06-17-2010 , 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
That is, your definitions are devoid of content because they keep changing. It's not even possible to interpret this statements as "if A then B, but A is false". What is the A? What is the B? We're talking about DEFINITIONS. Definitions are not implications.
The A would be "a process does not metaphysically depend on any particular physicality or 'nature of reality,' but rather on the specific arrangement of information (for example, a turing machine composed of mooing cows that can successfully simulate the workings of a human brain, and a computer data file that contains the memory representations of the simulated brain, have all of the same processes and are capable of all the same functions as the brain itself)."

You seem to be saying that this is untrue, and that therefore my example is incoherent. But I would say that if the above is true, then a number is certainly capable of all the processes of the human brain. (For example, all the information in data file described above being encoded as a series of digits - the integer representing that series of digits - given that the digits and not the encoding system contains the information defining the processes - is capable of all of the processes of the data file, which is capable of all of the processes of the brain.)

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That is, these are not empty containers (ie, not vacuously true statements).
Can you describe a statement that is neither vacuously true nor arbitrary?

Are you talking about the analytic/synthetic distinction here?

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Edit: I don't even think this can be properly interpreted as "If A then B, but A is false." It would have to be phrased "If n is an even number larger than two, then it is not prime." But we would never know a priori the truth value of "n is an even number larger than two" since n can take values that would make it true, and values that would make it false.
"If a number has more than two divisors, then it is not prime" would itself be the A in this case. Though you would be disagreeing with a definition rather than an actual proposition here.
06-17-2010 , 01:12 PM
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I agree that picking one from a range of options is sufficient for choice...but there's no 'range' in a deterministic system. That's been my argument.
Then you're using a special definition of range.

Easy to plug the gap by defining "range" as "an enumerated set." That works for humans and computers, good enough for me.

Big Blue enumerated the set of its legal moves, and picked one. Ergo it picked one move from a range.

Seriously, I think claiming that chess computers don't pick from a range of legal chess moves is a bit silly and going even further than your fellow libertarians would want to go, but it's certainly not something that would ever apply given any definition of "range" I use on any kind of regular basis (possibly given any definition I've ever used outside of "domain and range" in math class).
06-17-2010 , 01:14 PM
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Actually, no you're confusing effect for cause.
That was the only reason you gave for not using the word. If the only reason you refuse to use a word in a particular way is because you want to "reserve" use of the word for cases that don't fit the compatibilist definition of the word, then you're doing argument by equivocation.
06-17-2010 , 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
Is it choosing all the way down to a single gate?

Is it choosing if there is a single gate that is stuck in one position?
I don't understand? You mean the gate is stuck, as in the decision mechanism is broken? Yeah, that can happen.

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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
I'm still trying to figure out the difference between the "choice" the machine is making and the "choice" that a falling rock is NOT making. I'm trying to take away the "complexity" issue and reduce the problem to its most basic form. What makes it a "choice"?
Some physical structures (choosers) are set up in a way that that a range of options is available to them and they can choose according to an algorithm that is part of their structure. Yes, under exactly the same circumstances the same chooser will act the same way. But another chooser could act differently, because his internal decision algorithm is different. Hence we can say that there are different options and as the action is decided by an algorithm that is special to each different chooser we can asign responsability.

That's how choosers are different from rocks: rocks lack an internal decision algorithm.
06-17-2010 , 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
(If you believe this machine is making decisions, then I think there is probably a fundamental disagreement on the actual nature of "making a decision.")
What you mean is that you're defining "making a decision" differently from your opponents.

Which isn't to criticize, I think your "gated marble" analogy is perfect. I mean it, not being sarcastic - it solves all the problems of the silly domino analogy by including all the elements necessary for choice (and only those elements).
06-17-2010 , 01:39 PM
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Actually, no you're confusing effect for cause.
You were given a clear case in which compatibilists would say that there is a choice, and yet you refuse to allow that it's a choice because you want to reserve the term for a particular use.

In fact, the only reason you have given for trying to "disallow" the compatibilist use of the term is that you'd "like to reserve" that term.
06-17-2010 , 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BrianTheMick
We have an intuitive sense of responsibility.* Free will is necessary for this concept (responsibility) to have teeth.
Where did you get this (the latter statement) from?
06-17-2010 , 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MrBlah
Some physical structures (choosers) are set up in a way that that a range of options is available to them and they can choose according to an algorithm that is part of their structure.
So does an apple tree "choose" when to drop its apples?

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Yes, under exactly the same circumstances the same chooser will act the same way. But another chooser could act differently, because his internal decision algorithm is different.
What makes it a "decision algorithm"? Do the crags in a mountain constitute a decision algorithm for water runoff?

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Hence we can say that there are different options and as the action is decided by an algorithm that is special to each different chooser we can asign responsability.

That's how choosers are different from rocks: rocks lack an internal decision algorithm.
Let's say a falling rock hits the ground and splits into two pieces. Since the split depends on the internal structures of the rock, does this mean that the rock decided how it would split? That is, the rock is responsible for how it broke? A different rock might have split differently.
06-17-2010 , 01:56 PM
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That was the only reason you gave for not using the word. If the only reason you refuse to use a word in a particular way is because you want to "reserve" use of the word for cases that don't fit the compatibilist definition of the word, then you're doing argument by equivocation.
That reasoning coming AFTER the other argument...it's the effect of that cause.

You confused effect for cause. Nihan.

Also, my arguments for the implications of the concept of a 'range' are meant to be a conceptual analysis. I'm not DEFINING range as having properties x,y,z before the analysis. The content that I've ended up with comes AFTER the analysis of the concept of a 'range'. I think that that concept of a 'range' doesn't exist in a deterministic system and I've given arguments for it.

Look, you may disagree with my arguments, but you're still stuck on the very methodology itself.
06-17-2010 , 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
So does an apple tree "choose" when to drop its apples?
He is committed to this position...I think. If not, I don't see any non-arbitrary way of describing the situation in a deterministic system.
06-17-2010 , 02:01 PM
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The A would be "a process does not metaphysically depend on any particular physicality or 'nature of reality,' but rather on the specific arrangement of information (for example, a turing machine composed of mooing cows that can successfully simulate the workings of a human brain, and a computer data file that contains the memory representations of the simulated brain, have all of the same processes and are capable of all the same functions as the brain itself)."

You seem to be saying that this is untrue, and that therefore my example is incoherent. But I would say that if the above is true, then a number is certainly capable of all the processes of the human brain. (For example, all the information in data file described above being encoded as a series of digits - the integer representing that series of digits - given that the digits and not the encoding system contains the information defining the processes - is capable of all of the processes of the data file, which is capable of all of the processes of the brain.)
Huh? I'm trying to get you to admit that an n-tuple is not a process. That *NO* n-tuple is a process. What you're trying to say here is that an n-tuple plus some undefined Turing-like algorithm can encode a process. This is fine. But it's not where you originally staked your position:

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How do you respond to the view that a process is just a particular arrangement of information?
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Why do you think an n-tuple can't be a systematic series of actions directed to some end?
...

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"If a number has more than two divisors, then it is not prime" would itself be the A in this case. Though you would be disagreeing with a definition rather than an actual proposition here.
This is what I mean by you arguing with the dictionary. This is precisely what you're doing with "n-tuples" and "process" right now. You have two defined objects, and you've been trying to convince me that one can be in the class of the other, but you're ignoring the definitions and trying to use other means to make that connection.
06-17-2010 , 02:03 PM
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He is committed to this position...I think. If not, I don't see any non-arbitrary way of describing the situation in a deterministic system.
That what it looks like to me, too. At least, if I bring it to that point, I can walk away with a sense that his definition of choice is not really consistent with the concept of choice that I think most people would accept.

But if the apple tree is not "choosing" then he's going to have to clarify his position.
06-17-2010 , 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
Huh? I'm trying to get you to admit that an n-tuple is not a process. That *NO* n-tuple is a process. What you're trying to say here is that an n-tuple plus some undefined Turing-like algorithm can encode a process. This is fine.
What I'm using as a premise is that it is the arrangement of information that defines a process. Ergo, so long as it preserves that arrangement of information, an encoding of a process is that process itself.

That is, how we distinguish between something that is "a systematic series of actions directed to some end" and something that is not "a systematic series of actions directed to some end" is by examining the arrangement of the information.

So the question of whether an n-tuple can be a process is a question of whether the particular arrangement of information can be preserved when encoding that information into an n-tuple.
06-17-2010 , 02:41 PM
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That reasoning coming AFTER the other argument...it's the effect of that cause.

You confused effect for cause. Nihan.

Also, my arguments for the implications of the concept of a 'range' are meant to be a conceptual analysis. I'm not DEFINING range as having properties x,y,z before the analysis. The content that I've ended up with comes AFTER the analysis of the concept of a 'range'. I think that that concept of a 'range' doesn't exist in a deterministic system and I've given arguments for it.
That concept of range may not, but I'm not using that concept of range. Nor have you presented any reason to use that concept of range.

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Look, you may disagree with my arguments, but you're still stuck on the very methodology itself.
You seem to be stuck on what we're discussing, here - your claim of logical contradiction.

You may be right that determinism and choice are incompatible within your conceptual system, but I see no indication that there exists any overlap between your conceptual system and, say, that of Hume.
06-17-2010 , 02:45 PM
Actually, I have presented lots of reasons. Whether you think they're good reasons or not is up to you and your epistemic virtues...but you're actually still hung up on the methodology itself and hung up on even understanding that I HAVE given reasons and arguments.

You apparently can't separate with your disagreement of the conclusion with recognizing that there IS a conclusion and arguments supporting it.
06-17-2010 , 02:50 PM
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Actually, I have presented lots of reasons. Whether you think they're good reasons or not is up to you and your epistemic virtues...but you're actually still hung up on the methodology itself and hung up on even understanding that I HAVE given reasons and arguments.

You apparently can't separate with your disagreement of the conclusion with recognizing that there IS a conclusion and arguments supporting it.
All of those arguments are based on premises the compatibilists don't even accept.
06-17-2010 , 02:59 PM
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What I'm using as a premise is that it is the arrangement of information that defines a process. Ergo, so long as it preserves that arrangement of information, an encoding of a process is that process itself.

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That is, how we distinguish between something that is "a systematic series of actions directed to some end" and something that is not "a systematic series of actions directed to some end" is by examining the arrangement of the information.

So the question of whether an n-tuple can be a process is a question of whether the particular arrangement of information can be preserved when encoding that information into an n-tuple.
In other words, you can twist the words and meanings as much as you want, but nobody else can. This literally makes ZERO sense.
06-17-2010 , 03:11 PM
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All of those arguments are based on premises the compatibilists don't even accept.
orly? In what way have I begged the question, then?

I started with your definition of choice.

I then analyzed what it really means to 'select from a range of options.'

I argued that something is only a range when one could select either disjunct from the 'range' in the actual world.

Which premises do you reject and why?

If I set up 10 dominoes in a row. The 6th will fall a certain way when I start the chain with the 1st. Now, counterfactually, had they been set up in a different configuration, then the 6th domino 'could have done otherwise' in falling a different way. But, things are the way that they are: this is the actual world. In what sense is the counterfactual ability to 'do otherwise' sufficient for 'choice' qua selecting from a range of options?

Let's say that I can either go make a cup of coffee or tea right now (I'm at the office working on a lecture). Now, in a deterministic system, which option will be performed is already decided (though perhaps not to my consciousness, but I don't think that this is important). It's decided in the sense that the present states and microstates of the universe and the laws of nature determine only one outcome. Let's say that I will make another cup of tea.

Now, if I was put back into the same circumstances an infinite number of times, in a deterministic system, I would never have done otherwise. Given the same initial conditions and the laws of nature, I would always have made the same 'choice.' (Choice used loosely here.)

So, it was never possible in the actual world for me to make coffee given the states and microstates of the universe and the laws of nature (given a deterministic system).

Question 1: how is it that I actually had a 'range' of options here given that I could never, in the actual world, 'choose' the coffee?

Now, it's almost trivial to say that 'had things been different, then things could have been different.' This is what the counterfactual interpretation of compatibilism amounts to: had things been different, then I could have done otherwise. Well sure, if I was born with 4 arms I probably could do a lot of things that I didn't do because I only had 2 arms. This is not an informative theory (or characterization of the theory).

Question 2: how is that the ability to counterfactually could have done otherwise, given that things were different, is sufficient for 'choice' in the actual world?
06-17-2010 , 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
I'm saying it's not vacuous.

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In other words, you can twist the words and meanings as much as you want, but nobody else can. This literally makes ZERO sense.
Uh, it's a fairly common belief, actually. I referenced you to a book on it.

And yes, I can define the terms to some extent, given that you're claiming a flaw in my position.
06-17-2010 , 03:28 PM
FWIW, I went w/ tea
06-17-2010 , 03:35 PM
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orly? In what way have I begged the question, then?

I started with your definition of choice.

I then analyzed what it really means to 'select from a range of options.'
What it "really means" to select from a range of options is part of my definition of choice. If you needed clarification on my definition, you should have asked, not inserted your own "analysis."

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I argued that something is only a range when one could select either disjunct from the 'range' in the actual world.
That is not what I mean by "range."

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Which premises do you reject and why?

If I set up 10 dominoes in a row. The 6th will fall a certain way when I start the chain with the 1st. Now, counterfactually, had they been set up in a different configuration, then the 6th domino 'could have done otherwise' in falling a different way. But, things are the way that they are: this is the actual world. In what sense is the counterfactual ability to 'do otherwise' sufficient for 'choice' qua selecting from a range of options?
The ability to do otherwise isn't necessary for choice. Ability to do otherwise has nothing to do with my definition of choice.

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Let's say that I can either go make a cup of coffee or tea right now (I'm at the office working on a lecture). Now, in a deterministic system, which option will be performed is already decided (though perhaps not to my consciousness, but I don't think that this is important). It's decided in the sense that the present states and microstates of the universe and the laws of nature determine only one outcome. Let's say that I will make another cup of tea.

Now, if I was put back into the same circumstances an infinite number of times, in a deterministic system, I would never have done otherwise. Given the same initial conditions and the laws of nature, I would always have made the same 'choice.' (Choice used loosely here.)
Yes.

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So, it was never possible in the actual world for me to make coffee given the states and microstates of the universe and the laws of nature (given a deterministic system).
Correct.

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Question 1: how is it that I actually had a 'range' of options here given that I could never, in the actual world, 'choose' the coffee?
Well, we could use my definition - you enumerated different courses of action, including the course of drinking coffee. To use MrBlah's definition, coffee was a legal output for your internal decision algorithm. Or, to use a different standard, you thought about choosing coffee.

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Now, it's almost trivial to say that 'had things been different, then things could have been different.' This is what the counterfactual interpretation of compatibilism amounts to: had things been different, then I could have done otherwise. Well sure, if I was born with 4 arms I probably could do a lot of things that I didn't do because I only had 2 arms. This is not an informative theory (or characterization of the theory).
This started when I said something like "if I had chosen otherwise," and was accused of contradicting myself. Counterfactual possibility is sufficient for me to talk about having done otherwise and having made different choices, which is relevant to the significance of choices (and to whether I'm contradicting myself when I say "if I had done otherwise...").

It doesn't inform the concept of choice. Not supposed to.

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Question 2: how is that the ability to counterfactually could have done otherwise, given that things were different, is sufficient for 'choice' in the actual world?
Again, it has nothing to do with defining choice. When you ask how it's sufficient, you seem to imply that some sense of "could have done otherwise" is necessary for choice. How many times do I need to emphatically reject that assumption? "Could have done otherwise" is relevant to the question of the significance of choice in how we consider and discuss it, also relevant to our intuition of choice, but it's not relevant to the actual definition of choice (or to deciding what is a choice and what isn't).
06-17-2010 , 03:41 PM
You have yet to engage my actual arguments for the analysis of 'range' and 'options' and 'choice.' You merely dig your heels in and refuse to engage in the arguments.

"That's not my definition" you cry! We're aware of that.

"You just define it in your own way" you cry! But I didn't. I took your definition and provided a conceptual analysis of the terms in your definition.

Now you say that 'could have done otherwise' isn't necessary for choice but you explicitly offered a counterfactual analysis of 'possible' in order to ground your definition of choice qua selecting from a range of options. You say that one could not 'select' from a range of options in a determinstic system in the actual world, but one could in other nearby possible worlds, counterfactually speaking. But then you say that this is not necessary for choice or responsibility.

You've ceased to make sense.
06-17-2010 , 04:12 PM
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I'm saying it's not vacuous.
Let's go back a bit and make sure you really understand what you're saying:

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Originally Posted by you
Selection from a range of options through a cognitive mechanism.
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Originally Posted by me
It's not there in the vectors.
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Originally Posted by you
How do you figure?
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Originally Posted by me
How do *YOU* figure? Anything that I'm about to say involving "selection" and "cognitive mechanism" will be subject to your redefinition upon discovering that it doesn't make sense with the usual concepts of the word.
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Originally Posted by you
Use the dictionary, then. Just don't add anything the dictionary itself doesn't mention, and keep in mind that if the dictionary says "x, y, or z" that means that any of the three do the job.
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Originally Posted by me
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cognitive

1. of or pertaining to cognition.
2. of or pertaining to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning, as contrasted with emotional and volitional processes.

cognition

1. the act or process of knowing; perception.
2. the product of such a process; something thus known, perceived, etc.
3. knowledge

selection

1. an act or instance of selecting or the state of being selected; choice.
2. a thing or a number of things selected.
3. an aggregate of things displayed for choice, purchase, use, etc.; a group from which a choice may be made: The store had a wide selection of bracelets.
4. Biology . any natural or artificial process that results in differential reproduction among the members of a population so that the inheritable traits of only certain individuals are passed on, or are passed on in greater proportion, to succeeding generations. Compare natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, artificial selection.
5. Linguistics .
a. the choice of one form instead of another in a position where either can occur, as of ask instead of tell or with in the phrase ask me.
b. the choice of one semantic or syntactic class of words in a construction, to the exclusion of others that do not occur there, as the choice of an animate object for the verb surprise.
There is no sense in which an rational number in the range of f exhibits any "selection" through a "cognitive" process.
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Originally Posted by you
You think you can disprove the emergence of cognitive processes?
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Originally Posted by me
In the context of n-dimensional vectors with a finite domain that is a subset of a Cartesian product of the rational numbers?

Proof: An n-tuple is a finite list of numbers. A finite list of numbers does not express "selection" through a "cognitive" mechanism. QED
<END CONVERSATION 1>

<BEGIN CONVERSATION 2>

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Originally Posted by you
How do you respond to the view that a process is just a particular arrangement of information?
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Originally Posted by me
I respond by pointing out that a process is not a particular arrangement of information BY DEFINITION.

1) A process is one of the following:

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process (noun)
1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end: to devise a process for homogenizing milk.
2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner: the process of decay.
3. Law .
a. the summons, mandate, or writ by which a defendant or thing is brought before court for litigation.
b. the whole course of the proceedings in an action at law.
4. Photography . photomechanical or photoengraving methods collectively.
5. Biology, Anatomy . a natural outgrowth, projection, or appendage: a process of a bone.
6. the action of going forward or on.
7. the condition of being carried on.
8. course or lapse, as of time.
9. conk4 ( defs. 1, 2 ) .
2) Therefore, a process in not a particular arrangement of information.
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Originally Posted by you
What I'm using as a premise is that it is the arrangement of information that defines a process.
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Originally Posted by me
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Originally Posted by you
I'm saying it's not vacuous.
WHAT? That has nothing to do with ANYTHING AT ALL!

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In other words, you can twist the words and meanings as much as you want, but nobody else can. This literally makes ZERO sense.
Uh, it's a fairly common belief, actually. I referenced you to a book on it.
This seems to be his summary statement.

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Originally Posted by book
Everything in our reality is made up of information
How you get from that statement to "an n-tuple is a process" is beyond comprehension.

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And yes, I can define the terms to some extent, given that you're claiming a flaw in my position.
And by "some extent" you really mean "as often as I want and as much as I want because I'm too stubborn to simply admit I made a mistake." (Edit: or worse, "... to admit that I don't actually know what I'm talking about.")
06-17-2010 , 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron W.
How you get from that statement to "an n-tuple is a process" is beyond comprehension.
Processes exist within reality. Reality is pure information. Therefore, a process can exist as pure information. Any pure information can be encoded into an n-tuple. Therefore, processes can exist in n-tuples.

Where does this go beyond your comprehension?
06-17-2010 , 04:22 PM
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You have yet to engage my actual arguments for the analysis of 'range' and 'options' and 'choice.' You merely dig your heels in and refuse to engage in the arguments.
I have rejected the premises of your arguments. (At least to the extent that anything you've presented resembles an argument in the first place.)

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"That's not my definition" you cry! We're aware of that.

"You just define it in your own way" you cry! But I didn't. I took your definition and provided a conceptual analysis of the terms in your definition.
Redefining the terms of my definition is not a conceptual analysis. If you don't understand what I mean when I say "a range of options," ask, don't try to "conceptually analyze."

If you mean something completely different when you say "range of options" than I do, then we aren't using the same terms.

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Now you say that 'could have done otherwise' isn't necessary for choice but you explicitly offered a counterfactual analysis of 'possible' in order to ground your definition of choice qua selecting from a range of options. You say that one could not 'select' from a range of options in a determinstic system in the actual world, but one could in other nearby possible worlds, counterfactually speaking.
What? Where did I say this? In particular, where did I say that one cannot select from a range of options in a deterministic system in the actual world?

m