RE: Dualism and the DA

From: Jonathan Colvin <>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 00:01:48 -0700

Russell Standish wrote:

> >(JC) If you want to insist that "What would it be like to be a bat" is
> > equivalent to the question "What would the universe be like
> if I had
> > been a bat rather than me?", it is very hard to see what the answer
> > could be. Suppose you
> > *had* been a bat rather than you (Russell Standish). How would the
> > universe be any different than it is now? If you can answer that
> > question, (which is the key question, to my mind), then I'll grant
> > that the question is meaningful.

> No different in the 3rd person, very obviously different in
> the 1st person

I don't really know what that means. The only way I can make sense of the
question is something like, "If I was a bat instead of me (Jonathan Colvin),
then the universe would consist of a bat asking the question I'm asking
now." That's a counterfactual, a way in which the universe would be
objectively different.

This is, I think, the crux of the reference class issue with the DA. My (and
your) reference class can not be merely "conscious observers" or "all
humans", but must be something much closer to "someone (or thing) discussing
or aware of the DA). I note that this reference class is certainly
appropriate for you and me, and likely for anyone else reading this. This
reference class certainly also invalidates the DA (although immaterial souls
would rescue it).

But at this point, I am, like Nick Bostrom, tempted to throw my hands up and
declare the reference class issue pretty much intractable.

Jonathan Colvin
Received on Mon Jun 20 2005 - 03:23:47 PDT

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