Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: 1Z <>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 04:59:07 -0700

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent meeker writes:
> > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > > Peter Jones writes:

> > We should ask ourselves how do we know the thermometer isn't conscious of the
> > temperature? It seems that the answer has been that it's state or activity *could*
> > be intepreted in many ways other than indicating the temperature; therefore it must
> > be said to unconscious of the temperature or we must allow that it implements all
> > conscious thought (or at least all for which there is a possible interpretative
> > mapping). But I see it's state and activity as relative to our shared environment;
> > and this greatly constrains what it can be said to "compute", e.g. the temperature,
> > the expansion coefficient of Hg... With this constraint, then I think there is no
> > problem in saying the thermometer is conscious at the extremely low level of being
> > aware of the temperature or the expansion coefficient of Hg or whatever else is
> > within the constraint.
> I would basically agree with that. Consciousness would probably have to be a continuum
> if computationalism is true.

I don't think that follows remotely. It is true that it is vastly
better to interpret a column of mercury as a temperature-sensor than
a pressure-sensor or a radiation-sensor. That doesn't mean the
knows that in itself.

Computationalism does not claim that every computation is conscious.

If consciousness supervenes on inherent non-interprtation-dependent
it can supervene on features which are binary, either present or

For instance, whether a programme examines or modifies its own code is
such a feature.

>Even if computationalism were false and only those machines
> specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a continuum, across
> different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to death. The possibility
> that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or at some point in the
> evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.

Surely it comes on like a light whenver you wake up.

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Received on Tue Sep 12 2006 - 08:00:05 PDT

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