Re: Maudlin's Demon (Argument)

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 15:55:42 +0200

Hi George,

Le 03-oct.-07, à 01:52, George Levy a écrit :

> Hi Bruno,
> Yes I am still on the list, barely trying to keep up, but I have been
> very busy. Actually the ball was in my court and I was supposed to
> answer to your last post to me about a year ago!!!. Generally I agree
> with you on many things but here I am just playing the devils'
> advocate. The Maudlin experiment reminds me of an attempt to prove the
> falsity of the second law of thermodynamics using Newton's demon. As
> you probably know, this attempt fails because the thermodynamics
> effect on the demon is neglected when in fact it should not be The
> Newton Demon experiment is not thermodynamically closed. If you
> include the demon in a closed system, then the second law is correct.
> Similarly, Maudlin's experiment is not informationally closed because
> Maudlin has interjected himself into his own experiment! The
> "accidentally" correctly operating machines need to have their tape
> rearranged to work correctly and Maudlin is the agent doing the
> rearranging.
> So essentially Maudlin's argument is not valid as an attack on
> physical supervenience.

I am not sure. "physical supervenience" is well defined (actually this
is my terming, Maudlin just say "supervenience"). But here you are
changing the definition of supervenience, and it seems to me you have
to abandon comp for doing that. If comp and supervenience is correct
the later machine (OLYMPIA + the KLARAs) should be conscious, with or
without Maudlin's interjection.


>> Yes, you are right from a logical point of view, but only by assuming
>> some form of non-computationalism.
>> With comp + physical supervenience, you have to attach a consciousness
>> to the active boolean graph, and then, by physical supervenience, to
>> the later process, which do no more compute. (And then Maudlin shows
>> that you can change the second process so that it computes again, but
>> without any physical activity of the kind relevant to say that you
>> implement a computation. So, physical supervenience is made wrong.
> Yes but Maudlin cheated by interjecting himself into his experiment.
> So this argument does not count.

I think that Maudlin refers to the conjunction of the comp hyp and
supervenience, where consciousness is supposed to be linked (most of
the time in a sort of "real-time" way) to the *computational activity*
of the brain, and not to the history of any of the state occurring in
that computation.

If you decide to attach consciousness to the whole physical history,
then you can perhaps keep comp by making the substitution level very
low, but once the level is chosen, I am not sure how you will make it
possible for the machine to distinguish a purely arithmetical version
of that history (in the arithmetical "plenitude" (your wording)) from a
"genuinely physical one" (and what would that means?). Hmmm... perhaps
I am quick here ...

May be I also miss your point. This is vastly more complex than the
seven first steps of UDA, sure. I have to think how to make this
transparently clear or ... false.

I will also be more and more busy the next two month, so I can also
take some time for commenting posts.



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Received on Thu Oct 04 2007 - 09:55:50 PDT

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