On Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 11:07 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> On 9/4/2010 5:28 PM, Rex Allen wrote:
>> That still makes them physicalist theories, not quasi-physicalist. As
>> long as the mad scientist and his vats/computers are physical.
> Does this mad scientist have free will, i.e. can he act independent of any
> physical constraints in our universe? Then he's *super* our natural.
Hmmm. This is a peculiar direction for you to go. Why would I think
the mad scientist has "free will"?
Again, I don't even think free will is conceivable.
Every decision is either caused, or it's not caused. I see no third option.
If the decision was not caused, then it's random. No free will.
If the decision is caused, then what caused the cause? And what
caused the cause of the cause? And so on. The decision is a link in
a causal chain which must eventually be traced outside the person
making the choice. No free will.
I assume that by "free will" you mean that the mad scientist is
ultimately responsible for his actions. But I don't see how that
could ever be the case.
>> We'd just be inside the Matrix. Nothing supernatural about that.
> Yes it is. It's "super" our natural. Anything can happen - no physical
Anything can happen in dreams too - no physical laws apply there. But
dreams aren't generally considered supernatural occurrences.
Being inside the Matrix is just like being inside a dream. A more
coherent, orderly dream. But a kind of dream nonetheless.
Assuming physicalism, the physical world causes our dream experiences.
Assuming physicalism, the physical world causes our Matrix experiences.
Finding out you were in the Matrix would be equivalent to realizing
you were in a dream.
>> This is fine. As long as you're not claiming that physicalism is
>> superior to idealistic accidentalism by virtue of being falsifiable.
> I'm not. But I claim that particular physical theories are falsifiable,
> whereas idealistic accidentalism either has no theories or has ones that are
> not falsifiable - depending on how you look at it.
But it doesn't matter that particular physical theories are
falsifiable, because in the event of falsification you will always
just fall back to another physical theory. With the many-worlds
interpretation serving as an ultimate safety net.
Further, physicalism isn't necessary to formulate falsifiable
theories. Take, for instance, "idealistic occasionalism". Here
mathematical theories would be interpreted as describing the patterns
behind God's causal interventions so that you can predict what God
will cause to happen next. If your theory gets falsified then you
theorized incorrectly about the pattern behind God's actions.
The existence of God himself is taken as a given. As the existence of
a physical substrate is taken as a given in physicalism.
However, note that both physicalism and idealistic occasionalism have
similar problems when you put yourself inside the framework of your
theory: the formulation of the theories is a result of the underlying
mechanism that is being theorized about.
So if the idealistic occasionalist theorized correctly, this can only
be because God *caused* him to theorize correctly.
Alternatively, if the physicalist theorizes correctly, this can only
be because his universe's particular initial conditions and causal
laws *caused* him to theorize correctly.
>> Indeed. The same goes for the "physical".
>> What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
> Exactly my point. What's your definition of "physicalism"?
I would say that physicalism is the claim that *all* conscious
experiences are due to the independent existence of some other more
fundamental set of entities (particles, fields, wavefunctions,
strings, whatever) whose nature must be such that their existence and
properties are (in principle) directly inferable from the details of
our sensory data and serve some role in generating that sensory data.
Note that the "in principle" qualifier is meant to include
counterfactuals...i.e., the existence and properties of these entities
*would be* directly inferable from the details of our sensory data if
some particular scenario were to occur.
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