[extropy-chat] Improvements to Newcomb's Paradox

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Apr 7 19:32:59 UTC 2007

Stathis writes

> [Lee wrote]

> > Newcomb's Paradox has only one admissable subject
> > behavior: take just the one box.
> > 
> > An evolutionary proof of this is as follows:  suppose that
> > box A either does or does not contain dinner, and box
> > B always contains dessert.  One may live on a steady 
> > diet of box A, but one gradually dies of nutritional
> > deficiencies by selecting only box B.
> > ...
> > Go ahead if you want and discard the notion of free will,
> > but are you going to also discard the notion of a machine
> > (e.g. you) being able to make a decision?  I have not
> > heard any of the anti-compatiblists answer this question.

> This is an interesting take on Newcomb's Paradox. The one-boxers
> will ultimately prevail, and therefore one-boxing will become the
> accepted way of life. But doesn't this just show that a belief in free
> will has been cultivated by the Alien's experiment 

It could just as well be argued that the Alien's experiment cultivates
*disbelief* in free will.  After all, from the audience's point of view (and
of course, the Alien's), what the subject does is understood beforehand,
and his ability to truly make decisions suspect.

My thoughts on "free will vs. determinism" are still in a state of 
flux, thanks to the discussions here, but it may emerge that I
embrace the idea that it's mainly a POV problem.


> while, at the same time, even the variability in choice you would
> expect from a wild population is being expunged? Truth is not a
> matter of utility. 

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