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Theory of multi-source co-causation / co-decision [Science::Philosophy]

A rock does not decide its own fate, but an animal can. Here's why
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Modern philosophy (at least most of it), following neural science and recent developments in psychology, has it that there cannot be "free will" or any decision whatsoever.

If the world is predestined mechanistic and physical, then we are just rocks rolling down our least energy path. If on the other hand the physical world is run by statistics, and there is always an element of randomness in every pattern, then we are just dice rolling down our random path of chance.

Here comes the multi-source causation and decision theory to the rescue. The bottom line is that with multiple amounts of causing elements there is a nonzero amount of weight to the part that each causing element has in an outcome. As the amount of causing elements grow, the chances of simultaneous co-causation grows, and with it the possibility of decision, even in primitive cells, or evolving physical and chemical processes.

We don't usually think of a boiling pot of water as "deciding" if to spill some of the water out of the pot, and when it does, we would attribute it to chance, but we do lower the fire (or heat) to avoid it happening. If we don't we are "leaving it to chance".

But not really. In science we can speak about heat, and heat transfer, and heat dissipation, and heat insulation, all related to a statistical state. We talk about mass or electrons as a well-explained and very real phenomenon.

In biology chemistry and physics we discuss light and color. The evolutionary created camouflage of a stick insect, or the changing camouflage of a chameleon or octopus, and the evolved green color of chloroplasts in tree leaves are all a very real phenomenon, just as the eye and color receptor cells are in insects, and the landing lines in flowers set out for those receptors to receive. So too we can discuss the phenomena of decisions, simple and complex, and the weight of their causes and causers when more than one cause is involved. It is more than a question of language, when we differentiate between determining WHAT decided something's fate, and determining WHO decided something.

There are different levels of decision making, of course. At its lowest we may not call it a decision at all. But high up, we might all agree that a cat can sometimes decide and even plan ahead where the most irritating spot to stand can be (or what it should do in order to deceive the snake and then kill it).

For this reason, humans, or at least some of them, with the ability of reasoning, calculating and writing, have a higher level of decision than say a nematode or an ant hill, but basically it is not all that different from the decision of a cave to reinforce itself with a stalagtite and stalagmite pillar in its midst.

I call the units of decision making Decidemes and the units of co-causation Causemes.

There are several types of decideme types. A basic decideme relies on the number of independent co-causations involved, as well as the number of options (degrees of freedom), and the number of major consequences, with a lower number being more of a decision, with the lowest at two.

There are awareness decidemes that define the levels of awareness to the causes, to the options, to the consequences, and to the decision making process itself.

The level of decision depends on both the number of originally-independent co-causations (the causemes, not always easy to discern, because by the time the action has occured, many of them are usually tied together) and the number of originally-independent co-options (the decidemes, or sub-options) which would lead to the chosen action or final comeout.

There is also another level of decision, one may think that it is a new type of level altogether - the consciouss decision. But this too will be shown in the co-causation theory to be a mere question of quantity, with the above described cave having no conciousness at all and deciding directly through action, but an ant hill or a human parliament showing some level of organized consciouss decision making, while a child playing with a toy fire-truck would be, perhaps, on an even higher level.

And then we have the consequencial possibilities and the awareness to them. And that's not all. We should not forget the follow-up effect. Awareness to the follow-up effect creates another level of decision altogether.

And even further down we can fathom what we expect the result to be, reinforcing the behavior accordingly without ever even running our behavior in the real world. So that's ANOTHER LEVEL.

Back to the tea kettle - it is, at some level, deciding to boil over or not, with several low-level causemes such as the height and heat of the fire (so the flow of gas, the stove shape, the proportion of oxygen in the air), the shape and material of the pot and its sealing top if there is one, the hardness and temperature of the water during the process, the length of time its on the fire.

If a human is aware of what's happening and is standing near the stove, we will attribute that decision which has been taken to the human's conciouss or unconciouss actions decided in most parts in the human's brain (and when discussing decisions scientifically, we do not ignore the details of the human parts, cells, biochemistry and neuronal activity that are involved in the decision.

OK, I hope I wrote enough for the beginning of a discussion about this.

pashute, Jul 11 2021

Compatibilism https://en.m.wikipe.../wiki/Compatibilism
- why this problem might not need solving [pertinax, Jul 12 2021]

Prior art by Aristotle https://en.m.wikipe...rg/wiki/Four_causes
[pertinax, Jul 12 2021]

Boltzmann Brain https://en.wikipedi...iki/Boltzmann_brain
Forget those other silly excuses, THIS is the real reason nothing really matters. [Voice, Jul 25 2021]


       Please explain in full detail the biochemical processes that preceeded & accompanied your decision to post this idea.
pocmloc, Jul 11 2021

       What made you decide that mushrooms were involved? In fact I just had nibbled a portobello from the fridge with some salt. But I have no idea how that could have had any significant part in my decision to post.
pashute, Jul 11 2021

       If I follow, this sounds like the 'Emergence' theory of consciousness: that a mind able to make decisions emerges from the right configuration of non-self-aware parts/atoms. Then this idea takes it a step further to theorize that the non-self-aware parts (such as the fire below a teapot) have some amount of mind: decision-making ability; as well as a co-causation ability that is a lesser amount of decision- making ability that does not rise to the level of a mind.   

       This is a tricky question of deep importance. Unfortunately I don't know of a good scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness. Without this most basic information, my life is basically 'winging it' without a good idea of what is really going on.
sninctown, Jul 11 2021

       Humans are the product of ~4 million years of the universe leveraging complexity into re-configuring itself into ever more interesting and entropy denying areas of possibility space. Humans use their creativity to increase complexity in the universe, further pushing the boundaries of what arrangements of matter are possible.   

       If any decision is the product of 4 billion years of accumulated information, and if every human is at the leaf of a huge accumulated information tree, then practically speaking, is there any difference between saying a given act of creativity is predestined or random, or willed into existence? They all look the same, all feel the same and all add to the exploration of the possible that the universe appears to be undertaking.   

       The important thing is this immense store of accumulated information and complexity that exists here on earth, and which is generating technological artefacts and other configurations of matter that among other things are aware of their own existence - then if free will, or consciousness are illusory, it probably doesn't matter.   

       I suppose the thing I'm failing to express very well here is :

       i) creative decisions that result in change, or new configurations of matter (artefacts, computers, medicines, infrastructure) - especially if that change becomes viral and moves the environment on, such that ever more complex and interesting things can be built on top.

       ii) that humans now perform this function is no different from how the same function is/was performed by animal/bacterial and chemical agents, reconfiguring themselves into more complex arrangements, the more successful of which went on to carry the accumulated history of all the changes and creation that happened before them - which is what we, and our technology now represent. A simple coffee cup encodes ~4 billion years of evolution on this planet.   

       iii) Since all those changes are emergent properties of the system at that time, they could never have been pre-determined (so you can rule determinism out of the question), and yet neither are they random, since in hindsight, you can always find a causal pathway. That leaves a kind of weird surprise determinism that can't be predicted, but that can often be explained. We might as well call this "free will", but "emergence", or the naturally unpredictable output of non-dynamic, complex systems are probably more accurate ways of talking about this process.
zen_tom, Jul 11 2021

       tl;dr of link: short scifi story about a machine that blinks a light one second before a button is pressed, presumably using particles that travel backward in time, then speculates that this machine used to send messages back in time makes people realize they don't have free will then stop caring about life.   

       not sure the physics is settled on this one. some virtual particles used in calculations travel back in time but as far as i know no one has built such a device.   

       also it seems impossible to rule out determinism or free will existing outside the system, i.e. on a narrative level compatible with the physics.
sninctown, Jul 12 2021

       If all possibilities exist simultaneously, then both free will and fate are true.   

       Existential crisis averted.   

       Yes. What [zen_tom] said.   

       Humans have properties that look and feel like free will and the ability to make decisions, with such high fidelity that we might as well call them actual free will and the ability to make decisions.   

       If in fact those properties have emerged in a lump of grey biological cells as a result of billions of years of physical, chemical, biological and social interactions, all of which are ultimately deterministic, then the near-infinite number and complexity of those causative events makes it irrelevant: we have something that is so close to actual free will as to make no difference
Frankx, Jul 16 2021

       "Free will" is like those "free from" sticky buns in the "healthy aisle" of the supermarket. They don't ever tell you what they are free from.
pocmloc, Jul 17 2021

       Maybe, free will is the limit. Obtaining and using free will allow Humanity to be a celestial species.   

       Here's to making a large discontinuous spike, in the fair curve of the natural order, to out grow the Earth.
wjt, Jul 17 2021

       I added another level of complexity, testing the results in our imagination, and having virtual reinforcement. This perhaps is crucial to the definition of aware choices which can be attributed to a person's doing.   

       I disagree with Tom Harris that having rid of the false notion of free will, Professor Jared Diamond's father in law who caught the Nazi that rounded up and murdered his family, but turned him over to the police who released him almost immediately, would be able to and actually should have thought of him (and the police) in the same way as if his family was killed by cholera, with no feelings of vengeance.
pashute, Jul 25 2021

       Alternatively, this is all a dream that I am having & you are all figments of my imagination. I mean, come on! The halfbakery is a dead giveaway isn't it!? It would never exist in the real world.
DrBob, Jul 25 2021

       [pashute] //no feelings of vengeance//   

       … but there’s a difference between determinism and moral relativism-
Frankx, Jul 25 2021


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