SP: ' In the end, what is "right" is an irreducible personal belief,
which you can try to change by appeal to emotions or by example, but not
by appeal to logic or empirical facts. And in fact I feel much safer
that way: if someone honestly believed that he knew what was "right" as
surely as he knew 2+2=4, he would be a very dangerous person. Religious
fanatics are not dangerous because they want to do evil, but because
they want to do good. '
MP: I agree with this, saving only that, on a 'numbers' basis, there are
those whose personal evolution takes them beyond the dynamic of 'good'
or 'evil' into the domain of power for its own sake. This entails
complete loss of empathic ability and I think it could be argued that
such a person is 'legislating' himself out of the human species.
MP: I think a key point with 'irreducible personal belief' is that the
persons in question need to acknowledge the beliefs as such and take
responsibility for them. I believe we have to point this out, whenever
we get the opportunity, because generally most people are reluctant to
engage in analysis of their own beliefs, in public anyway. I think part
of the reason for this is the cultural climate [meme-scape?] in which
Belief in a G/god/s or uncritical Faith are still held to be perfectly
respectable. This cultural climate is what Richard Dawkins and Daniel
Dennet have been criticising in recent books and articles.
SP: 'I am not entirely convinced that comp is true'
MP: At the moment I am satisfied that 'comp' is NOT true, certainly in
any format that asserts that 'integers' are all that is needed.
'Quantum' is one thing, but 'digital' is quite another :-) The main
problem [fact I would prefer to say] is that existence is irreducible
whereas numbers or Number be dependent upon something/s existing.
MP: Why are we not zombies? The answer is in the fact of
self-referencing. In our case [as hominids] there are peculiarities of
construction and function arisen from our evolutionary history, but
there is nothing in principle to deny self-awareness from a
silicon-electronic entity that embodied sufficient details within a
model of self in the world. The existence of such a model would
constitute its mind, broadly speaking, and the updating of the model of
self in the world would be the experience of self awareness. What it
would be like TO BE the updating of such a model of self in the world is
something we will probably have to wait awhile to be told :-)
Mark Peaty CDES
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
Bruno Marchal writes:
Le 31-déc.-06, à 04:59, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit (to Tom Caylor):
> Of course: questions of personal meaning are not scientific
questions. > Physics may show you how to build a nuclear bomb, but it
won't tell > you whether you should use it.
But Physics, per se, is not supposed to answer this.
Socio-economics could give light, as could "computer simulation of
nuclear explosion in cities ...".
And some (still putative) theory of ethics could perhaps put light on
that question too. Well, the ultimate decision is a problem for the
"president" .... But the president and its advisers could consult
some decision theory ... perhaps.
No, those theories won't answer the question of whether you should use
the bomb either. Suppose your theory says something like, "if you wish
to save a lives by taking b lives, where a>b, then you should use the
bomb". The scientific part of this theory involves demonstrating that,
in fact, use of the bomb would save a lives by taking b lives. But
this does not tell you whether you should actually use the bomb.
Neither would an ethical theory like utilitarianism tell you what to
do: it might confirm that according to the theory it is the right
thing to do, but utilitarianism cannot tell you that utilitarianism is
"right". In the end, what is "right" is an irreducible personal
belief, which you can try to change by appeal to emotions or by
example, but not by appeal to logic or empirical facts. And in fact I
feel much safer that way: if someone honestly believed that he knew
what was "right" as surely as he knew 2+2=4, he would be a very
dangerous person. Religious fanatics are not dangerous because they
want to do evil, but because they want to do good. The number of
people killed in the name of God vastly outnumbers the number killed
in the name of Satan.
> Where I think I disagree with you [Tom] is that you seem to want to
> reduce the irreducible and make values and personal meaning real
world > objects, albeit not of the kind that can be detected by
scientific > instruments, perhaps issued by God. But in proposing
this you are > swapping one irreducible entity extremely
well-grounded in empirical > evidence (I know I'm conscious, and I
know that when my brain stops so > does my consciousness) for another
irreducible entity with no > grounding in empirical evidence whatsoever.
I agree that you know you are conscious. Well, I don't know that but
I have good evidences and hope. But I don't see any evidence that
when your brain stops so does your consciousness. I can understand
the belief (not even knowledge) that when your brain stops relatively
to mine (in case we share an history), then so does the possibility
of your consciousness to manifest itself relatively to me; but no more.
Actually what does mean the expression "my brain stops". In all
universe? all multiverses, all computational histories ...
You have to be precise which theory you are using when relating some
3-me (like "my brain") and some 1-me (like the knower, the conscious
I agree with some critics you make with respect to Tom Caylor notion
of personal God, but sometimes, it seems to me, you have a conception
of reality which could as criticable as Caylor's one. Err... i see
your particular point is valid though, but you are using misleading
images with respect to the consequence of mechanism (I guess you are
aware but that you want to remain short perhaps).
It gets cumbersome to qualify everything with "given the appearance of
a physical world". As I have said before, I am not entirely convinced
that comp is true, precisely because because such ideas as a conscious
computation supervening on any physical process or on no physical
process may be considered absurd. It is quite possible, for example,
that there is something special about the structure of the brain which
leads to consciousness, and a digital computer will not be able to
copy this, even if it copies 3rd person observable behaviour. Against
that idea is the question of why we didn't evolve to be zombies, but
maybe we would have if nature had electronic circuits to play with. If
I had to guess between comp and not-comp I don't think I could do
better than flipping a coin.
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