What is the difference between an influence and a cause?

In the free will debate a naturalist would claim that a person’s genetics and environment causally determine an agents actions. Whereas, an agent causal libertarian would claim that genetics and environment influence but don’t causally determine the agent’s actions.

Is there a substantive difference between the two scenarios? If an influence isn’t playing a causal role then what is the influence actually doing? Or is influence just a way of saying “a cause that isn’t deterministic”?

I hope this question makes sense.

Predestination vs randomness. I don’t believe in either. Every experience we have prejudices us for all following experiences. It appears impossible to quantify love, fear, desire and need. I think of cause as a trigger which releases potential. I think potential is mostly cumulative and cause is mostly of the moment. In your terms then I can accept that influence builds potential and cause is what seems to be the thing to do at the time, with or without the application of logic.

I think that a totality of influencing factors determines one’s actions. Any single influencing factor might not result in a particular action. But an action that occurs is caused by the totality of influencing factors.

But an action that occurs is caused by the totality of influencing factors.
Behavior is emergent influences.

 

 

{neither question or statement, just an association to toss into the hat}

Behavior is wholly dependent on external experiential information. All (re)actions are based on and are a result of causal input. It’s not difficult.

We may be capable of abstract thought, but physical responsive behavior is always triggered by perceived external causal information, which provides motive for responsive action.

It follows that motivated behavior is deterministic in essence, a product of cause → effect.

This does not mean that everyone responds in the same way. Each individual interprets and responds to external information differently. This is what produces the illusion there is FW practised by each individual. Not so. Every individual responds deterministically to the same information, but from their own POV, which may vary from individual to individual and trigger a different deterministic response.

Write, You said “Behavior is wholly dependent on external experiential information.” I say that some factors that influence behavior exist inside our own skin.

Abstract thought is the same in this regard. It is a product of external and internal factors. More plainly physical behaviors can also be influenced by factors both external and internal to our own skin.

Though this does not take away from the assertion that all behaviors are determined by the totality of influencing factors whether external or internal to our own skin.

 

 

@ Bob,

I like your take on this.

IMO, mathematically, an influence is a pervasive environmental condition increasing or decreasing certain future probabilistic potentials, whereas a cause is a realization of a specific event from any of those probabilistic future potentials.

A weather forecast is often based on pervasive atmospheric conditions with high probability of specific events, such as intermittent thunder showers which may or may not materialize, depending on actual local causal treshold conditions.

@TimB

I agree. It is the internal processing of external information which is causal to conscious response. Internal processing of internal information of organ health and function or “interoception” is often an unconscious purely deterministic chemical regulatory function of the brain and does not require conscious decision making. i.e. anesthesia does not affect interoception and allows the brain of an unconscious person to continue to regulate bodily functions.

Interoception

Interoception is contemporarily defined as the sense of the internal state of the body.[1] This can be both conscious and non-conscious. It encompasses the brain's process of integrating signals relayed from the body into specific subregions—like he brainstem, thalamus, insula, somatosensory, and anterior cingulate cortex—allowing for a nuanced representation of the physiological state of the body.[2][3] This is important for maintaining homeostatic conditions[4] in the body and, potentially, aiding in self-awareness.[5]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interoception

When your interoception is working efficiently, you will feel healthy. Only when there is an internal problem interoception warns the self through various symptoms, such as pain, nausea,…etc

I think developing a math model for free will or any other sort of conscious decision making is not possible except in the general sense. In the general sense we all have many of the same experiences, and math might describe a probability of how we would respond to a similar event. I think describing that probability accurately would be harder as our experiences diverge from the shared reality.

As an example: we know individual brains have roughly the same structure for storing and retrieving memories. Liken each brain to a document storage office with rows and rows of file cabinets. Similar documents are delivered to each office in much the same quantity and order while we share experiences or have similar experiences. It seems likely that they would be stored in a similar manner in each office.

As our experiences diverge, the documents will be different and will be delivered at different times and in different quantities. It seems likely that the documents will be organized differently, stored in different folders and different file cabinets. As we respond to stimuli, the documents retrieved and the retrieval process will be different for each person. If we don’t know the number and nature of a specific set of the individual’s memories that are to be processed, it seems unlikely we would be able to mathematically predict behavior.

Bob said : it seems unlikely we would be able to mathematically predict behavior.
I agree, to an extent. Don't forget, research on hardwired brain function is still in its infancy. But as Stuart Hameroff demonstrated we can certainly induce specific behavior mathematically (electronically) and Anil Seth demonstrates how easy it is to fool the brain into believing something that isn't there and vice versa allowing the brain to "learn" an obscured mathematical sound pattern instantaneously .

Descartes “brain in a vat”. Hook up the brain to a computer and it won’t know the difference between reality and program.

The fake arm experiment clearly demonstrates how the brain can be made to believe the fake arm is part of the body. IMO, that is a remarkable phenomenon, demonstrating that the brain forms its own conscious “expectations” of reality, independent of will.

Disconnect the brain from our senses and it will create it’s own reality. A certain length of time in a sensory deprivation chamber will result in a completely abstract hallucinatory experience. (madness).

Write4U, I agree with you to some extent because I believe the body and brain cooperate in order to be more efficient. If we had to access memory and process a decision before taking every action, like taking a step forward, we’d never get to running. It looks to me like we have a bunch of subsystems that are pretty much autonomous until we decide to override them. I cannot imagine how we could manage to remain upright if balance were not on autopilot.

I have considered that Hell would be the rough equivalent of a prolonged stay in a sensory deprivation chamber. The idea of the self continuing after the death of the body and thus forever disconnected from its physical senses is frightening. I think it is frightening enough to induce some people to accept a hope for something to compensate the self for the loss of the physical senses and to induce others to hope for the self to perish with the body.

Bob : I have considered that Hell would be the rough equivalent of a prolonged stay in a sensory deprivation chamber. The idea of the self continuing after the death of the body and thus forever disconnected from its physical senses is frightening. I think it is frightening enough to induce some people to accept a hope for something to compensate the self for the loss of the physical senses and to induce others to hope for the self to perish with the body.
That's why it behoves a person to study the science of dying. Deprivation chambers are hell only when you are alive and aware that there is no sensory input.

When you’re dead there is no awareness of any kind, just total oblivion. Nothing to worry about, nothing at all.

It is like complete anestesia from which you never wake up. No sensory awareness of any kind, just nothing. There is no longer a you at all. You are dead in all respects. Descartes: “I no longer think, therefore I no longer am”. (poetic license mine… :slight_smile:

 

Write4U: “When you’re dead there is …”.

You state this as if you know it for a fact. Since you are posting (unless you are a figment of my imagination) I believe you are alive. Unless you claim that you have died and have been resurrected I cannot accept that you have any direct experience of death and of being dead. Without direct experience of death, you cannot know what it is. To paraphrase, you know not of what you speak.

I conclude that you are one who hopes the self perishes with the body. If your hopes are met you won’t suffer, but if they aren’t you will have made the greatest blunder a person could possibly make. I believe there is no do-over. If there is life after death those who have hoped for it will be fine, but if there isn’t they won’t suffer either. A logical person might consider hedging his bet. Risk on or risk off, its your choice. I do not try to convince you one way or the other, I simply point out the logic.

A logical person would recognize that since we don’t know what happens to our conscious selves after we die, it could be just about anything. But based on what we do know, i.e., consciousness happens in association with neurological correlates firing off, >> that when that is no longer possible, there will likely be no further consciousness.

It is not logical to think that some arbitrary conception by some religious engineer some time in history got the answer of what happens after death, from a supernatural being.

Bob said : You state this as if you know it for a fact. Since you are posting (unless you are a figment of my imagination) I believe you are alive. Unless you claim that you have died and have been resurrected I cannot accept that you have any direct experience of death and of being dead. Without direct experience of death, you cannot know what it is. To paraphrase, you know not of what you speak.
OK, go open a few graves and see who is alive. See if they know of what they speak. It is you who has absolutely no proof of any continued existence after you die.

Ever read any postings by a zombie or a disembodied soul? I have never seen or heard a real zombie or a disembodied soul, have you?

p.s. I have had general anesthesia and I can assure you when your brain is unconscious, as it is when you are dead, there is nothing, nothing at all.

 

Bob said; If there is life after death those who have hoped for it will be fine, but if there isn’t they won’t suffer either.
If there is life after death what makes you think that people who did not believe would be excluded when they lived a good life by all commonly acceptable moral standards?

Is belief the deciding factor? Who told you that story? Do you know of which you speak?

Write4U: “If there is life after death what makes you think that people who did not believe would be excluded when they lived a good life by all commonly acceptable moral standards?”

Did I mention belief or exclusion in my post?

Bob said; If there is life after death those who have hoped for it will be fine, but if there isn’t they won’t suffer either.

Bob said; Did I mention belief or exclusion in my post?


No, you intimated that if there is an afterlife that non-believers would “suffer”.

If not, then what are you on about? You make it sound as if there is a difference. There isn’t. That is my point; believing, hoping, expecting some form of an afterlife is completely moot.

There is or there is not, there is no “hedging your bets”, as if it would make any difference.

An influence is external, what others would have you think. A cause is internal, a passion or perhaps a life long mission.