RE: Re: Bruno's argument

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2006 17:00:28 +1000

Jesse Mazer writes (quoting SP):
> >What you seem to be suggesting is that not all computations are equivalent: > >some give rise to mind, >while others, apparently similar, do not. Isn't > >this similar to the reasoning of people who say that a >computer could > >never be conscious because even if it exactly emulated a human brain, it is > >a law of >nature that only brains can be conscious?> > No, not at all--where did you get the idea I was saying "apparently similar" > computations would not give rise to minds? The psychophysical laws are > supposed to insure that a computations which appears completely *dissimilar* > to a human mind, like a simulation of the movement of atoms in a rock, does > not in fact qualify as an implementation of (or contribute to the measure > of) my mind and every other possible mind, as would be concluded by > Maudlin's argument or Bruno's movie-graph argument, as I understand them. > See Chalmers' paper "Does a Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton?" at > for more on this "implementation problem".
OK, I should have said "apparently dissimilar, but actually similar computations". Chalmer's argument seems to be that the vibration of atoms in a rock does not follow any well-defined causal relationship, as the functioning of a computer or a brain does. It is only by accident, after the fact, that the rock's states map onto computational states, whereas a computer will reliably give a certain output for a certain input. Even if the computer has no input or output (which is the subtype of FSA which Putnam claims a rock implements) there is still a consistent set of rules governing the physical state transitions and mapping them onto computational states, such that had the physical states been different, so would the computation being implemented. The first problem with this idea is that it is an unnecessary complication: the fact that we *can't* observe rocks' solipsistic computing is enough to explain why we *don't* observe it. The second problem is that you would have to say that a system deliberately set up to perform a computation in the usual manner does perform that computation, but that the same system arising at random does not. This sounds almost like magic: why would the system know or care how it came about?
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sun Jul 23 2006 - 03:02:29 PDT

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