Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Interesting Thought Experiment

Xan poses an interesting thought experiment about existence.

I'm not going to argue about "the right way to think" here. But if you feel differently about this scenario in its various incarnations, it's probably not a bad idea to think about it. I know I have mixed feelings. The second-to-last scenario is empirically indistinguishable from the current state of the world, and I don't know what sort of existence rule I would most prefer such a god to implement.

We care about the quality of life on this planet. But should we care about something like the sum total of life quality across people, or something more like average life quality conditional on existing? That is, do we prefer a bunch of people with okay lives, or do we want fewer people with better lives?


Click through to ponder the various scenarios.

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