9 interesting thought experiments

Try to understand these interesting conclusions

Philosophy is not a science, philosophy - a way of life. Arguments about the imaginary bugs in boxes, not born pigs and life of a spider in the urinal can cause serious concerns for the mental health of participants in these discussions, but not in a hurry to twist a finger at his temple - better to try to think, what is behind this or that, it would seem far-fetched problem .

By means of such mental exercises a person is able to solve the most complex questions of life and consciousness (you are, by the way, already know what comes first for you?), And even find peace of mind. Of course, while another philosopher does not throw another paradoxical task. We offer you 9 thought experiments, which may not change your life, but, at least, make think hard.

1. The prisoner's dilemma

9 interesting thought experiments

The classic problem of game theory, in which the subject must decide to confess to a crime or not, despite the fact that he does not know how to answer his accomplice.

Here's how to formulate prisoner's dilemma "The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy":

"Two arrested for bank robbery and placed in different cells. The investigator asked each deal: "If you confess and your accomplice will be silent, I'll take off all the charges against you, and he will receive a great time. If co-defendant will testify, and you will be silent, let him go and put you at exactly the same time. If you recognize the two, you get a life, but I get it arranged for you two parole. If neither one of you is not recognized, it is necessary to put both of them, but not for long, because direct evidence against you is not. ' "

Assuming that both of the accused only care about the minimum time for yourself, then everyone there is a difficult dilemma in which treachery option dominates cooperation with an accomplice because of the fact that one does not know how the other will behave. The best way out for both is silent, however, rational reasoning, almost every person comes to that bring more advantageous than cooperate matter will behave as an accomplice. Rationality each together leads them to irrational decisions.

2. Room Mary

This thought experiment is directed against the philosophy of physicalism as the belief that everything in the world, including the mental processes of a physical nature. From the experiment, it follows that there is a non-physical properties of the world that can grasp only through direct experience.

9 interesting thought experiments

Frank Jackson

One of the creators of the concept, Frank Jackson, stated the problem as follows:

"Mary, a brilliant scientist who is forced to explore the world of black-and-white room via a black and white monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision, and assume it has the greatest possible physical information that can be obtained about what we feel when we see ripe tomatoes, or heaven, or when we use the word "red", "blue", and so on. For example, it knows which combination of wavelengths emitted air, stimulate the retina, and what exactly is happening in the central nervous system when pronounce terms "blue sky". What happens when Mary comes out of her room or when she will give a color monitor? Whether she learns something new? "

In other words, Mary knows all about the color, but the most important thing: she had never seen any color other than shades of black and white, so it can not predict the difference between academic knowledge and actual experience.

This problem makes it clear that even objective observation does not allow the person to get an idea about all the properties of the object. In simple terms, we can not imagine what we do not know.

3. Beetle in the Box

9 interesting thought experiments

Ludwig Wittgenstein

The experiment proposed by Ludwig Wittgenstein, shows that people are not able to understand each other to the end, in principle.

Imagine that a group of people, and each of them has on the box that contains something that everyone calls the beetle. No one can look into someone else's box, but everyone says that it is on his mind beetle knows what it really is a bug, and no one knows what is in the boxes from other owners "beetles". In the discussion members of the group that is in their boxes, the term "bug" no longer make sense, because one means something different, but what exactly - no one knows. Thus, the "beetle" begins to signify simply "what is in the box."

Wittgenstein believed that the experiment is well illustrated by the fact that a person never knows for sure that his interlocutor is referring to, because they do not know what he was thinking. Wittgenstein experiment related to the so-called hard problem of consciousness, described by the Australian philosopher David Chalmers and the phenomenon of qualia, that is, the dependence of perception of the world from the mental status.

4. The Chinese Room

9 interesting thought experiments

Imagine yourself a man who knows only one language, such as Russian. He sits in a room and using the detailed tutorial that allows you to intelligently handle Chinese characters, even without understanding their meaning is different proposals in Chinese.

If at the same time for them, for example, through a window, watch people talking in Chinese, they will develop the overall impression that the people in the room and also knows the language.

9 interesting thought experiments

John Searle

The experiment is considered its author, the American philosopher John Searle - is a strong argument against the possibility of creating artificial intelligence. Even if the computer is able to recognize it and to formulate proposals, in fact he does not understand their meaning, because it operates on the program laid down in his person, as well as the people in the room operates under the instruction and is the correct phrase in Chinese, but in fact He does not know the language.

Some researchers have argued against Sorlya concept, arguing that it is necessary to consider the room, a book with instructions and a person in the system, and this suggests that the interaction between the three components allows the system to truly understand Chinese. Others believe that the human mind - the manipulation of concepts, which are incorporated into the brain training as well as the program can be loaded into the machine, so anything is possible in the creation of computer intelligence is not.

5. The machine for the production of personal experience

The American philosopher Robert Nozick has developed a thought experiment, hinting that people may actually be able to live in the Matrix.

9 interesting thought experiments

Robert Nozick

Suppose that the scientists have created a machine that allows a person to give any experience, which he likes. Stimulating the brain, it can generate feelings, for example, by reading an interesting book, dating with someone or writing a novel. Would you agree to connect to a machine, programming the pre-all that you should "happen", it being understood that all life spend with electrodes connected to the brain, but the experience will not be different from the real life experience?

Nozick's basic idea of ​​the experiment is that the person can actually be a good reason to connect to a "machine for the production of personal experience" (as it calls itself a philosopher). In life, people are often deprived of choices, even in favor of the "artificial" experiences, so the temptation is great. Of course, we can say that no "virtual reality" is no substitute for real, but either way, Nozick raised the problem for several decades is the cause of numerous philosophical disputes.

6. The trolley problem

9 interesting thought experiments

Now there are many versions of this thought experiment, but its principles were formulated by the English philosopher Philippa Foot as early as 1967 in the article "Abortion and the doctrine of double effect." The bottom line is this:

"According to the rails at high speed rushing severe uncontrolled trolley. On the way her tied to the rails following the five people who were bound to perish. You have the ability to translate the arrow, and the trolley will roll on an alternate route, but it will crush the other person is also tied to the rails. What would you do? " Utilitarians who believe that the moral value of an act is determined by its usefulness will undoubtedly translate arrow to minimize the negative consequences. The adherents of the Kantian philosophy (named after its creator - Immanuel Kant), certainly will not interfere, because treat people as ends and not as a means, therefore, even one person can not be the only tool for saving five others.

In another embodiment of this dilemma role arrows plays the fat, you want to knock on the rails to prevent the trolley to kill the others, but this does not affect the difficulty of choosing between the conscious murder of one, even in order to save a few people, and non-intervention, followed by the death of five .

7. The spider in the urinal

9 interesting thought experiments

The idea of ​​this unexpected experiment, which has already become a classic, came the American philosopher Thomas Nagel when he went to the toilet at Princeton University, and noticed a small spider in the urinal, seemed very sad. Every time a philosopher peeing in a urinal, the spider became even sadder if in despair. Nagel raised the issue with the spider in his essay "The birth, death and the meaning of life":

9 interesting thought experiments

Thomas Nagel

"I went to the bathroom, looked at the spider in the urinal and gradually his pathetic began to oppress me. Of course, it is possible, for him it was the natural habitat, but only because he was trapped smooth porcelain wall and could not get out, there was no way of knowing whether he wants to leave the urinal or not.

One day I decided - took a big chunk of toilet paper and dropped it into the urinal, spider grabbed for it, I pulled him out and put him on the floor. He sat motionless, and I left. When I returned a couple of hours, the spider was there, and when the next day I went to the toilet, I found this place his corpse. " The experiment shows that, even acting with the best intentions, people do not know what can actually lead his intervention in the situation, and what is good for each participant a specific situation.

8. Quality or quantity?

Imagine a world in which all become vegetarians. People would no longer raise animals for slaughter, which means that millions of pigs, cows and chickens would not have even the right to life, albeit with subsequent conversion into patties or getting into the soup.

Moreover, the domesticated animal is absolutely not ready for independent living, so one way or another, most of these animals doomed even without a butcher's knife - chickens have forgotten how to fly, making them easy prey for predators, and the cows would have suffocated in the first winter. Those who did manage to adapt to natural conditions would have caused irreparable harm to wildlife. Do you think it's better than eating meat?

9 interesting thought experiments

Virginia Woolf

The famous British writer Virginia Woolf once said:

"Of all the arguments in favor of vegetarianism, those who give voice to the people - the weakest. Pig most interested in the demand for bacon. If they were all Jews, the pigs would be almost no "in the world.

Of course, the statement is very controversial: it is better, for example, when 20 billion people live in poverty and where 10 billion are bathed in luxury? If the latter, then what about 10 billion individuals who will never appear on the light? On the other hand, how do you can worry about those who will never be? Every man for himself decides for himself.

9. Start from scratch

Curious thought experiment in the field of political philosophy offered American John Rawls.

9 interesting thought experiments

John Rawls

Imagine that you are with a group of other people are in a situation where you instead of having to work out the principles of the organization of human society in which to live, but none of you have no idea about the philosophical concepts of government models, laws of physics, the achievements of psychology, economics, biology and other sciences. Due to some "veil of ignorance" No one can assess their natural gifts and social situation, in general, have to re-create the laws of human existence. Question: Up to what you agree, if you do not be guided by self-centered and selfish motives?

Most likely, according to Rawls, gradually would create guidelines to ensure everyone equal fundamental rights and freedoms, for example, provide opportunities for education and employment, but his theory of justice, which implies the presence of a single natural justice for each person as such, and not to individuals or classes, has been criticized by many philosophers as utopian.