A related thought experiment from David Deutsch:

"Consider one particular copper atom at the tip of the nose of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill that stands in Parliament Square in London. Let me try to explain why that copper atom is there. It is because Churchill served as prime minister in the House of Commons nearby; and because his ideas and leadership contributed to the Allied victory in the Second World War; and because it is customary to honour such people by putting up statues of them; and because bronze, a traditional material for such statues, contains copper, and so on. Thus we explain a low-level physical observation – the presence of a copper atom at a particular location – through extremely high-level theories about emergent phenomena such as ideas, leadership, war and tradition."

The proper level of explanation there is not at the atomic level, but rather at the level of emergent human behaviour.

Research Fellow at Stanford, co-host of the Increments podcast. More nonsense at benchugg.com

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