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About richardbaxter

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  1. An argument for ontological materialism as pertaining to philosophy of mind (i.e. naturalistic physicalism); 1. Assume that there must be some substrate which defines a) when mind emerges (mental instantiation) and b) how mind operates (mental laws). i) This needn't be the same substrate in both cases, and ii) we needn't have access to it (the substrate would operate perfectly according to its laws of nature regardless). What philosophical evidence do we have that i) it is the same one, and ii) we have access to it? Note the only substrate we have access to is the physical substrate. ii) Why should a sentient being have access to the stuff (substrate) from which their mind arises (a) and which defines how mind operates (b)? 2. Mind (by definition?) requires access to an objective reality (operates on some sense data). 3. We infer that the substrate controlling how mind operates (b) is the physical substrate (brain), which we by definition have access to. - Therefore we may well have access to the substrate which defines when mind emerges (a) also. - And it may well be the same one (i). i) Why should the substrate from which mind arises (a) and which defines how mind operates (b) be the same one? (evidence #2) 4. We infer that the substrate for the operation of mind (b) evolved according to the laws of nature. - Therefore the substrate from which mind arises (a) may also have evolved according to laws of nature. - And it may well be the same one (i). [assumptions are enumerated]
  2. I think there is a strong case to be made that any entity which plays games with the relations between two hydrogen powers should be held responsible.
  3. Moral Relativism question

    This framework also allows for two kinds of immoral action; actions which contradict reality but are not known to contradict reality, and actions which contradict reality and are known to contradict reality (logical fallacies/compromise). I would classify the second as evil, and the first more generally as mistakes. Note this is probably where the concepts of mortal and venial sin arise (or say conscious evil versus unconscious evil). Of course if one does not like to use religiously loaded words they can replace them with arbitrary symbols; but the concepts won't go away. Regarding (moral) "absolutes"; Obi-Wan Kenobi: You have allowed this dark lord to twist your mind, until now, until now you've become the very thing you swore to destroy. Anakin Skywalker: Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan! I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new Empire. Obi-Wan Kenobi: Your new Empire? Anakin Skywalker: Don't make me kill you. Obi-Wan Kenobi: Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic, to democracy. Anakin Skywalker: If you're not with me, then you're my enemy. Obi-Wan: Only a Sith deals in absolutes. [draws his lightsaber] Regarding absolute morality/relativism; Obi-Wan: I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you. Anakin Skywalker: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over! Obi-Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil! Anakin Skywalker: From my point of view, the Jedi are evil! Obi-Wan: Well, then you are lost! Anakin Skywalker: [raises his lightsaber] This is the end for you, my master.
  4. Moral Relativism question

    Morality is by definition absolute in any given circumstance (there is a right and wrong), but "moral absolutes" generally apply across time/culture so their existence is questioned. There appear to be some moral absolutes (such as not murdering or exploiting people), but I would argue that these are artefacts of a more general principle. "I'm sure this goes against everything you've been taught, but right and wrong do exist. Just because you don't know what the right answer is - maybe there's even no way you could know what the right answer is - doesn't make your answer right or even okay. It's much simpler than that. It's just plain wrong."
  5. Moral Relativism question

    Morality is action or will in accordance with truth. Immorality is logically contradictory behaviour, such as treating another how one would not wish to be treated oneself. If both persons have a shared humanity (and all things being equal), then it makes no sense to treat another different than one would have themselves be treated by others. If one is going to respect the authenticity of their own dignity or desires, why not another's. Such a definition doesn't define moral behaviour in all circumstances (because it depends on assumptions regarding expectations of treatment by others, and these are dependent on concepts of natural law, universal order etc - take for example the trolley problem), but I think it is the principle upon which all morality is based. Pretty much all religious morality derives from the principle (although it often introduces another agent into the equation).
  6. Why am I me and not you?

    Thanks Andi it is really interesting to hear your perspective.
  7. Why am I me and not you?

    Nice Andi - very practical :). What we want to know is that final change to the reconstructed physical system (e.g. x neural connections) where you no longer experience reality and someone else does. Because if there is such a change it implies something determines when a new instantiation of sentience is assigned, and if there isn't - that we live in a pantheistic world. With respect to finding out how the brain works, I agree that this is an extremely worthwhile enterprise for a number of reasons (in fact so important that a significant proportion of all research should be directed towards the human connectome). But assuming we found out how it works, and it behaved according to the known laws of physics (or any others discovered within the existing paradigm), mental properties could confer no advantage on the physical system. Nor could we ever know for certain which systems exhibited them. So it begs the question, what are they there for; and why would they be restricted to such complex information processing systems? Perhaps they are an inherent property of all matter/energy and consciousness exists in gradations, etc. Furthermore (although this is getting increasingly off topic), I hope you appreciate that we have just defined a method to resurrect a body, which moreover according to the materialist framework will be the same person. It is fortunate the laws of nature are so fine tuned as to necessitate an infinite multiverse. Because with an infinite multiverse there are going to be an infinite number of exact copies of our bodies anyway. So let's put all the sola materialist assumptions in the box and see what we get; resurrection of the body, reincarnation, and life after death. Wait, what? Is there an error somewhere? Was it perhaps the assumption that design optimisation can't involve evolution based on a simple algorithm and unlimited computational resources? (Cf planet earth from the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy). Maybe it was realism itself and we are living in a simulation? (Cf discreetness/quantisation of nature + indeterminism). Such would concord with the assumption that we are reasonable creatures; but it doesn't explain the source. I do think it therefore worth promoting open mindfulness. For the sake of science it is profitable to assume that all reality will ultimately be accessible to it - but should we be projecting this ideal as a philosophy?
  8. Why am I me and not you?

    Try to imagine variations on this scenario (from Zuboff's "one self: the logic of experience"); - what if I added an additional 795739528073 atoms to its neocortex? - what if I created two identical copies of the reconstruction?
  9. Why am I me and not you?

    What if you died and they reconstructed you? Would it still be you or would it be someone else?
  10. Why am I me and not you?

    Hi Andi - but what if I were you and you were me? What part of reality would differ to accomodate for this fact?
  11. Why am I me and not you?

    Cheers Richard - thanks for all the references.
  12. Why am I me and not you?

    In order to analyse a phenomenon one has to not make any implicit assumptions regarding it. For example a) reductive physicalism (which few adhere to as although mental properties may be mapped to physical properties they are not reducible to physical properties given how information is distributed across neural networks), or b) "emergence by necessity" (the assumption that mental properties just appear given a sufficient level of physical complexity - like when a machine declares itself to be conscious - without explanation). "Ghost in the machine" could be interpreted to mean anything from substance dualism to property dualism to simulation theory so I can't recommend the phrase here. Max Tegmark (an "informationism" architect) does however recommend the book/film when discussing simulation theory in the context of numerical simulation of physical systems and VR. In terms of property dualism, I figure it is more probable than a ghost without a machine, a machine without a ghost, or a machine with 73 ghosts.
  13. Why am I me and not you?

    Physical properties are uniquely assigned because they are part of a bigger indivisible system. Are we suggesting that mental properties are also? The problem is that to suggest some substances don't have mental properties but others do is to introduce differentiation - and there must be a reason for this differentiation. To interpret "you" or "me" as a physical entity in this context is to assert an unnecessary reduction which avoids the question. Perhaps I could be you (rather than me) if indivisible centres of awareness are randomly assigned to physical entities. But we must then ask what determines the mapping? Does the universe itself (nature) generate a set of discrete instantiations of sentience? Then why would a new one be created? Why not use the same one? (This is Arnold Zuboff's argument). Is the fact we don't have any memory of alternate references of experience (like we don't have memories of our infancy) a sufficient argument?
  14. Why am I me and not you?

    Why am I me and not you? Why is my experience of existence mapped to physical entity x and not mapped to physical entity y?
  15. Why is human life worth more than animal life?

    I think this is a fair point. At any day we might get wiped out by an advanced prokaryote (or retrovirus) and the process might start all over again. Assuming the more intelligent species doesn't get wiped out by an asteroid or nuke their planet.

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