Re: Emulation and Stuff

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 13:03:39 +0100

009/8/19 Flammarion <>:

>> I completely agree that **assuming primary matter** computation is "a
>> physical process taking place in brains and computer hardware".  The
>> paraphrase argument - the one you said you agreed with - asserts that
>> *any* human concept is *eliminable*
> No, reducible, not eliminable. That is an important distinction.

Not in this instance. The whole thrust of the paraphrase argument is
precisely to show - in principle at least - that the reduced concept
can be *eliminated* from the explanation. You can do this with
'life', so you should be prepared to do it with 'computation'.

>> (my original point) after such
>> reduction to primary physical processes.  So why should 'computation'
>> escape this fate?  How would you respond if I said the brain is
>> conscious because it is 'alive'?  Would 'life' elude the paraphrased
>> reduction to physical process?
> I don't see your point. Either claim may  or may not be true
> and may or may not be paraphraseable.

My point is that claiming - *a priori* - that 'life' caused
consciousness would shed as little light as saying that computation
did so. In either case, a successful paraphrase must be capable of
pointing out precisely *which* specific physical entities - in
precisely *what* relation - to precisely *which* other specific
physical entities - are deemed responsible for the paraphrased concept
in any specific case. I freely concede that - *if* it turned out a
posteriori that a reduced physical theory capable of explicitly
attaching specific mental descriptions to specific physical processes
could be shown, in all cases FAPP, to be equivalent to some explicitly
specifiable program interpreted purely in terms of functional
relations of its physical instantiation - I would indeed be impressed.
 But this would be a world away from a brute a priori assumption.
IOW, the justification for any paraphrased concept is posterior, not

In the context of the foregoing, MGA makes a direct attack on "CTM +
PM = true" via reductio: i.e. by demonstrating at least one class of
physical reduction of a computation where any physical attachment
theory must evaporate. To emphasise: it isn't per se an attack on PM,
only on the a priori conjunction of PM and CTM. At what step do you
say it is invalid?

>> BTW, let's be clear: I'm not saying that physicalism is false
>> (although IMO it is at least incomplete).  I'm merely pointing out one
>> of its consequences.
> Which is what?

That PM theory isn't justified in making an a priori claim to a
'computational' theory of mind, or indeed *any* a priori claim to
organising principles transcending the underlying physical processes.
All conceptual overlays in this context must be, and indeed - with the
outstanding exception of CTM - in practice always are, accepted as
requiring justification a posteriori.

>> > It's prima facie possible for physicalism to be true
>> > and computationalism false. That is to say that
>> > the class of consciousness-causing processes might
>> > not coincide with any proper subset of the class
>> > of computaitonal processes.
>> Yes, of course, this is precisely my point, for heaven's sake.  Here's
>> the proposal, in your own words: assuming physicalism "the class of
>> consciousness-causing processes might not coincide with any proper
>> subset of the class of computational processes".  Physicalist theory
>> of mind urgently required.  QED
> I am arguing with Bruno about whether the eliminaiton of matter
> makes things easier for the MBP. I think it just give you less to work
> with.

MBP?? At this stage, I'm really unclear on the basis of the above
whether or not you actually wish to defend "CTM + PM = true" on a
priori grounds. Would you please clarify?


> >

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Received on Wed Aug 19 2009 - 13:03:39 PDT

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