Re: Dualism and the DA

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 17:09:13 +1000

On Mon, Jun 20, 2005 at 12:01:48AM -0700, Jonathan Colvin wrote:
> 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.

It wouldn't be counterfactual, because by assumption bats ask this
question of themselves anyway. Hence there is no difference in the 3rd
person. The 1st person experience is very different though. There are
only 1st person counterfactuals.

I definitely acknowledge the distinction between 1st and 3rd
person. This is not the same as duality, which posits a 3rd person
entity (the immaterial soul).

> 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 don't think this is a meaningful reference class. I can still ask
the question "why am I me, and not someone else" without being aware
of the DA. All it takes is self-awareness IMHO.

> 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

Incidently, I think I may have an answer to my "Why am I not Chinese"
criticism, and the corresponding correction to "Why am I not an ant"
seems to give the same answer as I originally proposed.

I might put this in a separate posting, once I've polished my current


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A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
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Received on Mon Jun 20 2005 - 04:07:59 PDT

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