MAR 22

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17: MAR 22


  • SW3: Assessing claims about determinism and free will.
  • Dennett, Daniel. Chapter 5: "Where Does all the Design Come From?" Freedom Evolves. (300) (141-170)

Doing Justice to the Prime Mammal Fallacy

  • The PM fallacy is generated by imposing essentialist (binary, all or nothing, impervious to time) conditions for identity onto a naturalistic process.
  • SFAs are "prime mammals" in the sense that they are an essential characterization of a kind of event that allows for self-making. They are also "regress-stoppers" 127. What if self-making (later design) occurs incrementally from ordinary events? (In other words, there is no prime mammal, but there are mammals.)
  • It generalizes a bit. Used in regresses. Conflicts between essentialist thinking about naturalist thinking in general.
  • In the context of our course research project, you could say the "prime mammal" is broadly the search for special moment in human action, or condition of our existence, that guarantees our freedom. It seems like "something special" (FW) can only come from "something special". But natural processes show us that this isn't the typical case. Mind from matter, design from (pseudo)randomness.

Yes, but...? Models of determinism

  • LaPlace's "Newtonian" demon may not be the right image for use to use in the comparison. The challenge is not to repeat, by other means, the intuition that is being challenged.
  • Can a deterministic universe have "open futures"?
  • I will report back to you on this.

Dennett, Daniel. Chapter 5: "Where Does all the Design Come From?" Freedom Evolves

  • Design in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  • Darwinian strategy: go back in time and look for the emergence of design that supports freedom.
  • 144: Eukaryotic revolution - symbiosis (recall the artificial life model) . The design came from outside (maybe like culture).
  • 146: step to multicellular life required alot of biological machinery. Who paid for all that R&D? A billion years of prokayotic life.
  • The Prisoner's Dilemma
  • Cooperation in Biology needs explaining.
  • PD: can be generalized for any cooperative events with similar pay off relationships. ESS's
  • E Pluribus Unum?
  • How do we explain "cellular group solidarity"?
  • 151: reintroduces physical level, design level, intentional stance. Some of my cells (somatic) are in a "dead end", no branching possibilities. But germ line cells (related to reproduction) do. Differential reproduction.
  • Mitosis vs. Meiosis -- 153. Argues that the blindness of meiosis undercuts selfish gene strategies. Selection of a genome for reproduction borrows randomly from paternal and maternal lines. Sort of like Rawls' "veil of ignorance". Update: 154 about "intergenomic conflict" (example from Sapolsky). Point for Dennett: You need the intentional stance to express even the rules governing gene-conflicts. metaphor of "parliment"
  • Notes from Sapolsky:
  • Parent-Offspring Conflict -- conflict based on lack of complete gene sharing bt parent and offspring. weaning conflict. other biological conflicts between fetus and mother. slightly diff evo agendas.
  • Intersexual Genetic Conflict -- In species with low paternal investment, a father's interest might be with the child and against the mother. "imprinted genes" part of the mechanism for intersexual conflict. If they come from Dad, it favours more nutrition for the kid. Tournament species have more imprinted genes than pairbonding (as you would expect).
  • Comparison of evolutionary R&D and conscious human R&D (which includes the PD): both involve strategic moves, avoidance, retaliation, choice, and risk.
  • Compared to our somatic cells (which are ballistic missiles), at the organism level, we are "guided missiles". By definition, organisms have a working solution to the problem of cooperation.
  • Digression: The Threat of Genetic Determinism
  • We are not determined by our genes. Eyeglasses. Medicine. But somewhat.
  • Environment also determines a lot. Whether you know a language, for example. [Recall neuroplasticity - compulsive liars]
  • Importance of Chance -- description of neuron formation.
  • 159: Nature/nurture discussion recalls inside/outside issue in Kane's view of practical reason. In both cases, we have limited control over the future. (Freedom isn't just an "internal" condition.)
  • Focus on "what we can change" whether the world is deterministic or not.
  • Recalls Diamond's Guns, germs, and steel - importance of environment. "Knowledge of causation is the friend of freedom."
  • Degrees of Freedom and the Search for Truth
  • Even a switch has some "degree of freedom" . Compare to a brain.
  • Is learning worth the trade offs? Depends. Tapeworms don't seem to need it. We spend a good 15-25% of our lives in formal education.
  • Freedom of birds, primates and "false belief" - Ends with idea that culture is a big source of human freedom.