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Author Topic:   Biology is Destiny?
Tangle
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Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


(1)
Message 1 of 129 (641292)
11-18-2011 9:39 AM


There's a guy called Fred, married for many years, normal.

At the age of 40 his personality changes, he starts developing overt and inappropriate sexual tendancies. He starts looking at child porn. He gets kicked out by his wife for making sexual advances to young girls. He is finally prosecuted for a sex offence and put on the sex offender's register.

He also starts getting bad headaches and when he finally turns up at a hospital, they find an enormous tumour on his prefrontal cortex. They remove the tumour and his paedophilia is cured.

A couple of years later he starts having sexual problems again, he checks in to hospital, they find that the tumour has returned. They remove it, it cures the paedophilia. He's currently fine.

So this particular 'evil' was caused by neurology. Perhaps then free will and morality are dependent on the way our brains work rather than how Satan works.

quote:

"Studies suggest that when damage is done to the frontal lobe before 18 months, people never learn right from wrong," Swerdlow said. "When damage is done after that time, people can learn right from wrong but they can't control their impulses. There is no longer regard for long-term consequences, only short-term gratification."

"Nothing puts the brakes on their behavior. They are always in trouble," he said. "If their brain wants something, they take it."

Swerdlow said this was the case with his patient. The man knew his actions were wrong "but the pleasure principle overrode his restraint. [snip]

"He concluded: "We're dealing with the neurology of morality here."


Scientific paper here:
http://www.ahealthymind.org/...y/right%20OFC%20pedophile.pdf

Article here:
http://www.rifters.com/real/articles/brainontrial.htm

Biology is Destiny? Discuss

Edited by Tangle, : Linguistic improvement

Edited by Tangle, : Fixed broken link


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Jon, posted 11-18-2011 1:13 PM Tangle has responded
 Message 4 by Larni, posted 11-18-2011 4:02 PM Tangle has not yet responded
 Message 7 by Chuck77, posted 11-19-2011 4:44 AM Tangle has responded
 Message 73 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-25-2011 8:06 PM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 5 of 129 (641418)
11-19-2011 2:46 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Jon
11-18-2011 1:13 PM


quote:
What's there to discuss?

Well rather a lot if you're a believer in the concepts of free will and evil, right and wrong, sin and absolute morality.

It's interesting to defense lawyers too, if you can say 'my brain made me do it' you can't be culpable.

Of course, the fact that Fred's brain was changed by a tumour is what makes this case interesting and proved how behaviour can be changed by extreme circumstances. But once you accept the fact that brain, beyond our own will, is responsible for behaviour, you can legitimately ask to what extent we are in control of our own actions generally.

Edited by Tangle, : Second thoughts....


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Jon, posted 11-18-2011 1:13 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Larni, posted 11-19-2011 4:27 AM Tangle has not yet responded
 Message 8 by Parasomnium, posted 11-19-2011 5:23 AM Tangle has responded
 Message 21 by Jon, posted 11-20-2011 7:36 PM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


(1)
Message 9 of 129 (641424)
11-19-2011 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Chuck77
11-19-2011 4:44 AM


quote:

If your trying to dismiss satan as a real entiy because you think it rediculous to believe such a thing that's fine,

It's fine then :-)

quote:
but to say tumors cannot be attributed to him because of neurology is forgetting about what and who caused the fall of man that was then followed by sickness and disease (according to what we know of him). This isn't a good case to make against him.

Well that's all fairy tale stuff to me. But in any case my reference to Satan was simply metaphorical, my real interest is in how much of our behaviour is simply outside our conscious control and therefore how can we be held responsible for it? If what we call good and bad behaviour is simply neurology, what on earth is morality?

quote:
Also it's seems no different than is someone is on antidepressants for depression if they were to leave it untreated and the depression came back as a result of going off the medication how would that have anything to do with morals or ruling out satan as a cause?

Leaving Satan aside, you are making my point for me. Drugs are capable of changing mood. To take it a bit further, an extreme bi-polar or schizophrenic person who stops taking his drugs can display behaviour that 'normal' people would describe as immoral and even evil. There's evidence that serial killers at the extreme end of psychopathy have differently wired brains - are they as culpable as murderers with 'normally' wired brains?

quote:
Who's claiming this? I don't see how a physical symptom and behavioural changes reflects ones moral compass.

Don't you think Fred's moral compass was changed by the tumour?


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Chuck77, posted 11-20-2011 5:32 AM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 10 of 129 (641425)
11-19-2011 9:40 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Parasomnium
11-19-2011 5:23 AM


Re: 'My brain made me do it'
quote:
Even if we are all victims of our biology, there are still cases where the interests of society take precedence over those of the individual.

Yes, I accept that point. Even if we could have a legal defense of 'my brain made me doi it' the individual would still have to be put somewhere where he couldn't harm the rest of us.

But it would (should?) change our views of the crime - Fred would become a patient rather than a criminal and hopefully treated rather differently.

But Fred is an extreme, where is the point when we cross the line from culpable to not culpable?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Parasomnium, posted 11-19-2011 5:23 AM Parasomnium has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Parasomnium, posted 11-19-2011 6:04 PM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 13 of 129 (641531)
11-20-2011 4:15 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Parasomnium
11-19-2011 6:04 PM


Re: 'My brain made me do it'
quote:
How about this: if (1) you know that your actions are wrong; (2) you could have done otherwise; and (3) you knowingly and willingly did what you did; then you are culpable, whereas in all other cases you are not. By this I mean that all three conditions must be met for a charge of culpability.

In Fred's case he gets a pass on 2 and partially on 3. A pure psychopath would pass on 1.

But these are extremes. They point to a much more general issue that it's likely that we will all have your 1,2s and 3s differently calibrated in our wiring - just as we're all different heights and weights organised around a mean.

Logically, this means that the playing field isn't level as far as our ability to choose right from wrong is concerned but our laws (and religious folk) assume something quite different - that free will is perfect. (With exceptions for age and illness)


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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 14 of 129 (641533)
11-20-2011 4:35 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Larni
11-19-2011 6:12 PM


quote:
Please don't tell me you are leading up towards 'absolute' morality.

I'm leading to exactly the opposite, so I'd like to hear how the religious folk here repair the damage it does to their absolute morality and perfect free will beliefs.


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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 19 of 129 (641545)
11-20-2011 6:36 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Chuck77
11-20-2011 5:32 AM


quote:
It messed with Freds brain chemistry, not his moral compass.

I think you're in an impossible position here.

Until he was 40 Fred behaved normally. He then had the tumour and his behaviour changed. To take just one element of how it changed, he started looking at child porn - something he had not previously done and something we must suppose he found abhorrent both before the tumour grew and after it was removed.

So we know for sure that his brain made him do it. This very strongly suggests that his moral compass (whatever that is) changed along with his brain - how else could it have happened. If his morality did not change ie he knew that the thing he was doing was wrong but he did it anyway, why? And how?

In psychopathy, we know that they don't have whatever it is that makes normal people empathise, this results in them not understanding why it could be wrong to murder someone and eat their liver. Compass pointing exactly due South?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Chuck77, posted 11-20-2011 5:32 AM Chuck77 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 59 by Chuck77, posted 11-24-2011 2:19 AM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 22 of 129 (641644)
11-21-2011 2:58 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Jon
11-20-2011 7:36 PM


quote:
Says who.

Says the law. Being 'of sound mind' or more exactly for criminal law, acting with intent and 'men's rea' is at the centre of our law.

quote:
Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind".[1] In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty". Thus, in jurisdictions with due process, there must be an actus reus accompanied by some level of mens rea to constitute the crime with which the defendant is charged (see the technical requirement of concurrence). As a general rule, criminal liability does not attach to a person who acted with the absence of mental fault. The exception is strict liability crimes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mens_rea

quote:

Where is your justification for separating the brain from various cognitive processes such as will?

I'm doing the opposite. I'm saying that because the brain is the source of cognitive processes (if not, where else?) then how it is wired is likely to influence those processes.


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 Message 21 by Jon, posted 11-20-2011 7:36 PM Jon has responded

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 26 of 129 (641691)
11-21-2011 4:16 PM


I'm really trying to get beyond Fred and the extreme position he represents. He shows, in an obvious way, how the brain affects personality and behaviour. And we already accept that drugs - and their absence - change personality and behaviour.

What I'm trying to get to is that there must be a gradient between someone much more saintly than me (not hard) and Fred at his worst. And that gradient must be how the brain is wired, both at birth and as we grow. So we're not born with equal 'free will'.

If that's the case then the entire concept of absolute morality falls flat on it's arse and with it goes sin and evil and basically everything at the core of most religions - including Christianity.


Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by Larni, posted 11-22-2011 6:19 AM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 28 of 129 (641745)
11-22-2011 7:04 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by Larni
11-22-2011 6:19 AM


Neurology kills Free Will
quote:
Pretty much

Then neurology is going to make a bigger dent in the Abrahamic religions than Darwin did. 'All' Darwin did was show that we don't have to invoke a God to explain how species got here.

Demonstrating that Free Will isn't actually free or equal and is mutable removes religion's claim on morality, kills original sin and does not require a saviour to sacrifice himself to save us from it.

Pretty much game over for theism I'd say.


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Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by New Cat's Eye, posted 11-22-2011 9:42 AM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 30 of 129 (641767)
11-22-2011 10:37 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by New Cat's Eye
11-22-2011 9:42 AM


Re: Neurology kills Free Will
quote:
Its not for me. In my view, the mind is a gateway from the spiritual to the physical, and it stems from the brain. Damage the gateway, and the spirit doesn't come through the same way. Brain damage affecting behavior doesn't negate the spirit, for me.
[snip]
Whether or not dualism can work, is beside the point that its can act as a band-aid for the problem, no?

Sheesh. Well you can, of course, just make stuff up to fill the yawning gap, but really, no, it doesn't solve the problem.

The problem being that the main argument is not about damage - that just proves the fact that brain configuration affect moral behaviour - it's the fact that our brains are not identical that's the problem. We must all have different starting positions in dealing with moral problems, for some of us it will be easier than others to behave morally. That is plainly unfair if we are later to be judged on it. (You now have to make up a God that compensates).


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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 39 of 129 (641815)
11-22-2011 2:48 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by New Cat's Eye
11-22-2011 2:31 PM


Re: Neurology kills Free Will
quote:
Well fuck, I don't know. I supose I could speculate for you, but I'm just making this shit up:

Why go to all that effort when it looks like we're beginnning to get some realworld, actual answers?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by New Cat's Eye, posted 11-22-2011 2:31 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by New Cat's Eye, posted 11-22-2011 2:58 PM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 41 of 129 (641826)
11-22-2011 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by New Cat's Eye
11-22-2011 2:58 PM


Re: Neurology kills Free Will
quote:
Anyways, what actual answers are we beginning to get?

Well, crudely, it appears that the orbitofrontal cortex Is responsible for morality. Not some weird spirit.


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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 48 of 129 (641897)
11-23-2011 11:15 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by caffeine
11-23-2011 8:29 AM


quote:
My problem with this sort of explanation is that I'm not clear why you'd need consciousness for this to work

It seems self-evident to me. Our consciousness has allowed us to out-compte pretty much anything on the planet and could take us to others. Surely consciousness - along with intelligence, our ability to plan ahead, empathise, speak and understand others and to put ourselves in their heads is such an obvious competitive advantage it barely needs thinking about? (Even if it does simply emerge fro the development of another useful feature such as language).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by caffeine, posted 11-23-2011 8:29 AM caffeine has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 49 by caffeine, posted 11-23-2011 11:47 AM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8207
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 50 of 129 (641906)
11-23-2011 12:11 PM
Reply to: Message 49 by caffeine
11-23-2011 11:47 AM


quote:
Given that the work needed to produce human behaviour, with its competitive advantages, is all done by these physical processes, why do we need to be aware of doing it? Why do we need to feel the urge to do something, when what we're arguing is that both the feeling and the reaction to it are produced purely by the physical nature of our brains.

Nope, I'm not getting this. There is an old argument that consciousness is not needed to do what we do ie. there's no competitive advantage of being conscious. But that's just silly - does anyone think that it's possible to build a hospital without consciousness (with all that means)?

quote:
If the mind is not some spirit responding to urges and emotions originating in the physical matter of our brain, then it's unclear to me why there should be the perception of anything responding.

Everything about our consciousness happens in our brain - there's nowhere else for it to happen and MRI shows it happening.

As consciousness means more or less that we are self aware (our brain telling us who we are - the internal conversation) we know we have it and it's an incredibly useful thing to have.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by caffeine, posted 11-23-2011 11:47 AM caffeine has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by caffeine, posted 11-25-2011 4:35 AM Tangle has responded

  
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