Re: Subjective measure? How does that work?

From: Jesse Mazer <>
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 03:41:55 -0500

>From: Wei Dai <>
>To: Jesse Mazer <>
>Subject: Re: Subjective measure? How does that work?
>Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 03:09:08 -0500
>On Sat, Jan 24, 2004 at 11:49:09PM -0500, Jesse Mazer wrote:
> > But measures aren't just about making decisions about what to *do*, the
> > argument for a single objective measure is that such a measure could
> > predictions about what we *see*, like why we see regular laws of physics
> > never see any "white rabbits". Although Bob can decide that only
> > where gravity is repulsive matter to him in terms of his decision-making
> > that he'd be happy to bet his life's savings that a dropped ball would
> > up), he'll have to agree with Alice on what is actually observed to
> > when a particular ball is dropped.
>Well, when the ball is dropped, in one universe it falls down, and Bob has
>to agree with Alice, and in another universe it up, and Alice has to agree
>with Bob. Alice thinks the second universe is less important than the
>first, but Bob thinks it's more important. How do you break this symmetry?

By looking at my actual experiences, from a first-person point of view. If I
drop the ball over and over again and consistently have the experience of
seeing it drop, that suggests there's some kind of objective measure,
independent of my own preferences, that assigns greater probability to
versions of me experiencing the ball drop than to versions seeing it fly

An objective measure would seem to be the only way to capture the notion
that there is something about my experiences that is externally given, and
not just a matter of my own arbitrary choices. Even if I choose a weird
measure for the purposes of making decisions, like one that tells me I
should bet my life savings that I will be able to fly, I don't think that
would change the probability that my next experience will actually be that
of flying, which I assume will stay very low regardless of what
decision-theory measure I feel like choosing. Again, there seems to be an
external reality guiding the probabilities of different experiences which I
have no control over. Do you disagree? Do you think that by choosing a
different measure, you could change the actual first-person probabilities of
different experiences? Or do you reject the idea of continuity of
consciousness and "first-person probabilities" in the first place?

> > Without an objective measure, I don't
> > think there's any way to explain why we consistently see outcomes that
> > the known laws of physics (like why we always see dropped balls fall
> > the earth).
>What good are the explanations provided by an objective measure, if I
>choose to use a different subjective measure for making decisions? How do
>these explanations help me in any way?

An objective measure would tell you the probability that you will actually
have a particular experience in the future, even if that knowledge would
have no influence on your decisions. But for most people, the probability of
actually having future various future experiences probably *would* influence
their decisions, no? For example, I am more likely to take a gamble that has
a very low probability of leading to my experiencing pain in the future than
one that has a high probability of leading to a pain-experience.


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Received on Sun Jan 25 2004 - 03:44:26 PST

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