On 11/26/2010 12:33 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
On 25 Nov 2010, at 22:38, Rex Allen wrote:
How does ignorance of what choice you will make lead to ultimate
responsibility for that choice?
Because I can have a pretty good pictures of the alternatives. Usually
the conflict will be in instantaneous reward against long term
rewards. I can speed my car and look at TV, or respect the speed
limits and miss the TV. I can stop smoking tobacco and live older, or
I can enjoy tobacco here and now, and die sooner, etc. I do have an
amount of choice and information, but I am ignorant of the details
(notably of my brain functioning, my 'unconscious', etc.), and can
act accordingly as a responsible person.
I deny the possibility of ultimate responsibility and I’m not a
I follow you that "ultimate responsibility" is asking too much. Even a
sadist murderer is usually not responsible for the existence of its
pulsion, but this does not preclude him to be responsible for its
action, in some spectrum. Reasons can be multiple. A sadist could
commit an act in a society where sadism is repressed, and not commit
an act if sadism is sublimated through art and movies, so the society
or system can share responsibility with some act without preventing
such act to be done. Free will is not ultimate: i can choose between
tea and coffee, but I have not chose to be a drinking entity.
But I also deny that mechanism can account for consciousness (except
by fiat declaration that it does).
That is a subtle point. Many mechanist are wrong on this. The
expression "mechanism can account for consciousness" is highly
ambiguous. That is why I present mechanism in the operational form of
saying "yes to a doctor who proposes you a digital brain copying your
brain or body or universe at some level of description". No theory can
account for truth, which is independent on any theory or observers,
yet truth is what will eventually select a theory or an observer.
Likewise, if my consciousness is preserved by a mechanist substitution
of my brain, this might be due to a relationship between consciousness
and truth which typically will not been accounted by mechanism per se,
like a theory cannot account for its own consistency already.
That is why mechanism per se is unbelievable by sound machine, and
asks for a type of act of faith. You are free, and necessarily free,
to say "no" to the doctor.
The theory "mechanism" explains why it has to be a religion, in a
sense. It is akin to a belief in reincarnation, if you think about it.
Calling on my favorite intuition pump, the artificially intelligent Mars
Rover, I can imagine it faced with a decision about which way to go to
complete its mission. It tries to make predictions of success for
different paths, calling on it's experience with past maneuvers. Thus
it develops alternatives, but they are not decisive - no probability is
1.0 and some are equivalent within its estimates of uncertainty. This I
think corresponds to the narrative of consciousness. Having estimated
probabilities and finding no clear winner, the Rover selects one of the
better alternatives at random. This is an exercise of will - whether
you want to call it "free" or not, it must *seem* free because otherwise
it would be part of the narrative.
Responsibility only seems to be important in social terms - whom shall
we punish or reward? That only requires that the punishment/reward has
the desired effect on the person and others.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-l...@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at