RE: Bruno's argument

From: Jesse Mazer <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2006 11:30:29 -0400

Stathis Papaioannou:

>Bruno Marchal writes:
> > > I think I have more basic difficulties also, like the Maudlin
> > > argument re the handling of counterfactuals for consciousness to
> > > occur:
> >
> >
> > It is a bit harder, no doubt. And, according to some personal basic
> > everything philosophy, the Maudlin argument is important of not ....
> >
> >
> >
> > > is this requirement just to avoid saying that everything implements
> > > every computation?
> >
> >
> > Jacques Mallah makes that point some years ago (in this list), and I
> > think Hal Finney has developed that point. I think their argument are
> > valid. But then I don't think the Putnam-Mallah-Chalmers is really a
> > problem once you get the idea that the physical world emerge from the
> > mathematical world of computations. Personally I have never seen a
> > convincing argument that everything implements every computations, just
> > perhaps some tiny part of some computations.
> > I will postpone saying more on the movie-graph/Olympia type of argument
> > (if only to avoid to much simultaneous threads and to modulate the
> > difficulties).
>It seems to me trivially obvious that any sufficiently complex physical
>system implements any finite >computation, just as any sufficiently large
>block of marble contains every marble statue of a given >size. The
>difference between random noise (or a block of marble) on the one hand and
>a well->behaved computer (or the product of a sculptor's work) on the other
>is that the information is in the >latter case presented in a way that can
>interact with the world containing the substrate of its >implementation.
>But I think that this idea leads to almost the same conclusion that you
>reach: it really >seems that if any computation can be mapped to any
>physical substrate, then that substrate is >superfluous except in that tiny
>subset of cases involving well-behaved computers that can handle
> >counterfactuals and thus interact with their environment, and we may as
>well say that every >computation exists by virtue of its status as a
>platonic object. I say "almost" because I can't quite see >how to prove it,
>even though I suspect that it is so.

But just because you can map any physical activity to any computation with
the right mapping function, that doesn't necessarily mean that some physical
processes don't contribute more to the measure of certain observer-moments
than others--Chalmers would say that there are "psychophysical laws"
governing the relationship between physical processes and conscious
experiences, and they might specify that a physical process has to meet
certain criteria which a rock doesn't in order to qualify as an
instantiation of a given mind. Although there is some difficulty figuring
out exactly what these criteria would be (matching counterfactuals, for
example?), it doesn't seem obviously hopeless, which is why I'm not ready to
accept Bruno's movie-graph argument or Maudlin's Olympia argument.


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Received on Wed Jul 19 2006 - 11:32:03 PDT

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