Re: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 15:23:47 +0100

Le 13-déc.-06, à 02:01, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
> OK, but the point is that the basic definition of "bad" is arbitrary.
Perhaps, but honestly I am not sure. In acomp, we can define a (very
platonist) notion of "bad". The simpler and stronger one is just the
falsity "f". Then Bf, BBf, BBBf, BBBBf, BBBBBf, etc. gives a sequence
of less and less badness, which translated in the Z (material)
hypostases gives the Df, DDf, DDDf, DDDDf, DDDDDf ... which are better
candidates for that notion of badness.
(recall that G does not prove Bf -> f, and that G* proves DBf (the
astonishing godelian consistency of being inconsistent).
(note also that G* *does* prove Bf -> f).
> It might seem
> that there would be some consensus, for example that torturing
> innocent people
> is an example of "bad", but it is possible to assert without fear of
> logical or
> empirical contradiction that torturing innocent people is good.
I disagree. Mainly for the reason alluded above. Please note I
understand that there is no purely logical contradiction (f) in
asserting that "torture" is good, but the purely logical operates at
the third person level, in which there is no "pain" at all. Once you
take incompleteness into account this should be much less evident, and
much more fuzzy. There is nothing illogical with an altimeter (in a
plane) giving a wrong information (like the plane is at altitude =
1000, instead of the correct 500), but you can understand this can lead
to a catastrophe. Any BB...Bf can be seen as a promise for a
> There are people
> in the world who do in fact think there is nothing wrong with torture
> and although
> they are not very nice peopel, they are not as a result of having such
> a belief deluded.
Honestly I doubt it. Of course some people can believe that torture can
be good for their own life, in case torture can prevent the enemy to
drop some bomb. Of course some people are cynical and can, like Sade,
defend torture with the (wrong imo) idea that nature "defends" the
right of those who have the powers and thus that they have the right to
follow their sexual perverse compulsion, but this could mean that they
are inconsistent (they have some BBB...Bf as implicit belief). Then
from the divine (starred G*) pov, they are (globally) inconsistent
(although cannot know it).
>> Recall that even the (although very familiar) notion of natural
>> numbers
>> or integers cannot be defined unambiguously in science. Science asks
>> us
>> only to be clear on primitive principles so that we can share some
>> reasoning on those undefinable entities.
> But there is a big difference between Pythagoras saying 17 is prime
> and Pythagoras
> saying that eating beans is bad. You can't say that "prime" and "bad"
> are equivalent
> in that they both need to be axiomatically defined.
Hmmm... "prime" and "bad" cannot be equivalent in that sense. But
"being a natural number" and "bad" can. The nuance is that I grant the
notion of natural number before defining "prime". But my belief in
natural numbers (my belief in the standard model of Peano Arithmetic,
Arithmetical truth) is as hard, even impossible, to define than is the
notion of truth, good, etc.
Defining "Prime" is easy: (~(x = 1) & Ay(y divides x) -> (y = 1 v y =
x)) where (a divides b) is a macro for Ez(az = b).
Defining "number" is just not possible actually. Even with a richer
theory or second order logic you will have to rely implicitly on the
standard model of the higher theory, which is less palatable than the
"standard model" of PA.
> The problem is that some people think "good" and "bad" are on a par
> with
> descriptive terms that every sentient species, regardless of their
> psychology,
> could agree on. They are not.
Not in any normative sense. But once we bet on a theory (like comp),
then we get mathematical tools which can provide general explanation of
what is bad, and also explain why such definition cannot be normative,
making the bad/good distinctions an ideal goal for complex sufficiently
self-sustaining machines societies.
> Every sentient species would agree that a
> nuclear bomb going off in your face will kill you,
Bad example for this list! (CF quantum immortality or comp
immortality!). But ok, this is besides the point.
> but some would say this was
> good and others would say it was bad.
Yes, but unless people are insane, most will give or try to give a
ratio. In such case it is a question of utility with respect of some
notion of good and bad. It is not related with the hardness to define
completely what is good and what is bad. Like killing. Killing can be
considered as bad but can be accepted in self-defense.
> I think a message spelt out across the sky by stars simultaneously
> going
> nova would probably do it for me.
I would bet I'm dreaming instead ... :)
> I would at least believe that these were
> beings with godlike powers responsible, but would reserve judgement on
> whether they had also created the universe. Can't shake of the
> skepticism
> completely...
Well, I would define "God" by what is responsible for the existence of
anything. If physicalism is correct then God *is* the physical
universe. But physicalism is not compatible with classical (platonist)
comp so God has to be something else. I have some problem with Caylor's
idea that God is "good", despite the use of "good" for the second god
by the neoplatonist. The problem is just that discoveries by themselves
change the meaning of the words ... making sometimes hard to
communicate those discoveries. Sometimes ago just saying that 3d space
could be curved was enough to be considered ready for the asylum ....
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Received on Wed Dec 13 2006 - 09:24:48 PST

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