Re: MGA 3

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008 10:59:56 +1100

On Sat, Dec 06, 2008 at 03:32:53PM +0100, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> I would be pleased if you can give me a version of MAT or MEC to which
> the argument does not apply. For example, the argument applies to most
> transfinite variant of MEC. It does not apply when some "magic" is
> introduced in MAT, and MAT is hard to define in a way to exclude that
> magic. If you can help, I thank you in advance.
> Bruno

Michael Lockwood distinguishes between materialism (consciousness
supervenes on the physical world) and physicalism (the physical world
suffices to explain everything). The difference between the two is
that in physicalism, consciousness (indeed any emergent phenomenon) is
mere epiphenomena, a computational convenience, but not necessary for
explanation, whereas in non-physicalist materialism, there are emergent
phenomena that are not explainable in terms of the underlying physics,
even though supervenience holds. This has been argued in the famous
paper by Philip Anderson. One very obvious distinction between
the two positions is that strong emergence is possible in materialism,
but strictly forbidden by physicalism. An example I give of strong
emergence in my book is the strong anthropic principle.

So - I'm convinced your argument works to show the contradiction
between COMP and physicalism, but not so the more general
materialism. I think you have confirmed this in some of your previous
responses to me in this thread.

Which is just as well. AFAICT, supervenience is the only thing
preventing the Occam catastrophe. We don't live in a magical world,
because such a world (assuming COMP) would have so many contradictory
statements that we'd disappear in a puff of destructive logic!
(reference to my previous posting about destructive phenomena).

A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052         
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Received on Sun Dec 07 2008 - 19:00:11 PST

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