mwengler's Comments

0.999...=1: Another Rationality Litmus Test

I suppose you might be right for some people. For me, the fact that repeating infinite decimal expansions are rational is deeply deeply ingrained. Since your post is essentially how to square your feelings with what turns out to be mathematically true, you have a lot of room for disagreement as there is no contradiction in different people feeling different ways about the same facts.

For me the most fun thing about 0.9999.... is that 1/9 = .11111... and therefore 9x1/9 = 9x.111111..... and this last expression obviously = .99999...

You should also do a search on "right" in your post and edit it, you use "right" one time where you really need "write" I think it is "right down" instead of "write down" but I'll let you do the looking.

0.999...=1: Another Rationality Litmus Test

The OP states:

A very good question is "what kinds of objects are these, anyway?" Since we have an infinite decimal they can't be rational numbers.

This is just wrong. A rational number is a number that can be written as a fraction of two integers. Lots of infinite decimals are rational numbers. 1/3 = .3333333..., 1/9 = .1111111.... 1/7 = .142857142857142857... etc.

The map of p-zombies

Clearly we can differentiate between different-location-same-time and different-location-different-time. Two things in different-location-same-time are different things. Two things different-location-different-time may be same thing or may be different thing depending on the path through time. Your mathematical style of abstraction in thinking about identity will only be useful at explaining the real world if it is matched to real world processes, and does not ignore important real world insights.

The map of p-zombies

if we adopt idea that consciousness could be different without any physical difference between the copies, we adopt the idea of p-zombies and reject physicalism that is modern version of materialism. It almost the same as to say that immaterial soul exist. It is very strong statement.

Not relevant to the problem. If you create a copy of me, the copy is not identical, if for no other reason than it occupies a different location than I do. I agree that if it occupied the same location that I do, atom for atom and quark for quark, that could lead to the concern you express. But copies cannot occupy the same location, and so there is no problem having the copy to the left be one consciousness while the original to the right is a different consciousness.

The strongest claim I might accept would be that both the original and the copy have "valid" claims to be the continuation of the pre-copying single consciousness that was me back then. But no matter how you slice it, killing the original when you make the copy is still destroying a separate consciousness, even if the remaining consciousness thinks it is the only continuation of the pre-copy consciousness.

The map of p-zombies

1) I do not understand why our experience of identical twins does not play into most discussions of my copy being "the same person as me." We know that twins do not share the same consciousness (unless Occam's razor is wrong and they are all lying.) We know from that that if we made a copy without destroying the original that the copy and the original would not share a consciousness. So why isn't at least the possibiliy (I would estimate overwhelming likelihood) that a copy is a different consciousness than the original, and that destroying the original kills one consciousness while making a copy creates a different consciousness, and that these are separate processes?

2) Does philosophy talk somewhere about what I would call "outer" and "inner" worlds? I know I'm conscious because I participate in my inner world. I figure by Occam's razor that you are conscious, but I don't have direct experience of your consciousness, because I can only see you in my outer world. We don't talk anywhere near as much about "inner" world because we don't share that with others, while our "outer" experiences are shared, and we have evolved a host of techniques including language and science for processing "outer" experiences. But "inner" experiences don't benefit from language and science because they are, so far, locked away inside us, not social phenomenon. Because I think the idea that our copy is a continuation of our own consciousness is a mistake we can make if we don't realize there is an "inner" experience quite distinct from our "outer" experiences. So sure, my copy thinks he is continuously conscious, and therefore may think my consciousness has jumped into him, but that is because to my copy, I am part of his "outer" world. But if a non-destructive copy of me was made, I think it is obvious from what we know about twins that despite my copies eloquence at explaining his continuity from me, that I, the original, would resist being killed as superflous. Yes in everybody else's outer world, where consciousness of others is indirectly inferred, they can't tell that my copy is not a continuation of my consciousness in separate matter. But in my inner world, it seems pretty clear that I, (the original) would know.

Open Thread May 30 - June 5, 2016

My first thoughts reading your post are 1) You start WAY TOO LATE IN THE GAME. You are essentially talking about altruism as a conscious choice which means you are well into the higher mammals.

Virtually every sexually reproducing creature devotes resources to reproduction that could have been conserved for individual survival. As you move up in complexity, you have animals feeding their young and performing other services for them. As would be expected with all evolved cooperation, the energy and cost you expend raising your young produces a more survivable young and so is net cost effective at getting the next generation going, which is pretty much what spreads genes.

How big of a leap is it from a mama bird regurgitating food into her baby's mouth to you helping your neighbor hunt for wooly mammoth?

If you were the first organism to get the gene to feed your babies or do whatever expanded their survivability, then obviously that is how that gene propagates, your babies have the gene.

As you get to the more complex forms of altruism of primates and humans, you also get to strong feedback mechanisms against non-cooperators and free-riders. The system may not be perfect but I think it allows a path from feeding babies or burying eggs in the sand to modern altruism in humans where no wierd "how do we start this" behaviors bump up to stop things.

Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016

I may not understand the question's point, because as I read it the answer is a very obvious "Yes." We determined Newton's laws and Maxwell's equations from observations of our world. So the planets in orbit around the sun, the moon around the earth, and an apple falling to the ground all lead to gravitation. The attraction between wires carrying current in the same direction (magnetic), the functioning of transformers (change in magnetic field produces electric field) and radio and light all fit together to give Maxwell's equations.

So yes, a world with the macroscopic physical observations as ours does not violate Newton's or Maxwell's laws because our world with those observations doesn't violate those laws. If Newton's or Maxwell's equations were different, the world you saw would necessarily be different.

What am I missing here?

What can we learn from Microsoft's Tay, its inflammatory tweets, and its shutdown?

That Artificial Intelligence is going to do a lot of the same things that Natural Intelligence does.

Marketing rationalism

Taboo "faith", what do you mean specifically by that term?

Good idea. I mean that EVERYBODY, rationalist atheist and christian alike, starts with an axiom or assumption.

In the case of rationalist atheists (or at least come such as myself) the axioms started with are things like 1) truth is inferred with semi=quantifiable confidence from evidence supporting hypotheses, 2) explanations like "god did it" or "alpha did it" or "a benevolent force of the universe did it" are disallowed. I think some people are willing to go circular, allow the axioms to remain implicit and then "prove" them along the way: I see no evidence for a conscious personality with supernatural powers. But I do claim that is circular, you can't prove anything without knowing how you prove things and so you can't prove how you prove things by applying how you prove things without being circular.

So for me, I support my rationalist atheist point of view by appealing to the great success it has in advancing engineering and science. By pointing to the richness of the connections to data, the "obvious" consistency of geology with a 4 billion year old earth, the "obvious" consistency of evolution from common ancestors of similar structures across species right down to the ADP-ATP cycle and DNA.

But a theist is doing the same thing. They START with the assumption that there is a powerful conscious being running both the physical and the human worlds. They marvel at the brilliance of the design of life to support their claim even though it can't prove their axioms. They marvel at the richness of the human moral and emotional world as more support for the richness and beauty of conscious and good creation.

Logically, there is no logic without assumptions. Deduction needs something to deduce from. I like occams razor and naturalism because my long exposure to it leaves me feeling very satisfied with its ability to describe many things I think are important. Other people like theism because their long exposure to it leaves them feeling very satisfied with its ability to describe and even prescribe the things they think are important.

I am not aware of a definitive way to challenge axioms, and I don't think there is one at the level I think of it.

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