Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 13:10:52 -0700

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent Meeker writes:
>>I think we need to say what it means for a computation to be self-interpreting. Many
>>control programs are written with self-monitoring functions and logging functions.
>>Why would we not attribute consciousness to them?
> Well, why not? Some people don't even think higher mammals are conscious, and perhaps
> some there are true solipsists who could convince themselves that other people are not really
> conscious as rationalisation for antisocial behaviour.

Autistic people don't emphathize with others feelings - perhaps because they don't
have them. But their behavoir, and I would expect the behavoir of a real solipist,
would be simply asocial.

>On the other hand, maybe flies experience
> pain and fear when confronted with insecticide that is orders of magnitude greater than that
> of any mere human experience of torture, and maybe when I press the letter "y" on my
> keyboard I am subjecting my computer to the torments of hell.

And maybe every physical process implements all possible computations - but I see no
reason to believe so.

>I don't buy the argument that
> only complex brains or computations can experience pain either: when I was a child I wasn't
> as smart as I am now, but I recall that it hurt a lot more and I was much more likely to cry when
> I cut myself.
> Stathis Papaioannou

You write as though we know nothing about the physical basis of pain and fear. There
is a lot of empirical evidence about what prevents pain in humans, you can even get a
  degree in aesthesiology. Fear can be induced by psychotropic drugs and relieved by

Brent Meeker

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Received on Mon Sep 11 2006 - 16:11:53 PDT

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