Why Does the Universe Exist? Some Perspectives from Our Physics Project—Stephen Wolfram Writings

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Jason Resch

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Aug 11, 2022, 2:36:05 PMAug 11
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https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2021/04/why-does-the-universe-exist-some-perspectives-from-our-physics-project/ 

I found this fascinating. It appears to have many similarities with the type of physical reality that emerges from then universal dovetailer, with new ways of explaining it and some new insights.

Jason

Telmo Menezes

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:04:20 AMAug 12
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Hi Jason,

This is really interesting, thanks for sharing. Since Wolfram started going in this direction, something that occurs to me is this: hypergraphs are perhaps one of the most general mathematical constructs that can be conceived of. Almost everything else can be seen as a special case of hypergraphs. Like you say, with the update rules, we shouldn't be surprised if they are equivalent to the UD. My scepticism is this: is anything being gained in terms of explanatory power? Should we be surprised that such a powerful representation can contain the rules of our reality? I do admit that I have to study these ideas in more detail, and there is something really compelling about hypergraphs + update rules.

"As soon as one starts talking about “running programs” some people will immediately ask “On what computer?” But a key intellectual point is that computational processes can ultimately be defined completely abstractly, without reference to anything like a physical computer. "

Oh boy, John Clark is not going to like this :)

Telmo.
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John Clark

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Aug 12, 2022, 8:55:59 AMAug 12
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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 3:04 AM Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.net> wrote:
> Oh boy, John Clark is not going to like this :)

Well, I like Stephen Wolfram and I agree 100% with the ASCII sequence that Stephen Wolfram's physical brain produced:


"As soon as one starts talking about “running programs” some people will immediately ask “On what computer?" But a key intellectual point is that computational processes can ultimately be defined completely abstractly, without reference to anything like a physical computer. "

All completely true, however you can't make a computation with a definition, not even if the definition is what a computation is. For a definition to make any sense you need a mind, and to have a mind you need a brain, and a brain needs to process information, and if a Turing Machine cannot process a given amount of information then nothing can. And nobody, I repeat absolutely nobody, has been able to make a Turing machine without using the laws of physics or has even propose a theory about how such a thing could be possible because, as I said in the above, you can't make a computation with nothing but a definition, in fact you can't do anything at all if all you have is a definition.


 > My scepticism is this: is anything being gained in terms of explanatory power? 

Although quite interesting so far Stephen Wolfram cellular automation ideas have been no help whatsoever to physicists, but perhaps someday they may be, maybe someday we'll find that quarks behave the way they do because of some simple cellular automation at work inside them, but even if that day comes to pass you're still not going to be able to make a Turing machine, or anything else, with just a definition.

John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis
ewg

   




 





Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 1:56:28 PMAug 12
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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 2:04 AM Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.net> wrote:
Hi Jason,

This is really interesting, thanks for sharing. Since Wolfram started going in this direction, something that occurs to me is this: hypergraphs are perhaps one of the most general mathematical constructs that can be conceived of. Almost everything else can be seen as a special case of hypergraphs. Like you say, with the update rules, we shouldn't be surprised if they are equivalent to the UD. My scepticism is this: is anything being gained in terms of explanatory power? Should we be surprised that such a powerful representation can contain the rules of our reality? I do admit that I have to study these ideas in more detail, and there is something really compelling about hypergraphs + update rules.

That is a good question. I am not familiar with them myself, but my understanding is they do not provide for any form of computation beyond what is turing computable, so in that sense, I don't know that they provide any additional explanatory power beyond the simple statement that all computations exist.

A commenter on my site recently asked, what can we say about the "computer" that computes all these computations. My reply was:

"There is no single one. There are infinite varieties of different TMs, and all can exist Platonically/Arithmetically. Gregory Chaitin discovered an equation whose structure models LISP computers. There are likewise other equations corresponding to the Java Virtual Machine, and the Commodore 64. All these Turing machines, and their execution traces of every computer program they can run, exist in math in the same sense that the Mandelbrot set or the decimal expansion of Pi exist in math. Despite the infinite variety of architectures for different Turing machines, their equivalence (in the Turing computability sense) makes the question of “Which Turing machine is running this universe?” impossible to answer, beyond saying, “all of them are.”"

I think hypergraphs, then, would be just one more mathematical object we could add to the heap of Turing universal mathematical objects which could (and would, if Platonism is correct) underlie the computations of our universe/experiences.
 

"As soon as one starts talking about “running programs” some people will immediately ask “On what computer?” But a key intellectual point is that computational processes can ultimately be defined completely abstractly, without reference to anything like a physical computer. "

My same reply also provided an explanation/argument, which is applicable to anyone who accepts simple truths concerning abstract objects have definite and objective true/false values, paired with a rejection of philosophical zombies. I think John rejects zombies, so he would have to reject objective truth to believe a physical computer is necessary to produce observers. Below is what I wrote:

The way I like to think about it is this: If one is willing to believe that truth values for mathematical relations like “2 + 2 = 4” can exist and be true independently of the universe or someone writing it down, or a mathematician thinking about it, that is all you need.

For if the truth values of certain simple relations have an independent existence, then so to do the truth values of far more complex equations. Let’s call the Diophantine equation that computes the Wave Function of the Hubble Volume of our universe “Equation X”. Now then, it becomes a question of pure arithmetic, whether it is true or false that:

“In Equation X, does the universal state variable U, at time step T contain a pattern of electrons that encode to the string:
‘why does the existence of Universal Equations imply the existence of iterative search processes for solutions?'”

If that question has a definitive objective truth, then it is the case that in the universe U, at time step T, in equation X, there is some person in that universe who had a conscious thought, and wrote it down and it got organized into a pattern of electrons which anyone who inspects this vast equation with its huge variables could see.

Once you get to this point, the last and final step is to reject the possibility that the patterns found in these equations, which behave and act like they are conscious, and claim to be conscious, are philosophical zombies. In other words, to accept that they are conscious beings, just like those who exist in “physical” universes (assuming there is any possible distinction between a physical universe, and a physical universe computed by a Platonic or Arithmetic Turing Machine).


Jason

 

Oh boy, John Clark is not going to like this :)

Telmo.

Am Do, 11. Aug 2022, um 20:35, schrieb Jason Resch:

I found this fascinating. It appears to have many similarities with the type of physical reality that emerges from then universal dovetailer, with new ways of explaining it and some new insights.

Jason


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Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 2:18:22 PMAug 12
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On 8/12/2022 10:56 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
Below is what I wrote:

The way I like to think about it is this: If one is willing to believe that truth values for mathematical relations like “2 + 2 = 4” can exist and be true independently of the universe or someone writing it down, or a mathematician thinking about it, that is all you need.

But it's truth value does depend on someone assigning the value "t" to some axioms and all mathematical truth values are nothing but "t" arbitrarily assigned to some axioms plus some rules of inference that preserve "t".  "t" has little to do with what it true in the world.

Brent

John Clark

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Aug 12, 2022, 2:48:32 PMAug 12
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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 1:56 PM Jason Resch <jason...@gmail.com> wrote:
I think John rejects zombies,

Yes and I have a very good reason for doing so. I know for a fact I am conscious and the evidence is overwhelming that Darwinian evolution is correct, but if you could have intelligent behavior without consciousness then natural selection could never have invented it, yet it did. Therefore the only logical conclusion is that consciousness is the inevitable byproduct of intelligence.

 >so he would have to reject objective truth to believe a physical computer is necessary to produce observers. Below is what I wrote:
 The way I like to think about it is this: If one is willing to believe that truth values for mathematical relations like “2 + 2 = 4” can exist and be true independently of the universe

But I don't believe that. If there were zero or even just one thing in the entire universe then the very concept of "2" would be meaningless, as would the concept of additon. In fact if there was just one thing then there would be nothing because the best definition of "nothing" that I know of is infinite unbounded homogeneity.

John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis
idb

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:09:16 PMAug 12
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If there were zero objects in the universe then the concept of zero would necessarily exist to preserve the property of the number of physical objects in that nothing.

If the concept of zero exists then at least 'one' abstract entity must exist, the one number zero.

Now 'two' abstract numbers exist, 'one' and 'zero'. Et cetera.

Jason


"The Tao begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets the myriad things."
-- Lao Tzu

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:13:28 PMAug 12
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The physical world chugs along with anyone having to assign to assign values, or apply rules of inference.

Why can't the same be true for other platonic objects?

Jason

Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:29:30 PMAug 12
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Because "Platonic" means "exists only in imagination".

Brent

John Clark

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:33:03 PMAug 12
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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 3:09 PM Jason Resch <jason...@gmail.com> wrote:
> If there were zero objects in the universe then the concept of zero would necessarily exist to preserve the property of the number of physical objects in that nothing. If the concept of zero exists then at least 'one' abstract entity must exist, the one number zero. Now 'two' abstract numbers exist, 'one' and 'zero'. Et cetera.

You're making the argument that there must be more than just one thing in the universe and therefore it can not consist of infinite unbounded homogeneity, and therefore the universe is not nothing, and therefore the universe is something, and therefore it exists. And that's all very fine but it's irrelevant because your claim was that 2+2=4 would exist even if the universe did not. I maintain it would not. I'm certainly not saying  2+2 =4 has no meaning, I'm saying it has a meaning precisely because the universe exists. I'm saying that physics is more fundamental than mathematics.  


John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis 
mta

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:41:51 PMAug 12
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You defined nothing as a universe of zero physical objects. And have said a number N is meaningless without at least N things in that universe to count.

Is zero meaningless in a universe with zero physical things?

You might argue that it is, but I would say zero is necessary for the operation and preservation of such a universe of zero objects. Otherwise without some rule saying "the number of physical objects is and shall always be 0" what is to stop the nothing from becoming a universe having a non zero number of objects?

I don't see any way from escaping the necessity of rules and the number zero, for a nothing of the kind you describe.

Not do I see a way for zero to exist apart from all the other numbers. Zero has properties, including factors. The factors of zero include all integers.

Jason

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 3:56:34 PMAug 12
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Perhaps conventionally.

But perhaps physical existence is platonic existence (i.e. all self-consistent structures exist, all rule based formal systems, etc.). 

This would account for fine-tuning, and plausibly yield an answer to "why quantum mechanics?"

Jason


Brent

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John Clark

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Aug 12, 2022, 4:05:45 PMAug 12
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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 3:41 PM Jason Resch <jason...@gmail.com> wrote:

> You defined nothing as a universe of zero physical objects.

I also said the universe could not exist if it only had one physical object because I defined "nothing" as infinite unbounded homogeneity. If you have a better definition of "nothing" I'd like to hear it.   

> Is zero meaningless in a universe with zero physical things?

If the universe had zero (or only one) physical things then even "meaning" would be meaningless, and so would "meaningless". But those things do have meaning therefore I can deduce that the universe does not consist of infinite unbounded homogeneity, and therefore the universe must contain more than just one thing;  

> I don't see any way from escaping the necessity of rules and the number zero,

I don't either if you want to describe how the universe works because mathematics is the best language to do that. English is a useful language too but the word "cow" cannot give milk and the definition of a computation cannot perform a computation.  

John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis 
apl
 

Mindey

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Aug 12, 2022, 4:49:10 PMAug 12
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The way I like to think about it is this: If one is willing to believe that truth values for mathematical relations like “2 + 2 = 4” can exist and be true independently of the universe

Definition is not nothing. Definition is an implicit program.


I defined "nothing" as infinite unbounded homogeneity. If you have a better definition of "nothing" I'd like to hear it. 

I define "nothing" as absence of information about any aspect (projection axis, defining semantic dimension) whatsoever.


If the concept of zero exists then at least 'one' abstract entity must exist, the one number zero.

By this definition of "nothing", all possible projection axes (aspects, or points of view to which the projection ought to be zero by definition of "nothing") must therefore exist to define it. Thus, an assumption of nothingness explodes not just into "one abstract entity", but all possible imaginary entities with respect to which information amount can be measured, and said to be zero.

This definition of "nothing", as a kind of inverse of "everything", implies, or invites us to imagine all possible things.


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Joel Dietz

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Aug 12, 2022, 4:59:58 PMAug 12
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 > My scepticism is this: is anything being gained in terms of explanatory power? 

Although quite interesting so far Stephen Wolfram cellular automation ideas have been no help whatsoever to physicists, but perhaps someday they may be, maybe someday we'll find that quarks behave the way they do because of some simple cellular automation at work inside them, but even if that day comes to pass you're still not going to be able to make a Turing machine, or anything else, with just a definition.

I just gave a TedX talk on this topic (https://youtu.be/HhNnnKV-h_Q) but, in short, Wolfram's ideas about the ruliad are extremely helpful for formalizing physics as a set of transformations and, as such, you can begin to create a ruleset and test various variations. We are doing this starting with a physics engine (i.e. a procedurally generated game worlds with variables physics playable in various game engines including UE5), but the implication is you can potentially test various rulesets and see what coheres into a meaningful and observable phenomena. 

In that sense, this is like a testing kit to see what other dimensions are possible. 



 
ewg

   




 





Hi Jason,

This is really interesting, thanks for sharing. Since Wolfram started going in this direction, something that occurs to me is this: hypergraphs are perhaps one of the most general mathematical constructs that can be conceived of. Almost everything else can be seen as a special case of hypergraphs. Like you say, with the update rules, we shouldn't be surprised if they are equivalent to the UD. My scepticism is this: is anything being gained in terms of explanatory power? Should we be surprised that such a powerful representation can contain the rules of our reality? I do admit that I have to study these ideas in more detail, and there is something really compelling about hypergraphs + update rules.

"As soon as one starts talking about “running programs” some people will immediately ask “On what computer?” But a key intellectual point is that computational processes can ultimately be defined completely abstractly, without reference to anything like a physical computer. "

Oh boy, John Clark is not going to like this :)

Telmo.

Am Do, 11. Aug 2022, um 20:35, schrieb Jason Resch:

I found this fascinating. It appears to have many similarities with the type of physical reality that emerges from then universal dovetailer, with new ways of explaining it and some new insights.

Jason


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John Clark

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Aug 12, 2022, 5:20:20 PMAug 12
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On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 4:49 PM Mindey <min...@mindey.com> wrote:

> I defined "nothing" as infinite unbounded homogeneity. If you have a better definition of "nothing" I'd like to hear it. 

> I define "nothing" as absence of information about any aspect (projection axis, defining semantic dimension) whatsoever.
 

I think my definition is more fundamental because Information is physical, it takes physical energy to erase information, and there is a limit to how much of it a given volume can contain and it is proportional to the area of the surface of that volume. Purely abstract things don't have that property, it would be silly to ask how much something abstract like love a sphere with a radius of 1 meter could contain, but it would not be silly to ask how much information it could contain.  And you can't have information without a discontinuity of some sort, and you can't have a discontinuity if everything is just one thing because the smallest bit of information there is involves a change from on to off.   

Also, your definition is somewhat circular because "absence" already implies the thing you're trying to define.

John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis 
ggf


Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 5:22:53 PMAug 12
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On 8/12/2022 12:41 PM, Jason Resch wrote:


On Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 3:33 PM John Clark <johnk...@gmail.com> wrote:
On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 3:09 PM Jason Resch <jason...@gmail.com> wrote:

> If there were zero objects in the universe then the concept of zero would necessarily exist to preserve the property of the number of physical objects in that nothing. If the concept of zero exists then at least 'one' abstract entity must exist, the one number zero. Now 'two' abstract numbers exist, 'one' and 'zero'. Et cetera.

You're making the argument that there must be more than just one thing in the universe and therefore it can not consist of infinite unbounded homogeneity, and therefore the universe is not nothing, and therefore the universe is something, and therefore it exists. And that's all very fine but it's irrelevant because your claim was that 2+2=4 would exist even if the universe did not. I maintain it would not. I'm certainly not saying  2+2 =4 has no meaning, I'm saying it has a meaning precisely because the universe exists. I'm saying that physics is more fundamental than mathematics.  

You defined nothing as a universe of zero physical objects. And have said a number N is meaningless without at least N things in that universe to count.

Is zero meaningless in a universe with zero physical things?

Meaning is a relation between a sentence and a fact or other sentence.  "Zero" is meaningless except for the relations we attribute to it in sentences.  It is interesting that in Peano's axioms zero is defined negatively as "The integer that is not the successor of n for all n."



You might argue that it is, but I would say zero is necessary for the operation and preservation of such a universe of zero objects.

So why don't you conclude there can be no universe of zero objects.  And what exactly is an object?  It's not a term that appears in quantum field theory?


Otherwise without some rule saying "the number of physical objects is and shall always be 0" what is to stop the nothing from becoming a universe having a non zero number of objects?

That's actually a well worked out theory, c.f. Hartle-Hawking, that nothing became a universe.  Lawrence Krauss wrote a book about it.



I don't see any way from escaping the necessity of rules and the number zero, for a nothing of the kind you describe.

Not do I see a way for zero to exist apart from all the other numbers.

That's "t" under Peano's axioms.


Zero has properties, including factors. The factors of zero include all integers.

Oh, well that proves it's real.

Brent

Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 5:25:35 PMAug 12
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On 8/12/2022 12:56 PM, Jason Resch wrote:


On Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 3:29 PM Brent Meeker <meeke...@gmail.com> wrote:


On 8/12/2022 12:13 PM, Jason Resch wrote:


On Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 2:18 PM Brent Meeker <meeke...@gmail.com> wrote:


On 8/12/2022 10:56 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
Below is what I wrote:

The way I like to think about it is this: If one is willing to believe that truth values for mathematical relations like “2 + 2 = 4” can exist and be true independently of the universe or someone writing it down, or a mathematician thinking about it, that is all you need.

But it's truth value does depend on someone assigning the value "t" to some axioms and all mathematical truth values are nothing but "t" arbitrarily assigned to some axioms plus some rules of inference that preserve "t".  "t" has little to do with what it true in the world.

The physical world chugs along with anyone having to assign to assign values, or apply rules of inference.

Why can't the same be true for other platonic objects?

Because "Platonic" means "exists only in imagination".

Perhaps conventionally.

But perhaps physical existence is platonic existence (i.e. all self-consistent structures exist, all rule based formal systems, etc.).

Given a sufficiently broad definition of "exists".   Just like 2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2.



This would account for fine-tuning, and plausibly yield an answer to "why quantum mechanics?"

One can "account" for anything in words.

Brent

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 5:29:35 PMAug 12
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Not exactly. The existence of a plentitude implies observers should find themselves entwines with an environment having many-histories.

If there was no QM, that would rule out the existence of a plentitude.

Jason



Brent

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Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 6:05:23 PMAug 12
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On 8/12/2022 2:29 PM, Jason Resch wrote:


On Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 5:25 PM Brent Meeker <meeke...@gmail.com> wrote:


On 8/12/2022 12:56 PM, Jason Resch wrote:


On Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 3:29 PM Brent Meeker <meeke...@gmail.com> wrote:


On 8/12/2022 12:13 PM, Jason Resch wrote:


On Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 2:18 PM Brent Meeker <meeke...@gmail.com> wrote:


On 8/12/2022 10:56 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
Below is what I wrote:

The way I like to think about it is this: If one is willing to believe that truth values for mathematical relations like “2 + 2 = 4” can exist and be true independently of the universe or someone writing it down, or a mathematician thinking about it, that is all you need.

But it's truth value does depend on someone assigning the value "t" to some axioms and all mathematical truth values are nothing but "t" arbitrarily assigned to some axioms plus some rules of inference that preserve "t".  "t" has little to do with what it true in the world.

The physical world chugs along with anyone having to assign to assign values, or apply rules of inference.

Why can't the same be true for other platonic objects?

Because "Platonic" means "exists only in imagination".

Perhaps conventionally.

But perhaps physical existence is platonic existence (i.e. all self-consistent structures exist, all rule based formal systems, etc.).

Given a sufficiently broad definition of "exists".   Just like 2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2.


This would account for fine-tuning, and plausibly yield an answer to "why quantum mechanics?"

One can "account" for anything in words.

Not exactly. The existence of a plentitude implies observers should find themselves entwines with an environment having many-histories.

You don't know that the environment has more than one history.



If there was no QM, that would rule out the existence of a plentitude.

You think God couldn't have created other Newtonian worlds?

Brent

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 6:14:55 PMAug 12
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If there is an infinite plenitude of individually distinct Newtonian worlds, observers within that reality will experience indeterminnace in their observations due to the fact that each observer's mind has an infinity of incarnations across different Newtonian universes in the plentitude. Even God could perhaps not eliminate that indeterminnace as experienced by most observers in such a reality. The feat might be like making a square circle.

Jason

Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 6:19:40 PMAug 12
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In a Newtonian multitude even observer would be distinct and would have only one instance.  There would be no indeterminance.

Brent

Even God could perhaps not eliminate that indeterminnace as experienced by most observers in such a reality. The feat might be like making a square circle.

Jason
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Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 7:01:13 PMAug 12
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Why do you say they would be distinct?

Say four different Newtonian universes all contain Alice's brain in state S. Can Alice predict what she will see next, or which universe she happens to be in?

(See attached brain states image)

"It is impossible for any observer to deduce with certainty on the basis of her observations and memory which world she is a part of. That is, there are always many different worlds for which being contained in them is compatible with everything she knows, but which imply different predictions for future observations."
-- Markus Müller in “Could the physical world be emergent instead of fundamental, and why should we ask?” (2017)


Jason




Brent

Even God could perhaps not eliminate that indeterminnace as experienced by most observers in such a reality. The feat might be like making a square circle.

Jason
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brain-states.jpg

Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 7:52:57 PMAug 12
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They're either distinct or identical and identical universes are the same universe, c.f. Laplace and the identity of indiscernibles.

Brent

Jason Resch

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Aug 12, 2022, 8:17:09 PMAug 12
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The universes can be different while the same brain state of a particular observer is found between two or more universes.

Jason




Brent

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Brent Meeker

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Aug 12, 2022, 8:23:27 PMAug 12
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In that case they are distinct universes.  Universes include brains.

Brent

Stathis Papaioannou

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Aug 13, 2022, 12:49:40 AMAug 13
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Identical physical states in a deterministic world would evolve identically, as would any supervening mental states. However, a supervenient relationship is such that multiple different physical states can give rise to the same mental state. The different physical states may then evolve differently giving different subsequent mental states. Subjectively, this would mean that your next mental state is undetermined. This idea has been used by the philosopher Christian List to propose a mechanism for libertarian free will in a determined world. I don’t think that works because indeterminacy is not a good basis for free will (the main problem with libertarian free will), but it is an interesting idea nonetheless.
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ronaldheld

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Aug 13, 2022, 5:49:42 AMAug 13
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Is this vaguely related to Tegmark's mathematical structures? 

John Clark

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Aug 13, 2022, 7:53:51 AMAug 13
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On Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 12:49 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Identical physical states in a deterministic world would evolve identically, as would any supervening mental states.

Yes. 

 > However, a supervenient relationship is such that multiple different physical states can give rise to the same mental state.

True, and in that situation things would not be reversible; a cellular automation like Conway's LIFE is not reversible and for the same reason. Something can be 100% deterministic in the forward time dimension but not in the backward time dimension, but so far at least nobody has any experimental evidence that fundamental physics has that property, fundamental physics can't explain why you can't unscramble an egg, you need more than the laws of physics to explain that you need to invoke initial conditions. That situation could change if some of Stephen Wolfram's ideas turn out to be correct, but so far there is no evidence that they are.  


 > The different physical states may then evolve differently giving different subsequent mental states. Subjectively, this would mean that your next mental state is undetermined. 

You never know for sure what you're going to do next until you actually do it because sometimes you change your mind at the last second, but there is nothing profound or mystical in that, a two dollar calculator doesn't know what it's gonna put up on its screen when you type in 2+2 until it has finish the calculation.  

> This idea has been used by the philosopher Christian List to propose a mechanism for libertarian free will in a determined world. I don’t think that works because indeterminacy is not a good basis for free will (the main problem with libertarian free will), but it is an interesting idea nonetheless.

I've never heard of him but if he's like most philosophers he will have gone on and on about why we have free will without once asking himself what the term "free will" is even supposed to mean; I've never heard a philosopher give a definition of it that wasn't either circular or just pure gibberish. I feel it might be helpful if before philosophers start talking about whether human beings have a certain property they first make clear what that property is, and only after that would it be appropriate to discuss if humans happen to have that property or not.  I don't demand that the definition be perfect but I don't think it's too much to ask that they give me at least a general idea of approximately what the hell they're talking about when they say "free will".


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Jason Resch

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Aug 13, 2022, 8:01:52 AMAug 13
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I think we're talking past each other. Perhaps this passage will help clarify things:

And it’s very much the same story with the ruliad—and with the laws of physics. If we constrain the kind of way that we observe—or “parse”—the ruliad, then it becomes inevitable that the effective laws we’ll see will have certain features, which turns out apparently to be exactly what’s needed to reproduce known laws of physics. The full ruliad is in a sense very wild; but as observers with certain characteristics, we see a much tamer version of it, and in fact what we see is capable of being described in terms of laws that we can largely write just in terms of existing mathematical constructs.

At the outset, we might have imagined that the ruliad would basically just serve as a kind of dictionary of possible universes—a “universe of all possible universes” in which each possible universe has different laws. But the ruliad is in a sense a much more complicated object. Rather than being a “dictionary” of possible separate universes, it is something that entangles together all possible universes. The Principle of Computational Equivalence implies a certain homogeneity to this entangled structure. But the crucial point is that we don’t “look at this structure from the outside”: we are instead observers embedded within the structure. And what we observe then depends on our characteristics. And it turns out that even very basic features of our consciousness and sensory apparatus in a sense inevitably lead to known laws of physics—and in a sense do so generically, independent of details of just where in rulial space we are, or exactly what slice of the ruliad we take.

From: "The Concept of the Ruliad" Steven Wolfram

Jason


 

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Jason Resch

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Aug 13, 2022, 9:21:07 AMAug 13
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It is similar, but I think it is more concretely defined.

Wolfram describes the collection of all formally describable rule based systems, leading to a complex structure he calls the Ruliad: https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2021/11/the-concept-of-the-ruliad/

Unlike Tegmark's idea, Wolfram explains how this structure is vastly interconnected and observers within this structure observer certain regularities which are necessarily tied to the own nature of the observer (their mind and sense organs, etc.), which ultimately defines a set of regularities (the laws of physics) for that observer (or observers of that same class).

I think there is more similarity between Wolfram's ideas, and those of Bruno Marchal and Markus P. Müller, which framed things algorithmically and showed how laws of physics can be extracted from the structure of all computations.

Jason

Joel Dietz

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Aug 13, 2022, 2:08:05 PMAug 13
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I think there is more similarity between Wolfram's ideas, and those of Bruno Marchal and Markus P. Müller, which framed things algorithmically and showed how laws of physics can be extracted from the structure of all computations.


Can you give some citations? I don't obviously see how their work overlaps with the ruliad. 


 
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Jason Resch

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Aug 13, 2022, 3:20:58 PMAug 13
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On Sat, Aug 13, 2022, 2:08 PM Joel Dietz <jdi...@gmail.com> wrote:


I think there is more similarity between Wolfram's ideas, and those of Bruno Marchal and Markus P. Müller, which framed things algorithmically and showed how laws of physics can be extracted from the structure of all computations.


Can you give some citations? I don't obviously see how their work overlaps with the ruliad. 


I have included relevant quotes and links to sources throughout my page here:


You can Ctrl+F and search on that page for Marchal and Müller to find all the relevant references and passages I have for them.

Both of their theories are based on assuming an ontology of all computations, and then seeing the what conclusions we could derive about the character of experience or physical laws from that assumption.

Jason

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Aug 13, 2022, 4:21:35 PMAug 13
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"The structure of all computations". Lets go physicalist even on this one. Where does such a mechanism exist? Is it dark matter? the area beyond the Hubble Volume, the unborn minds of humans and AI yet to come? Phase space???? Hilbert Space, Anti-De Sitter space??? A future Omega Point, a current or future multiverse?? Mar-a-largo in a secret safer? 

I like Wolframs concepts, and have no horse in these discussions, save what my be construed as the existential, because, that as a meta goal is seemingly, practical ultimately. 

 
Much thanks, Jason. 

Stathis Papaioannou

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Most modern philosophers are compatibilists, so called because they think free will and determinism are compatible. Compatibilists say that you act freely if you do so according to your preferences rather than being coerced or under abnormal influence such as psychotic illness. This is the layperson’s definition of freedom and the definition used to establish legal responsibility in court. Incompatibilists, on the other hand, worry that even if you are doing what you want, it isn’t really free if your actions are determined by prior events. Compatibilists think this is absurd, because if your actions aren’t determined, they are random, and why would anyone equate freedom with their actions being random?
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Brent Meeker

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Aug 13, 2022, 8:06:29 PMAug 13
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Daniel Dennett says it is making choices based on who you are: your education, experience, genetics, perspective,...  And that's all the "free will" worth having.

Brent


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John Clark

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On Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 5:09 PM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Most modern philosophers are compatibilists, so called because they think free will and determinism are compatible. 

I think before philosophers start saying what free will is and is not compatible with they should first explain what the hell they mean by "free will, but they never do, when asked they just start waving their hands around speaking gibberish. 

> Compatibilists say that you act freely if you do so according to your preferences 

There are only 2 possibilities, there is either a reason for my preference in which case it is mechanical, or there is no reason for my preference in which case it is by definition un-reasonable and random. 

> or under abnormal influence such as psychotic illness. 

There are only 2 possibilities,  there is a reason for that "abnormal" influence in which case it is mechanical or there is no reason for the "abnormal"  influence in which case it is by definition un-reasonable and random.

> This is the layperson’s definition of freedom and the definition used to establish legal responsibility in court. 

Yes, and that is why the legal system is such a ridiculous incoherent mess. There could be no other outcome if something is based on pure nonsense. 

John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis 

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Stathis Papaioannou

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Aug 14, 2022, 5:52:13 AMAug 14
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On Sun, 14 Aug 2022 at 18:52, John Clark <johnk...@gmail.com> wrote:
On Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 5:09 PM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Most modern philosophers are compatibilists, so called because they think free will and determinism are compatible. 

I think before philosophers start saying what free will is and is not compatible with they should first explain what the hell they mean by "free will, but they never do, when asked they just start waving their hands around speaking gibberish. 

That's what I was trying to explain: you act of your own free will if you do what you want to do, you don't act of your own free will if you do something accidentally, or you are forced, or you don't know what you're doing due to a mental illness. There is nothing clever about this, it's the layperson's definition, and most philosophers think it's the only definition that makes sense. Daniel Dennett is an example of a compatibilist philosopher.

> Compatibilists say that you act freely if you do so according to your preferences 

There are only 2 possibilities, there is either a reason for my preference in which case it is mechanical, or there is no reason for my preference in which case it is by definition un-reasonable and random. 

> or under abnormal influence such as psychotic illness. 

There are only 2 possibilities,  there is a reason for that "abnormal" influence in which case it is mechanical or there is no reason for the "abnormal"  influence in which case it is by definition un-reasonable and random.

Yes, so you can only act freely if your actions are determined. A little bit of randomness might be OK but if everything you did was random you would die.
 

> This is the layperson’s definition of freedom and the definition used to establish legal responsibility in court. 

Yes, and that is why the legal system is such a ridiculous incoherent mess. There could be no other outcome if something is based on pure nonsense.

The legal system might be a mess, but at least in principle it's a good idea not to punish people who didn't do it, did it under coercion, or didn't know what they were doing because they were dementing, for example.


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John Clark

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On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 5:52 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> you don't act of your own free will if you do something accidentally, or you are forced,

Everybody is always subjected to force, sometimes, as when an electromagnetic force enters your eye and prevents you from walking into a brick wall it's a good thing because you don't want to walk into a brick wall, and sometimes, such as when the gravitational force prevents you from jumping over a mountain, it's a bad thing because you want to jump over that mountain.

> There is nothing clever about this, it's the layperson's definition,

Yeah, it's just saying sometimes you can will what you want to do and sometimes you can't. I don't see why lawyers need to get involved in that but under our legal system they certainly are.

>>Yes, and that is why the legal system is such a ridiculous incoherent mess. There could be no other outcome if something is based on pure nonsense.

>> The legal system might be a mess, but at least in principle it's a good idea not to punish people who didn't do it, did it under coercion, or didn't know what they were doing because they were dementing, for example.

The first question you have to ask is what is the purpose of punishing a murderer? I think the only legitimate answer to that is to prevent a similar murder in the future, anything more than that is not justice, it's just vengeance; I'm no different from anybody else and sometimes I'd like a little vengeance, but I am not proud of that reptilian part of my brain and so I will not defend it. Therefore from a legal point of view it shouldn't matter if somebody is a murderer because he had bad genes, or bad upbringing, or a random cosmic ray distroyed the crucial part of his brain that generates empathy for his fellow creatures, the important point is regardless of the cause he remains a murderer spreading misery wherever he goes and needs to be dealt with accordingly. The only legitimate mitigating circumstance would be if it could be proven that the murder occurred because of extremely unlikely circumstances that were very unlikely to be repeated. We should assume he is likely to murder again unless proven otherwise, and that would not be easy to prove.

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Stathis Papaioannou

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Aug 14, 2022, 7:39:25 AMAug 14
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On Sun, 14 Aug 2022 at 21:20, John Clark <johnk...@gmail.com> wrote:
On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 5:52 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> you don't act of your own free will if you do something accidentally, or you are forced,

Everybody is always subjected to force, sometimes, as when an electromagnetic force enters your eye and prevents you from walking into a brick wall it's a good thing because you don't want to walk into a brick wall, and sometimes, such as when the gravitational force prevents you from jumping over a mountain, it's a bad thing because you want to jump over that mountain.

It's different if you say "I was forced by someone holding a gun to my head" or "I was forced by the laws of physics".
 

> There is nothing clever about this, it's the layperson's definition,

Yeah, it's just saying sometimes you can will what you want to do and sometimes you can't. I don't see why lawyers need to get involved in that but under our legal system they certainly are.

>>Yes, and that is why the legal system is such a ridiculous incoherent mess. There could be no other outcome if something is based on pure nonsense.

>> The legal system might be a mess, but at least in principle it's a good idea not to punish people who didn't do it, did it under coercion, or didn't know what they were doing because they were dementing, for example.

The first question you have to ask is what is the purpose of punishing a murderer? I think the only legitimate answer to that is to prevent a similar murder in the future, anything more than that is not justice, it's just vengeance; I'm no different from anybody else and sometimes I'd like a little vengeance, but I am not proud of that reptilian part of my brain and so I will not defend it. Therefore from a legal point of view it shouldn't matter if somebody is a murderer because he had bad genes, or bad upbringing, or a random cosmic ray distroyed the crucial part of his brain that generates empathy for his fellow creatures, the important point is regardless of the cause he remains a murderer spreading misery wherever he goes and needs to be dealt with accordingly. The only legitimate mitigating circumstance would be if it could be proven that the murder occurred because of extremely unlikely circumstances that were very unlikely to be repeated. We should assume he is likely to murder again unless proven otherwise, and that would not be easy to prove.
 
Whether punishment could act as a deterrent corresponds with whether the action was done "of his own free will" as per the above definition. That is the main utility of the idea. For example, there is no point in punishing a sleepwalker who kills someone because it won't deter other sleepwalkers from doing the same thing.


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John Clark

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Aug 14, 2022, 8:07:28 AMAug 14
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On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 7:39 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Everybody is always subjected to force, sometimes, as when an electromagnetic force enters your eye and prevents you from walking into a brick wall it's a good thing because you don't want to walk into a brick wall, and sometimes, such as when the gravitational force prevents you from jumping over a mountain, it's a bad thing because you want to jump over that mountain.

>It's different if you say "I was forced by someone holding a gun to my head" or "I was forced by the laws of physics".

If it could be proven that I murdered because somebody put a gun to my head that would be a legitimate mitigating circumstance because it would be unlikely that in the future somebody would hold a gun to my head again and thus I would be unlikely to murder again. But if I did it because of the law of electromagnetism that would not be a mitigating circumstance because I am likely to encounter electromagnetism again and thus likely to murder again.


> there is no point in punishing a sleepwalker who kills someone because it won't deter other sleepwalkers from doing the same thing.

But a few amps flowing through his body for just a few seconds would improve him immeasurably and prevent the sleepwalker from ever murdering again. And because he is likely to sleep again, he would be an extremely dangerous man that needs to be dealt with. Imprisonment won't solve the problem, in 2019 in the USA 143 prisoners were murdered by other prisoners who had already been convicted of murder, and the man who murdered Martin Luther King was an escaped prisoner.


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Stathis Papaioannou

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Aug 14, 2022, 8:47:33 AMAug 14
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On Sun, 14 Aug 2022 at 22:07, John Clark <johnk...@gmail.com> wrote:


On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 7:39 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Everybody is always subjected to force, sometimes, as when an electromagnetic force enters your eye and prevents you from walking into a brick wall it's a good thing because you don't want to walk into a brick wall, and sometimes, such as when the gravitational force prevents you from jumping over a mountain, it's a bad thing because you want to jump over that mountain.

>It's different if you say "I was forced by someone holding a gun to my head" or "I was forced by the laws of physics".

If it could be proven that I murdered because somebody put a gun to my head that would be a legitimate mitigating circumstance because it would be unlikely that in the future somebody would hold a gun to my head again and thus I would be unlikely to murder again. But if I did it because of the law of electromagnetism that would not be a mitigating circumstance because I am likely to encounter electromagnetism again and thus likely to murder again.

There would be no point in punishing you if you murdered because someone held a gun to your head, because it wouldn’t change your future behaviour or the behaviour of others on a similar situation. On the other hand, punishing someone who kills in order to steal the victim’s money may deter him and others like him from doing it again, even though his brain was just following the laws of physics.

> there is no point in punishing a sleepwalker who kills someone because it won't deter other sleepwalkers from doing the same thing.

But a few amps flowing through his body for just a few seconds would improve him immeasurably and prevent the sleepwalker from ever murdering again. And because he is likely to sleep again, he would be an extremely dangerous man that needs to be dealt with. Imprisonment won't solve the problem, in 2019 in the USA 143 prisoners were murdered by other prisoners who had already been convicted of murder, and the man who murdered Martin Luther King was an escaped prisoner.

The idea of acting of your own free will only applies to punishment as deterrent. You have to have control over your behaviour and to understand what you are doing in order for that to work, and that doesn’t apply to sleepwalkers.
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Joel Dietz

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Aug 14, 2022, 11:21:50 AMAug 14
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There are two completely incompatible models of free will and thus, the term is overloaded and subject to misinterpretation.

1. "free will" in the sense of a necessary description of the way in which a particular self-identified subject choses an action without coercion. In that sense, one can say "I freely chose to turn right at the intersection" or "I chose to eat this burger." The English language requires such a usage because we need a way to describe actions that exist without coercion. 

2. "free will" in the sense that some elements of our universe may be non-deterministic and in which the idea of the "self" (and particularly, the idea of our own self) may have an ability to change some outcomes based on some concept of agency. This is an extremely illusive concept because it is basically unprovable by definition. 

For example, imagine a construct of 10,000 neurons in which you know exactly what each neuron does, precisely how it receives its stimulus and its exact programming. You can then say "I know how this construct works and reliably discern what inputs will lead to what outputs." However, it is *impossible* to prove that there is not another as of yet invisible or unmeasurable mechanism within the construct that can alter or override the standard system of inputs and outputs.  

This is an extremely hairy problem that extends into paranomal phenomena, UFOlogy, religion, etc. in that one cannot can not, by stating any system of laws or deterministic systems, rule out the possibility of some override function or, for that matter, exceptions where one law simply ceases to function.  

The concept of "God" bridges over both of these concepts and makes it more complex, because it supposes an external agency that may even have a motive in keeping up trapped inside some presumably maximally deterministic system, or tricking us into thinking that we have agency when we do not, or for that matter, some tricky scenario where some master planners battle for agency. George R. R. Martin's Sandkings is remarkably like 1st Enoch in this regard. 

I personally suspect agency is non-binary and instead has multiple scalar elements a genetic override function and is rather complex than anyone has modeled to date. 



 

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John Clark

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On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 11:21 AM Joel Dietz <jdi...@gmail.com> wrote:

There are two completely incompatible models of free will and thus, the term is overloaded and subject to misinterpretation.
1. "free will" in the sense of a necessary description of the way in which a particular self-identified subject choses an action without coercion.

And either there was a reason you chose that action rather than another in which case you're a cuckoo clock, or there was no reason you chose that action rather than another in which case you're a roulette wheel.  Where does this thing called "free will" enter the picture? Forget figuring out if we have it or not, just tell me what it is supposed to mean.  I don't think it means anything, I think it's an idea so bad it's not even wrong.

> 2. "free will" in the sense that some elements of our universe may be non-deterministic and in which the idea of the "self" (and particularly, the idea of our own self) may have an ability to change some outcomes based on some concept of agency.

That doesn't make any sense,  if it was non-deterministic then there was no reason for that change and your actions were unreasonable,  but if "agency" (whatever that means) was the reason for the change then the change was deterministic not non-deterministic

> This is an extremely illusive concept because it is basically unprovable by definition. 

Then it's not a useful concept and thinking about it is not worth the wear and tear inflicted on our neurons.

> For example, imagine a construct of 10,000 neurons in which you know exactly what each neuron does, precisely how it receives its stimulus and its exact programming. You can then say "I know how this construct works and reliably discern what inputs will lead to what outputs." However, it is *impossible* to prove that there is not another as of yet invisible or unmeasurable mechanism within the construct that can alter or override the standard system of inputs and outputs.  

I can't prove there is not a teapot in orbit around the planet Uranus either, but there's no reason to think there is one and there are plenty of reasons to suspect there is not.  

> The concept of "God" bridges over both of these concepts and makes it more complex,

Even in the unlikely event that God exists I don't see how that alters things one iota. It is as true for God as it is for me, God either does what He does for a reason in which case His actions are reasonable, or He does what he does for no reason in which case His actions are unreasonable.  

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John Clark

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On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 8:47 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> The idea of acting of your own free will only applies to punishment as deterrent.

Before you start worrying about deterrence the first order of business is to make sure that a convicted murderer doesn't murder again because I think such a thing would be as great a miscarriage of justice as executing an innocent man.  
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Joel Dietz

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And either there was a reason you chose that action rather than another in which case you're a cuckoo clock, or there was no reason you chose that action rather than another in which case you're a roulette wheel.  Where does this thing called "free will" enter the picture? Forget figuring out if we have it or not, just tell me what it is supposed to mean.  I don't think it means anything, I think it's an idea so bad it's not even wrong.


Everything in common usage in the vernacular means something (i.e. it has semantic utility). I already gave one common and useful definition and you are welcome to check the OED for more. If you don't like it then you don't like the English language which I can do nothing about.  



I can't prove there is not a teapot in orbit around the planet Uranus either, but there's no reason to think there is one and there are plenty of reasons to suspect there is not.  

This is exactly the difference between a reasonable assumption and proof. Unfortunately we find people not properly trained in philosophy stating things as proofs when they are anything but. 






 
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John Clark

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On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 12:04 PM Joel Dietz <jdi...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> And either there was a reason you chose that action rather than another in which case you're a cuckoo clock, or there was no reason you chose that action rather than another in which case you're a roulette wheel.  Where does this thing called "free will" enter the picture? Forget figuring out if we have it or not, just tell me what it is supposed to mean.  I don't think it means anything, I think it's an idea so bad it's not even wrong.


> Everything in common usage in the vernacular means something (i.e. it has semantic utility). I already gave one common and useful definition

Somehow I missed that, please repeat it.  

> and you are welcome to check the OED for more.

You're never going to find philosophical insight in the OED or any other dictionary because all the definitions in them are ultimately circular, they're all made up of words that have their own definitions that are also made up of words, and round and round we go.


>> I can't prove there is not a teapot in orbit around the planet Uranus either, but there's no reason to think there is one and there are plenty of reasons to suspect there is not.  

> This is exactly the difference between a reasonable assumption and proof.

Yep, and in science you can never prove an idea is correct but you can sometimes prove an idea is incorrect. And if it "is basically unprovable by definition" so you can't prove or disprove it then it's silly and is an idea so bad it's not even wrong. You only get a proof of truth in pure mathematics, not in science.

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Stathis Papaioannou

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On Mon, 15 Aug 2022 at 01:21, Joel Dietz <jdi...@gmail.com> wrote:
There are two completely incompatible models of free will and thus, the term is overloaded and subject to misinterpretation.

1. "free will" in the sense of a necessary description of the way in which a particular self-identified subject choses an action without coercion. In that sense, one can say "I freely chose to turn right at the intersection" or "I chose to eat this burger." The English language requires such a usage because we need a way to describe actions that exist without coercion. 

2. "free will" in the sense that some elements of our universe may be non-deterministic and in which the idea of the "self" (and particularly, the idea of our own self) may have an ability to change some outcomes based on some concept of agency. This is an extremely illusive concept because it is basically unprovable by definition. 

For example, imagine a construct of 10,000 neurons in which you know exactly what each neuron does, precisely how it receives its stimulus and its exact programming. You can then say "I know how this construct works and reliably discern what inputs will lead to what outputs." However, it is *impossible* to prove that there is not another as of yet invisible or unmeasurable mechanism within the construct that can alter or override the standard system of inputs and outputs.  

This is an extremely hairy problem that extends into paranomal phenomena, UFOlogy, religion, etc. in that one cannot can not, by stating any system of laws or deterministic systems, rule out the possibility of some override function or, for that matter, exceptions where one law simply ceases to function.  

The concept of "God" bridges over both of these concepts and makes it more complex, because it supposes an external agency that may even have a motive in keeping up trapped inside some presumably maximally deterministic system, or tricking us into thinking that we have agency when we do not, or for that matter, some tricky scenario where some master planners battle for agency. George R. R. Martin's Sandkings is remarkably like 1st Enoch in this regard. 

I personally suspect agency is non-binary and instead has multiple scalar elements a genetic override function and is rather complex than anyone has modeled to date. 

Most philosophers say that the first definition is all that free will is, all that is required for agency and moral responsibility, and the second definition is nonsense.  The second definition comes from a fallacious overextension of the first definition: you aren’t free if you are forced, if your brain follows the laws of physics it is forced by the laws of physics, so you aren’t free. Laypeople who know nothing about philosophy use the first definition all the time. Laypeople who know a little about philosophy often seem unaware that the first definition is philosophically legitimate.


On Sun, 14 Aug 2022 at 14:47, Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:


On Sun, 14 Aug 2022 at 22:07, John Clark <johnk...@gmail.com> wrote:


On Sun, Aug 14, 2022 at 7:39 AM Stathis Papaioannou <stat...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Everybody is always subjected to force, sometimes, as when an electromagnetic force enters your eye and prevents you from walking into a brick wall it's a good thing because you don't want to walk into a brick wall, and sometimes, such as when the gravitational force prevents you from jumping over a mountain, it's a bad thing because you want to jump over that mountain.

>It's different if you say "I was forced by someone holding a gun to my head" or "I was forced by the laws of physics".

If it could be proven that I murdered because somebody put a gun to my head that would be a legitimate mitigating circumstance because it would be unlikely that in the future somebody would hold a gun to my head again and thus I would be unlikely to murder again. But if I did it because of the law of electromagnetism that would not be a mitigating circumstance because I am likely to encounter electromagnetism again and thus likely to murder again.

There would be no point in punishing you if you murdered because someone held a gun to your head, because it wouldn’t change your future behaviour or the behaviour of others on a similar situation. On the other hand, punishing someone who kills in order to steal the victim’s money may deter him and others like him from doing it again, even though his brain was just following the laws of physics.

> there is no point in punishing a sleepwalker who kills someone because it won't deter other sleepwalkers from doing the same thing.

But a few amps flowing through his body for just a few seconds would improve him immeasurably and prevent the sleepwalker from ever murdering again. And because he is likely to sleep again, he would be an extremely dangerous man that needs to be dealt with. Imprisonment won't solve the problem, in 2019 in the USA 143 prisoners were murdered by other prisoners who had already been convicted of murder, and the man who murdered Martin Luther King was an escaped prisoner.

The idea of acting of your own free will only applies to punishment as deterrent. You have to have control over your behaviour and to understand what you are doing in order for that to work, and that doesn’t apply to sleepwalkers.
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Stathis Papaioannou

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