On Thu, 18 Apr 2002, Wei Dai wrote:

> On Thu, Apr 18, 2002 at 11:57:28AM -0700, Brent Meeker wrote:
> > Your approaches seem incoherent to me. If the universe is defined by a
> > complete computable description then that description includes you and
> > whatever decision process your brain implements.  To treat the universe as
> > computable and your choices as determined by some utility function and
> > decision theory is contradictory.
> Why is that contradictory? Please explain. Also, what alternative do you 
> propose?

Perhaps "contradictory" is too strong a word - I should have stuck with
"incoherent". But it seems you contemplate having different wishes about
the future evolution of the world and you want to find some decision
theory that tells you what action to take in order to maximize desirable
outcomes.  But if the world is already determined, then so are you actions
and your decision processes.  Thus are actions and decision processes are
supposed to be determined in two completely different ways - one at the
level of physical processes of the universe, the other at the level of
desires and decision theory.  These two are not necessarily contradictory,
but to avoid contradiction you need to add the constraint on the decision
theory you follow that it agree with what your actions are as defined by
the mathematical description of the universe.

Brent Meeker
"If nature offers us a difficult knot to unravel, do not let us introduce
in order to unravel it the  hand of a being who then becomes an even more
difficult knot to untie than the first one."
        --- Diederot

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