Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Argument I've seen a Million Times

You got these two things, Alice, and a Banana.

Alice is 'hoopy', but the Banana is 'not hoopy'

But suddenly you are noticing this thing Alana, which is between Alice and the Banana.

And the question is: Is Alana hoopy, or not?

So perhaps you are unwise enough to pick one of these answers. Perhaps you say that Alana is not hoopy.

Aha!, says your interlocutor. Between Alice and Alana is this new thing, which is called Alica.

And at the end of this very long process you are ending up with Albracadabra von Helsingstein and Albracadabra von Helsingstien and only an idiot would claim that one was hoopy and one was not hoopy and so something somewhere must be terribly wrong.

Now I apologize that I am not used the traditional meta-syntactical variables here, like x and y and P and so on and so forth but I think it is maybe cuter with the Banana, and less frightening.

If you want a couple of real examples try (Alice, Banana, Conscious), or (Alice, Rock, Alive), or (Alice, computer simulation of Alice, Morally Significant), (At A, At B, Where) and so on.

If you have maybe spent too much time in maths lectures in your misspent youth you might just say:

Suppose P is a continuous function from a connected space into a discrete space, then P is one-valued.

And this is so obvious that I do not think it is thought of as a theorem. Sorry Dr von Evilfiend if it is really von Evilfiend's Lemma or something.

I am sick of it.

I claim.

From now on it is von Aspdenstein's Argument, and if you want to show that consciousness is not possibly an on-off thing as long as we can move neuron by neuron between Alice and a simulation of Alice then all you have to say is "vAA!", and you are done, and you can move on to discussing exactly where the discontinuity might be, or whether the property might be a function into a connected space like [0,1] or R, or C or a mobius strip and so on.


I never wish to read this argument again, philosophers.

So next time you are proving that there can't only be five social classes or forty five colours or three musketeers because blah blah blah...

If you feel you have to write it out in full then at least put <vAA!> </vAA!> round it so that I can skip efficiently.

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