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Z._M._Davis comments on Excluding the Supernatural - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 September 2008 12:12AM

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Comment author: Z._M._Davis 12 September 2008 02:34:03AM 12 points [-]

"My thesis is that non-reductionism is a confusion; and once you realize that an idea is a confusion, it becomes a tad difficult to envision what the universe would look like if the confusion were true."

I still seem to be able to envision what things would look like if a form of Cartesian dualism were true. Our ordinary laws of physics would govern all matter except one or more places deep in the brain, where the laws of physics would be violated where the soul is "pulling the strings" of the body, as it were. These deviations from physics would not happen unlawfully, but rather would be governed by special, complicated laws of psychology, rather than physics. In principle, this should be testable.

Unlawfulness and nonreductionism are distinct concepts; I can see how the former is incoherent, but the latter still seems logically possible, if false.

Comment author: Kenny 22 May 2013 05:37:46PM *  2 points [-]

I personally can't imagine anything fundamentally complicated. I guess I could imagine tho that something might be a black box with complicated behavior, i.e. something complicated but with no parts that could be analyzed separately (because we can't open the box for whatever reason). But if this something was lawful, we could still analyze the various components of the laws that governed its behavior, e.g. "hmmm ... when we isolate the influence of x, the measurement of the output of the black box seems to correspond roughly to an exponential function of the measurement of x ...".

I don't think lawful and reducible are entirely (or even a little) independent. Really, I'm struggling to think of an example where 'lawful' doesn't mean 'reducible'.

Comment author: MaxNanasy 10 December 2016 04:33:50AM *  0 points [-]

How is dualism necessarily nonreductive? Materialism says everything is reducible to fundamental interacting physical components, whereas dualism says everything is reducible to fundamental interacting physical and mental/spiritual components.