Re: Craziness of a quantum suicidal

From: Marchal <>
Date: Wed Jun 23 10:10:34 1999

GSlevy wrote:

>Jaques Mallah's role is important in that he forces us to confront important
>issues. However, he could more effectively communicate by "polishing" his
>style. Enough said of that. Wei Dai has summarized the issue very well.
>In a message dated 99-06-19 18:29:26 EDT, Wei Dai writes:
> <<
> I think the main point of disagreement between the two camps now is
> relative SSSA versus absolute SSSA (Marchal's terms). Can we all agree
> that given the absolute SSSA, there is no justification for QS?
> >>
>My understanding of the "Strong" Self Sampling Assumption is shaky, but I
>think I agree with the above statement. I would find it clearer if it could
>be rephrased as follows: If the number of branching in the MW is absolute
>then there is no justification for QS.
>This is the crux of the matter.

I have quite the same feeling, although I would say it is my understanding
of the "absolute" strong SSA which is shaky.

>Jaques Mallah's position is summarized in his words:
><< Your total measure would be reduced, so there would be less
>observers with that name in the ensemble, and the total number of
>observers would be less. >>
>Clearly Jacques views the number of branches in the MW as absolute and
>limited. If you do QS and trim a few branches you just end up with less
>branches. The more stringent the QS conditions (winning a $1million or a
>$1billion or having Elvis Presley come back to life) the smaller the number
>of branches you end up in. And if you make the conditions too stringent you
>may end up with nothing. No more of you.

More or less OK. Jacques, do you agree with that understanding ?
In fact there is no inconsistent world (let us hope). So, even with the relative infinite "branching" if you make the conditions too stringent you
may end up with nothing too (or may be you get mad ...).
In fact I am not sure Jacques M Mallah will agree. I am not sure Jacques accept you can survive even a QS with conditions not stringent at all.

>If however, the number of branches does not change no matter where you are
>the MW -- according to a kind of a super Cosmological Principle -- then no
>matter how many times you commit QS, you still have the same number of
>branches left. This, I think, is the "relative" SSSA that Wei Dai and
>are talking about. Adding branches or subtracting branches has no impact on
>the probability of your future existence. And it is precisely in the
>discussion of probability in this environment that some of the hottest
>discussions with Jacques have taken place.
>So which is it? absolute and limited number of branches or relative and

The problem is that Jacques M Mallah is computationnalist. I am afraid that this entails he has no other choice than to choose the relative SSA.
Only by choosing a strong physicalist ontological principle AND by choosing a strong (and rather mysterious) link between consciousness and physical activity, will it be possible for him to get a "limited MW" in which branching is absolute. Such a link between consciousness and physical activity has been showed incompatible with mechanism (by myself in 1988, and independently by Tim Maudlin in 1989, precise reference in

>This said, I think that NOTHING justifies QS. My position however is
>As the idea of the MW matured in my mind, I have become convinced that while
>the MW is absolutely infinite, it is possible to avoid the nihilist
>philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and evolve an ethic of the many worlds. In
>out in my last post. Beautifully said in the 23rd psalm: "The Lord is my
>shepherd, I shall not want...the shadow of the valley of death (the MW)... I
>shall fear no evil... .my cup runneth over" The knowledge that we are
>immortal and that all stings and arrows are temporary can give us a new
>perspective on the world.

Mmm...I don't know. Perhaps. I must say that I agree a lot with Gilles Henri
when he said to George (about the 4 june 99):

>Generally speaking, I find it a curious idea to base any ethical
>consideration upon scientific theories. Science's goal is not to tell what
>is good or not. It just deals with objective facts and tries to find
>relationships between them. It could be a scientific question (although not
>often asked) to ask why and how we define our categories of good and evil.
>It is not a scientific one to ask if they are justified.

... and I believe also in the reciprocal, i.e. I find it a curious idea to base a scientific or even philosophical consideration upon ethical principle().
I believe nevertheless that "honest science" can lead to ethical (non normatively) practice, in a sort of indirect way: The more you scrutinize the *real*, the more you realize it is *big-and unknown*, and the more you feel humble, and the more you try not to impose your personal values upon others.

May be. (I guess I am over-optimistic here, and beside, who could ever tell us what is honest science ?).
... Perhaps Russell Standish is right about MWI and euthanasia. This is not a link between ethics and science. If an *ethics* is given, science (knowledge, belief) can change our behaviour, of course.


()John Bell, for example, argue at some place, against Everett MWI from ethical consideration.
Received on Wed Jun 23 1999 - 10:10:34 PDT

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