Moral consequences of the MWI?

by Dmitry67
Tags: consequences, moral
 P: 2,456 I cant stop thinking about my poor copies in alternative branches. Because of some weird quantum fluctuations in my brain these copies had attacked people for nothing, killed cops, and now have to serve very long time in prison... Also, I definitely have some injured/paralyzed copies. You would probablly say: "the probability of these branches is very very low". But I dont think that the probability affects the 'feeling of being real'. For example, generate 100 random decimal digits using true (quantum-noise based) random generator. Read this 100 digit number. Now you are on one of 10^100 branches. Do you feel yourself 10^100 less real then a minute before? No...
 PF Gold P: 2,432 Would this change anything morally though? Whether you achieve a local determinism via classical newtonianism or MWI? Either way, you would have "no choice" as you now believe your actions are micro-determined. Whether your past was a straight line of causality or just a particular path through an infinitely branching history.
 P: 2,456 Newtonian or Bohmian determinish is very different from the MWI determinism. In BM all future events are pre-coded in the initial conditions. In MWI system initial conditions can be vary simple, but as everyhting happens system evolves filling all voids in the universum. Next (it probably deserves a separate thread) determinism != no free will. Free will can exist even in the deterministic universes. So what she be my motivation for doing this but not doing that?
 PF Gold P: 2,432 Moral consequences of the MWI? Of course I don't believe in this as an approach to freewill. And most discussions of freewill don't even start with a realistic description of the human situation. But just to run with the interesting question you raise, I still can't see the crucial difference between a micro-causal thread running deterministically through a newtonian universe, or a second micro-causal thread running pseudo-deterministically through a MWI labyrinth of worlds. In the MWI version, surely it is still the case that once a branch is "chosen", no other choice was possible for that branch?
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 Quote by Dmitry67 I cant stop thinking about my poor copies in alternative branches. Because of some weird quantum fluctuations in my brain these copies had attacked people for nothing, killed cops, and now have to serve very long time in prison... Also, I definitely have some injured/paralyzed copies.
Hi Dmitry. Who or what is this "me" you're referring to? Sounds like a dualistic assumtion. Doesn't all conscious phenomena stem from some material interactions? Aren't we all nothing more than the interaction of molecules?
P: 2,456
 Quote by Q_Goest Doesn't all conscious phenomena stem from some material interactions? Aren't we all nothing more than the interaction of molecules?
*NO*
I explained why here: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthr...05#post2348205

Thank you for the question!
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 Quote by Q_Goest Hi Dmitry. Who or what is this "me" you're referring to? Sounds like a dualistic assumtion. Doesn't all conscious phenomena stem from some material interactions? Aren't we all nothing more than the interaction of molecules?
I don't know if I'd answer as strongly as Dmitry, but the idea that consciousness is totally reducible to physical entities and interactions is an assumption. It seems to require a leap of faith. Cartesian doubt proves our own consciousness, but proof of anything empirical or physical is harder to achieve, if not impossible.

The view that everything is physical is probably most commonly known as reductive physicalism, although there may be some additional features in typical reductive physicalism. See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/physicalism/. You mentioned dualism, so you probably already knew about all of this. Forgive me for posting for the sake of the thread .
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 Quote by apeiron In the MWI version, surely it is still the case that once a branch is "chosen", no other choice was possible for that branch?
I agree with apeiron's post and don't see what MWI adds to the discussion about free will. I have seen it mentioned before that there is no choice at all in MWI and that even within branches there is no such thing as probability. If this claim is made, then moral responsibility is already lost.

Either choice in MWI is the same as in any other physical theory, or there is no choice at all. Either the world is deterministic or not, and the usual arguments follow.
 P: 2,456 Still there is something probability-like in MWI. Say, "intensity" of a branch. So even for MWIers there is a difference between likely and unlikely branches. So I am good in some branches and I am evil in the other branches, but can we define some norm over these branches saying that in most of the branches I am good? Also, are you aware that if (which is very likely) our Universe in infinite in space, then ANY theory looks very MWI-like because you are represented by an infinite number of copies on the clones of the Earth very very far from each other.
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 Quote by Dmitry67 Also, are you aware that if (which is very likely) our Universe in infinite in space, then ANY theory looks very MWI-like because you are represented by an infinite number of copies on the clones of the Earth very very far from each other.
Not necessarily. Numbers are infinite yet no two numbers are the same. It looks very likely that there are no repeated patterns in the infinite digits of pi either.

I don't know that we can make judgments about events in worlds that are theoretically isolated from us and are unknowable. I'd just stick to moral judgments about my own current branch.
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 Quote by kote Not necessarily. Numbers are infinite yet no two numbers are the same. It looks very likely that there are no repeated patterns in the infinite digits of pi either.
No, ti is impossible because limited space can contain only limited amount of information (lets forget about the BM hidden variables). Hence, if you are God filling infinite Universe with stars, planets etc, then very soon he will run out of different configurations.
P: 2,456
 Quote by kote I don't know that we can make judgments about events in worlds that are theoretically isolated from us and are unknowable. I'd just stick to moral judgments about my own current branch.
But how do you know what branch is yours, if, until some moment, all macroscopic events are the same?
P: 649
 Quote by Q_Goest Doesn't all conscious phenomena stem from some material interactions? Aren't we all nothing more than the interaction of molecules?

We are the highly specific emergent phenomenon of the interaction of specific molecules arranged in a very specific configuration.

The interactions of biochemicals may be deterministic, but the system they create – the cell – has emergent properties with new rules and, thus, more degrees of freedom. Groups of cells interacting together as a single system – an organism(e.g. human being) – give rise to even more emergent properties, with even more rules and, thus, even more degrees of freedom. The result is the emergence of the mind. Deterministic reductionism is a dead end that leads to confusion and unnecessary human drama.

If it were only bottom-up causality, we would be determined and unfree slaves– but the fact is that we are a nested set of bottom-up, followed by top-down interacting causality. Look around you, our whole planet is abundant with different levels of emergent phenomena - it is not talked much about because science starts at the multi body system. How many molecules of H2O are needed to create surface tension? At what count does water emerge with all of its properties - viscosity, temperature, etc?
P: 649
 Quote by Dmitry67 I cant stop thinking about my poor copies in alternative branches. Because of some weird quantum fluctuations in my brain these copies had attacked people for nothing, killed cops, and now have to serve very long time in prison... Also, I definitely have some injured/paralyzed copies. You would probablly say: "the probability of these branches is very very low". But I dont think that the probability affects the 'feeling of being real'. For example, generate 100 random decimal digits using true (quantum-noise based) random generator. Read this 100 digit number. Now you are on one of 10^100 branches. Do you feel yourself 10^100 less real then a minute before? No...

The world(s) in MWI is pretty abstract. If you truly believe in the MWI, why would you care so much for an abstraction?

What happens to energy conservation in MWI if you insist on 'real' branches?
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 Quote by Dmitry67 *NO* I explained why here: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthr...05#post2348205 Thank you for the question!
Why should determinism (or mental causation for that matter) have anything to do with dualism? P-consciousness can be supervenient on the physical, and potentially have a causal influence. I don't see any logic to suggest that mental causation requires dualism.

The much harder proof is to show that mental causation exists.
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 Quote by Dmitry67 *NO* I explained why here: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthr...05#post2348205 Thank you for the question!
Assuming you accept some kind of dualist notion, who or what are you assigning moral responsibility to? In other words, if MWI is true, then in each case we'll assume there's a material person that splits off at every possible quantum event. In this case, there are multiple copies of 'you', one for each world.

Are you assuming each has it's own unique soul? Are you assuming every copy shares the same soul? Or is there another alternative? What is this 'me' you refer to that has 'moral responsibility'?
PF Gold
P: 2,432
 Quote by Dmitry67 Still there is something probability-like in MWI. Say, "intensity" of a branch. So even for MWIers there is a difference between likely and unlikely branches. So I am good in some branches and I am evil in the other branches, but can we define some norm over these branches saying that in most of the branches I am good?
The difference would be that in newtonian determinism, it was determined that your current state is determined. And in MWI, it would be an accident that you found yourself on some individually deterministic world trajectory. Or rather "accident" as the wider view that would reveal the whole branching family tree is unknowable (the worlds are isolate and not summing over histories).

 Quote by Dmitry67 Also, are you aware that if (which is very likely) our Universe in infinite in space, then ANY theory looks very MWI-like because you are represented by an infinite number of copies on the clones of the Earth very very far from each other.
This is a hard argument to counter, I agree. If we assume actual infinity. But I think it may be possible to attack this along the lines that probabilities work in two directions. There is the probability of something happening against the probability circumstances will weigh against it. Both of these would be amplified by infinite scale of being, and if the negatives outweigh the positives, then one would be a larger infinity (following cantor's hierarchy).

So I think that in every turn of the development of a complex situation, like you and me existing exactly as we are at this moment, there would be many more opportunities for things to have gone other ways along the line (though this in turn is a point that hinges on my disbelief in strict causal determinism, and preference for an ontology of vague beginnings).

Anyway, the negative turns would easily drown out the positive turns even when amplified to infinity (indeed, infinity may make exact replicas less likely if this approach holds!).

At least this seems a more intuitive outcome than the Tegmarkian infinite clones approach.
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 Quote by apeiron The difference would be that in newtonian determinism, it was determined that your current state is determined. And in MWI, it would be an accident that you found yourself on some individually deterministic world trajectory.

Just a small note - I think the generally agreed view is that branching of real universes under MWI works only within the constraints of the laws of physics. I.e. outcomes that violate the Newtonean laws, do not actualise in a real universe like ours and this puts us always on a deterministic comprehensible course without resorting to luck or miracles.

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