[extropy-chat] Indexical Uncertainty

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Wed Oct 18 08:26:45 UTC 2006

On 10/17/06, Robin Hanson <rhanson at gmu.edu> wrote:
> The main reason to be interested in and think about indexical uncertainty
> is not because people in our world often have large degrees of such
> uncertainty.   The reason to be interested is that it opens up a new
> family
> of counterfactuals to reason about.   Postulating and applying rationality
> constraints that relate the reasonable beliefs under different
> counterfactuals
> is a powerful way to constrain the beliefs we should find reasonable.

But the one does not imply the other. That we can postulate a mind of
sufficiently low (dreaming) or distorted (insane) consciousness as to
genuinely not know whether it's Russell or Napoleon doesn't mean I (the
entity currently thinking these thoughts) could have been Napoleon, any more
than the number 3 could have been the number 7. If you doubt this, consider
the extreme case: a rock doesn't know whether it's me or a rock. That
doesn't mean I could have been a rock.
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