RE: briefly wading back into the fray

From: Jesse Mazer <>
Date: Sat, 7 Feb 2009 15:05:50 -0500

It seems to me that discussions of quantum immortality often founder on the fact that people don't make their assumptions about philosophy of mind explicit, or don't have a well-thought-out position on metaphysical issues relating to mind in the first place. For example, Jaques, are you assuming a purely physicalist metaphysics where the only truths are physical truths, or are you open to the idea that there might be truths about subjectivity (such as truths about what philosophers call 'qualia') which cannot be reduced to purely physical statements? Are you familiar with the ideas of philosopher David Chalmers, who takes the latter position? He doesn't advocate interactive dualism, where there's some kind of soul-stuff that can influence matter--he assumes that the physical world is "causally closed", so all physical events have purely physical causes, including all human behavior--but he argues that first-person subjective states and qualia are ontologically distinct from the brainstates that are associated with them, and that there may be some set of "psychophysical laws" which determine the relation between third-person-describable brainstates and first-person mental states. If one buys into the possibility of objective truths about mental states/qualia and psychophysical laws, it wouldn't be such a stretch to imagine that there may be objective truths about the first-person probabilities of experiencing different branches in either the MWI or duplication experiments in a single universe (so that you don't have to rely on decision theory, which depends on non-objective choices about which future possibilities you 'care' about, to discuss quantum immortality), and that these probabilities could be determined by some combination of an objective physical measure on different brainstates and some set of "psychophysical laws". If so, the question of quantum immortality would boil down to whether a given mind always has a 100% chance of experiencing a "next" observer-moment as long as a "next" brainstate exists somewhere, or whether there is some nonzero chance of one's flow of experience just ending.Jesse
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Received on Sat Feb 07 2009 - 15:05:56 PST

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