On Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 10:03 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> From the Devo song Freedom of Choice:
> "In ancient Rome
> There was a poem
> About a dog
> Who found two bones
> He picked at one
> He licked the other
> He went in circles
> He dropped dead
> Freedom of choice
> Is what you got
> Freedom from choice
> Is what you want"
> Thinking about the relationship between choice and freedom, and how there is
> a difference between voluntary and mandatory choice. Even in freedom there
> is bondage when that freedom is tied to significant consequences. The appeal
> of recreation, of gaming, and drugs has to do with the disjoining the
> connections along the axis of meta-choice>choice>consequences.
> On vacation, we seek a state of ease which is accomplished primarily by
> increasing our meta-choice. Our power to exercise our preference over
> whether or not we exercise our preference. A cruise offers the exemplary
> condition for this - many choices are offered: excursions, activities,
> passive entertainment, private relaxation, and of course food. At any given
> time we can engage in a huge number of voluntary choices or we can opt not
> to choose anything at all and nobody will bother us for lingering in a
> lounge chair on deck for a week. This is leisure and ease. If we were only
> allowed to stay on the lounge chair, or if we had to accomplish a certain
> number of activities, then it would be a prison or at least a kind of work.
> So far, no machine has been made that can tell the difference between work
> and leisure or leisure and play. Playing involves forgoing the meta- aspect
> of choice by presenting the opportunity to play the game. Once we
> voluntarily choose to play a game, we have given up our pure leisure state
> (our native superposition if you will) and collapsed into a state of
> unqualified choice making. A game gives us pleasure despite causing us the
> need to make choices, because the choices are disjoined from real-world
> consequences for the most part. It can be argued that sport and further
> professional sport represent a progressive undoing of the game aspect,
> becoming an activity which can be both better and worse than work or play.
> All of this is yet another attempt to show the very limited
> conceptualization of free will which has been used to prop up determinism.
> In a deterministic universe, there really could not plausibly be any way of
> disjoining choice from consequences, work from play, or leisure from choice.
> The number of 'choices' executed by a program, and the sequence in which
> they are executed are all that can matter. A branching logic tree can be
> looped and accelerated indefinitely with no complaint from the computer. A
> computer's Groundhog Day can have no difference between day three of a
> Caribbean cruise and day 400 of trench warfare, as long as the number of
> opportunities are the same, the computational cost would be the same.

It comes down to whether the computer has desires and feelings. We
can't be sure whether it does or not. We can't be sure whether a
bacterium has desires and feelings either. We are made of the same
stuff as the bacterium and we have desires and feelings, so something
that doesn't have desires and feelings can have desires and feelings
when it is arranged in a particular way. Whether it is deterministic
or random is, as you have said, orthogonal to this.

> Why then do we care about the difference between freedom of choice and
> freedom from choice, and how can we even conceive of it in the first place
> if the universe of our minds were truly deterministic? I think that the
> answer is obviously that our minds are not truly deterministic but rather
> heavily impacted by the significance of our interaction with the real world.

Our brains could be deterministic and we would still have the same
ideas about games, freedom of choice, moral responsibility and
everything else. You're unusual in finding it inconceivable.

> All games are created equal, but games which have real world consequences
> are not games. This of course maps to the simulation argument - where all
> simulations are interchangeable with each other, but none of them are
> interchangeable with the fundamental non-simulation. Digital fire can burn
> down a simulated house in the game or a meta-simulatied house within a game
> within a simulated house, but it can never burn down a real house outside of
> all of the games. Games are easy, reality is harder.

Unless simulated beings can have experiences. You are begging the
question by assuming that they cannot. You are saying that you know, a
priori, that we are not living in a simulation now, but you have to
explain how you know this.

Stathis Papaioannou

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