Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 18:11:22 -0700

1Z wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> 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.
> Computer always have counterfactuals, because there changing one part of them
> (whether data or programme) has an effect on the overall behaviour. Changing one
> part of a recording (e.g splicing a film) changes only *that* part.

But a branch in a program need not change very much. It seems that now you are
introducing a new critereon, a degree of "counterfactualness" required for consciousness.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Wed Aug 30 2006 - 21:13:14 PDT

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