All of Psychohistorian3's Comments + Replies

Spinoza was correct? Mind and body are simply two aspects of god, the one and only being that contains its own reason for existence? I never expected to see that on this site.

Insightful, as always, but this seems like it may have the esoteric value of some knowledge the wrong way around. There are certain questions, like "What is the meaning of life?" that science cannot answer the way people want to hear (as, "that questions is incoherent and pointless" is rarely viewed as satisfactory, regardless of its accuracy). It seems people choose religion because they are seeking answers to some such question (or, because their parents chose it), and they end up swallowing the earth being 6000 years old almost as an afterthought.

This has ruined my dreams of finding the true meaning of Christmas.

While the advisory against using a dictionary to resolve such arguments are true, a lot of arguments stem from confusion or disagreement over the meaning of words. Based on the work I've done in philosophy, this type of disagreement probably covers 50% of philosophical debates, with about 2% of the participants in such debates admitting that that is what they disagree about.

For example, "Most atheists believe in the divinity of Christ" could be resolved easily without recourse to the empirical world. If I believe that it is possible for someone t... (read more)

In that case, tabooing the word is probably better than bringing the dictionary to show that the other person's use of words are against common sense (assuming you want to actually reach a consensus, but if youre more about winning the argument then bring the dictionary is probably better?)
In colloge, I led a book discussion group about ethics. Most participants had read the book. Everyone in the group agreed that ethics and morals were different. They even agreed on HOW they were different (internal/personal vs group/societal, arrived at vs proscribed, philosophical vs legal). They REFUSED to agree, however, on what term referred to which distinction. Sigh...

This dilemma seems like it can be reduced to:

  1. If you take both boxes, you will get $1000
  2. If you only take box B, you will get $1M Which is a rather easy decision.

There's a seemingly-impossible but vital premise, namely, that your action was already known before you acted. Even if this is completely impossible, it's a premise, so there's no point arguing it.

Another way of thinking of it is that, when someone says, "The boxes are already there, so your decision cannot affect what's in them," he is wrong. It has been assumed that your decision do... (read more)

Your decision doesn't affect what's in the boxes, but your decision procedure does, and that already exists when the question's being assigned. It may or may not be possible to derive your decision from the decision procedure you're using in the general case -- I haven't actually done the reduction, but at first glance it looks cognate to some problems that I know are undecidable -- but it's clearly possible in some cases, and it's at least not completely absurd to imagine an Omega with a very high success rate. As best I can tell, most of the confusion here comes from a conception of free will that decouples the decision from the procedure leading to it.
You're saying that we live in a universe where Newcomb's problem is impossible because the future doesn't effect the past. I'll re-phrase this problem in such a way that it seems plausible in our universe: I've got really nice scanning software. I scan your brain down to the molecule, and make a virtual representation of it on a computer. I run virtual-you in my software, and give virtual-you Newcomb's problem. Virtual-you answers, and I arrange my boxes according to that answer. I come back to real-you. You've got no idea what's going on. I explain the scenario to you and I give you Newcomb's problem. How do you answer? This particular instance of the problem does have an obvious, relatively uncomplicated solution []: Lbh unir ab jnl bs xabjvat jurgure lbh ner rkcrevrapvat gur cneg bs gur fvzhyngvba, be gur cneg bs gur syrfu-naq-oybbq irefvba. Fvapr lbh xabj gung obgu jvyy npg vqragvpnyyl, bar-obkvat vf gur fhcrevbe bcgvba. If for any reason you suspect that the Predictor can reach a sufficient level of accuracy to justify one-boxing, you one box. It doesn't matter what sort of universe you are in.
Actually, we don't know that our decision affects the contents of Box B. In fact, we're told that it contains a million dollars if-and-only-if Omega predicts we will only take Box B. It is possible that we could pick Box B even tho Omega predicted we would take both boxes. Omega has only observed to have predicted correctly 100 times. And if we are sufficiently doubtful whether Omega would predict that we would take only Box B, it would be rational to take both boxes. Only if we're somewhat confident of Omega's prediction can we confidently one-box and rationally expect it to contain a million dollars.