a person is replying to the questions or if it is just a highly
advanced “Intelligent” computer.
If computer 2 is responding without any human typing in the answers so that the
tester is sure that it is a human responding then the machine has passed the Turing
Test!!
But does the machine have a mind?
What questions would you ask that machine if you wanted to determine if it was a
human or a non-human machine?
SEARLE’S 2ND THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
The Chinese room: Chinese speakers are outside a room submitting questions but
unknown to them the person inside cannot read Chinese but has a rule book that
enables a person to reply correctly because the rules identify shapes not symbols as
words meaning something.
It tells him[her] what symbols to take from basket 1 and to put them next to symbol
so and so into basket 2.
The main point Searle is making is that the non-Chinese speaking person is passing
the Turing Test which shows a flaw in the test.
WHAT DOES THIS EXPERIMENT PROVE?
Computers then can understand sintax* [when did they put a tax on SIN?] but not
SEMANTICS = The meaning of words and sentences [149]. Compare modern
computer’s ability to manipulate binary arithmetic faster than we can multiply
387,688 by 11234567890 and get an answer: But we at least understand the
numbers and what they mean.
* It really is “syntaxas in UQ!! [but it sounds exactly like “sintax]
PROBLEMS WITH
QUALIA
Consciousness has an inherent quality difficult to define and relate to physical
processes, a quality over and above the physical and chemical properties of human
bodies, brains and the air we breathe in and out all the time.
Zombies may be able to imitate human behavior without having human feelings.
The explanatory gap: Why should a certain physico-chemical process produce a
perception of blue or pain or joy or the smell of coffee or.…. “Why do we have any
experiences at all?” This is the
HARD PROBLEM
of Consciousness!!
ELIMINATIVE MATERIALISM
Very similar in many ways to behaviorism and the identity theory of the self or the
elusive “I”.
Mental states are not part of a scientifically accurate view of the universe. They do
not exist and so are an illusion.
Is this NOT self-contradictory or self-refuting? [153] “In reality there are no beliefs,
desires and wishes but only neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters.[152]
So there is no PAIN? No UNHAPPINESS? No-one who believes in Cartesian Dualism
and need to be convinced that she is wrong?
As Science progresses these processes will be better understood [153] By whom?
Scientists? Who does SCIENCE? Humans or computers? Don’t they [scientists]
usually try to convince their colleagues [and sometime the public] to change their
beliefs? e.g re Evolution, Climate Change, IQ etc.??
.
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18/04/2012
2
FREE WILL, DETERMINISM, MORALITY AND RELIGION
THE PROBLEM: [1] THERE ARE GOOD RE ASO NS FOR BELE IVING THAT
EVE RY THING THAT HAPPENS OCCURS FO R A RE ASON O R CAUSE.
[2] I F EVE RY E VENT HAS A CAUSE T HAT MEANS WE HAVE NO CONT ROL
OVE R OUR ACTIONS
[3] IF HUMANS HAVE NO CO NTROL OVER T HEIR ACTS WE CANNOT
HOLD ANYONE RE SPO NSI BLE
[4] BUT TO DE NY CAUSALITY SEEMS TO OPEN UP T HE UNIVERSE AND
SOCIETY TO T HE MIRACULOUS OR AT LE AST THE INEXPLICABLE
ARISTOTLE’S SEA BATTLE AND FREE WILL
Aristotle’s sea battle
1. 4th century BCE: you anxiously await the morning news about an important sea
battle
2. 21st century CE: you anxiously await the news whether your team won last
night’s crucial game.
Aristotle’s idea of Truth
According to Aristotle it was already true before you heard the news and of course
he would say the same to todays sports’ fanatics.
But was it TRUE BEFORE the game or battle begun??
FREE WILL & DETERMINISM
Since GOD is supremely perfect [by df.] then (S)HE knows everything. But if GOD
knows everything then She knew the future. But no-one can know the future unless
it is already determined. If GOD knows I am going to kill someone tomorrow [or
worse yet die myself] then I can do nothing to prevent this. THEREFORE I DO NOT
HAVE FREE WILL. Since I do not have free will, the categories of sin, crime and vice
are undermined.
FREE WILL & DETERMINISM
Suppose a SUPER-COMPUTER :
(1) It has all the laws of nature on its data base and all the relevant facts about nature
and human society so that (2) It can deduce the entire future of the universe
including all human actions and the their results.
3. If the computers knows I am going to kill someone tomorrow then I can do
nothing to prevent this.
4. THEREFORE I DO NOT HAVE FREE WILL. Since I do not have free will, the
categories of sin, crime and vice are undermined.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?
1. Hard Determinism
2. Indeterminism
3. Soft Determinism
4. Libertarianism [a word also used in Political Philosophy]
UQ distinguishes TWO types of Soft Determinism: (1) Traditional Soft Determinism
and (2) Deep SELF-COMPATIBILISM: =
Acts are free if caused by our own AUTHENTIC DESIRES
Whereas Traditional Soft Determinism merely requires that they are caused by the
unforced will of the agent
LAPLACE’S DEMON
“Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by
which nature is animated and the respective situation of the being who compose it
an intelligence sufficiently vast to submit these data to analysis-- it would embrace
in the same formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and
lightest atoms; for it nothing would be uncertain and
the future, as the past would
be present to its eyes
.
ARE FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM COMPATIBLE?
Only if one or the other is watered down and becomes less interesting and
provocative.
Spinoza’s flying rock that becomes conscious and The Argument from Ignorance
When is Absence of Evidence equivalent to Evidence of Absence? Dam good
question!!!
If it is true that we are ignorant of the putative causes of our acts, does it follow
that there are such causes or reasons or explanations or…….?
CAUSES AND REASONS
Some reconcile The Principle of Sufficient Reason with Free Will by distinguishing
Causes and Reasons. This in my parallel to Libertarian Event Causation and Agent
Causation UQ p. 98.
But what is The Principle of Sufficient Reason?
THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON
Epistemic Version
Very similar to W.K. Clifford [UQ, 43-44]
We should have a Sufficient Reason for all of our beliefs, factual claims or theories
Metaphysical Version
There is a Sufficient Reason for every event and so for every thing that exists
Therefore there is an explanation for every human act and for its results
CAUSES AND SUFFICIENT REASON
There are several [physical] causes explaining why my car is now in the Brock
parking lot but the complete explanation includes my REASONS for leaving it there
just as there are several [physical] causes for the various physical phenomena in this
classroom but the complete explanation includes my REASONS and your REASONS
for being here.
The car and the computer and chairs could NOT CHOOSE NOT to be here and
choose to go elsewhere but all of us could have according to one major version of
indeterminism.
We are not like pieces on a chess board.
FREE CHOICE AND FREE WILL
SO maybe the question is whether free will is a pseudo-problem and whether it may
be better to call it: The problem of Free CHOICE
On this view it is either true [or it does not matter] that our will is free or caused by
factors not under our control since we are still free to choose what to do about this
under many constraints [due to physiology, physics etc.]
The LIMITS of PREDICTABILITY: why are we more successful at predicting the
behaviour of stars and planets and many other physical objects than we are at
predicting the behaviour of human beings?
PROBABILITY, DETERMINISM &
FREE WILL
2 key questions [1] Does mathematically based science force us to abandon free
will and become determinists? “Yes” say many respectable thinkers.
[2] Does probability undermine determinism and favour free will? “Yes” say many
respectable thinkers.
[3] Are Laplace and Spinoza correct to argue that it is only our ignorance of
causes that leads us to use Probability?
IS DETERMINISM A PESSIMISTIC THEORY?
Five Foils For Free Will:
1.Calvinism:16th Century
2. Spinoza: 17th Century
3. Laplace: 18th Century
4. Marx(ism):19th C
5. B.F. Skinner: 20th C
FREE WILL: MYTH OR REALITY?
Q1: Does probability undermine determinism and favor free will?
Q2: Can we accept both?
J.C. Maxwell and Neils Bohr both argued that modern science does not rule out free
will.
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? YES
The principle of indifference; why does a lever balance? There is no reason NOT to.
Buridan’s Ass: a medieval philosopher Buridan is credited with the following: a
donkey (or jackass if you prefer) is placed at an equal distance from 2 equal piles of
hay. Does the ass have any reason to prefer one to the other?
J.C. Maxwell: Statistical laws are NOT the results of our ignorance “Statistics about
student averages are just averages and do NOT describe the experience of the
teacher” {and the students???}
Quantum Physics: Schrodinger’s Cat: Is the cat dead or alive if we do not know?
See fn. 102-103
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? NO
Laplace: “The present state of the Universe is the effect of the state before and the
cause of the one that will follow.
Einstein: (1) “Ich creden in Spinoza’s Gott
(2) “I cannot believe God plays dice with the world”
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? YES & NO
LEIBNIZ: “For every event there is a reason why it happens as it does and NOT
otherwise”
But he also defended free will!
THE PROBLEM OF PERSONAL IDENTITY
Why is this a Problem? Good question: are you the same person you were 10 years
ago? 10 months ago? 10 weeks? 10days? If you answer “of course I am” then what
is it that makes you the same person when so much has changed in you and about
you?
This problem in linked with the previous problem: Free Will and responsibility as well
as the next one: Mind and Body
All theories intended to solve each of these problems run into what seem to be
insuperable problems
This is what makes a problem a philosophical problem: Each theory seems
reasonable when you first hear it explained or it seems outrageously absurd but
then someone gives an argument in favour of it that needs to be answered
Even my favorite theory “The Continuity of Consciousness Theory” faces obvious
problems
THE FOUR MAIN THEORIES
1. The Illusion Theory
2. The Body Theory
3. The Soul Theory
4. The Memory Theory
One denies the premise of the question depending on how it is worded.
HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
Number 1 denies the premise of the problem arguing that there is no continuing self.
Theories 2 & 3 use a theory of a physical or metaphysical substance a key idea in
much western philosophy
The 4th theory uses a psychological state of an admittedly fallible nature as criterion
THE ILLUSION THEORY
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a Dream*
* Children’s song I remember from my childhood sometime in the 20th century or at
least I think there an I who remembers it ---at least I can rattle it off as if there
were an I that……
Propel, Propel, Propel your craft
Placidly down the liquid solution
Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically,
Existence is but an Illusion*
* Variation of Children’s song I remember from my childhood sometime in the 20th
century or at least I think there an I who remembers it ---at least I can rattle it off
as if there were an I that……
THE ILLUSION THEORY 2
A very important semantic distinction: the word “same” as a qualitative identity and
“same” as a numerical identity
Examples: “You should all have the same edition [qualitative identity] of Ultimate
Questions as the other students although some students may share the same copy.
[numerical identity]
We speak of identical twins but they are NOT really identical or at least they are
NOT numerically identical.
The problem of Personal Identity is a problem of numerical identity.
A human clone, if one is ever produced, will be qualitatively identical NOT
numerically identical.
CHANGE AND BEING AND BECOMING
Is the only permanent phenomena* perpetual change?
Heraclitus [5th 4th C BCE]: “You can never step in the same river twice”
But what he should have said is that “You can never step in the water of the same
river twice”. You can step in the Niagara river twice but the water will have change
in the interim. And you can step in a stagnant pool twice.
So is our consciousness like the Niagara river a river? Or is it like a swimming pool
where the water changes but not as rapidly as a river or is it like a stagnant pool?
Is there no continuing EGO [= self but not necessarily a purely self-centered self]?
CHANGE, BEING, AND BECOMING
If the EGO or self or feeling of continuity is an illusions who [or what] is
experiencing the illusions? If “Life is but a Dream who is dreaming? The word
“illusion” seems to imply both a reality and a subject experiencing it as an illusion.
Sunrise for example or the straight stick in water that appears to be bent: the whole
idea of an optical illusion is that reality is distorted so that it appears to be different
that it really is to some persons or persons [or animals] perceiving it.
* “Phenomena” means any thing perceptible, usually but not always confined to
being perceptible by or to the 5 senses.
TWO INTERESTING ARGUMENTS
A scientific argument “According to recent*
[my emphasis]
biological studies
humans change their physical makeup every 7 years.
While this creates a problem for the theory of continuity it creates a worse problem
for the Body Theory
* I learned this in high skool or at least I think someone learned it and it wound up
in my brain and is still there and was NOT recent. If, or course, my memory is not
deceiving me AND if there is a ME for it to deceive!!!!!!
THE SECOND INTERESTING ARGUMENT
An eastern philosophical argument
The illusion of a permanent self leads to Greed, Regret and Ultimate Suffering and it
is a first step to enlightenment to abandon this belief
OK but enlightenment for whom?
Me or someone else????
Should I stop planning for my retirement and “”Why the hell should I care about my
unreal future self [assuming that I live that long] or at least that some version of
this body I am stuck with survives until 80 or so?
Speaking of the BODY
THE BODY THEORY
George Washington’s axe: suppose someone told you he had the axe used by
Washington [and sold you that axe] to chop down the cherry tree he (allegedly)
chopped down. However he adds that, since that time, it has had 2 new heads and
3 new handles.
The ship that sailed the 7 seas: The Greeks had a story about a ship that got small
repairs at every port where it stopped. When it returned to where it began its trip it
had a totally different set of materials than when it began: wood, iron, rope
etc……but all the same sailors!!! Is it the same ship?
The Human Body and the Self: Similar stories can be told about the human body!!!
THE CASE FOR BODY THEORY
How do we recognize other person who we know or are acquainted with? Whether it
is a SHORT time between sightings or a LONG time is it NOT by recognizing a
similar body or parts, especially the face, but also other signals?
When it has been a LONG time, or when legal issues are involved, we can use DNA
and fingerprints, dental records and so one, so therefore: Same body = Same
person, or so it seems.
Notice that the human body changes continually but at an imperceptible rate:
Neonate, infant, baby, young child, adolescent, adults [and adultresses], middle
age, old age, and then REALLY old and then REALLY, REALLY ancient.
If you really want to see what I looked like at your age there is a picture of me at
Brock U!!
PROBLEMS FOR THE BODY THEORY
Problem re: After life but for some proponents of the Body Theory this is a point in
its favour!!
For Descartes, it was one of his main motives for preferring a non-physical criterion
for
personhood
Others think it should be possible for 2 people to switch bodies!
Total amnesia: Does this imply that the victim is no longer the same person or NOT?
Body Theory is a SUBSTANCE theory but it not the sole theory to involve a
SUBSTANCE: the soul theory is also a SUBSTANCE theory.
THE SOUL THEORY
“Soul” can have many meanings.
In this theory “Soul” means “a nonphysical entity” sometimes called “a nonphysical
substance” or “a
metaphysical
substance”
Descartes regards body and mind as two distinct substances just as Plato treated
body and soul as two distinct entities
For both the body is an extended substance while the soul/mind is an an
unextended substance
But what is a Substance ? Etymology may be of some help here: ‘Sub’ = “Under”
, ‘Stance’ = “Stand’ so a Substance is something that stands under the appearances
and supports them.
SELF, SOUL, MIND, CONSCIOUSNESS
“Soul” and “Mind” are terms that are sometimes used as if they refer to the same
phenomena but often they do not.
The idea of a [the] soul often has religious connotations while that of the mind more
intellectual
connotations.
“Mind” can be used in a large variety of ways and in Descartes it is virtually identical
with “Consciousness” in the broadest possible sense including “Memory”.
The same is true of the term “Soul” especially as used by Plato.
It can also be divorced from religious connotations by identifying it with whatever
makes us conscious of our experiences, other people, ourselves and our memories.
THE MEMORY THEORY
John Locke is credited with being the first to develop this fairly plausible theory
[UQ, 118].
One main advantage is that it can solve problems that the body and soul theories
cannot explain [119].
It explains the possibility of life after death unlike the Body theory and like the soul
theory.
But, unlike the soul theory it can explain how we recognize people we have not seen
in after a long period of time.
Would you trade places with the richest person in the world [or the smartest or most
talented] under the condition that you lose all your present memories? [119]
PROBLEMS FOR MEMORY THEORY
A very neat logical argument:
1. M = Y
2. G = M
3. G = Y but G is not identical to Y [120]
Also by the way 3 follows from 1 and 2 by the axiom “Things equal to the same
thing are equal to each other”
You do not even need the Old General example: How much do you remember of the
first few days or months of your life after birth? I don’t remember anything.
PROBLEMS FOR MEMORY THEORY 2
OK but what if we distinguish indirect and direct memories?
After all we forget a lot perhaps most of what we ever see or learn but still
remember a remarkable amount of what we experience.
If you are a sports fan, or music lover, or reader of novels you may recall the final
score of a crucial game, or the composer, singer and title of a favorite song and
most or all of the words, of the gist of your favorite novel.
But how many details can you recall?
We also have many false memories, [I think].
So do we need a Quasi-Memory Theory?
QUASI-MEMORY THEORY
Don’t worry about the technical details of the argument [123]
The key point is that: causal memory theories make the “self” and inferred entity.
But: Why is this a big deal? and what the hell is an inferred entity?
It is an entity that we do not directly experience in any way but we infer that it
exists because we conjecture that it explains what we do observe and experience.
Three striking examples are Gravity, germs and atoms. But so are witches, goblins,
dragons and so on including the soul or even the mind in some theories.
But as Descartes argued strenuously we directly experience ourselves as conscious
thinking things but we have to infer the body’s existence!
ONE FINAL PROBLEM
People who undergo radical personality changes: Why not Ebenezer Scrooge? “I am
not the same person I was” he tells the last ghost.
What about having two copies made of yourself but at the cost of destroying the
original? Which, if either, is the real “you”?
If they both have your memoires and desires etc., can both be the same person? So
the safest conclusion seems to be: The nature of the self is mysterious.
THE SOLE TRUE THEORY?
The Continuity of Consciousness
OK but how is it different from the memory theory?
Because it includes all of your consciousness not just memory.
Why is this the best answer?
Well I am not sure yet but there is the interesting problem of Self-consciousness.
In addition to our awareness of natural objects, human beings, our own feelings,
pain, pleasure, memories, imagination etc. we are aware of ourselves (unlike, so I
am told, animals or anything else) as different from all these other things.
THE BODY/MIND/BRAIN PROBLEM
Dualism
Monism: 2 types (1) Physicalism [= Materialism]
(2) Idealism [= Mind is an immaterial substance]
There is fourth =4th solution: Consciousness is neither Physical nor non-Physical.
Found in John Searle and in Karl Popper’s 3- World solution to the problem.
BODY/MIND/BRAIN PROBLEM
Notice what the mind enables us to do [UQ, 127]
1. Perceive the world via our 5 senses.
2. Have self awareness.
3. Have dreams, hopes and fantasies.
4. Have memories.
5. Reason about the World [= universe not just Mother Earth].
6. Communicate with others (mostly humans but not just them).
7. Feel emotions.
SUBSTANCE DUALISM
Main Idea is that as Descartes emphasizes: Mind and body are not merely distinct
[so is the heart and the liver] but that they are two distinct substances.
This means “two distinct entities or beings that are independent in the way, for
example, that finger and hands are NOT independent or hand and arm and so on.
If two substances are truly independent then they can exist on their own without
the other.
For Descartes we are a UNITY of mind and body not a dualism. The mind is NOT like
a captain in a ship.
THE ESSENCE OF SUBSTANCE DUALISM
The Body is an extended substance _____________________________________
So if something is extended then it is a body and if something is a body then it is
extended
The mind is an un-extended substance. Like this maybe [ . ]
It cannot be pictured but it can be experienced.
The problem then is supposed to be: How can two such completely different entities
interact causally with each other? [note that it says causallynot “casually”]
FORMS, ATOMS AND MINDS
FORMS
In Plato’s original theory all colours have forms: There is a form of green and red
and blue…....
But the form itself is not green or red or blue…....
Why not? Because it then could not explain why
(1) Apples are red;
(2) Grass is green;
(3) The sky is blue.
ATOMS
In Greek atomic theory “Only atoms and the void [= empty space] are real”
They explain all appearances including red apples, green grass and blue skies
without being any colour themselves!
Why not? See left side for the answer.
METHODOLOGICAL BEHAVIORISM
Methodological behaviorism.
Wanted to male psychology a pure science able to predict and control human
behavior as we predict and control nature.*
It rejected
introspection
since it is too idiosyncratic and anecdotal and so cannot
support general universal laws like physics [and chemistry and astronomy also] since
the great Sir Isaac Newton.
In 20th century it is associated with B.F. Skinner who did lots of experiments with
rats and pigeons [whom he taught to play ping pong]
Similar to Pavlov’s dogs
* but how much of nature can we really predict and how much of what we predict
are we unable to control?
LOGICAL BEHAVIORISM
Logical Behaviorism
In 1971, Skinner wrote
Beyond Freedom and Dignity
, earning a story and picture of
himself on TIME magazine and cited as saying “We cannot afford Freedom”.
He totally rejected free will and wanted to eliminate reference to unobservable
things such as mental states [Beliefs, “pain” etc.]
Despite this latter Skinner said he wanted to use behaviorist psychology to eliminate
bad things like war, poverty, crime and so one and make people happier and better
off than they were then and of course many today still are [although if we cannot
observe other peoples’ suffering then………….]
BEHAVIORISM, MIND AND SCIENCE
Behaviorism need not be deterministic: The basic idea is that “All mental phenomena
can be understood as dispositions to behave in certain ways [so it includes
sensations
] which, of course, are the 5 senses.
It is a theory often presented as if it were radically empiricist and strictly scientific
using “Observations and measurements” [140]
Its main thesis is the (142) “Human behavior can be understood in terms of stimuli,
conditioning and responses and thus it does tend toward a deterministic viewpoint.
TWO PROBLEMS FOR BEHAVIORISM
(1) The date from Hell* [143] and (2) Language Learning [143-44]
Can language be explained in terms of stimulus, response and conditioning?
Many experiment have been done to animals especially primates to get them to
speak but [most] children learn a language in 2-3 years without needing
“conditioning” .
* As compared to a date from heaven: Joke: What do 2 behaviorists say after they
have [really great] sex?
LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIORISM
Consider the following:
(1) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
(2) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
(3) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
THE IDENTITY THEORY
Mental states are brain states [ultimately]
This may and probably should seem to be the most plausible of all these theories.
After all we have a head that contains 4 of our 5 sensory input gates: eyes, ears,
nose, mouth plus our brain is in our head somewhere.
We know we cannot think without it so why not identify the mind with the brain?
The sad case of Phineas Gage [144] is a perfect illustration. “If mind and brain are
the same thing, we can understand all mental phenomena as physical, chemical
reactions” the firing of one neuron to another one.
Brain injuries can change our personality, our memory, our behavior and so one etc.
SEARLE’S 1ST THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
Step 1: Your brain is deteriorating. [145-46]
Step 2: You are losing your vision.
Step 3: Desperate doctors try silicon chips.
Step 4: They restore your vision.
Step 5: The rest of your brain continues deteriorating.
Step 6: Doctors plan more chips [Silicon NOT Potato chips!]
Step 7: Soon your whole brain is replaced by these silicon chips.
Finally the sequence of your mental life continues as before.
FUNCTIONALISM
This theory results from problems with the Identity Theory.
Minds can be realized in different materials.
There are 2 types of concepts: (1) ‘Stuff’ concepts; (2) ‘Functional’ concepts.
(1)‘Stuff’ concepts: Water, Gold and trees are made of some type of material stuff.
(2) ‘Functional concepts’ : Gold can also be used as money and “money” is not a
stuff concept; money has a function played by all sorts of
different stuff.
Similarly the mind is defined as “As a functional concept similar to software”.
THE TURING TEST
Put a human bean in front of a computer.
The tester can type in any questions into the computer 1 and it will be answered by
computer 2 in the other room.
The tester cannot see the inside of that room.
She does not know if a person is replying to the questions or if it is just a highly
advanced “Intelligent” computer.
If computer 2 is responding without any human typing in the answers so that the
tester is sure that it is a human responding then the machine has passed the Turing
Test!!
But does the machine have a mind?
What questions would you ask that machine if you wanted to determine if it was a
human or a non-human machine?
SEARLE’S 2ND THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
The Chinese room: Chinese speakers are outside a room submitting questions but
unknown to them the person inside cannot read Chinese but has a rule book that
enables a person to reply correctly because the rules identify shapes not symbols as
words meaning something.
It tells him[her] what symbols to take from basket 1 and to put them next to symbol
so and so into basket 2.
The main point Searle is making is that the non-Chinese speaking person is passing
the Turing Test which shows a flaw in the test.
WHAT DOES THIS EXPERIMENT PROVE?
Computers then can understand sintax* [when did they put a tax on SIN?] but not
SEMANTICS = The meaning of words and sentences [149]. Compare modern
computer’s ability to manipulate binary arithmetic faster than we can multiply
387,688 by 11234567890 and get an answer: But we at least understand the
numbers and what they mean.
* It really is syntaxas in UQ!! [but it sounds exactly like “sintax]
PROBLEMS WITH
QUALIA
Consciousness has an inherent quality difficult to define and relate to physical
processes, a quality over and above the physical and chemical properties of human
bodies, brains and the air we breathe in and out all the time.
Zombies may be able to imitate human behavior without having human feelings.
The explanatory gap: Why should a certain physico-chemical process produce a
perception of blue or pain or joy or the smell of coffee or.…. “Why do we have any
experiences at all?” This is the
HARD PROBLEM
of Consciousness!!
ELIMINATIVE MATERIALISM
Very similar in many ways to behaviorism and the identity theory of the self or the
elusive “I”.
Mental states are not part of a scientifically accurate view of the universe. They do
not exist and so are an illusion.
Is this NOT self-contradictory or self-refuting? [153] “In reality there are no beliefs,
desires and wishes but only neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters.[152]
So there is no PAIN? No UNHAPPINESS? No-one who believes in Cartesian Dualism
and need to be convinced that she is wrong?
As Science progresses these processes will be better understood [153] By whom?
Scientists? Who does SCIENCE? Humans or computers? Don’t they [scientists]
usually try to convince their colleagues [and sometime the public] to change their
beliefs? e.g re Evolution, Climate Change, IQ etc.??
.
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18/04/2012
3
FREE WILL, DETERMINISM, MORALITY AND RELIGION
THE PROBLEM: [1] THE RE ARE GOOD REASONS FOR BELE I VING THAT
EVE RY THING THAT HAPPENS OCCURS FO R A RE ASON O R CAUSE.
[2] I F EVE RY E VENT HAS A CAUSE T HAT MEANS WE HAVE NO CONT ROL
OVE R OUR ACTIONS
[3] IF HUMANS HAVE NO CO NTROL OVER T HEIR ACTS WE CANNOT
HOLD ANYONE RE SPO NSI BLE
[4] BUT TO DE NY CAUSALITY SEEMS TO OPEN UP T HE UNIVERSE AND
SOCIETY TO T HE MIRACULOUS OR AT LE AST THE INEXPLICABLE
ARISTOTLE’S SEA BATTLE AND FREE WILL
Aristotle’s sea battle
1. 4th century BCE: you anxiously await the morning news about an important sea
battle
2. 21st century CE: you anxiously await the news whether your team won last
night’s crucial game.
Aristotle’s idea of Truth
According to Aristotle it was already true before you heard the news and of course
he would say the same to todays sports’ fanatics.
But was it TRUE BEFORE the game or battle begun??
FREE WILL & DETERMINISM
Since GOD is supremely perfect [by df.] then (S)HE knows everything. But if GOD
knows everything then She knew the future. But no-one can know the future unless
it is already determined. If GOD knows I am going to kill someone tomorrow [or
worse yet die myself] then I can do nothing to prevent this. THEREFORE I DO NOT
HAVE FREE WILL. Since I do not have free will, the categories of sin, crime and vice
are undermined.
FREE WILL & DETERMINISM
Suppose a SUPER-COMPUTER :
(1) It has all the laws of nature on its data base and all the relevant facts about nature
and human society so that (2) It can deduce the entire future of the universe
including all human actions and the their results.
3. If the computers knows I am going to kill someone tomorrow then I can do
nothing to prevent this.
4. THEREFORE I DO NOT HAVE FREE WILL. Since I do not have free will, the
categories of sin, crime and vice are undermined.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?
1. Hard Determinism
2. Indeterminism
3. Soft Determinism
4. Libertarianism [a word also used in Political Philosophy]
UQ distinguishes TWO types of Soft Determinism: (1) Traditional Soft Determinism
and (2) Deep SELF-COMPATIBILISM: =
Acts are free if caused by our own AUTHENTIC DESIRES
Whereas Traditional Soft Determinism merely requires that they are caused by the
unforced will of the agent
LAPLACE’S DEMON
“Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by
which nature is animated and the respective situation of the being who compose it
an intelligence sufficiently vast to submit these data to analysis-- it would embrace
in the same formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and
lightest atoms; for it nothing would be uncertain and
the future, as the past would
be present to its eyes
.
ARE FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM COMPATIBLE?
Only if one or the other is watered down and becomes less interesting and
provocative.
Spinoza’s flying rock that becomes conscious and The Argument from Ignorance
When is Absence of Evidence equivalent to Evidence of Absence? Dam good
question!!!
If it is true that we are ignorant of the putative causes of our acts, does it follow
that there are such causes or reasons or explanations or…….?
CAUSES AND REASONS
Some reconcile The Principle of Sufficient Reason with Free Will by distinguishing
Causes and Reasons. This in my parallel to Libertarian Event Causation and Agent
Causation UQ p. 98.
But what is The Principle of Sufficient Reason?
THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON
Epistemic Version
Very similar to W.K. Clifford [UQ, 43-44]
We should have a Sufficient Reason for all of our beliefs, factual claims or theories
Metaphysical Version
There is a Sufficient Reason for every event and so for every thing that exists
Therefore there is an explanation for every human act and for its results
CAUSES AND SUFFICIENT REASON
There are several [physical] causes explaining why my car is now in the Brock
parking lot but the complete explanation includes my REASONS for leaving it there
just as there are several [physical] causes for the various physical phenomena in this
classroom but the complete explanation includes my REASONS and your REASONS
for being here.
The car and the computer and chairs could NOT CHOOSE NOT to be here and
choose to go elsewhere but all of us could have according to one major version of
indeterminism.
We are not like pieces on a chess board.
FREE CHOICE AND FREE WILL
SO maybe the question is whether free will is a pseudo-problem and whether it may
be better to call it: The problem of Free CHOICE
On this view it is either true [or it does not matter] that our will is free or caused by
factors not under our control since we are still free to choose what to do about this
under many constraints [due to physiology, physics etc.]
The LIMITS of PREDICTABILITY: why are we more successful at predicting the
behaviour of stars and planets and many other physical objects than we are at
predicting the behaviour of human beings?
PROBABILITY, DETERMINISM &
FREE WILL
2 key questions [1] Does mathematically based science force us to abandon free
will and become determinists? “Yes” say many respectable thinkers.
[2] Does probability undermine determinism and favour free will? Yes” say many
respectable thinkers.
[3] Are Laplace and Spinoza correct to argue that it is only our ignorance of
causes that leads us to use Probability?
IS DETERMINISM A PESSIMISTIC THEORY?
Five Foils For Free Will:
1.Calvinism:16th Century
2. Spinoza: 17th Century
3. Laplace: 18th Century
4. Marx(ism):19th C
5. B.F. Skinner: 20th C
FREE WILL: MYTH OR REALITY?
Q1: Does probability undermine determinism and favor free will?
Q2: Can we accept both?
J.C. Maxwell and Neils Bohr both argued that modern science does not rule out free
will.
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? YES
The principle of indifference; why does a lever balance? There is no reason NOT to.
Buridan’s Ass: a medieval philosopher Buridan is credited with the following: a
donkey (or jackass if you prefer) is placed at an equal distance from 2 equal piles of
hay. Does the ass have any reason to prefer one to the other?
J.C. Maxwell: Statistical laws are NOT the results of our ignorance “Statistics about
student averages are just averages and do NOT describe the experience of the
teacher” {and the students???}
Quantum Physics: Schrodinger’s Cat: Is the cat dead or alive if we do not know?
See fn. 102-103
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? NO
Laplace: “The present state of the Universe is the effect of the state before and the
cause of the one that will follow.
Einstein: (1) “Ich creden in Spinoza’s Gott
(2) “I cannot believe God plays dice with the world”
DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? YES & NO
LEIBNIZ: “For every event there is a reason why it happens as it does and NOT
otherwise”
But he also defended free will!
THE PROBLEM OF PERSONAL IDENTITY
Why is this a Problem? Good question: are you the same person you were 10 years
ago? 10 months ago? 10 weeks? 10days? If you answer “of course I am” then what
is it that makes you the same person when so much has changed in you and about
you?
This problem in linked with the previous problem: Free Will and responsibility as well
as the next one: Mind and Body
All theories intended to solve each of these problems run into what seem to be
insuperable problems
This is what makes a problem a philosophical problem: Each theory seems
reasonable when you first hear it explained or it seems outrageously absurd but
then someone gives an argument in favour of it that needs to be answered
Even my favorite theory “The Continuity of Consciousness Theory” faces obvious
problems
THE FOUR MAIN THEORIES
1. The Illusion Theory
2. The Body Theory
3. The Soul Theory
4. The Memory Theory
One denies the premise of the question depending on how it is worded.
HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
Number 1 denies the premise of the problem arguing that there is no continuing self.
Theories 2 & 3 use a theory of a physical or metaphysical substance a key idea in
much western philosophy
The 4th theory uses a psychological state of an admittedly fallible nature as criterion
THE ILLUSION THEORY
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a Dream*
* Children’s song I remember from my childhood sometime in the 20th century or at
least I think there an I who remembers it ---at least I can rattle it off as if there
were an I that……
Propel, Propel, Propel your craft
Placidly down the liquid solution
Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically,
Existence is but an Illusion*
* Variation of Children’s song I remember from my childhood sometime in the 20th
century or at least I think there an I who remembers it ---at least I can rattle it off
as if there were an I that……
THE ILLUSION THEORY 2
A very important semantic distinction: the word “same” as a qualitative identity and
“same” as a numerical identity
Examples: “You should all have the same edition [qualitative identity] of Ultimate
Questions as the other students although some students may share the same copy.
[numerical identity]
We speak of identical twins but they are NOT really identical or at least they are
NOT numerically identical.
The problem of Personal Identity is a problem of numerical identity.
A human clone, if one is ever produced, will be qualitatively identical NOT
numerically identical.
CHANGE AND BEING AND BECOMING
Is the only permanent phenomena* perpetual change?
Heraclitus [5th 4th C BCE]: “You can never step in the same river twice”
But what he should have said is that “You can never step in the water of the same
river twice”. You can step in the Niagara river twice but the water will have change
in the interim. And you can step in a stagnant pool twice.
So is our consciousness like the Niagara river a river? Or is it like a swimming pool
where the water changes but not as rapidly as a river or is it like a stagnant pool?
Is there no continuing EGO [= self but not necessarily a purely self-centered self]?
CHANGE, BEING, AND BECOMING
If the EGO or self or feeling of continuity is an illusions who [or what] is
experiencing the illusions? If “Life is but a Dream who is dreaming? The word
“illusion” seems to imply both a reality and a subject experiencing it as an illusion.
Sunrise for example or the straight stick in water that appears to be bent: the whole
idea of an optical illusion is that reality is distorted so that it appears to be different
that it really is to some persons or persons [or animals] perceiving it.
* “Phenomena” means any thing perceptible, usually but not always confined to
being perceptible by or to the 5 senses.
TWO INTERESTING ARGUMENTS
A scientific argument “According to recent*
[my emphasis]
biological studies
humans change their physical makeup every 7 years.
While this creates a problem for the theory of continuity it creates a worse problem
for the Body Theory
* I learned this in high skool or at least I think someone learned it and it wound up
in my brain and is still there and was NOT recent. If, or course, my memory is not
deceiving me AND if there is a ME for it to deceive!!!!!!
THE SECOND INTERESTING ARGUMENT
An eastern philosophical argument
The illusion of a permanent self leads to Greed, Regret and Ultimate Suffering and it
is a first step to enlightenment to abandon this belief
OK but enlightenment for whom?
Me or someone else????
Should I stop planning for my retirement and “”Why the hell should I care about my
unreal future self [assuming that I live that long] or at least that some version of
this body I am stuck with survives until 80 or so?
Speaking of the BODY
THE BODY THEORY
George Washington’s axe: suppose someone told you he had the axe used by
Washington [and sold you that axe] to chop down the cherry tree he (allegedly)
chopped down. However he adds that, since that time, it has had 2 new heads and
3 new handles.
The ship that sailed the 7 seas: The Greeks had a story about a ship that got small
repairs at every port where it stopped. When it returned to where it began its trip it
had a totally different set of materials than when it began: wood, iron, rope
etc……but all the same sailors!!! Is it the same ship?
The Human Body and the Self: Similar stories can be told about the human body!!!
THE CASE FOR BODY THEORY
How do we recognize other person who we know or are acquainted with? Whether it
is a SHORT time between sightings or a LONG time is it NOT by recognizing a
similar body or parts, especially the face, but also other signals?
When it has been a LONG time, or when legal issues are involved, we can use DNA
and fingerprints, dental records and so one, so therefore: Same body = Same
person, or so it seems.
Notice that the human body changes continually but at an imperceptible rate:
Neonate, infant, baby, young child, adolescent, adults [and adultresses], middle
age, old age, and then REALLY old and then REALLY, REALLY ancient.
If you really want to see what I looked like at your age there is a picture of me at
Brock U!!
PROBLEMS FOR THE BODY THEORY
Problem re: After life but for some proponents of the Body Theory this is a point in
its favour!!
For Descartes, it was one of his main motives for preferring a non-physical criterion
for
personhood
Others think it should be possible for 2 people to switch bodies!
Total amnesia: Does this imply that the victim is no longer the same person or NOT?
Body Theory is a SUBSTANCE theory but it not the sole theory to involve a
SUBSTANCE: the soul theory is also a SUBSTANCE theory.
THE SOUL THEORY
“Soul” can have many meanings.
In this theory “Soul” means “a nonphysical entity” sometimes called “a nonphysical
substance” or “a
metaphysical
substance”
Descartes regards body and mind as two distinct substances just as Plato treated
body and soul as two distinct entities
For both the body is an extended substance while the soul/mind is an an
unextended substance
But what is a Substance ? Etymology may be of some help here: ‘Sub’ = “Under”
, ‘Stance’ = “Stand’ so a Substance is something that stands under the appearances
and supports them.
SELF, SOUL, MIND, CONSCIOUSNESS
“Soul” and “Mind” are terms that are sometimes used as if they refer to the same
phenomena but often they do not.
The idea of a [the] soul often has religious connotations while that of the mind more
intellectual
connotations.
“Mind” can be used in a large variety of ways and in Descartes it is virtually identical
with “Consciousness” in the broadest possible sense including “Memory”.
The same is true of the term “Soul” especially as used by Plato.
It can also be divorced from religious connotations by identifying it with whatever
makes us conscious of our experiences, other people, ourselves and our memories.
THE MEMORY THEORY
John Locke is credited with being the first to develop this fairly plausible theory
[UQ, 118].
One main advantage is that it can solve problems that the body and soul theories
cannot explain [119].
It explains the possibility of life after death unlike the Body theory and like the soul
theory.
But, unlike the soul theory it can explain how we recognize people we have not seen
in after a long period of time.
Would you trade places with the richest person in the world [or the smartest or most
talented] under the condition that you lose all your present memories? [119]
PROBLEMS FOR MEMORY THEORY
A very neat logical argument:
1. M = Y
2. G = M
3. G = Y but G is not identical to Y [120]
Also by the way 3 follows from 1 and 2 by the axiom “Things equal to the same
thing are equal to each other”
You do not even need the Old General example: How much do you remember of the
first few days or months of your life after birth? I don’t remember anything.
PROBLEMS FOR MEMORY THEORY 2
OK but what if we distinguish indirect and direct memories?
After all we forget a lot perhaps most of what we ever see or learn but still
remember a remarkable amount of what we experience.
If you are a sports fan, or music lover, or reader of novels you may recall the final
score of a crucial game, or the composer, singer and title of a favorite song and
most or all of the words, of the gist of your favorite novel.
But how many details can you recall?
We also have many false memories, [I think].
So do we need a Quasi-Memory Theory?
QUASI-MEMORY THEORY
Don’t worry about the technical details of the argument [123]
The key point is that: causal memory theories make the “self” and inferred entity.
But: Why is this a big deal? and what the hell is an inferred entity?
It is an entity that we do not directly experience in any way but we infer that it
exists because we conjecture that it explains what we do observe and experience.
Three striking examples are Gravity, germs and atoms. But so are witches, goblins,
dragons and so on including the soul or even the mind in some theories.
But as Descartes argued strenuously we directly experience ourselves as conscious
thinking things but we have to infer the body’s existence!
ONE FINAL PROBLEM
People who undergo radical personality changes: Why not Ebenezer Scrooge? “I am
not the same person I was” he tells the last ghost.
What about having two copies made of yourself but at the cost of destroying the
original? Which, if either, is the real “you”?
If they both have your memoires and desires etc., can both be the same person? So
the safest conclusion seems to be: The nature of the self is mysterious.
THE SOLE TRUE THEORY?
The Continuity of Consciousness
OK but how is it different from the memory theory?
Because it includes all of your consciousness not just memory.
Why is this the best answer?
Well I am not sure yet but there is the interesting problem of Self-consciousness.
In addition to our awareness of natural objects, human beings, our own feelings,
pain, pleasure, memories, imagination etc. we are aware of ourselves (unlike, so I
am told, animals or anything else) as different from all these other things.
THE BODY/MIND/BRAIN PROBLEM
Dualism
Monism: 2 types (1) Physicalism [= Materialism]
(2) Idealism [= Mind is an immaterial substance]
There is fourth =4th solution: Consciousness is neither Physical nor non-Physical.
Found in John Searle and in Karl Popper’s 3- World solution to the problem.
BODY/MIND/BRAIN PROBLEM
Notice what the mind enables us to do [UQ, 127]
1. Perceive the world via our 5 senses.
2. Have self awareness.
3. Have dreams, hopes and fantasies.
4. Have memories.
5. Reason about the World [= universe not just Mother Earth].
6. Communicate with others (mostly humans but not just them).
7. Feel emotions.
SUBSTANCE DUALISM
Main Idea is that as Descartes emphasizes: Mind and body are not merely distinct
[so is the heart and the liver] but that they are two distinct substances.
This means “two distinct entities or beings that are independent in the way, for
example, that finger and hands are NOT independent or hand and arm and so on.
If two substances are truly independent then they can exist on their own without
the other.
For Descartes we are a UNITY of mind and body not a dualism. The mind is NOT like
a captain in a ship.
THE ESSENCE OF SUBSTANCE DUALISM
The Body is an extended substance _____________________________________
So if something is extended then it is a body and if something is a body then it is
extended
The mind is an un-extended substance. Like this maybe [ . ]
It cannot be pictured but it can be experienced.
The problem then is supposed to be: How can two such completely different entities
interact causally with each other? [note that it says causallynot “casually”]
FORMS, ATOMS AND MINDS
FORMS
In Plato’s original theory all colours have forms: There is a form of green and red
and blue…....
But the form itself is not green or red or blue…....
Why not? Because it then could not explain why
(1) Apples are red;
(2) Grass is green;
(3) The sky is blue.
ATOMS
In Greek atomic theory “Only atoms and the void [= empty space] are real”
They explain all appearances including red apples, green grass and blue skies
without being any colour themselves!
Why not? See left side for the answer.
METHODOLOGICAL BEHAVIORISM
Methodological behaviorism.
Wanted to male psychology a pure science able to predict and control human
behavior as we predict and control nature.*
It rejected
introspection
since it is too idiosyncratic and anecdotal and so cannot
support general universal laws like physics [and chemistry and astronomy also] since
the great Sir Isaac Newton.
In 20th century it is associated with B.F. Skinner who did lots of experiments with
rats and pigeons [whom he taught to play ping pong]
Similar to Pavlov’s dogs
* but how much of nature can we really predict and how much of what we predict
are we unable to control?
LOGICAL BEHAVIORISM
Logical Behaviorism
In 1971, Skinner wrote
Beyond Freedom and Dignity
, earning a story and picture of
himself on TIME magazine and cited as saying “We cannot afford Freedom”.
He totally rejected free will and wanted to eliminate reference to unobservable
things such as mental states [Beliefs, “pain” etc.]
Despite this latter Skinner said he wanted to use behaviorist psychology to eliminate
bad things like war, poverty, crime and so one and make people happier and better
off than they were then and of course many today still are [although if we cannot
observe other peoples’ suffering then………….]
BEHAVIORISM, MIND AND SCIENCE
Behaviorism need not be deterministic: The basic idea is that “All mental phenomena
can be understood as dispositions to behave in certain ways [so it includes
sensations
] which, of course, are the 5 senses.
It is a theory often presented as if it were radically empiricist and strictly scientific
using “Observations and measurements” [140]
Its main thesis is the (142) “Human behavior can be understood in terms of stimuli,
conditioning and responses and thus it does tend toward a deterministic viewpoint.
TWO PROBLEMS FOR BEHAVIORISM
(1) The date from Hell* [143] and (2) Language Learning [143-44]
Can language be explained in terms of stimulus, response and conditioning?
Many experiment have been done to animals especially primates to get them to
speak but [most] children learn a language in 2-3 years without needing
“conditioning” .
* As compared to a date from heaven: Joke: What do 2 behaviorists say after they
have [really great] sex?
LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIORISM
Consider the following:
(1) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
(2) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
(3) Most sentences you have heard or ever will hear you have never heard before
and yet you understand [most] of them.
THE IDENTITY THEORY
Mental states are brain states [ultimately]
This may and probably should seem to be the most plausible of all these theories.
After all we have a head that contains 4 of our 5 sensory input gates: eyes, ears,
nose, mouth plus our brain is in our head somewhere.
We know we cannot think without it so why not identify the mind with the brain?
The sad case of Phineas Gage [144] is a perfect illustration. “If mind and brain are
the same thing, we can understand all mental phenomena as physical, chemical
reactions” the firing of one neuron to another one.
Brain injuries can change our personality, our memory, our behavior and so one etc.
SEARLE’S 1ST THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
Step 1: Your brain is deteriorating. [145-46]
Step 2: You are losing your vision.
Step 3: Desperate doctors try silicon chips.
Step 4: They restore your vision.
Step 5: The rest of your brain continues deteriorating.
Step 6: Doctors plan more chips [Silicon NOT Potato chips!]
Step 7: Soon your whole brain is replaced by these silicon chips.
Finally the sequence of your mental life continues as before.
FUNCTIONALISM
This theory results from problems with the Identity Theory.
Minds can be realized in different materials.
There are 2 types of concepts: (1) ‘Stuff’ concepts; (2) ‘Functional’ concepts.
(1)‘Stuff’ concepts: Water, Gold and trees are made of some type of material stuff.
(2) ‘Functional concepts’ : Gold can also be used as money and “money” is not a
stuff concept; money has a function played by all sorts of
different stuff.
Similarly the mind is defined as “As a functional concept similar to software”.
THE TURING TEST
Put a human bean in front of a computer.
The tester can type in any questions into the computer 1 and it will be answered by
computer 2 in the other room.
The tester cannot see the inside of that room.
She does not know if a person is replying to the questions or if it is just a highly
advanced “Intelligent” computer.
If computer 2 is responding without any human typing in the answers so that the
tester is sure that it is a human responding then the machine has passed the Turing
Test!!
But does the machine have a mind?
What questions would you ask that machine if you wanted to determine if it was a
human or a non-human machine?
SEARLE’S 2ND THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
The Chinese room: Chinese speakers are outside a room submitting questions but
unknown to them the person inside cannot read Chinese but has a rule book that
enables a person to reply correctly because the rules identify shapes not symbols as
words meaning something.
It tells him[her] what symbols to take from basket 1 and to put them next to symbol
so and so into basket 2.
The main point Searle is making is that the non-Chinese speaking person is passing
the Turing Test which shows a flaw in the test.
WHAT DOES THIS EXPERIMENT PROVE?
Computers then can understand sintax* [when did they put a tax on SIN?] but not
SEMANTICS = The meaning of words and sentences [149]. Compare modern
computer’s ability to manipulate binary arithmetic faster than we can multiply
387,688 by 11234567890 and get an answer: But we at least understand the
numbers and what they mean.
* It really is “syntaxas in UQ!! [but it sounds exactly like “sintax]
PROBLEMS WITH
QUALIA
Consciousness has an inherent quality difficult to define and relate to physical
processes, a quality over and above the physical and chemical properties of human
bodies, brains and the air we breathe in and out all the time.
Zombies may be able to imitate human behavior without having human feelings.
The explanatory gap: Why should a certain physico-chemical process produce a
perception of blue or pain or joy or the smell of coffee or.…. “Why do we have any
experiences at all?” This is the
HARD PROBLEM
of Consciousness!!
ELIMINATIVE MATERIALISM
Very similar in many ways to behaviorism and the identity theory of the self or the
elusive “I”.
Mental states are not part of a scientifically accurate view of the universe. They do
not exist and so are an illusion.
Is this NOT self-contradictory or self-refuting? [153] “In reality there are no beliefs,
desires and wishes but only neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters.[152]
So there is no PAIN? No UNHAPPINESS? No-one who believes in Cartesian Dualism
and need to be convinced that she is wrong?
As Science progresses these processes will be better understood [153] By whom?
Scientists? Who does SCIENCE? Humans or computers? Don’t they [scientists]
usually try to convince their colleagues [and sometime the public] to change their
beliefs? e.g re Evolution, Climate Change, IQ etc.??
.
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