Re: QTI & euthanasia (brouillon)

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2008 15:24:23 -0800

Kory Heath wrote:
> On Nov 9, 2008, at 9:56 AM, Brent Meeker wrote:
>> It's sort of what I meant; except I imagined a kind of robot that,
>> like your
>> Turing test program, had it's behavior run by a random number
>> generator but just
>> happened to behave as if it were conscious.
> Ok. That works just as well for me.
>> I'm not sure where you would draw
>> the line between the accidentally convincing conversation and the
>> accidentally
>> behaving robot to say one was a philosophical zombie and the other
>> wasn't.
> I wouldn't. I would say that neither of them are philosophical zombies
> at all. And I'm pretty sure that that would be Dennett's position.
>> Since the concept is just a hypothetical it's a question of semantics.
> I agree. But the semantics are important when it comes to
> communicating with other philosophers. My only point at the beginning
> of this thread was that Bruno would be getting himself into hot water
> with other philosophers by claiming that unimplemented computations
> describing conscious beings should count as zombies, because that's a
> misuse of the established term.
>> OK. It's just that the usual definition in strictly in terms of
>> behavior and
>> doesn't consider inner workings.
> But the inner workings are part of the behavior, and I'm pretty sure
> that the usual definition of "philosophical zombie" includes these
> inner workings.
>> My own view is that someday we will understand a lot about the inner
>> workings of
>> brains; enough that we can tell what someone is thinking by
>> monitoring the
>> firing of neurons and that we will be able to build robots that
>> really do
>> exhibit conscious behavior (although see John McCarthy's website for
>> why we
>> shouldn't do this). When we've reached this state of knowledge,
>> questions about
>> qualia and what is consciousness will be seen to be the wrong
>> questions. They
>> will be like asking where is life located in an animal.
> As far as I understand it, this is exactly Dennett's position.
> Let's imagine we know enough about the inner working of brains to
> examine a brain and tell what that person is thinking, feeling, etc.
> Imagine that we certainly know enough to examine a brain and confirm
> that it is *not* just a random-number generator that's accidentally
> seeming to be conscious. We can look at a brain and tell that it
> really is responding to the words that are being spoken to it, etc.
> Let's say that we actually do examine some particular brain, and
> confirm that it's meeting all of our physical criteria of
> consciousness. Do you think it's logically possible for that brain to
> *not* be conscious? If you don't believe that, then you, like Dennett
> (and me), don't believe in the logical possibility of zombies.

I'm with you and Dennett - except I'm reserved about the use of "logical
possibility". I don't think logic makes anything impossible except "A and ~A";
which is a failure of expression. So I tend to just say "impossible" or
sometimes "nomologically impossible".


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Received on Sun Nov 09 2008 - 18:24:39 PST

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