On 5/3/2010 7:14 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
On Sat, May 1, 2010 at 9:48 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>  wrote:
That's assuming I believe some things are true in some absolute sense
  unrelated to usefulness.  I don't.
I am having the experience of seeing a red book.

But do you *believe* you are seeing a red book. You could be mistaken about that (in fact you've argued you're probably mistaken). No, you only believe that you are having an experience that is described as "seeing a red book". But I will concede you may have confidence in such a belief (provided you know what "see", "red", and "book" mean - which requires references that are less than certain). For myself I don't formulate such beliefs, although I suppose I could say, "I believe I am experiencing something that could be described as looking at a computer display." It doesn't seem to be useful to obtain certainty by giving up all reference. Is that what you are doing and that's why you regard your experiences as uncaused and not referring - so you can have certainty?

This is absolutely
true, regardless of usefulness - and regardless of whether I am
actually seeing a book or just hallucinating.  The experience exists,
even if the book doesn't.

I am NOT having the experience of seeing a blue pen.  This is also
absolutely true, even if I am suffering from "blind-sight" and there's
actually a blue pen here that I would react to correctly if pushed to
do so.

Truths about conscious experience are absolute truths, regardless of
what (if anything) generates the experience.

Just like there is no "red" in the world (in the sense that I
experience it), there is no "time" in the world (in the sense that I
experience it).

Time is like red.  Both only exist as aspects of experience.
But (according to you) that is the only way anything exists.  So time and
red exist if "exist" has any meaning at all.
When I say time and red are aspects of consciousness, I mean it in the
same way that a scientific realist means that spin is an aspect of an

Red and time are mathematical attributes in a model of consciousness?? Ok, what's the model?

On 5/1/2010 6:15 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
I would expect an honest physicalist to say that he believed it
because, given the initial conditions of the universe plus the
causal laws of physics as applied over  ~13.7 billion years, it
could not be otherwise.
He has no *choice* except to believe it.  To not believe it would
require different initial conditions, or different causal laws.

I thought you were not believing it because there were no initial conditions
or causal laws or universe.  It's all what a physicalist would call an
illusion - i.e. a seemingly coherent series of experiences that do not refer
to anything but just are.  But then you seem to switch viewpoints and want
to use the consistency of a solipist know-nothing position to argue about
which universes might exist??
I'm not switching positions, I'm saying that the "honest physicalist"
should believe that his beliefs are determined only by the initial
conditions and causal laws of the universe.
Why would he be a determinist?
If he's a physicalist, why wouldn't he believe that his beliefs are
determined by the nature of the physical world?  What else would they
be determined by?

Maybe we're using "determined" in different ways. I use it in contrast to random or stochastic. So if the natural world has stochastic aspects then one's beliefs could be undetermined and yet still "determined by the nature of the physical world". For example, one of your momentary experiences might be due to the decay of a radioactive calcium atom in the blood stream of your brain.

And what if they were?  According to the
best physical models we have they are mostly determined by the recent
history of the universe plus probabilistic laws (QM) -
Probabilistic laws are still causal laws, right?

Depends on what you mean by causal? I take "probabilistic" to mean not entirely determined by the preceding (=within the past light cone) state.

and this explains why they are "true" in the sense of useful
Which brings me back to the point that I made in the "no miracles"
argument against scientific realism thread.  Which you never responded

You mean this?
"It seems to me that it would be a bit of a miracle if it turned out that we lived in a universe whose initial state and causal laws were such that they gave rise to conscious entities whose beliefs about their universe were true beliefs." It's an argument from incredulity. If you can make it something more objective I might be able to respond.

to those purposes we imagine we have.
We *imagine* we have?  What do you mean by that?

Our purposes are not always conscious.

"Emotion is Nature's way of making us do what is necessary to reproduce."
            --- Robert Wright, in "Man, the Moral Animal"

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