Re: Conway's Free-Will Theorem (was Geddes's final hurrah)

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Fri Aug 05 2005 - 23:55:13 MDT

--- Mitchell Porter <>

> I had not heard of this before. If we accept the
> paraphrase advanced on this
> page - "if some experimenters are able to behave in
> a way that is not
> completely predetermined, then the behavior of
> elementary particles is also
> not a function of their prior history" - then the
> "theorem" gives
> determinists absolutely no new reasons to believe in
> free will, as it boils
> down to this: "if some events have no causes, then
> certain other events also
> have no cause". But why would you believe of any
> event that it has no cause?

Geddes's guns still blazing for his final shooting
down of subjectivity in ethics...

With a slight rephrasing, the Conway argument can be
saved and used as a proof of objective morality.

One doesn't need to believe in 'an event that has no
cause' .

One just needs to say: 'Mitch Porter cannot with
certainty predict what Mitch Porter will do next,
because Mitch Porter cannot know his own brain state
with 100% accuracy.' This is all that is required, in
practical terms, for Mitch to conclude that he has 'a

Volition, arises from the fact that something is
trying to 'model itself', but there is missing

Then the Conway argument proves that if it is logical
to conclude that a human has 'a volition' (as it is),
it is *equally* logical to say that everything in the
universe has 'a volition' as well - even sub-astomic

Again, the QM wave function is the universe in the act
of trying to 'model itself', but there is missing
information. This exactly matches the definition of
volition given above.

So if you refuse to believe that sub-atomic particles
have a 'volition', you must refuse to believe that
humans have a 'volition' as well.

This establihes that 'Volition' is, in fact, a
*fundamental* property of the universe, and *not* just
a macroscopic emergent concept as many people wrongly

Combine this with the rest of my argument.  I pointed
out, that the foundation of values is *beig aware of
the workings of cognition itself*, because without
cognition, you couldn't reason about or act on
volition in the first place.
Therefore the highest good must be finding out more
about our own true nature (our 'true nature' being
that property of the universe that enables cognition
to occur in the first place).
Since thoughts have to map in an ordered way to brain
states (otherwise functionalism would be false), the
rules behind cognition are *objective*.  There have to
be objective laws of cognitive science (yet be
discovered) which say:  such as such thoughts map to
such and such brains states.  But since the rules
behind cognition are objective and becoming self-ware
of the rules behind cognition itself was established
as the highest good, morality itself must be
The case for objective morality is proved.  
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