[extropy-chat] The Anticipation Dilemma (Personal IdentityParadox)

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Thu Apr 12 04:45:00 UTC 2007

On 4/12/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> That's a bold and interesting idea, in my opinion. But it seems that
> we can separate causality from anticipation by considering the
> passive beneficiary of something good or bad (that is slated for him
> or her) but who has no influence on its occuring or not.

But in that case we can agree that anticipation is irrational, so it doesn't
contradict the criterion that anticipation is rational if and only if you
have causal influence.

It's rare that something good will happen to you whether you like it or not,
but sadly not so rare for something bad, so it's easier to analyze this if
we take negative anticipation i.e. fear.

Consider the case of a man who has tooth problems, such that there will be
pain if he goes to the dentist, and more pain, albeit somewhat deferred, if
he does not. Yet he postpones going to the dentist because he fears the
pain. Yet this is irrational because he cannot actually prevent pain - he
has no causal influence over that aspect of things, there will be pain no
matter what he does.

In that case everyone - not just us, everyone, including likely the poor man
himself! - will agree he is being irrational, and he would be better off if
he could just switch off his fear instincts and deal as dispassionately with
the matter as he would if it were happening to a stranger. So we see that
the logical criterion does actually match our intuition.
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