Imagine a scenario in which you open up the refrigerator door and see two different food items. In that very moment it happens to turn out that:
A) You only want one of the items
B) You desire each food item equally
In this imaginary scenario, there is nothing for B) that is weighing your decision of one food item over another food item. One isn’t more fattening than the other, one wouldn’t taste better than the other, there is no differences in texture, size, quantity, smell, or color that would make you decide on one over the other. The location of each food item is equally desirable – in other words, there is no food item sitting by the other that would cause a decision for one over the other. There is no psychological response to the one food over the other. One isn’t closer, easier to grab, and so on.
This thought experiment is similar to Buridan’s ass, a (so called) “paradox” in the philosophy of free will. Buridan’s ass, named after 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan, addresses a hypothetical donkey who is both equally hungry as it is thirsty. And when I say “equally”, I mean absolutely equal in every way possible. The donkey is placed in the exact center-point between a hay stack and a pale of water. It has no momentum either way, equally understands the existence of both, and neither is closer than the other (which this donkey does not assess one as closer than the other in any way – even mistakenly).
As the hypothetical goes, the donkey would both die of starvation and thirst since it cannot make a rational decision to choose one or the other. Continue reading »