Rex Allen wrote:
On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 5:27 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
On 27 February 2010 14:59, Rex Allen <> wrote:
People can only have beliefs that supervene onto one of the physical
configurations that it is possible for a human brain to take.  What
determines the set of possible physical brain configurations?  Well,
first, the laws of physics that govern the interactions of the quarks
and electrons that constitute such a brain.  And second, whether such
a configuration is reachable from the initial state of the universe.

So physical laws plus initial conditions determine what beliefs are
actually possible vs not possible for people.  People cannot have any
belief whatsoever.

Evolution has no causal mechanism, and thus doesn't add any
explanatory power to physicalism.  It's just a convenient fiction - a
kind of short hand, or a metaphor - for fundamental physical laws plus
initial conditions.
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
could not be other than what they actually are given initial
conditions and physical laws?  I suppose that is true, but even in a
deterministic single universe we generally use the term "physically
possible" to mean that something could have been the case if initial
conditions had been different, while in a multiverse "physically
possible" means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
that he lives for only a day.

How do you know?  Perhaps the physical brain state that this belief
WOULD supervene on is not actually possible in our universe due to the
fact that assuming that state would violate the Pauli exclusion

Or perhaps it wouldn't violate the violate any physical law, BUT all
paths by which you could reach that state WOULD violate some physical
law.  So the only universe that could contain a person holding that
belief would have to have this person appear as part of the initial
conditions of that universe.

Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?
Why do you say evolution lacks a causal mechanism? Natural selection causes somethings not to occur - like animals that eat their children.


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