Cape Cod Institute
 
Behavior OnLine Forums  
The gathering place for Mental Health and
Applied Behavior Science Professionals.
 
Become a charter member of Behavior OnLine.

Go Back   Behavior OnLine Forums > BOL Forums > Evolutionary Psychology

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #21  
Unread March 8th, 2006, 11:23 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 483
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
TJ: . . . yes, I feel that they [Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Milošević, etc.] are not morally responsible, and should still be punished/deterred.
Thanks Tom. That, better than anything else, I think, captures the difference of how you and I see things. Unlike you, I’m convinced that such criminals are morally responsible and that that is the reason that they should be punished.

Nevertheless, while I may find your view—that such criminals are not “morally responsible”—somewhat repugnant, I have to admit that your acknowledgement has an intellectual honesty and consistency with your atheism that I didn’t quite expect—most atheists lack the intellectual rigor to recognize that there can’t really be any “moral responsibility” in a pitiless, indifferent universe of electrons, selfish genes, blind physical forces, and genetic replication; and/or simply lack the intellectual honesty or balls to acknowledge such harsh implications.

Bravo Tom. The other “atheists” posting here are pussies compared to you. FWIW, my respect for you has just increased a bit. And if I ever revert back to being an atheist (I was one until my middle twenties), I hope I’ll have the intellectual balls that you’ve shown here.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Unread March 10th, 2006, 10:06 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Dallas
Posts: 257
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
your view—that such criminals are not “morally responsible”
Yes, humans have no 'moral' responsibility; that term was co-opted by the religious and I avoid it. We are held responsible by psychological and societal instincts which evolved. This includes the evolution of the 'regret module' that started this discussion thread.

Humans have a 'clan' instinct; with many evolved, adaptive behaviors ('altruism', revenge, sharing, etc.). We needed to form clans since our offensive weapons (and those of our predators before technology) far exceeded our defensive ones and we'd be as numerous as the Neanderthals without it. That clan instinct evolves and guides society.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Unread March 18th, 2006, 11:14 AM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 174
Arrow Reasonable limits to the modularity thesis

If I get the drift here, it sounds like Tom is suggesting that human moral reasoning is essentially the application of something like instincts (via evolved computational modules in this particular case). So for example, moral responsibility is nothing more than the pull of guilt wired into us for doing the wrong thing. This implies to me that there is no such thing as human wisdom, or no basis for its development, or that it is something inflexible and hardwired. None of these is in accord with my experience.

So I have to disagree with this. For example I feel that the pull of guilt is very important or neccessary to moral reasoning, but not sufficient. I could feel guilty for imagining doing the wrong thing, and therefore be guided into making a more moral decision, or I could feel guilty for missing the opportunity to exploit someone. I don't think individual "emotional modules" can themselves contain enough contextual information to be able to make the sorts of decisions that we consider good judgment.

The older instinct theory of behavior and the newer evolved module theory share the same conundrum which it seems to me we would need to address here. If our decisions are "tied to" various hardwired responses to information or stimuli in our environment, then how do we manage to choose which hardwired response gets activated? Is there some property of a task that triggers one module vs. another? The evidence doesn't seem to point that way, we often perform the same task differently in different situations.

For behaviorists, the problem was that the environment simply doesn't provide enough structured information to make this decision for us according to our goals, so there must be some fairly sophisticated information processing going on within the individual mind, which I think is a big part of the rationale for the general shift of most researchers of mind, brain, and behavior to cognitive neuroscience over behaviorism.

For modularists, the problem is similar, but more sophisticated.

Human decision making is obviously littered with all sorts of blind spots and judgmental biases that have been well studied by experimental psychologists and social psychologists. This does, to me, imply that there are a lot of "click-whir" responses in a human brain that support the model of underlying modules being activated under particular conditions.

The reason the modularity problem is more of a dilemma to me than the behaviorist problem is that the tools that underlie human reasoning do not seem to be only domain-specific. For example, under some conditions we do consistently make a concerted and somewhat successful effort to test our conclusions for logical consistency with evidence, and apply this skill in a way that is not specific to a particular computational domain.

So while I would agree that even this sort of skill is probably exploiting underlying specialized abilities, it is being applied across domains. And most importantly, it is being applied in a way that is not informationally encapsulated. This should be emphasized because that is the cornerstone principle of the mind modularity model, that the information in each module is opaque to the other modules. If you break that assumption, then many of the most common implications we want to be able to draw from the model are no longer supported by it.

For example, people can no longer be said to simply be reacting from the activity of a particular module in a particular situation, that would be an untestable story akin to Freud's unconscious motivations in psychoanalysis. Even if the module was very real, it would not be appriopriate to pinpoint it as a causal factor in a particular behavior without a lot of additional information, and it would probably not be the sole cause.

To me, the implication seems to be that the human brain possesses strategies for accessing information across domains, and performing tasks differently under different conditions, and this implies to me that it is not modules all the way up.

It seems to me to still make sense to look for modularity when we see click-whir responses, just as it made sense to look for non-obvious reasons for behavior in psychoanalysis, but it makes no sense to me to assume that cross-domain skills like reasoning and moral judgment are themselves modular.

kind regards,

Todd
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Unread March 18th, 2006, 03:20 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Dallas
Posts: 257
Default Re: Reasonable limits to the modularity thesis

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddStark
If I get the drift here, it sounds like Tom is suggesting that human moral reasoning is essentially the application of something like instincts (via evolved computational modules in this particular case). So for example, moral responsibility is nothing more than the pull of guilt wired into us for doing the wrong thing. This implies to me that there is no such thing as human wisdom, or no basis for its development, or that it is something inflexible and hardwired.
You stress the punishment force (guilt) in our decisions but not the reward side. I'm guessing that you accept that there are both so I will not add to this except to say that I would agree that guilt is not sufficient.

There is such a thing as "human wisdom" and a basis for it: we, like all good evolvers are just trying to make the best of our environment. We can weigh many, many inputs and choose to be conciliatory or brutish. Human wisdom is just this basic fact taken to its currently highest form.

That I think a 'regret module' is tremendously important as a proof of the evolution of psychology and an un-free will does not mean that I'm a 'modularist' and think that everything is encapsulated. Yikes. I accept that 'modules' are not opaque and not even that 'modular'. That's not my argument.

I'm ONLY saying that 'will is completely dependent on the brain', however wonderful that brain is. If you take a mind-altering drug, you've changed your will. Even Fred says that if your brain is damaged enough, you have no free will. If you have no free will, you have no 'morals' beyond the instincts that have been bred into us as social animals. We're all just fooling ourselves in whatever way will make us most acceptable to our respective, and vastly different, tribes; except, of course, me .

I know we're probably going around the circle again (and may forever) but if you want to say that 'something else' gives us and machines some power beyond the brain, I'd like to know what that is.

It must be frustrating to read what I write without my having read all the books and understanding whatever 'great knowable truth' there is out there that you accept and I'm sorry about that. I'm stupid, I like to keep it simple.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Unread March 18th, 2006, 07:36 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 483
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
TomJ: I'm stupid, I like to keep it simple.
So this guy gets a flat tire, as it happens, on a street right in front of a psychiatric hospital.

He removes the hubcap and then the lug nuts and places them in the hubcap; then, in the process of replacing the flat with the spare, he somehow manages to tip over the hubcap and the lug nuts roll away and disappear down a nearby sewer.

Scratching his head and looking down the sewer the guy is wondering what in the world he’s going to do, when one of the psychiatric patients who’d been observing all this from his hospital window yells: “Hey buddy, I’ll tell you what to do—just remove one lug nut from each of the other three wheels and use those."

The guy looks up, startled, realizing that the solution to his problem has just been solved by a psychiatric patient, and says: "Yeah, that’s very good thinking . . . so what in the world are you doing in there?" And the patient responds, “Well, I’m in here b/c I’m crazy, not b/c I’m stupid."
I’m thinking maybe that’s why I post here—b/c I’m crazy . . . and then there are others who can’t seem to find their nuts.

Last edited by Fred H.; March 18th, 2006 at 09:05 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Unread April 2nd, 2006, 03:33 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Dallas
Posts: 257
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H. in "Race Differences and Intelligence" thread
A mass murderer, however, obviously “chooses” to be a mass murderer (except possibly in cases where the mass murderer is truly insane, or perhaps is a “child”). As best I can tell, there aren’t many “sane” “adults” that would argue, as you seem to, that a mass murderer is somehow not “morally responsible” or that mass murderers are “just following their social instincts.”
Fred, great post, thanks! I guess Mrs Fred is a really good influence . I think the reply is better discussed in the context of this thread rather than the "Race Differences and Intelligence" thread where you wrote this in post #44.

Your point here about mass murders and your point on the other thread about homosexuals tie in nicely for me to make my point.

Long ago I felt that homosexuality had a large genetic component. Why? Because I felt that any man with my initial conditions could not possibly prefer men over women. That was just so far beyond what I could consider possible, I had no choice but to deduce that they have something distinctly different in their makeup. (I considered some sort of psychological trauma but didn't see enough and saw young, happy children in obviously cross-gender roles.)

So now, you're INSISTING that mass murder is a choice and I'm confronted with the same problem: I can not conceive that anything could make me hurt innocent people so much. The pain inflicted on their surviving friends and family as much as the victims themselves is just incomprehensible. I have this fairness gene that will just not allow such a thing. (And this from an atheist who MUST be 'morally blind', in your words.)

So, a mass murderer must have some of a number of 'problems'. Either they think it's a fair thing to do or they're doing it "for their (the victims') own good" or they have no concept of fairness. They must have something wrong in their brains in the first place or been in an environment that gave them such a tremendous amount of pain that they were working from a different set of assumptions as I am now. And again, I've seen small children doing hideously cruel things to innocent cats and dogs.

But the real reason you and I can not agree goes back to baseball. As I watched numerous instances of a player on my team getting called out at first base, I was sure my team was robbed. And when the umps called the runners on the other team safe on close plays, I was sure that the umps had ulterior motives. This was with professional teams on TV, it got MUCH worse when I was playing softball and had more personal emotional investment in the direction of the call. And then came the television replay. I was convinced that the player I was rooting for was safe; as the frame clicked by, I saw that he was actually out. This happened more times than I cared to count, far more than when he was actually safe. The kicker, though, was that I don't remember a single case where I thought my runner was out but the replay showed that he was safe! What's with that?

I realized then the power of 'wishful thinking'. And now comes the proof as stated in this and the http://www.behavior.net/bolforums/showthread.php?t=728 thread that I posted: there is a part of the brain dedicated to precisely that! It filters out facts, inserts false ones and massages thoughts so that MY teams wins every time! Once in a while, when I'm feeling secure and not too emotionally invested, my reality center kicks in and knocks me over the head with reality, but, if it means enough to me, reality has a good chance to lose that battle.

So, you will not abandon your illusion of free will, neither will most "sane adults". Probably because of the ugly fact of my philosophy: if a mass murderer is not ultimately responsible for being bad, then you are not superior to others because of your facade of 'goodness'. You and I are merely luckier that society is a better fit for us and our instinctive tendencies than it was for Dahmer.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Unread April 3rd, 2006, 11:42 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 483
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
TomJ: I can not conceive that anything could make me hurt innocent people so much.
You mean like when you were “sure” that your “team was robbed,” except that it wasn’t? Don’t flatter yourself—you’re quite capable of being “sure” of the lack of “innocence” in others, and of immense viciousness.

Human history is replete with numerous instances of “man’s inhumanity to man”—the 20th century being especially brutal—with multitudes of regular folk choosing to participate in the inhumanity. And in every case all the participants were “sure” that in some sense their “team” was “robbed,” that the victims were not “innocent,” and/or that a greater good was being served.

Your supposed fairness gene/regret module is an illusion, or just damn easy to short-circuit. Without free will/moral responsibility (and some sort of religious/spiritual values serving as a mitigating factor against the excesses of state power and human behavior) we humans are essentially nothing more than wolves. (Mass murderers would probably agree with your “philosophy,” that they’re “not ultimately responsible for being bad”—it’s just the rest of us “sane adults” that tend to see things differently.)

You and I are done—perhaps Todd or someone else will continue this conversation with you, or not.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Unread April 3rd, 2006, 02:48 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Dallas
Posts: 257
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
all the participants were “sure” that in some sense their “team” was “robbed,” that the victims were not “innocent,” and/or that a greater good was being served.
Yes, that's my point. Though 'all the participants' is further than I would go and you left out "have no concept of fairness".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
Without free will/moral responsibility (and some sort of religious/spiritual values serving as a mitigating factor against the excesses of state power and human behavior) we humans are essentially nothing more than wolves.
We are much, much more than wolves. Our brains have evolved to be much more powerful. We can plan ahead and learn from history. We can apply our brains to dramatically change our environment. We can play ping pong .

Besides, I don't argue that the kind part of religion is not beneficial, just against your argument that atheists can not be kind ("morally blind" in your terms). Atheists can not create laws that say everyone has to be kind every time they interact with others, no matter how much better everyone's life would be; ministers of all types can, however, influence their flocks to do just that.

In fact, there's a reason that everyone is highly tuned to the smell of ammonia and that cat urine is so much stronger smelling than human urine; I believe there is a evolutionary reason for everything. That there is so much religion in the world means to me that there are evolutionary reasons for it and religion has made us fitter.

So, I support religions though I can't seem to accept anyone's myths or folklore. The carrot and stick of heaven and hell probably alter many people's environment to the point where they deterministically make better 'choices' but I still believe there are many bad religious people and good atheists.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
You and I are done
Cool, I'll be here if you're ready to discuss my views further...

Last edited by TomJrzk; April 5th, 2006 at 08:46 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Unread May 2nd, 2006, 10:27 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Dallas
Posts: 257
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
But “we” can “control” fear, usually, at least to some degree—e.g., we can choose to take Xanax, or we can choose to control certain kinds of fear through behavioral therapy. You can choose to control your fear of heights by not looking down. Perhaps eventually we’ll be able to choose to have some kind of surgery on the amygdale to “control” fear, or PTSD.

But I do wonder if you yourself will ever be able to control your propensity for making such thoughtless assertion like you’ve just done here again? Perhaps you could just choose to not post? Or choose to actually consider the implications of whatever you’re asserting b/f you post? Nah, probably not.
You guessed right.

All those examples of controlling fear involved changing the state of the brain, that's my point. Will depends completely on the state of the brain. And, yes, I've given it a lot of thought. Just because your philosophy is wrong does not mean that I don't consider the alternatives.

BTW, I really liked Wiki's statement on 'emergence': "In fact, calling a phenomenon emergent is sometimes used in lieu of a more meaningful explanation". A millennium ago, the motion of planets baffled the flatlanders; today, we're baffled by the complexity of the brain. We will solve it and know the source of will, and it will not be free no matter how strong the illusion. In fact, the regret module that is the subject of this thread and the repression function in the other thread are large, controlling, parts of that 'free' will.

Last edited by TomJrzk; May 2nd, 2006 at 11:01 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Unread May 2nd, 2006, 11:50 AM
Carey N Carey N is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 138
Default Re: Evolved Psychology - Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified

Quote:
A millennium ago, the motion of planets baffled the flatlanders; today, we're baffled by the complexity of the brain.
This is a poor analogy . . . the solar system is vastly simpler than a human brain, and it is absolutely the case that consciousness is an emergent property. I agree with Wiki that the word emergent is often misused, but here it is appropriate: a collective has properties which would not have been anticipated (and cannot be deterministically modelled) by a looking at the individual behavior of its components alone. Just because consciousness is emergent doesn't mean that will is free, however.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:33 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright © 1995-2004 Behavior OnLine, Inc. All rights reserved.