Re: philosophical frameworks

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 11:57:58 +1000 (EST)

> I think we need a way to rule out some of the approaches, otherwise we'll
> get bogged down arguing over basic issues without any way to resolve them
> and without being able to get to the deeper issues.
> Why did I reject Moravec's approach when I first read about it in his book?
> I think it was because it asks me to give up my current philosophical
> framework (namely decision theory) without offering anything comparable to
> replace it with. The same is true for the relative strong SSA. I was
> sympathetic to quantum immortality until I spent a month last year trying
> to figure out how decision theory would to work with the relative strong
> SSA (although the term wasn't coined yet at the time) and failed to see how
> decision theory can be modified to be compatible with it and still be
> self-consistent. These problems are not apparent until you try to formalize
> things.
> So I ask anyone who does not accept the absolute strong SSA to show me
> either how you would formally fit your approach into the framework of
> decision theory, or what philosophical framework you would replace it with.

I, for one, do not accept the strong SSA (which is what I assume you
mean by "absolute strong SSA"). Actually, I fail to see decision
theory as being a productive line of thought, and thought that also
last time it was discussed on the list. However, this may be my own
immaturity - I also thought the earlier discussion on measure went off
the rails, until I realised recently (thanks to you) that the measure
issue critically impinges on the "why physical laws" (aka white
rabbit) problem.

In essence, decision theory taken over the whole of the multiverse (ie
considering the utility of all "you-like" entities in all branches of
the mutliverse) is meaningless, as there is no free will in this
picture. Conversely, one can apply decision theory to a single
trajectory through the multiverse, as free will does exist in that
picture. However, decision theory gives precisely the same answers as
it does in the classical single trajectory case, barring quantum
suicide style decisions. In the latter case, I'm still unconvinced one
can control outcomes sufficiently well to apply decision theory at all.

> If the former, what are utility and probability functions defined over? If
> the latter, how would your framework handle questions of epistemology and
> ethics? Basicly I want an "existence proof" that your approach CAN be
> extended into a full philosophical system, even if you haven't worked it
> out completely yet.

Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit,
University of NSW Phone 9385 6967
Sydney 2052 Fax 9385 7123
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Tue Jul 13 1999 - 18:58:30 PDT

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