Neural Basis of Free Will: Criterial Causation by Peter Ulric Tse

By Peter Ulric Tse

Reviewed through Robert C. Bishop, Wheaton College
My physics instructor, John Wheeler, could frequently say, "Philosophy is just too very important to depart to the philosophers." He intended that philosophy engages very important questions (What's an item? What's a measurement?), yet that philosophers usually lacked unique wisdom of physics and different sciences vital to addressing these questions. So Wheeler inspired physicists and different scientists to assist out the philosophers.

Peter Ulric Tse, is a neuroscientist who could be visible as answering Wheeler's name to action. Tse seeks to convey neuroscience to undergo on questions relating psychological causation and unfastened will. a lot of his ebook is dedicated to explaining the neurophysiology and neuroscience of the mind, giving a few particularly straightforward descriptions of the neural mechanisms that underpin his account of psychological causation and unfastened will. Readers from open air neuroscience should be in a position to study a lot concerning the information of neurons, neural networks and a few of the empirical experiences that tell neuroscience alongside with Tse's rather novel account of psychological causation and loose will. He has additionally integrated a really wide word list of phrases which readers will locate very helpful.

At the guts of Tse's account is criterial causation. standards, for Tse, are "conditions on enter that may be met in a number of methods and to differing degrees" (p. 292). An instance of such stipulations can be criteria for gasoline potency while buying a brand new automobile. Sally may have a fuel efficiency rating criterion in brain for her vehicle buy, yet her goal should be met in quite a few methods (e.g., small fuel engine, electric/gasoline hybrid, or diesel engine). Criterial causation, then,

involves a succession of criterial assessments of bodily learned informational enter that transforms, completes, and manipulates that information. between neurons, informational criterial assessments are learned in actual tests of intracellular power that, whilst chuffed, free up a actual swap which could hold details for a next level of deciphering. (p. 292)

There is a one-to-many courting among enter and output (e.g., other ways a gas potency goal could be happy within the determination to shop for a car).

With this concept of causation in place, Tse offers a three-stage version for psychological causation (p. 25): (1) whilst neurons are processing info at time t1, they set new informational standards which next inputs needs to meet to set off firing (resetting the powerful inputs for postsynaptic neurons); (2) the inputs arriving at a later time t2 are variable reflecting a randomness that Tse argues is usually ontological; (3) whilst those inputs arrive at a postsynaptic neuron at a later time t3, they both meet the formerly set informational standards or now not; therefore, postsynaptic neurons both hearth or not. Tse allows randomness to play a few position in phases (1) and (2), yet now not in degree (3) in view that "intracellular strength both passes the edge for firing or it does not" (p. 25). So firing is an all or not anything affair, whereas randomness can impact the following surroundings of the informational standards to be met in addition to give a contribution to the variety in inputs. info is bodily learned, onTse's so a few physically-realized psychological occasion may end up in neurons resetting the criterial triggers that destiny enter needs to meet, that means that the "code" for destiny firing is decided within the current. "Any destiny enter that satisfies those new standards will result in a reaction that may in flip both bring about a actual motion or a transformation in how details even extra sooner or later will take place via back altering standards for neuronal firing" (p. 25).

How does this view of psychological causation determine in Sally's automobile buy? Age, emerging gasoline expenses and different informational inputs on the topic of her present automobile reason psychological occasions that bring about neurons environment criterial pursuits for a brand new motor vehicle. Sally starts puzzling over the acquisition of a brand new automobile with gas financial system as her leader determination element. wondering the acquisition of a brand new motor vehicle, arriving at a vital determination element, etc, are psychological occasions that result in Sally's neurons extra resetting criterial targets. She begins taking a look at motor vehicle advertisements, reading Consumer Reports and undertaking on-line study. those informational inputs result in numerous criterial pursuits being chuffed, which, in flip, ends up in neurons environment new criterial targets. finally, a selected compact hybrid satisfies the complete set of formerly established criterial targets, and Sally makes a decision to buy a brand new automobile. At every one level in her seek, the knowledge enter adjustments, yet her neurons either reply to this altering enter and rework that details within the kind of atmosphere new criterial targets destiny enter needs to meet. So at every one level within the vehicle buy technique, not just does the data swap, however the criterial goals additionally switch. during this sense, Tse argues that info is causal.

The neuronal environment and resetting of criterial targets "can both be pushed volitionally or nonvolitionally, reckoning on the neural circuitry involved" (p. 25). This leads to Tse's account of unfastened will. He begins by means of defining 4 gains for "strong unfastened will":

We should have (a) a number of classes of actual or psychological habit open to us; (b) we needs to rather have the ability to decide upon between them; (c) we needs to be or should have been in a position to have selected differently after we have selected a process habit; and (d) the alternative must never be dictated by way of randomness by myself, yet through us. (pp. 133-134)

Anyone conversant in unfastened will debates will instantly realize that Tse's strong unfastened will is libertarian (e.g., Kane 1996). The twist for Tse's account is available in the use of criterial causation. the current standards Sally makes use of to guage automobile buy innovations are mounted simply sooner than any new info enter, so the present advert she's analyzing will both meet the current criterial triggers or now not, and she or he will reply to the hot info within the advert according to those criterial triggers. in spite of the fact that, as her neurons examine this new details, in accordance with current criterial triggers, they could voluntarily reset these triggers for future information enter. Sally's freedom lies during this truth: whereas she can't reshape her formerly set standards at this second in time, during the 3 phases of criterial causation she will verify tips on how to reset criterial triggers for the way her neurons will reply to future information. "Criterial causation for that reason bargains a direction towards unfastened will the place the mind can make certain the way it will behave given certain types of destiny enter. This enter might be milliseconds sooner or later or, sometimes, even years away" (p. 136). additionally, given that Sally's criterial targets could be met by way of various differing inputs, and on condition that there's continually a few "noise," a few variability in neuronal task, "the timing and details of an consequence of a criterial decision are neither predetermined nor random" (p. 136).

So on Tse's account, stipulations (a)-(d) usually are not met via the present reaction to present enter, yet by means of the brain's capability to set criterial triggers for reaction to destiny input.

Any criterial outcome will meet the factors preset through a given mind, and so should be an consequence that's passable to that mind and because of that mind, however it also will now not be a special resolution predetermined via that mind or coerced upon that mind through exterior components. (p. 137)

Consider Tse's example of Mozart. consider Mozart is making an attempt to put in writing a musical series that sounds satisfied. "Some a part of his mind . . . defines standards melody must meet so that it will sound happy" (p. 137). yet, there are lots of ways that the criterial targets for chuffed musical sequences will be met. those attainable sequences "are 'presented' to Mozart's govt system" which both accepts or rejects them, "whereupon decrease point platforms proceed to generate attainable ideas to the problem" (p. 137). no matter what musical series finally will get chosen will sound to us like Mozart "because it chuffed the criterial decoding schemes that have been specific to his brain" (p. 137).

If we have been to replay the scene back, a distinct musical series could have been generated and chosen seeing that there are a number of sequences that will fit Mozart's criteria:

None of his items of track used to be predestined to sound because it did, and every piece can have became out in a different way, even if any piece that met his standards could have seemed like a bit via Mozart. He couldn't aid yet have his kind simply because he couldn't support yet instantiate standards that may fulfill Mozart, simply because he used to be Mozart, along with his worried system. Criterialcausal platforms, like Mozart's mind, can hence harness randomness to generate novel and inventive recommendations. (p. 137)

Mozart's govt process "could additional edit" any of the musical sequences awarded by means of "lower-level, nonexecutive systems," or reject them. Mozart's robust loose will satisfies (a)-(d) on account that through

the setting up of bodily learned standards prematurely for behaving a undeniable manner given particular types of destiny enter . . . the nervous process can now swap the actual grounds for creating a destiny selection via environment up criterial decoders that then look ahead to correct enter that might meet these standards. (p. 138)

One of the virtues Tse claims for his account is that it dodges the matter of self-causation as articulated by way of Galen Strawson:

(1) Your physical/mental association determines your reaction to input.

(2) To be finally answerable for your activities is to be eventually answerable for your physical/mental organization.

(3) notwithstanding, you can't be finally accountable for your physical/mental association whilst creating a selection now since you at the moment are what you're whilst making your selection now.

(4) to settle on a special physical/mental association so that you can make a distinct selection calls for an act of self-causation, that's logically impossible.

(5) consequently, you can't support yet decide on what you decide at this second, so that you aren't finally accountable for what you do.

Tse considers this "impossibility of self-causation" to be "a legitimate argument opposed to the potential of a capability to settle on the present grounds for making a present choice" (p. 135). by contrast, given that neurons can presently reset criterial triggers for reaction to destiny inputs, Tse argues that his model of sturdy unfastened will avoids the self-causation challenge, for this reason, escapes Strawson'sreasoning.

This is an inexpensive version for psychological causation and loose will, yet does it paintings and should it fulfill what philosophers were arguing approximately for hundreds of years? If one takes the blurbs of Tse's book via neuroscientists such as Christof Koch heavily, the reply appears "Yes." yet there are purposes to doubt this attention-grabbing account.

The first cause is that Tse's account is determined by quite a few equivocations. remember his characterization of robust unfastened will above. realize that every one of those features are solid when it comes to "we" or "us" -- references to people. the traditional vocabulary used to explain loose will, corresponding to "considering," "deliberating," "reasoning," "choosing," "deciding," and so on, are predicates appropriate to people. although, what Tse means by way of "choosing," "deciding," "we" and "us" is neural circuits and brains. In different words, Tse uses the language of folks whereas his meant referent is neurons and brains. this is often particular in his Mozart instance, the place we've language acceptable to Mozart as somebody, yet an identity of Mozart with a brain.[1] Let's name this the personification equivocation.

Criteria are criteria for or technique of judging or deciding. Judgement and selection, in flip, are crucial human capacities. So when Tse speaks of neurons as having standards -- "a set of stipulations on enter that may be met in a number of methods and to various degrees" (p. 22) -- he commits the personification equivocation. In you decide approximately what automobile to shop for, Sally "must weigh the different criterial fulfillments opposed to one another and check aggregate criterial fulfillment" (p. 23). equally, "Neurons criterially assess incoming details . . . Neurons assess the measure to which inputs own informational attributes simply because they check the measure to which corresponding actual evidence are met" (pp.23-24, emphasis added). right here, a necessary human skill -- review -- is attributed to neurons.

What really is "assessment" for neurons? "The passage of a possible threshold triggers neurons to do convinced issues, like fireplace, or generate dendritic motion potentials whilst definite actual stipulations are met" (p. 24). But Tse has already set the language of standards and evaluation up in order that there's an ambiguity among the low-level neurophysiological strategies and indispensable human capacities and powers. (One can nearly see a few shape of panpsychism, right here, the place rudimentary realization and rationality are at paintings in addition to the actual beneficial properties of neurons, yet this in actual fact isn't what Tse intends). for instance, we might say that "Sally received the auto as the gas economic system is so good." even if, in accordance to Tse, "this higher-level propositional causation should be discovered in criterial causation on the neuronal point. given that there are just cells in our brains, propositions and ideas needs to be generated from concatenations of less complicated neuronal criterial satisfactions" (p. 24). this is often the personification equivocation: buying and selling on reason-giving (excellent gasoline economic system) for Sally's selection vs. a kind of neuronal dynamics the place neurons fireplace whilst specific thresholds are met.

A moment set of equivocations contains "information" and "information processing." Tse never really defines "information." in lots of respects, the time period services as a primitive in his strategy. His first informational equivocation takes form as follows: at the one hand, Tse refers to info enter corresponding to Sally's interpreting newspaper advertisements and vehicle experiences, the place info for wakeful beings has syntax, semantics and pragmatics -- briefly info is simply that that is understood through a unsleeping being (e.g., von Weizsäcker 1974). this feeling of data is appropriate to people. at the different hand, Tse demands that details should be bodily discovered, and that it arises "in the context of some criterial decoding or read-out mechanism, equivalent to a neuron, able to occupying many attainable actual states" (p. 297). this feeling of knowledge is appropriate to neurons, pcs and different units. When Tse writes concerning the info that unsleeping beings use in deliberation and selection, he attracts at the first feel of knowledge, but if he explicates his account of psychological causation and unfastened will, he explicitly invokes the second one kind of info. So a model of the personification equivocation lurks right here, too.

It may be mentioned that we don't really comprehend what it skill for info within the first experience to be bodily learned within the moment experience. A poem, for example, isn't the ink and paper it's revealed on, and the translation of the poem isn't a functionality of the ink and paper both. And the paper on that you write your identify isn't details. Your written identify purely turns into details within the context of it being a signature on a money, or a invoice, or an educated consent contract, or another such context. Neuroscientists, such as Tse, constantly communicate metaphorically approximately info notwithstanding they appear not to realize this; as a result, it's quite common for them to fall into the personification equivocation while speaking approximately information.

Tse's second informational ambiguity: In a few locations, he says that neurons bodily detect details and informational standards. in different places, he says that it is as if neurons do that, i.e., we venture this position onto neurons in our makes an attempt to come back to appreciate them. listed here are a few consultant examples:

Neurons can be inspiration to bodily realize informational standards put on features in their enter . . . All informational criteria are realized in actual techniques (pp. 31, 32, emphasis added)

a neuron cannot be notion to assess information criterially when thought of in isolation. It simply takes chemical substances, comparable to glucose, oxygen, neurotransmitters, and ions, as inputs. but when the edge for firing is met if and purely if certain sorts of informational evidence are real in regards to the inputs, then the mechanism underlying neuronal firing not merely assesses net capability on the axonal hillock, it additionally assesses those informational evidence. during this method, actual standards put on actual inputs can detect informational standards put on informational inputs. (p. 33, emphasis extra, aside from "if and basically if")

Not basically does Tse vacillate among treating neurons as processing info, assessing info, etc, at the one hand, and treating them as if they care for info in those methods, the personification equivocation exhibits up back. Assessing even if evidence are real, facing info, reading actual beneficial properties as "criteria" or "information" are all fundamental human capacities that contain interpretation. considering neurons as conducting those comparable actions is also an interpretation that in simple terms will get its plausibility via projecting imperative human capacities onto neurons; yet then it turns into really easy to confuse the capacities of people and neurons. The personification equivocation hides a mess of sins.

The moment cause to doubt Tse's account is the causal closure of physics, or the causal completeness of physics (CCP). If CCP is correct, then no such factor as loose will is feasible simply because there's no feel within which there's any type of loose motion (Allison 1997; Bishop 2010; Bishop and Atmanspacher 2011). Tse recognizes that there are difficulties for psychological causation and loose will if CCP is right, simply because then Jaegwon Kim's (2007) causal exclusion argument might successfully rule out any psychological causation. Tse is right that CCP is a vital premise in Kim's argument. Unfortunately, Tse thinks that if there's ontological indeterminism within the most simple area of physics, then the causal exclusion argument fails (pp. 249-254). even though Kim's exclusion argument may well require nuance if ontological indeterminism is correct ontological indeterminism, opposite to Tse's view, on its own doesn't invalidate CCP. CCP is a thesis concerning the causal constitution of the realm implying no psychological causation is valuable in any actual results whatever the deterministic prestige of the main simple forces and debris (Bishop 2006). Ontological indeterminism could swap how neurons behave relative to ontological determinism, yet this alteration doesn't volume to the failure of CCP.

A 3rd cause to doubt Tse's account of psychological causation and loose will is that it fails to flee CCP. His account relies on the capacities of neurons to reset -- "choose" -- new criterialthresholds for destiny inputs to satisfy. even if, CCP implies that it's basically the underlying physics that counts in such activity. Tse requires that info consistently be bodily discovered, so CCP could suggest that physically-realized information eventually is configurations of ordinary debris and forces. Likewise, the actions of neurons are also finally the play of straight forward debris and forces. finally, there is not any actual psychological causation or "free will" exercised through neurons. Any resetting of criterial targets is a functionality of the task of common debris and forces no matter if this task is deterministic or indeterministic. certainly, any account of psychological causation and loose will presupposing that every one higher-level phenomena, corresponding to reasoning and determining, supervene on or are learned by way of lower-level assemblies of neurons, is deeply frustrating for motion and loose will (Allison 1997; Bishop 2010). As Henry Allison (1997) argues, if our account of employer needs to be completely mappable onto the underlying medical causal vocabulary, then the idea that of supplier disappears as every little thing we name human motion becomes purely flows of actual motives and results, flows that easily channel via "us."

Tse seems to imagine that he has escaped the results of CCP and aid (pp. 34-36) simply because ontological indeterminism supposedly blocks any aid. reflect on his example:

Neurons hold, speak, compute and remodel details through reworking motion capability spike inputs into spike trains despatched to different neurons. If I say "Please decide up your espresso cup," and also you do, then a trend of air vibrations has been transduced into neural firings in nerves that obtain enter from internal hair cells; this is often in flip remodeled a number of occasions throughout neuronal subpopulations till the that means has been decoded on the point of phrases and a proposition . . . . To try and reduce info and that means out of the causal photograph right here, as radical reductionists and epiphenomenalists do, by means of arguing that there are just debris interacting with debris, makes a basic mistakes. after all there are just debris interacting with debris. yet assuming ontological indeterminism . . . numerous units of particle paths may bodily stick to my command given your preliminary actual nation and the actual nation of the area in the meanwhile of the note "cup." (pp. 34-35)

Note the personification equivocation, back, enjoying on human capacities for conversation, dealing with info, and that means vs. neural mechanisms. extra importantly, Tse's defense of that means opposed to aid relies on ontological indeterminism delivering "countless units of particle paths [that] may perhaps bodily persist with my command given your preliminary actual kingdom and the actual nation of the area in the meanwhile of the be aware 'cup.'" yet even if ontological indeterminism is correct or now not, the mere risk of numerous units of particle paths neither yields which means, nor preserves any real probabilities for motion, will, purpose or the other capacities attribute of human job (Allison 1997; Bishop 2010).

Indeed, Tse doesn't appear to realize that he endorses a reductive view: "Of direction there are just debris interacting with particles." additionally, regardless of his protests, this view is eliminative: there isn't any feel during which "particle paths may physically" keep on with a command, or maybe discover a command significant just because indeterminism is correct. Meanings don't exist for user-friendly debris and forces; fairly, meanings, instructions, etc are changed through "countless units of particle paths." to talk of electrons following a command or discovering a command significant indicates the personification equivocation. Furthermore, Tse gives us no purposes to imagine that indeterminism crucially permits significant human motion in a global the place debris and forces do all of the paintings he attributes to neurons.

Doubtless one cause why Tse is unaware of his failure to prevent CCP and a reductive/eliminative account of psychological causation and unfastened will is the pervasive nature of the personification equivocation. This equivocation allows Tse to seamlessly substitute necessary human capacities fascinated with unfastened will (e.g., assessing standards, picking out fact, deciding on between innovations) with neural mechanisms which are ascribed an analogous capacities within the similar phrases as wide awake people. freshen up the personification equivocation, even if, and the reductive/eliminative nature of his account is instantly obvious. think of facial or the other item popularity: at "some aspect within the ventral information-processing circulate, item representations needs to be in comparison with representations saved in reminiscence. a choice needs to then be made about the most sensible match" (pp. 42-43). comparability is trend matching, for Tse, yet making judgements is what individuals do, no longer subsystems of brains or perhaps complete brains. The personification equivocation is at paintings, the following, buying and selling on judgements as people lead them to vs. trend matching to a couple threshold standards. development matching on the point of neurons is a mechanism, now not a choice, however the equivocation permitting Tse to unwittingly personify neurons mask the substitute of vital human capacities by way of neural mechanisms (and, in flip, the alternative of neural mechanisms via ordinary debris and forces).

A "decision" for Tse in the context of item attractiveness is an "effector response" to a conception of the proper path of movement, for the "frontal eye box neurons . . . make judgements in accordance with a extra summary informational layout, comparable to class, which needs to then be translated right into a structure executable through a selected effector, reminiscent of the hands or eyes" (p. 44). those are mechanistic approaches and occasions of enter detection and reaction, hardly ever the stuff we frequently learn as judgements that folks make in line with meanings and deliberation. Tse does point out that keen may perhaps contain summary, higher-level propositions corresponding to "I should still drink extra water" (p. 44), yet this, too, is the reaction of a high-level motor "plan" responding to a "desire" for water. Tse's account of psychological causation and unfastened will eventually is a mechanistic one the place equivocation on key notions equivalent to prepared, deciding on, making plans, valuing, details, review, and so on, masks the replacements of what folks do once they have interaction in judgements by means of mechanized reaction to inputs. The richness of our human event and practices of loose will and motion disappear.

Equivocating on key words equivalent to 'assessing', 'deciding' and 'willing' most likely might cross ignored while you're presupposing a strictly instrumental view of motion, the place all cause-effect chains are modeled on effective causation, and the most inspiration is to determine the best or powerful potential for attaining a pre-set objective. every little thing is lowered to tools for reaching pursuits. Instrumental motion appears to be like to slot seamlessly a global of effective cause-effects chains that the sciences research. at the instrumental view Tse offers, human activities are the results of effective causal chains no varied in style from a thermostat triggering the A/C to return on while a preset threshold is met (except that in some way the thermostat has an unidentified energy to alter the brink as soon as the brink has been met). Tse likely doesn't observe that his being enmeshed in an instrumental view of motion leads him to personify neurons and thereby mechanize assessing, determining and keen, between different actions, in any respect degrees of his account. The instrumental view of motion mask the mechanical nature of the cause-effect chains below a far richer vocabulary of human motion. in addition, Tse most likely doesn't discover how deeply the instrumental view of motion is formed via Western cultural beliefs (Bishop 2013).

In conclusion, Tse tells us that he's going to offer us a neuroscientific account of loose will and recognition, yet his metaphysics of recognition, the personification equivocation and the dedication to an instrumental photograph of motion quantities to a philosophical account with philosophical assumptions (that there's any such factor as info causation, that propositions and judgments are learned in collections of neurons, that neurons deal with/recognize details, etc.). None of those are scientifically demonstrated proof; quite, they're the bread and butter stuff of philosophical arguments within the philosophy of mind.

Do we want neuroscience perception for assisting our figuring out of loose will and psychological causation? Certainly (cf., Atmanspacher and Rotter, 2008; Harbecke and Atmanspacher, 2012). Does Tse's ceding every little thing to neuroscience whereas no longer escaping CCP and relief provide us the perception we want? No. apparently neuroscience is just too vital to depart to the neuroscientists!


Alison, H. A. (1997), "We Can Act in simple terms less than the belief of Freedom," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association 71(2): 39-50.

Atmanspacher, H. and Rotter, S. (2008), "Interpreting Neurodynamics: recommendations and Facts," Cognitive Neurodynamics 2: 297-318).

Bennett, M. R. and Hacker, P. M. S. (2003), Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. Blackwell Publishing.

Bishop, R. C. (2006), "The Hidden Premise within the Causal Argument for Physicalism," Analysis 66: 44-52.

Bishop, R. C. (2010), "Free Will and the Causal Closure of Physics," in R. Chiao, M. L. Cohen, A. J. Leggett, W. D. Phillips and C. L. Harper (eds.), Visions of Discovery: New gentle on Physics, Cosmology and realization. Cambridge collage Press, pp. 601-611.

Bishop, R. C. (2013), "Review of 'After Physicalism,'" Essays in Philosophy 14: 269-290.

Bishop, R. C., and Atmanspacher, H. (2011), "The Causal Closure of Physics and unfastened Will," in R. Kane (ed.), The Oxford guide of loose Will. Oxford: Oxford collage Press, pp. 101-111.

Harbecke and Atmanspacher (2012), "Horizontal and Vertical selection of psychological and Neural States," Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 32: 161-179.

Kane, R. (1996), The value of loose Will. Oxford: Oxford University Presss.

Kim, J. (2007), Physicalism, or anything close to Enough. Princeton: Princeton collage Press.

Strawson, G. (2004), "Free Will," in E. Craig (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. three. London: Routledge, pp. 743-753.

von Weizsäcker, C.F. (1974), Die Einheit der Natur. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag.

[1]Bennett and Hacker (2003) supply copious examples of such equivocations in neuroscience.

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Extra info for Neural Basis of Free Will: Criterial Causation

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We must consider what multiple realizability might look like at a neuronal level, given what we presently know in neuroscience about how neurons process information. 25), it does essentially involve multiple realizability. Multiple realizability is necessary for criterial causation, but it is not sufficient. For example, physical systems like locks and keys that are multiply realizable (a key can be made of many kinds of substances and still function as a lock opener; cf. Shapiro, 2000) need not realize criterial causation.

Because one informational realization can trigger another, information can be causal, as it is in the brain. On this account, we really do go to the dentist because the pain is unbearable. This is not to deny that we are entirely physical systems subject to the laws of physical causation; we are. It is just that for brains, physical neuronal causal chains are informational causal chains, and vice versa. 9 In chapter 8, I explore various implications of the view that neural information-processing is an instance of criterial causation for psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience.

In chapter 6 I argue that if physically realized criteria place conditions on the informational content carried by input, then informational causal chains can be realized in physical causal chains. In chapter 7 I argue that criterial causation provides the key neural mechanism for mental causation and free will. 4 Neurons Impose Physical and Informational Criteria for Firing on Their Inputs How Can Neurons Realize Informational Criteria? 1 But how do they do this? To answer this we must first consider a fundamental puzzle in neuroscience: Why do neural networks “bother” with relatively slow chemical transmission between neurons at the synapse, when electrical communication would be much faster?

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