Asking a genie for more wishes

  • I just saw this SMBC comic. The second picture looked really promising, but as far as I see it, this attorney screwed up. With his second wish it doesn't matter whether you say wish or splork, so effectively the genie was forbidding to splork for more splorks as well. Is there a way to ask the genie for infinite wishes in a very clear logical way, that leaves the genie no loophole? (and let's pretend the genie really let's you have only three wishes, because in the comic one cannot say how many wishes the genie actually (wanted to) allow for. It is just somewhat implied that it was three so let's stick with that idea.)

    Edit: I acknowledge and appreciate the easy answer of Gugg but if someone could give an answer with the now additional made up - and admittedly kinda dull - restriction, please answer as well: One cannot just tell the genie that what he says just doesn't count any more at all. I don't know now if the question is very well defined now, but maybe someone can still make something of it.

    If you are asking for us to speculate on the rule-based restrictions of a mythical creature in a work of fiction, then I think this is off-topic for Philosophy.SE.

    It is a question about logic. A Gedankenexperiment. Rather obviously.

    "asking for us to speculate on the rule-based restrictions of a mythical creature in a work of fiction": The name here is philosophy of religion ;)

    Some somewhat related stuff on genies and wishes: _three wishes joke_ and _genie in popular culture_

    The question is to the philosophical insights that we would obtain from such a "thought experiment". Apparently, in the SMBC comic you link to, the rules of genies are captured by words rather than the semantics associated with those words. If you would like to ask a question about the association of meanings to words, it is not clear how arguing that "genies don't work that way" (in what way 'do' genies work, given that they seem not to exist?) will shed light on the subject.

    If you would like to carry out the thought experiment, perhaps you should define how the genies in your thought experiment should work; and also whether, given the injunction against wishes for more wishes, you consider any loophole to be tantamount to a logical inconsistency in your model of genies.

    He gives you three wishes and says you can't wish for more wishes. As given in the comic (except for the 3 question thing). But I said that in my question. And if my implication wasn't obvious: He is supposed to understand logic and fulfill the wishes that are asked for. And the question is whether there is a way to still (indirectly) ask for infinite wishes.

    It would be more interesting to wish "I dont want this wish to come true".

    I don't think that that would be interesting, but only because the paradoxes that can arise are pretty known. As "I wish that you make a stone as heavy that you can't lift it up. Now I wish you lift it up" and all kinds of that stuff.

    You should just ask the Genie to get to work, number of wishes irrelevant. http://lesswrong.com/lw/ld/the_hidden_complexity_of_wishes/

    I too had this Dream to Ask for more wishes :)

    Something that should be said as a matter of philosophical interest: The comic's strategy is a Use/Mention confusion - it assumes that the Genie's "injunction" is primarily a linguistically compositional statement, whereas in fact the Genie was simply using the sentence to state the rule (which of course exists independently of its being stated). So what the comic suggests is not a logical way around the Genie's imposition - in fact it is premised on a fallacy that you would do well to avoid in the Philosophy of Language.

  • Xodarap

    Xodarap Correct answer

    8 years ago

    If you want to leave no loopholes, I would recommend wishing for a logical system to be true. E.g. you could wish that everything you show in naive logic would come true, and then use Curry's Paradox to prove whatever you wanted.

    That is pretty nice! I think I'm gonna except it as an answer ;)

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution


Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

Tags used