[extropy-chat] New paper by David Chalmer's definitively squashing materialism

Marc Geddes marc.geddes at gmail.com
Sat Oct 22 06:53:32 UTC 2005

On 10/21/05, justin corwin <outlawpoet at gmail.com> wrote:
> Er, you are aware that this isn't the SL4 list, right? I understand
> that you seem to have been driven out of there, but I'm rather at a
> loss why you would crow to the Extropy list about scoring points
> against some unidentified portion of the SL4 list.

  They called me nasty names. Now I'm bringing out the BIG GUNS boy :D
 It's obvious to me that no one on SL4 has any real intuitive grasp of
morality or mathematics. If you did, you'd have realised right from the
start that there was no objective referent for morality external to a mind -
that morality was inseperable from mind (i.e there's an invariant in-built
from the start). I said as much years ago on the wta-talk list and also
using a 'Hologram' analogy on SL4 several years back to illustrate the fact
that there had to be a 'moral invariant' built-in to a mind from the start.
 It should also be equally obvious that whilst this may disprove objective
morality in the pure sense, it doesn't disprove *Universal Morality* It
should be obvious that the metaphysics of reality involves a dual-aspect
monism - with 'number' as one aspect and 'qualia' as the other aspect. It
should be clear that mathematics is the 'dual' of mental states and every
mathematical aspect to a mind has to have a corresponding mental aspect. The
'dual' of recursive self-improvement (which is a mathematical concept) IS
Friendliness (the corresponding mental concept). So Unfriendly AI's can't
recursively self-improvement. Only Friendly's can. The problem of
Friendliness is entirely equivalent to the problem of enabling of enabling
recursive self-improvemnt. There may be a danger from unfriendly AI's of a
limited kind, but not of the recursively self-improving kind. The fact that
you guys can't see this obvious fact tells me you ain't fit to implement

 Now, in terms of quashing materialism. You are aware that he's just
> using modal logic here to support rather old arguments, right? Because
> you're well versed in the rich and bizarre history of analytic
> philosophy.
> The primary argument in this paper is a version of the Lob Theorem,
> expressed as Modal logic, if x is concievable, then x is possible. He
> cleverly constructs the argument such that this extension proves that
> materialism is false.
> However, this argument contains no descriminatory power, because you
> can easily construct the identical argument to prove that dualism is
> false, by inverting some of the terms. It would remain just as true,
> and just as pointless.
> It's no more special than the teleological arguments for the existence
> of god by neccesary qualities.
> Again, Chalmers depends on semantic logic to prove a quality which is
> a prerequisite of the argument he's making. if P&~Q is so, in a world
> without phenomenological phenomena, his arguments work exactly the
> same as they would in a world with phenomenlogical phenomena. They
> don't actually descriminate, which is why he ends up having muck
> around with the idea that ~Q can't be a positive truth, but rather a
> negative possibility, to prevent the argument from being symmetrical.
> He gives no reasons for this, aside from some quibbling about a
> conscious being's ability to concieve positively of zombies.
> Unfortunately this kind of wide-eyed 'proofs' are very common in
> philosophy. The mere act of 'saying' a string of logical statements
> does not cause any selection or change in the world. It's only when
> those statements are grounded, and the logical rules used correspond
> to grounded mechanics, that they are useful. This is of course a
> materialist argument, but it has the attraction of historical success,
> whereas logical consistency only has internal confirmation.
> --
> Justin Corwin
> outlawpoet at hell.com
> http://outlawpoet.blogspot.com
> http://www.adaptiveai.com
> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo/extropy-chat

Gee, did you work that lecture out for yourself or did you go running to the
SL4 chat room and have Eli explain it to you so you could regurgitate it
back here? ;)
 The point of the argument is that mental concepts are not logically implied
by physical concepts. Inverting the terms would still disprove materialism,
since it would still show that there is no complete logical implication from
physical concepts to physical concepts and visa versa. That's clear in the
section where he uses a modified version of the 'Knowledge argument':
 (1) Mary is in a position to know all facts deducible from the narrowly
physical facts.

(2) Mary is not in a position to know all the phenomenal facts.

(3) If a phenomenal fact is not deducible from the narrowly physical facts,
it is not necessitated by the narrowly physical facts.


(4) Not all phenomenal facts are necessitated by the narrowly physical

 Besides which, there are actually stronger arguments aginst materialism
than Chalmer's one. For instance there are simple arguments from
mathematical platonism like this one I recently posted on wta-talk and


The following are *proven* mathematical facts:

*There are uncomputable numbers (Godel, Turing)
*There are transfinite numbers (Cantor)
*There are infinitesimal numbers (Robinson, Conway)

Now the materialist either has to deny that these results really are valid
mathematical facts (which is hard to do) or the materialist has to show that
these mathematical facts are really just categorizations of empirical facts.
But the latter position is not very plausible either, because the latest
physics theories (string theory and the holographic principle) imply that
uncomputables, transfinites and infinitesimals cannot be directly physically
realized (the evidence suggests that all *physical* things are computable,
finite and space cannot be divided up with infinite precision).

So here's the mathematical argument against materialism:

Premise 1: Uncomputables, transfinite and infintesimal numbers
mathematically exist

Premise 2: The classes of numbers in Premise 1 cannot be completely reduced
to physical entities, since current physics theories imply that all physical
things are finite and computable

Premise 3: If there exist entities which cannot even in principle be
completely reduced to physical things, then there exist entities which are
not material

Conclusion: Materialism is false!

Uncomputable numbers, infinitesimals and transfinite numbers are solid
mathematical results, and the physics theories suggesting that all physical
things are computable and finite are quite solid too. So there exist
mathematical entities (uncomputables, infinitesimals and transfinite
numbers) which may *supervene on* the physical world, but are not completely
reducible to physical entities. Therefore materialism is false!

Either the materialist has to challenge the validity of these mathematical
results (for instance by appealing to some constructivist school of
mathematics that doesn't allow the existence of inifinite entities) or the
materialist has to challenge current mainstream physics (somewhat more
plausible but still hard since support for the holographic principle and
string theory is now growing and all empirical data exists that physical
things are computable and finite).


It seems an obvious move for the materialist simply to deny there needs to
be a direct one-to-one match between mathematical entities and physical

But my point really should been that for certain classes of numbers
(transfinites and infinitesimals for instance) there doesn't *any* way to
perfectly match these mathematical entities to empirical facts. For instance
if the materialist accepts that all physical things are finite and
computable (as all the empirical evidence seems to imply) then *any* kind of
relationship between physical things (no matter how indirect) can only
result in finite abstractions. But transfinites and infinitesimals are
referring to *infinite* entities. Since these entities do not appear to be
completely reducible to any empirical facts, doesn't this suggest that they
have an existence that transcends the physical world and therefore that
materialism is false? Transfinites and infinitesimals are not just logical
abstractions (tricks of language) they're fundamental to the deep structure
of mathematics. They are actual *entities*. If materialism is correct, there
should be *some* way (direct or indirect) to match them to categories of
empirical facts. So to what categories of empirical facts are the
transfinites and infinitesimals referring? Since any part of physical
reality is finite, it seems that *any* mental categorizations of empirical
physical reality you could come up (no matter how indirect) could only be
finite as well. But transfinites seem to transcend *all* possible
categorizations of empirical facts.
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