RE: Extended Response on Modern Physical theory as a basis for Ethical and Existential Nihilism

From: Giu1i0 Pri5c0 <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 08:55:09 +0100

Interesting, and I agree with the last paragraph: making good choice
increases the measure of the region of the multiverse where good choices
have been made and everyone is better off.
An alternative view of which I am thinking a lot is that our conscious
thought processes actually take place in the multiverse, our perceived
conscious thought processes (Lockwood's "mind") being a shadow of our "true"
more complex thought processes (Lockwood's "Mind"). Also in this case we can
think that a Mind is happier when more and more minds are happy.
But in general, I have difficulties seeing the point of mixing deep
philosophical thinking with the ethics of everyday's life: I choose to try
making my loved ones happier, and I wish to do my best to make everyone
happier, I don'r really need QM to justify and defend this choice. When it
comes to ethics I choose to see myself as a "simple" being with free will in
a "simple" universe.

-----Original Message-----
From: Hal Finney []
Sent: jueves, 22 de enero de 2004 6:04
Subject: Re: Extended Response on Modern Physical theory as a basis for
Ethical and Existential Nihilism

Here is an excerpt from a message I sent to the list last week, which
argues that nihilism is not an appropriate response to multiverse physics.

As far as the issue of human action and free will, here is how I look
at it. There are really two issues. The first is that in some sense
the multiverse makes our actions deterministic. That is, there is no
longer any true unpredictability in what we do, because we do everything
in one universe or another. So how can we have free will if there are
no choices?

Well, this problem has been considered many times in the philosophical
literature going back hundreds of years (where it was asked how free will
was compatible with God's omniscience). Recent works by Daniel Dennett,
his books Elbow Room and his new book (which I haven't read) Freedom
Evolves, discuss how free will can be said to coexist with determinism.
The basic idea is that the acting out of deterministic processes and the
considerations involved in making a free choice are two equally valid ways
of explaining the same phenomenon, at different levels of description.
These books could be good sources to explore these concepts further.

The second part of the problem is specific to the multiverse model,
which is, even assuming that in some sense you have free will, what is
the practical point of acting, since your decisions will be in effect
cancelled out by being done differently in other universes? Larry Niven's
science fiction short story All the Myriad Ways explores the problems
which sweep society when a technology is invented to visit parallel
universes, leading to a widespread surrender to nihilism and social ennui.

However this perspective ignores the concept of measure, where some
universes are more prominent than others. Although you may make
different choices in different universes, the probabilities are not equal.
Your decision making processes influence the measure of the universes in
which your different choices occur. By giving matters careful thought
and making wise decisions, you can maximize the measure of the universes
in which your choices have good outcomes. This justifies the necessity
of careful choice and eliminates the descent into nihilistic horror
and despair.

Hal Finney
Received on Thu Jan 22 2004 - 02:56:48 PST

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