Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 10:05:12 -0700

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
>>Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>>>Various people write:
>>>>blah blah ...recording... blah blah... consciousness... blah blah
>>>But WHY can't a recording be conscious? How do I know I'm not in
>>>a recording at the moment?
>>The question is why you don't regard the recordings in your video
>>cabinet as conscious. Well, if you do, you have probably murdered
>>some people by taping over them.
> I'm responsible for a misunderstanding if you thought I meant "recording"
> in the usual sense of the word, i.e. a copy of a limited subset (sound or
> video, for example) of a subject's attributes over a period of time. What
> I intended was a copy of all of the subject's attributes, but constrained
> so that it will run the same way over and over, like an automaton. For
> example, if you have an elaborate computer game with characters with
> whom you can interact so they pass the Turing test, you can record the
> whole session, including your keyboard inputs, and "play" it a second time.
> The computer goes through exactly the same states the second time around,
> but it really has no choice: the recording constrains its behaviour as rigidly
> as a video tape constrains the behaviour of the video player and TV (actually
> more rigidly, since there is always some variation between runs with analogue
> systems). Would you say that the characters in the game are conscious on
> the first run but not on the second?
> Stathis Papaioannou

I think this turns on the referent of "the characters". If it means the sequence of
computer states that represents the characters in that game - no. If it means the
programs that represent the characters, programs that would have responded
differently had circumstances been different, then - yes. At least that's the theory
that consciousness depends on counterfactuals.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Fri Aug 25 2006 - 13:15:23 PDT

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