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Switch to Forum Live View The Day Naive Realism Died
3 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2011 - 2:28PM #1
mindis1
Posts: 8,028

In the broadest sense, naïve realism is a realism about objects (i.e., “physical” or matter objects: objects having mass and volume) that humans acquire knowledge of by direct perception or by sense-data (thus necessarily local). As such, it generally underpins and in many ways is indistinguishable from the metaphysical thesis espoused under the name “materialism” and “physicalism,” the metaphysics assumed (or formerly assumed) by Jaegwon Kim being an example. As a realism about objects known correctly through sense-data, philosophical debates concerning naïve realism have often digressed into issues of perception, with arguments against naïve realism often involving issues of illusion and hallucinations. Oftentimes ground is staked out on the attendant epistemological issues. (In fact, it might be said that naïve realism is primarily an epistemological thesis.)


As a distinguishing mark, it can be legitimately said that the falsifiable thesis of naïve realism avoided empirical falsification longer than the falsifiable thesis of materialism did. This, however, is inconsequential, given that, as made clear by the definition above, an empirical falsification of naive realism would also be an empirical falsification of the (falsifiable) thesis of materialism.


This has been a sort of prolegomenon to one of the most fun papers on quantum mechanics I have read, The Observer in the Quantum Experiment (arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0011086), by physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner. It consists of a parable by which they argue:


If we assume that no observable physical phenomena exist other than those specified by the present quantum theory, a role for the observer in the experiment can be denied only at the expense of challenging the belief that the observer makes free choices. Therefore no interpretation of the present theory can establish a lack of dependence on the observer to the extent possible in classical physics.


After the parable, the authors expand on their argument:


If quantum mechanics is completely correct, the notion that we make free choices and the notion that a physical world exists independent of those choices confront each other in the quantum experiment to produce a measurement problem intimately involving the observer that arises independently of the quantum theory.


It is impossible to establish that we actually do make free choices. “Free will” may be an illusion, though it is almost undeniable. (I. B. Singer: “You have to believe in free will, you have no choice.”) But the rejection of free choice needed to account for the experimental results is not simply that the experimenter’s choices are determined by heredity and past experiences. The not-free choice here must include the remarkable correlation of observer’s choice with physical phenomena, in the present example, with the object in the box pairs. (Emphasis mine.)


“'Free will’. . . is almost undeniable.” In fact, volition (my preferred term) is logically undeniable while maintaining that one’s claims have truth-value. The utterances of a volitionless object are, by definition, nothing more than noise that the object cannot avoid making, exactly like the noise a combustion engine cannot avoid making when running.


The logical undeniability of volition is perhaps most readily seen by the reductio: For example, if your computer inexplicably asserted, “I am not conscious,” then, in order to rationally believe that its claim is true, one would have to believe that your computer is conscious (otherwise, there is no way for it to know that its claims is true). The same absurdity ensues if your computer inexplicably asserted, “I lack volition.” In order to believe that its assertion is true, one would have to conclude that its assertion is false, for it requires volition in order for one to conclude that it is true that one lacks volition.


The fact is that volitionless objects do not assert or argue that they lack volition. Only volitional beings assert or try to argue that they lack volition.  


Arguments contrary to the Rosenblum/Kuttner thesis are welcomed.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2011 - 5:32PM #2
Blü
Posts: 25,174

mindis


["]If we assume that no observable physical phenomena exist other than those specified by the present quantum theory["]


At the risk of saying something irrelevant to whatever is the point you're making, I note that the Smart-Armstrong definition of materialism makes no such assumption.


And I note that quantum theory at present doesn't include gravity or time.


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3 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2011 - 2:59PM #3
mindis1
Posts: 8,028

Oct 26, 2011 -- 5:32PM, Blü wrote:


mindis


["]If we assume that no observable physical phenomena exist other than those specified by the present quantum theory["]


At the risk of saying something irrelevant to whatever is the point you're making, I note that the Smart-Armstrong definition of materialism makes no such assumption.



Indeed, the definition of “materialism” stated by Smart says nothing that is falsifiable or that can be logically argued for. This is in direct contrast to the antecedent of the conditional Rosenblum/Kuttner stated, which can be both falsified and argued for.


I’m glad to see that you are finally understanding the vacuity of materialism.  


Did you bother to read the paper?


 


And I note that quantum theory at present doesn't include . . . time.



What does that mean? Ever heard of the time-dependent Schrodinger equation? It provides the evolution of the wave function of a system as it changes in time. Indeed, time and energy are canonical conjugate quantities, thus abide by the Heisenberg uncertainty relation exactly as position and momentum do. 

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2011 - 11:51PM #4
Blü
Posts: 25,174

mindis


Did you bother to read the paper?


Not yet.


Perhaps if you could show us the abstraction 'two' existing independently of any brain, we might make progress.


But your post serves as an acknowledgement that you can't do that.  The one thing you needed to do - but it's not to be.  That's tough.


And you still don't know where to look for your concepts.  That must be tough too.  Under the bed?  In the fridge?  Left 'em in the car?


Good luck with that.


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3 years ago  ::  Oct 30, 2011 - 10:30AM #5
Faustus5
Posts: 2,023

Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

As such, it generally underpins and in many ways is indistinguishable from the metaphysical thesis espoused under the name “materialism” and “physicalism,” the metaphysics assumed (or formerly assumed) by Jaegwon Kim being an example.


Only in the irrelevant sense that if you did a poll of philosophers, most of the materialists would endorse realism of some sort or another. But not all of them would.


Whether you are capable of understanding it or not, materialism and realism are two entirely separate doctrines on two entirely separate subjects. You are conflating them for entirely ideological reasons.


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

This, however, is inconsequential, given that, as made clear by the definition above, an empirical falsification of naive realism would also be an empirical falsification of the (falsifiable) thesis of materialism.


No, it wouldn’t, since no one here cares about this strawman version of materialism you’ve invented, and since materialism is independent of epistemology.


You really are no better than a creationist who insists that “If evolution were true, then why are there still monkeys?” Your understanding of the philosophy of materialism is on par with that—no exaggeration.


You need to get it through your thick skull that no citation from science is going to discredit the materialism being defended here because by definition it automatically embraces any such finding.


You also need to understand that materialism (real materialism, not the crap you want to talk about) is, in fact, falsifiable. All you need to falsify it is put before us an indisputably real natural phenomena that is in principle unexplainable by the tools of science. If you can’t, don’t waste our time. 


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

This has been a sort of prolegomenon to one of the most fun papers on quantum mechanics I have read, The Observer in the Quantum Experiment (arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0011086), by physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner.


Oh, this dreck again. I remember you citing this paper years ago in the old Beliefnet.


Let’s get one thing straight: this paper is not really “on quantum mechanics”. It is a paper which ultimately discusses a purely philosophical (or psychological) issue and it uses quantum mechanics as a framework for doing so.


In the paper’s conclusion, I am happy to note two important concessions by the authors: 


1. That arguably, the “measurement problem” they discuss may not actually exist, and that in fact this conclusion is endorsed by a majority of physicists.  So not only is the paper not ultimately about physics, but the physics it uses for purely philosophical points is speculative.


2.  That ultimately the concern raised by the paper is merely “psychological’—“Gee, why are some of us so baffled by quantum physics?”.


There is also a gaping hole in the paper’s reasoning, one which they seem oblivious to, so I guess we should invite you to fill it.


When I downloaded the paper and highlighted the bits that I found most interesting, I found that each one of the passages you quoted in the OP was also highlighted by me, so we were both obviously attracted to the same statements. Here is one:


If we assume that no observable physical phenomena exist other than those specified by the present quantum theory, a role for the observer in the experiment can be denied only at the expense of challenging the belief that the observer makes free choices.



This claim is made, in various forms, over and over again throughout the paper. But it is merely asserted and never explained or defended.  And I’m sorry, but it really does need some explaining and defending, because I don’t see any connection between the so-called “measurement problem” in quantum physics and any issues about free will.


It’s noteworthy that the authors never go into any sort of detail over what “free choice” is supposed to mean, as if they were completely unaware that there exists a vast, complex, and contentious body of literature on the subject. This is amateur-hour philosophy.


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

In fact, volition (my preferred term) is logically undeniable while maintaining that one’s claims have truth-value.


What a pathetic joke.


Apparently, you too are blithely unaware that in the real world, debates about the nature and existence of free will are still raging on and that nothing has been settled, other than that very smart and educated scholars can be miles apart on the issue.


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

The utterances of a volitionless object are, by definition, nothing more than noise that the object cannot avoid making, exactly like the noise a combustion engine cannot avoid making when running.


I’ll let you in on something: lots of philosophers and scientists deny that we have free will and this does not in the slightest incline them to think this means we are incapable of saying true things. It is quite easy to regard humans as complex, semi-or utterly deterministic mechanisms and still preserve a notion of the states of such mechanisms being “about” the world in truthful ways.


So, if you expect to be taken seriously or even deserve to be taken seriously when making such extreme claims, please back them up. Or we’ll just laugh at you.


(By the way, I personally do think we have free will. I’d suspect, however, that my concept of “free will” would be insufficiently infused with cosmic New Age wish fulfillment for you.)


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

The logical undeniability of volition is perhaps most readily seen by the reductio: For example, if your computer inexplicably asserted, “I am not conscious,” then, in order to rationally believe that its claim is true, one would have to believe that your computer is conscious (otherwise, there is no way for it to know that its claims is true).


No, I’d just think it had a virus or that a playful programmer left a funny Easter egg in one of my applications.


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

The same absurdity ensues if your computer inexplicably asserted, “I lack volition.” In order to believe that its assertion is true, one would have to conclude that its assertion is false, for it requires volition in order for one to conclude that it is true that one lacks volition.


Same answer.


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

The fact is that volitionless objects do not assert or argue that they lack volition. Only volitional beings assert or try to argue that they lack volition.


That all depends upon what you personally mean by “volition” or “free will”. As I pointed out earlier, most philosophers and scientists who deny that we have “free will” think of the concept differently than you do.


It is perfectly acceptable to have a personal and eccentric view of the subject—that might in fact be the key to solving a problem that has vexed scholars for centuries!


Just be aware that you are using these concepts in a way that is out of step with normal scholarly discourse and please take pains to go into some detail about them.


You might want to think about how you would, could, or should accommodate the following in your concept of volition/free will:


1.  Harvard psychology professor Dan Wegner is ingenious at constructing experiments in which subjects can be fooled into falsely thinking they have initiated a motor act of their own volition, and fooled into thinking they have not initiated an motor act of their own volition (when in fact they have).


2. Brain activity that initiates an act of volition begins significantly before you are consciously aware of having decided to perform that act, opening up the possibility that “free will” and “volition” are merely the perception of a process that has already begun, physiologically.


3. Scientists using brain scans on subjects who are given a simple choice to make can reliably predict which choice subjects will make as long as ten seconds before subjects report having actually made their choices.


It would be interesting to see how you factor all of this in with your OP. . . .

Moderated by Jcarlinbn on Oct 30, 2011 - 12:35PM
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 30, 2011 - 12:58PM #6
JCarlin
Posts: 6,942

Oct 30, 2011 -- 10:30AM, Faustus5 wrote:

1.  Harvard psychology professor Dan Wegner is ingenious at constructing experiments in which subjects can be fooled into falsely thinking they have initiated a motor act of their own volition, and fooled into thinking they have not initiated an motor act of their own volition (when in fact they have).


2. Brain activity that initiates an act of volition begins significantly before you are consciously aware of having decided to perform that act, opening up the possibility that “free will” and “volition” are merely the perception of a process that has already begun, physiologically.


3. Scientists using brain scans on subjects who are given a simple choice to make can reliably predict which choice subjects will make as long as ten seconds before subjects report having actually made their choices.


Just curious, how is this not pushing free will back a turtle?


I am of the camp that the conscious mind is affected by random events, and is capable of testing those random inputs against its overrall "intention" and choosing whether or not to allow those random inputs to affect behavior.  Perhaps Wegner is inserting pseudo-random inputs deep enough into the consciousness with enough force to trick the consciousness into thinking it was in accord with the overall intention of the consciousness. 


For the record, there is no dualism in my concept of consciousness, I just find it useful to think of consciousness as an emergent property of normal brain action.  A control mechinism with essentially unlimited access to all stimuli to the brain including self-referential stimuli.

J'Carlin
If the shoe doesn't fit, don't cram your foot in it and complain.
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3 years ago  ::  Oct 30, 2011 - 5:03PM #7
Faustus5
Posts: 2,023

Oct 30, 2011 -- 12:58PM, JCarlin wrote:

Just curious, how is this not pushing free will back a turtle?


Not sure what you mean, there.


Oct 30, 2011 -- 12:58PM, JCarlin wrote:

I am of the camp that the conscious mind is affected by random events, and is capable of testing those random inputs against its overrall "intention" and choosing whether or not to allow those random inputs to affect behavior.


I don't know about the "random" part, but in the literature I've encountered, the scientists do indeed believe that there is a sense in which the subjects' brains compare the ultimate motor outputs to what the subjects would normally have intended to do, and depending on the degree of match or miss-match, that's how they decide if they indeed were the ones who chose to make the action.


Oct 30, 2011 -- 12:58PM, JCarlin wrote:

Perhaps Wegner is inserting pseudo-random inputs deep enough into the consciousness with enough force to trick the consciousness into thinking it was in accord with the overall intention of the consciousness.


Exactly. For instance, one experiment had subjects performing specific tasks with their hands, which they could only see on video. Sometimes they weren't watching their own hands, but if the movement of the mimic's hands was reasonably close to their own, they attributed the agency of the motions to themselves. Or, if there was a delay on the monitor and it was their own hands they were watching, then they'd think there was a mimic.


That's the only one I can specifically recall since a paper I read cited it, but most of his other designs were far more innovative.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 31, 2011 - 4:34PM #8
mindis1
Posts: 8,028

Oct 27, 2011 -- 11:51PM, Blü wrote:


mindis


Did you bother to read the paper?


Not yet.



Reading the paper would merely indicate your interest in the topic of thread. Evidently you are not interested.


Anyway, you may want to avoid the Rosenblum/Kuttner paper, since there is the possibility that you will learn something from it. That would be tragic for you.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 31, 2011 - 4:39PM #9
mindis1
Posts: 8,028

Oct 30, 2011 -- 10:30AM, Faustus5 wrote:


Oct 26, 2011 -- 2:28PM, mindis1 wrote:

As such, it generally underpins and in many ways is indistinguishable from the metaphysical thesis espoused under the name “materialism” and “physicalism,” the metaphysics assumed (or formerly assumed) by Jaegwon Kim being an example.


Only in the irrelevant sense that if you did a poll of philosophers, most of the materialists would endorse realism of some sort or another. 



False. Naïve realism underpins and is generally indistinguishable from materialism due to both being just versions of now-discredited local realism about objects.


This, however, is inconsequential, given that, as made clear by the definition above, an empirical falsification of naive realism would also be an empirical falsification of the (falsifiable) thesis of materialism.



No, it wouldn’t, since no one here cares about this strawman version of materialism you’ve invented



The only falsifiable thesis of materialism is this one, from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:


“1 a : a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter”


www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mater...


and since materialism is independent of epistemology.



Gee, I’m glad you finally figured that out. Maybe now you will no longer continue to conflate the metaphysical thesis of materialism with the epistemological method of science known as the scientific method.


Oh, this dreck again. I remember you citing this paper years ago in the old Beliefnet.



I kind of presented this paper again with you in mind, as I recalled that earlier you were unable to figure out what correlations were being referred to in the highlighted quote in the OP.


It’s ironic that someone who has obviously has not understood the non-complex argument of the Rosenblum/Kuttner paper, and who cannot formulate even the simplest argument himself, would be calling any scholarly paper “dreck”. How many scholarly books and peer-reviewed papers on QM (or in any other subject) have you had published? Obviously Rosenblum and Kuttner have demonstrated their ability to make logical arguments about quantum mechanics to the satisfaction of their peers, whereas you have not.  


this paper is not really “on quantum mechanics”.  



What senseless comment. I take it you won’t be able to tell us what criterion demarcates a paper that is “on quantum mechanics”.


In the paper’s conclusion, I am happy to note two important concessions by the authors:  


1. That arguably, the “measurement problem” they discuss may not actually exist



You are welcomed to quote whatever you are confused about here. From the Conclusion: 


The quantum measurement problem presents a worldview profoundly different from that suggested by classical physics. That the intrusion of the observer occurs at the level of the experiment, and arises independently of any interpretation of the theory, emphasizes this conclusion.


It doesn’t sound like they backtracked on their argument.


2. That ultimately the concern raised by the paper is merely “psychological’



You apparently didn’t understand the experiment in which:  


The physical properties of the object would thus appear paradoxically determined by the Experimenter’s subjectively free choice of what to observe.


[. . .]


Since with a different Heisenberg choice of experiment by the Experimenter there would have been a different actuality, there is here an intrinsic role for the observer. 


If we assume that no observable physical phenomena exist other than those specified by the present quantum theory, a role for the observer in the experiment can be denied only at the expense of challenging the belief that the observer makes free choices.



This claim is made, in various forms, over and over again throughout the paper. But it is merely asserted and never explained or defended.  



Obviously you need to go back and read the paper and attempt to comprehend it this time. The conditional you quoted here is precisely what is demonstrated by the parable:  


The Experimenter, now presented with further sets of box pairs, is told that for each set he may choose either of the two previous experiments. Whenever he chooses to open the box pairs sequentially, he appears to demonstrate that for this particular set of box pairs each object was wholly in a single box. Whenever he chooses to open the two boxes of a pair simultaneously, he appears to demonstrate that some aspect of each object was in both boxes of its pair. Or, in other words, the object somehow “knew” the separation of both boxes.


[. . .]


Further Investigations: The Experimenter finds all opening techniques, slow ones, rapid ones, or extremely gentle ones produce the same results. Even techniques for finding which box contains the object which do not require opening (weighing or peeking, for example) produce the same results. No matter how the Experimenter obtains “which box” information, a whole object is found in a single box.


On painstaking examination, the objects on the screen appear identical in every respect to the objects initially sent into the box pairs, regardless of which experiment was done, even if only a single box of a pair was opened. To determine that the entity being examined is the entire object sent into the box pairs, the apparently empty box and the surrounding region is exhaustively searched for any field or other physical entity. Absolutely nothing is found.


An examination of a box which turned out to be empty should therefore not disturb the object--even though it did give “which box” information. This suggests the following test. The Experimenter opens one box of each box pair, and in the approximately half the cases in which the object was found to be in the box opened, he discards those box pairs. For the remaining box pairs, the opened box was reclosed.


With this set of presumably physically undisturbed objects he performs the simultaneous opening experiment. No structured pattern appears. Again, it seems that merely the observer’s obtaining the knowledge that the object was in the unopened box affected the situation. Only when such information was not obtained (nor associated with another entity from which such information could later be obtained) could the pattern indicating aspects of the object in both boxes be formed.


I don’t know how Rosenblum/Kuttner could be more clear about the fact that the Experimenter’s choice of which experiment to perform (whether to open the box pairs simultaneously or sequentially) conflicts with the naïve realist assumption about objects. No one can force you to understand an entirely logical argument in a scholarly paper.


Apparently, you too are blithely unaware that in the real world, debates about the nature and existence of free will  



Like I said, only volitional beings assert and attempt to argue that they lack volition. The sounds a non-volitional object makes are just noises that the object cannot avoid making, thus lack truth-value.


It is a logical impossibility of demonstrating--for instance, by a scientific experiment--the non-existence of volition, for the experimenter must use volition in order to choose to collect relevant data and ignore irrelevant data, and in order to accept a true conclusion and reject false conclusions. All of the voluntary subjects who have ever chosen to participate in a scientific experiment to date have chosen to arrive at the designated place at the designated time. There is no and has never been a scientific theory of such determinism that accounts for these facts other than volition.


Was your posting of your post above, and its content, acts that you were unable to avoid doing? If so, then your post is just noise that lacks any truth-value.


BTW: volition is the ability to choose between options, or (equivalently) self-determination.

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3 years ago  ::  Oct 31, 2011 - 7:16PM #10
Blü
Posts: 25,174

 mindis


Naïve realism underpins and is generally indistinguishable from materialism due to both being just versions of now-discredited local realism about objects.


Only if we use your straw-man definition of materialism.  But as you know, we don't.


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