Recent content by Lord Ping

  1. L

    Axiom of Causality?

    I think a fairly innocuous version of that "axiom" is the claim that: "The state of the universe at time t in some sense depends on the state of the universe at some earlier time t-d." You'd have to be crazy to deny this much. The fact that I'm at my desk now in some sense depends on the fact...
  2. L

    Two different types of probability

    According to Bayesians, Bayes' theorem can be used to calculate how a rational agent should update her degree of belief in some proposition A, given some new evidence B. It says: P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B) The probabilities here are usually interpreted as subjective "degrees of belief". In...
  3. L

    How can we justify that one life is more important than Another's?

    Ahh... I see what you're getting at :wink:. I think you bias the question by saying a foetus counts as a person. To me it seems that it is reasonable to consider a 24-week foetus to be conscious, and emotional considerations of empathy and sympathy make good sense. On the other hand...
  4. L

    If the ultimate form of physics can simulate any future matter status without error

    There is a longstanding view (called compatibilism) that claims determinism has no effect on the question of free will. Look it up. I've never really investigated the free will issue - it seems to all be pretty nebulous. I am sure that human beings are able to act as agents in the world, in...
  5. L

    About the Eye

    The answer is obviously yes -- but I understand your concern. This was a major strand of Kant's work. In the world there are the "things in themselves", or noumena. But we only ever get access to sense experiences, or phenomena. So an interesting question presents itself - how much of the...
  6. L

    What is your favored interpretation of quantum mechanics?

    If anything this is even more metaphysically bizarre. The "worlds" in MWI are severely constrained. Normally philosophers take anything not logically impossible to be possible. But MWI cannot do this. For example, it is not logically impossible for the laws of quantum mechanics to be completely...
  7. L

    How can we justify that one life is more important than Another's?

    You could take a utilitarian standpoint and decide that in the long run person X's survival will do more good than person Y's, so person X is the one worth saving. Perhaps this is why secret service agents will take a bullet for the president, or parents will sacrifice themselves for their...
  8. L

    Human Nature

    What is a "nature"? Let me suggest two criteria: 1. Something possessed by all humans and only humans. 2. Something that explains some features of humans. So is there any such thing? I think their probably is - common ancestry. Our evolutionary history is unique to us and may explain features...
  9. L

    Would you consider yourself a determinist?

    I think determinism remains a "common sense" view. This is because interpretations of QM that view the world as indeterministic are notoriously controversial. It is very hard to account for what an indeterministic world has to be like - how we can ultimately account for the fundamental...
  10. L

    Ethics and empathy

    Can you give an example? I think you at least need some "first principles" and these have to be based on something. If not "empathy", then presumably some kind of utilitarianism: "the greatest health for the greatest number of citizens". Is this what you have in mind?
  11. L

    The infinite debate

    A frequentist intepretation talks about actual sequences, or the limits of actual sequences. As I see it, the problem is that the idea makes no sense for a single instance that does not fit any general class of instances (i.e. the single nucleus [of a new element] example).
  12. L

    About the meaning of words like is and are

    I'm not sure, but I don't think they have single technical definitions. They can appear in predicates. For example: grass is green. The predicate "is green" tells us a property of the grass. They can also appear in identity relations. "Water is H2O," "Cicero is Tully".
  13. L

    The infinite debate

    I'd prefer it if you specifically answered the single-case example. You have one nucleus, one measurement. I think a committed frequentist following the principle you just suggested has to say it makes no sense to talk of a single nucleus's probability of being found to have decayed in a single...
  14. L

    The infinite debate

    Sorry this has turned out long... You're talking about interpretations that claim QM is a complete picture? I don't think it is a complete picture. Well the main thing is that we're agreed probability does need an interpretation. You suggest a frequentist interpretation. I don't quite see...
  15. L

    Is there such thing as a truly selfless act?

    I assumed we were talking about people. It's doubtful that bees have a "self," whatever that is. We only apply the term to bees anthropomorphically. I think consciousness is a basic prerequisite (are bees conscious? Seems unlikely).You could equally say a bomb is terribly selfless, destroying...