Re: Bruno's argument

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006 11:05:23 +0200

Le 19-juil.-06, à 17:30, Jesse Mazer a écrit :

> 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.

Those specifications have to make physical processes NOT turing
emulable, for Chalmers' idea being coherent. The price here would be an
explicit NON-COMP assumption, and then we are lead outside my working
hypothesis. In this way his dualism is typically non computationalist.

I met David Chalmers in Brussels in 2000 (at the Brussels ASSC
meeting). He *is* indeed quite coherent, in the sense that he considers
that in the self-duplication Washington/Moscow experiment the first
person must feel to be at the two places simultaneously.
This is coherent also with his dualist interpretation of Everett. Now,
I personally agree with Hans Primas, and David Deutsch, that Everett's
move is motivated by a search for a monistic view of (quantum) reality.

[For the modalist: Note that the G-difference (but G*-equality)
between Bp and Bp & p makes it possible, *through* comp to justify
phenomenologically (i.e. in first person terms) the gap between the two
aspects of the mind defended by Chalmers.]

About Chalmers's dualism: see:

> Although there is some difficulty figuring
> out exactly what these criteria would be (matching counterfactuals, for
> example?), it doesn't seem obviously hopeless,

Only by jeopardizing the comp hyp., and introducing an explicit dualism
(as he does).
I have no problem with that. I respect all hypothesis, but I
concentrate myself on the comp hyp.
I only rarely argued in favor of comp, or of any hypotheses. I prefer
to study their consequences. Now, I could say that I find Chalmers
approach as an highly speculative approach build just to save the
Aristotelian conception of physics/nature/reality, which I already
known to be incoherent with comp.
The point is that Chalmers approach is coherent with mine: he just
proposes a different theory.

> which is why I'm not ready to
> accept Bruno's movie-graph argument or Maudlin's Olympia argument.

OK, but my feeling is that you need to abandon comp to be able to cut
down such form of reasoning. Or you should perhaps point on some
precise step you judge not convincing.


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Received on Thu Jul 20 2006 - 05:06:31 PDT

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