Monday, November 21, 2011

Applied Secular Anti-Consciousness

An example of what secular actually means, and how secular philosophy twists itself by rejecting consciousness in an effort to reject spirituality.

"can you have preferences fulfilled in parts of space where you don’t exist? Can I prefer for my fridge to contain milk even before I open the door?"
No, but yes.
As long as the milk cream is there when I open the door, I don't really care if it was there before or not. (Also note difficulty in separating space and time.) However, under ordinary circumstances, the only way for the cream to be there when I open the door is for it to be there before I opened the door. What causes it to be there is me having placed it there.
Moreover, any causal network that fulfills my desire to drink cream will be causally equivalent. If a leprechaun takes my cream but puts new cream back before I notice, it might as well have never taken it at all.

"If so, what’s the relevant difference between time and space?"
After I'm dead, if the leprechaun doesn't put it back, nobody cares. I've been annihilated, or reincarnated, or I'm in bliss/agony, and I don't interact further with the cream, regardless of its position.'

"You can bite the bullet and refuse to acknowledge preferences over anything other than a person’s own mental states."
A particularly obvious example of anti-consciousness contortions.

"You are still then committed to indifference about for instance what kinds of assault go on behind the closed doors of people you love, as long as you are never informed about them."
I want the people I love to be happy and healthy. They cannot be simultaneously healthy and assaulted.

The only way this ill health can escape causal impact on me is if I never see them again. Even then, I still want them to be happy and healthy, even if I have no idea if it's true and no ability to affect the situation.

Certainly I cannot feel satisfied with their health without proof of good health, and thus causal interaction. That is, even if my preference is fulfilled, I won't feel fulfilled and so it won't matter.

So, like, no and stuff.

"what you can or can’t value depends on what counts as ‘you’. And what counts as ‘you’ is pretty vaguely defined usually."
It is trivial to define precisely. If you cut it, do I feel bleeding? If so, it's me.
The same thing which causes future cream to exist causes future me to exist. Namely, its present existence.
Similarly, changes to present me cause differences in future me. If you make me bleed now, future me will feel a scab.
Consciousness is simple. The hard part is taking it seriously, acknowledging it for what it is.

"If you think of me as a series of person-moments, suddenly I can’t legitimately care about the milk in the fridge even if a later-Katja will learn about it later."
I can't 'legitimately' care? That's not how it works. Either I care or I don't. Either I feel bleeding, or I don't. Either I taste cream, or I don't.

"If you identify me with all past and future people who feel a lot like me, then I’m allowed preferences about what happens after the death of this body."
If you cut the body, do I feel bleeding? Or some post-biological analogue?

"Other people think there is more to ‘you’ than a set of physical processes, in which case there may be one clear line around what counts as ‘you’. On the other hand, you probably don’t have any good way to locate this non-physical line."

So, like, no and stuff.

"Strategic considerations

For the purpose of trading, the more of another person’s preferences you are willing to deal with, the better for you. But this is a different question to which of their values you want to care about outside of trading."

This section got me all hopeful, but was disappointing. Also, some serious abstraction intoxication going on here.

The reason you care about wills is so that people continue to write them, and don't try to dispose of their assets while they're still alive. It's just more efficient.

The reason you care about disposal of the body is because still-living people care whether you respect the wishes of the dead or not, because they'd like to think they will be respected after they themselves are gone.
This is perhaps a silly thing to care about, but they do care and if you don't respect that, you'll harm your relationship with them. It's a net win to just respect wills.
Presumably, treatment of bodies also predicts logically-irrelevant treatment of living people. Those who desecrate bodies generally aren't good neighbours.

Similarly, most will ask you to promise to deal with their bodies in a certain way. It doesn't matter why - the living can reasonably conclude how honourable your word is by observing how you deal with the body.

Finally, folk philosophy is dualist and assumes the existence of an eternal soul. It doesn't matter how many good reasons you have to doubt this, your trading partners believe it and you'll only harm yourself attempting to convince them otherwise, or to act contrary to the reasonable conclusions drawn from spiritual voyeurship.

The above are the actual strategic considerations.

In sum, even utterly 'rational,' atheistic logic gives us very good reason to respect the wishes of the dead...if executed for logic's sake, instead of for the sake of a culture war.

Here's another angle.
I personally dislike the idea of being desecrated after I'm dead. I have every reason to think that, at the time, I won't much care...but it doesn't matter, because I care now. It doesn't matter why I do, because I do. It is worthwhile for me to relieve present discomfort by changing my reasonable prediction of how you'll deal with my body, assuming low enough opportunity costs.

For reference, being unceremoniously tossed into a ditch in the wilderness is good enough for me.

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