RE: computationalism and supervenience

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2006 20:46:15 +1000

Russell Standish writes:

> On Sun, Aug 27, 2006 at 09:31:15PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > It seems to me that the idea of a deterministic machine being conscious is assumed to be
> > preposterous, for no good reason. I believe that I could have acted differently even with
> > identical environmental inputs, which is what the feeling of "free will" is. However, it is
> > possible that I might *not* have been able to act differently: simply feeling that I could
> > have done so is not evidence that it is the case. And even if it were the case, due to true
> > quantum randomness or the proliferation of branches in the multiverse leading to the effect
> > of first person indeterminacy, it does not follow that this is necessary for consciousness to
> > occur.
> It is true that Maudlin's argument depends on the absurdity of a
> recording being conscious. If you can accept a recording as being
> conscious, then you would have trouble in accepting the conclusion
> that counterfactuals are relevant.

That's what I'm disputing. You can have a machine handling counterfactuals, like a thermostat,
that aren't conscious (not much, anyway), and machines not handling counterfactuals, like a
complex computer or human with rigidly constrained inputs, that is conscious. The latter seems
obvious to me from the fact that an entity experiences only one stream of consciousness at a
time, regardless of how many actual (in the multiverse) or possible (in a single universe model,
with or without true randomness) braches there are in which that entity is conscious. I think we
can still say this if the multiverse is run in Platonia, which does not allow the removal of multiverse
branches in the same way possible with a computer model. For example, the version of me alive
in the multiverse branches where he has won the lottery every week for a year has much lower
measure, but he is not proportionately less conscious. The other actual or possible branches may
affect the content and relative probabilities of my conscious experience but not the fact that I am
having a conscious experience.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Tue Aug 29 2006 - 06:48:09 PDT

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