Archives - Law: Page 22
Author: amparo enriquez (Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:11 am)
Title: proving "the brain determines the mind"
LAW AND THE NEUROSCIENCES
In a recent article of MIND magazine from Scientific American, Michael S. Gazzaniga and Megan S. Steven take on the problem of “the brain determines the mind”. The gist of the article is concerned with the fact that if scientist could prove right such a hypothesis then they might convince juries that defendants may not be responsible for the crimes.
If consciousness is an epiphenomenon and a consequence of brain process activity, then it is difficult to ascertain that there is such a thing as free will. However if the brain has decided to perform a certain behavior sequence there is always the possibility of vetoing that brain decision. But what about if the process related to the veto is based also on neural brain activity, then is again the brain who finally makes the final decision; the veto.
Undoubtedly the future relation of law and the neurosciences is an interesting one.
If we lack free will then laws should remain but only for intelligence unconscious brains.
grow and be kind
If free will did not exist then how would you explain the control over motor functions. Does the brain determine how you shoot a basketball or which direction to run or how hard to punch a punching bag?
SOAR (state operations and results) is a robot that was created by John Laird, Paul Rosen Bloom and Allen Newell.
SOAR integrates, method of problem solving, goal-subgoal hierarchies and productions systems. The robot is capable of learning and solving problems for which it hasn’t been previously programmed and of course can take its own decisions in a creative and not programmed fashion too.
SOAR obviously doesn’t experience qualia states or have a “mind” either. The robot can implement new behavior and save in memory (chunking) the problems he has previously solved.
Can we say that SOAR has free will as we understand the concept? I doubt it; the fact that we control our motor, functions or determine how to shoot a basketball doesn’t require the intervention of a “mind”; our brain can do it by itself.
In order to understand better the argument about free will and also whether or not consciousness is epiphenomenal, one requires knowledge of the research work done by H. Kornhuber and Benjamin Libet.
A recent book by Susan Blackmore CONVERSATIONS ON CONSCIOUSNESS (Oxford University Press, 2005) is a good source of information on the area of free will.
Blackmore queries the experts on such issues as life after death, the self and free will. Most say they do not believe in extracorporeal survival, in contrast with 55 percent of U. S. residents. Most also agree that scientific evidence does not support the notion of free will, despite the gripping feeling that it exist.
I am not seeing the connection between "brain process activity" and free will. It seems completely unconnected to say that one must "decide" to veto a behavioral sequence of the brain. That makes the supposition that we don't have control of our own brain, why would I need to "veto" a decision that I made willingly? The basis of the article seems, as you have explained it, to suggest that the brain is an autonomous entity which has authority over us all. The existence of a programmed robot that can learn on its own does not strike me as convincing evidence that free will is nonexistent.
What place does this serve in the court room, in reference to your comment regarding convincing juries that defendants may not be responsible for crimes? Are they suggesting that this will serve as a plausible defense, similar to insanity? Or are they suggesting that this research could help prove a defendant's innocence?
C: designates any conscious process
C’: designates the underline neural activity of consciousness
Causal efficacy: the action in the physical world of forces or energies that lead to effects or physical outcomes.
Causality: according to the laws of physics, the causal order is closed-that is, it cannot be affected directly by mental properties such as qualia.
“We have pointed out that C is a process, not a thing, that it reflects higher-order discriminations, and that it does not occur in the absence of C’. but, given the laws of physics, C itself cannot be causal; it reflects a relationship and cannot exert a physical force either directly or through field properties. It is entailed by C’, however, and the detailed discriminator activity of C’ is causal.
That is, although C accompanies C’, it is C’ that is causal of other neural events and certain bodily actions. The world is causally closed- no spooks or spirits are present-and occurrences in the world can only respond to the neural events constituting C’. (Edelman, 2004)”
Edelman Gerald, nobel prize winner. Wider Than The Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness. Edit. Yale University Press. 2004.
What you said “the brain is an autonomous entity which has authority over us all” is right.
Consciousness is epiphenomenal; punishment comes as a warming to inhibit undesirable social behavior, most active functional brains will probably heed this message.
If there is no free will and, as you suggest, our brains control all our decisions, then right and wrong don't exit. In fact this would mean that decision making doesn't truely exist. Man kind would have no choice as to what they do. This would mean that all the Biblical writings about the decisions all the prophets made were just predetermined action. This theory would denounce every biblical or religous theory and practice, and any research that may have been done on the mind. How would you explain the Id, ego, and superego?
The fact that reseach and the laws of physics strongly suggest
that the brain controls our decisions doesn't mean that I like it.
Ego Id and super ego are abstract structures developed by Freud in order to better understand the workings of the human mind.