Re: Modern Physical theory as a basis for Ethical and Existential Nihilism

From: Eugen Leitl <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 10:32:37 +0100

The previous message was actually off-list, but since you replied to the list as well:

On Thu, Jan 22, 2004 at 05:07:29PM +1100, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> The study of why societies have certain ethical beliefs is a subject for
> evolutionary psychology, or anthropology/sociology (moving down the
> reductionist hierarchy), and the study of what brain processes underlie
> ethical beliefs and behaviour is a subject for
> neurophysiology/biochemistry/chemistry/ultimately quantum physics (moving
> up the reductionist hierarchy), but the actual experience of having an

We agree so far.

> ethical belief, and its ultimate justification, is not subject to
> scientific study. It is the old philosophical distinction between qualia -

Now that doesn't follow.

> the subjective experience in itself - versus a description of the brain
> processes underlying the subjective experience. Subjective experience is at

I don't understand how you can detach the experience from the physical
process generating the experience. Qualia is just process introspection
artifacts. There isn't anything particularly interesting or deep about them.
I don't understand why you think experiencing an instance of a class of
behaviour algorithms, emerged from iterated interactions of agents
invalidates scientific mode of inquiry.

I'm interested in spiking networks. You can see your qualia just fine in a
tool as coarse as fMRI.

> bottom simple, basic, irreducible. This does not by any means imply that
> there is anything mystical about it. I believe that there is a one to one,

Ah, then disregard above diatribe. We don't seem to disagree.

> or possibly a many to one, relationship between brain states and mental
> states; a one to many relationship would imply that something magical was
> going on, and I cannot imagine how this could occur even in theory. To this
> extent, I believe that the identity theory of mind MUST be valid - but to
> say that a certain brain state is necessary and sufficient for the
> experience of a corresponding mental state is not to say that the mental
> state is the same thing as the brain state.

I still don't understand why you think ethics isn't a noisy set of behaviour
algorithms, and is not a domain of science.

-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
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Received on Thu Jan 22 2004 - 04:35:21 PST

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