9 thoughts on “Nemean Lion, a little “anonymous” game

  1. ahhh, very interesting, and makes the game more interesting from the context (though it was already quite amusing). thanks for the links!

  2. The philosophical discussion it takes off from is interesting too. (Well, to me.) The post from the Pittsburgh philosopher is here, and the paper it’s taken from is here (pdf).

    Machery’s own explanation of the data isn’t the IF-ish one Adam gives, that in one case you have to take an additional action and in the other you don’t. Machery thinks that the difference is that in the dollar case there’s a cost-benefit tradeoff, and in the cup case there isn’t. This example takes off from another example (by Joshua Knobe), in which a CEO is told that a certain action will be profitable and will [harm/help] the environment, and responds “I don’t care about the environment, let’s do what’ profitable.” Depending on which case they’re presented with, people will generally judge that the CEO intentionally harmed the environment, but they’ll judge that he did not intentionally help the environment.

    Knobe’s hypothesis was that people are more likely say that a side effect is brought about intentionally if it’s bad than if it’s good; Machery argues that this is part of a more general way of looking at tradeoffs. But for IFfy purposes, what’s notable is that in Knobe’s cases the CEO doesn’t have to do anything extra to take action in the harming case; in both cases he just says “Do it!” when the subordinate describes the action.

    Back in the prehistory of this dispute, some philosophers argued that you couldn’t say an action was intentional (or “voluntary”) if it wasn’t blameworthy or somehow remarkable. And some others responded that you couldn’t generally say it was intentional or voluntary, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t intentional or voluntary. It’s just not appropriate conversationally to say “She voluntarily ate lunch,” because it suggests it might not have been voluntary. (That’s Grice’s maxims again.) Which seems kind of relevant to the “(first opening the door)” example; it’s weird to say the PC intentionally opened the door, but that doesn’t mean it’s false to say it. And there’s another Gricean aspect to it — when you say “She went through the door” you haven’t said that she opened it first, but you suggest it, and that’s the kind of action the parser does automatically.

    Now, I have a question about the game, which probably comes from the source material:


    If the lion’s claws are as sharp as spearpoints, why can’t I just cut its hide with a spear?

    • Interesting stuff on the underlying philosophy.

      Re. the Nemean lion: in some tellings of the story the tricky thing about the lion in the first place was that its skin was impervious to attack by pointy weapon. That is why Heracles has to strangle it and also why it’s hard to cut off the trophy afterward.

      • Yeah, that did come across in the club/strangle sequence (though even there, clubs work). And I’m just being nitpicky, since it’s not like it made it hard to solve the puzzle.

  3. Pingback: Super Doomed Planet » Blog Archive » IFComp 2009: Rover’s Day Out and Grounded in Space

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