Re: Emulation and Stuff

From: Flammarion <>
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 13:21:19 -0700 (PDT)

On 19 Aug, 13:03, David Nyman <> wrote:
> 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'.

Showing that a word can be removed from a verbal formulation
by substitution with s synonym is not *ontological* elimination.
Substituting H2O for water does not show that water is non-existent,
just that
is is non-fundamental.

> >> (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.

I don't think anyone is doing that. For one thing, there is quite
a body of research on computationalism. For another, it is being
discussed as a hypothesis, which is different from assuming its

>  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
> prior.

Err...yeah. I'm not particularly commited to the CTM as a categorical
I just don't think it has the implications Bruno thinks.

> 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?

Where he says computation can happen without any physicial process at
all. I don't see any evidence for that

> >> 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,

No-one has maintained that CTM is an implication
of PM

>or indeed *any* a priori claim to
> organising principles transcending

Only Bruno thinks computation trancends matter.

>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.

Have you read *any* of the literature on the CTM?

> >> > 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??  

Mind body problem

>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?

CTM *implies* materialism, and the MGA doesn't work.
CTM might still be false though.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Wed Aug 19 2009 - 13:21:19 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:16 PST