RE: briefly wading back into the fray - re: dualism

From: Jack Mallah <>
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2009 18:54:22 -0800 (PST)

So far the responses here have not been as hostile as I feared :)

--- On Sat, 2/7/09, Jesse Mazer <> wrote:
> 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

I am very familiar with David Chalmers' position. My view is that he's wrong: If I have qualia, I don't find it plausible that they can have no influence over my spelled-out thoughts and words or actions, which is what epiphenomenalism would imply. If "true qualia" must be in addition to whatever is making me think and say I have qualia, then I have no reason to think I have the "true" ones. I am a reductive computationalist.

> 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

In the QI paper, in some of the arguments I explicitly appeal to functionalism. Most MWIers are functionalists, so those arguments should apply for them.

If dualism is assumed, there are few limits on what can happen, but if Occam's razor is applied to it you can assume things won't end up much different than without it. Chalmers himself is a computationalist (just not a reductive one).

The concept of measure, and the empirical arguments such as the Boltzmann Brains one and the general argument against immortality, should apply regardless of the physicalism/platonism/dualism debate.


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Received on Sun Feb 08 2009 - 21:54:25 PST

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