Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2006 21:26:11 -0700

Colin Geoffrey Hales wrote:
> Hi.... a bunch of points...
> 1) Re paper.. it is undergoing review and growing..
> The point of the paper is to squash the solipsism argument
> particular the specific flavour of it that deals with 'other minds' and as
> it has (albeit tacitly) defined science's attitude to what is/is not
> scientific evidence. As such I am only concerned with scientific
> behaviour. The mere existence of a capacity to handle exquisite novelty
> demands the existence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness
> within the scientist. Novel technology exists, ergo science is possible,
> ergo phenomenal consciousness exists. Phenomenal consciousness is proven
> by the existence of novel technology. More than 1 scientist has produced
> novel technology. Ergo there is more then 1 'mind' (=collection of
> phenomenal fields) ergo other minds do exist. Ergo solipsism is false. The
> problem is that along the way you have also proved that there is an
> external 'reality'...which is a bit of a bonus. So all the philosophical
> arguments about 'existence' that have wasted so much of our time is
> actually just that...a waste of time.
> 2) Turing test. I think the turing test is a completely misguided idea.

Curiously, Turing's test was to see whether a computer could succeed at pretending to
be a woman as well as a man could.

> It's based on the assumption that abstract (as-if) computation can fully
> replicate (has access to all the same information) of computation
> performed by the natural world. This assumption can be made obvious as
> follows:
> Q. What is it like to be a human? It is like being a mind. There is
> information delivered into the mind by the action of brain material which
> bestows on the human intrinsic knowledge about the natural world outside
> the the form of phenomenal consciousness.

But the brain is made of physical components implementing physical proceses (neurons,
proteins, ions,...) - why can't they be replaced by functionally identical components
(artificial neurons, etc) and still deliver this consciousness?

Brent Meeker

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Received on Sun Sep 17 2006 - 00:27:12 PDT

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