Rob Speer on 15 Feb 2002 00:00:33 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: spoon-discuss: RE: spoon-business: A future proposal

On Thu, Feb 14, 2002 at 09:59:06AM -0500, Gavin Doig wrote:
> > [[
> > I must make another reference to Godel, Escher, Bach. Uncle P, if you're
> > dying to know why your proposal will never work, the chapter
> > "Contrafactus" sums it up (it involves Tortoise and Achilles watching
> > their Subjunc-TV, which shows exactly what would have happened at
> > various stages in a football game if certain contrary-to-fact events had
> > occurred.)
> >
> > Since we have no Subjunc-TV, we have no way of looking at the
> > counterfactual version of the Nomic, where (for example) the proposals
> > were numbered differently.
> >
> I'm not so sure that's true. We *do* have a way of looking at the counterfactual nomic - exactly the same way we have of looking at the factual nomic. It's just like if there were a thread split, where one thread is counterfactual. The only way we have of ever knowing what the state of the nomic is is if we work it out; all we need to do is work it out starting from when the previously counterfactual statement was true.

I'll clarify something - this bad situation doesn't occur when the
Administrator makes a false statement and we treat it as if it were
true. There, we _are_ playing the subjunctive version of the Nomic, so
we only need to back up to the split point and determine what should
have happened.

It occurs when the Administrator makes a false statement, which
could not possibly be true in the circumstances, and we don't notice.
(Consider if the misnumbered proposal had never been rectified.)
After two weeks, we are required to alter the gamestate to what it would
have been were that statement true, as specified exactly by your rule.
And there *is* no thread where that statement was true, because it's
false and we know it; the rules of the game would have to have been
different at the time for the statement to be true.

In a subjunctive game of football, the first is like watching, when a
dubious penalty is called, what would have happened if it were not
called. The second would be more like watching what would happen if the
football were instead a live duck. Not if it had _turned into_ a duck,
mind you, but if it had been a duck all along.

Rob Speer