On 5/24/2012 4:55 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 1:12 AM, Craig Weinberg<whatsons...@gmail.com>  wrote:

If it is absolutely certain that you won't sleep under a bush tonight
then it is impossible that you will do so and the probability is zero.
My understanding is that you don't approve of this sort of certain as
you believe it leaves no room for free will or even consciousness.
I approve of it completely as an exercise in abstraction, but yes, I
am confident that a universe of probability alone cannot generate
sense of any kind.
Probability alone cannot generate sense, for that you need a brain of
some type. However, the brain must be either probabilistic or
deterministic. You still haven't explained the third category, neither
probabilistic nor deterministic. If I assert that I have special dice
which are neither probabilistic nor deterministic, what am I
asserting? How could we tell if I was telling the truth?

Before Newton the idea that the world might be deterministic was hardly even comprehensible. It was generally supposed that events were partly determined by effective causes but they were also subject to the unpredictable influence of agents (like God and people). Randomness, before quantum mechanics, was just a way to model ignorance. So, to get to your question, what was neither probabilistic nor deterministic were 'agents'. Agents were recognized as being unpredictable but non-random in the sense of exhibiting purpose. Now we (except for Craig) recognize that these properties can be found in machines, like chess players or AI with learning. They can be either probabilistic (in the inherent sense by having QM random number generators) or deterministic but unpredictable simply because they are complex and learn from their experience.

It doesn't neutralise significance. In one universe you wake up in
your bed and you tell yourself that you made a good decision, your bed
is warm and comfortable and it would have been stupid to sleep under a
bush. In another universe you wake up under a bush and you tell
yourself that you made a good decision, even though you were cold and
uncomfortable, because you have achieved your purpose of empathising
better with homeless people. In each case you made your own decision,
freely, with good reason and according to the laws of physics. Before
you made the decision you were not completely sure which way you would
go. Right now, you can say you're pretty sure you will wake up in your
bed tomorrow and I would bet that that is what will happen, but you
could change your mind.

What point would there be to making any of those outcomes seem
significant to us if every bad decision inevitably has its own
universe anyhow, regardless of our choices?
When I worry about a decision I worry about what sort of universe I
will find myself in. In one universe I made a good decision and am
happy, in another I made a bad decision and am unhappy. If I didn't
worry about it, for example if I walked across the road without
looking, then I am more likely to end up in a universe where I am

But do you decide to worry or not?


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