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Monkey Game

  1. Dec 26, 2012 #1
    This came to me when I was lying awake in bed at night.

    Consider a biologically immortal person (meaning not susceptible to disease, age, or etc, but can die from physical wounds) locked alone in a room with a knife for all time (henceforth called a "BIPLRAT").

    P1: If a BIPLRAT has free will, then he can choose not to kill himself.
    P2: If a BIPLRAT has free will, then it is possible that he can kill himself.
    P3: If it is possible that a BIPLRAT can kill himself, then given enough time, he *must* kill himself (this premise comes from the so called "infinite monkey theorem." Here is an overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)
    C: Therefore, if a BIPLRAT has free will, he must kill himself.

    Which of course is a contradiction because a person with free will must have the option to not kill himself.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2012 #2
    I don't see how the infinite monkey theorem applies here. The theorem deals with monkeys on a typwriter. Your version seems to be: "given an infinite amount of time, everything must happen". This seems like a very bold generalization and one which requires a proof.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2012
  4. Dec 26, 2012 #3


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    Furthermore, the monkey is a stand-in for a random generator. Real monkeys with typewriters are not true random number generators.

    So carrying this metaphor to human behavior is even more flawed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2012
  5. Dec 26, 2012 #4


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    Makes no sense to me.
  6. Dec 26, 2012 #5


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    "Free will" is generally understood to mean that the decision/outcome is NOT random because volition can override any mechanistically-determined outcome. The infinite monkey theorem only applies to random (stochastic) phenomena. Your premise is flawed.

    EDIT: I guess OP is one of those who missed the Philosophy subforum.
  7. Dec 28, 2012 #6


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    A BIPLRAT is not a good source of randomness.
    Entropy will eventually kill him.

    If it is not determined by anything, you cannot distinguish it from randomness.
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