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J. comments on Joy in the Merely Real - Less Wrong

63 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 March 2008 06:18AM

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Comment author: J. 20 March 2008 10:18:16AM 2 points [-]

Psy-kosh,

Suppose God hands a you a 4-d map of the universe that shows all of the events that occur and all of the things that exist. On a common (but by no means only reasonable) interpretation of what lawfulness means, the idea is that if given the laws of nature, the state of affairs in one time slice implies the state of affairs in any other. So, given Ln (laws of nature), if S0 (state of affairs at time slice 0) then S1 (state of affairs at time slice 1). That kind of thing. (Complications: no unique time-slices due to relativity, perhaps some laws of nature might be time-reversal variant, etc.)

However, it's logically possible that the 4-d map doesn't admit of those sorts of laws. It might just be that there is no non-trivial set of rules about the relationship between the state of affairs at one time slice versus another. (Trivial laws will still hold. Imagine a lengthy disjunctive law of nature that simply says something like if S1 then S2, then S3...if S2 then S1 then S3... etc.)

Whether the universe is going to admit of non-trivial rules or not is an empirical thing, not a logical point. It's a good methodological assumption that the universe is lawlike, but it's not logically necessary.