FOM: Re: Chaitin

charles silver silver_1 at
Fri Mar 23 22:14:02 EST 2001

>From: "charles silver" <silver_1 at>
>> According to Rucker (p. 290), "a pattern is
>> 'inconceivable' if it is too complex for me to reproduce in

>Sorry to ask something naive, but I haven't been following this
>or reading Rucker.  Is "inconceivable" here an idiosyncratic synonym

     I don't wish to try to represent Rucker's views or to defend
them.   I suggest that people who are interested in this read Rucker
on "conceivability" to see whether what he says seems interesting or
not.   My experience reading philosophy papers on the topic of
conceivability and related notions (which is not very extensive,  I
admit) is that they are far far less interesting than Rucker's views
and close to being completely vacuous.  At least Rucker ties the
notion of conceivability to a mathematical theorem.   So, on the face
of it, there *may* be some content to his views.   However, Panu
Raatikainen has challenged the standard interpretation of Chaitin's
Theorem, so it may well be the case that there's a problem at the very
base of Rucker's notion.

    If I understand Joe Shipman's most recent post, he thinks
Chaitin's notion of algorithmic complexity is worthwhile in enabling
us to compare the strengths of theories.  If I understand Panu
Raatikainen, he thinks that the content of a theory is in no way
related to any such measure.   I am interested in understanding these
issues  better and would like to request that both Joe and Panu
provide more details of their views (and that they correct anything I
have wrongly attributed to them).

Charlie Silver

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