In a message dated 99-07-25 19:43:43 EDT, Hal Finney writes:

<< Maudlin's change (adding an inert block) makes
 consciousness go away (even assuming computationalism) is a fallacy. >>

I agree with Hal that Maudlin's move leads to a fallacy, but for different 
reason. Maudlin's move reminds me of the famous Maxwell's demon thought 
experiment in which the entropy of a system could be lowered by a demon. The 
experimental system comprises two chambers A and B filled with gas and 
separated by a thin membrane. In the middle of the membrane, there is a door 
operated by the demon. When the demon sees a molecule from side A coming 
toward the opening he opens the door. However he closes the door when he sees 
a molecule coming from side B. The end results is that all the gas moves from 
side A to side B. Entropy is lowered. the Second Law is violated. The 
resolution of the paradox is simply that the demon must be considered part of 
the system, and that his entropy has increased. 

Similarly, the insertion of the piece of wood in the computer must be done by 
someone. Let's call that someone Maudlin's demon.  Deciding what the right 
place and the right time is to make the wood irrelevent to the thinking 
process, in order to satisfy the counterfactual role that the wood must play, 
requires Maudlin's demon to think. Maudlin's demon then becomes part of the 
computer's consciousness just like the subject in the chinese room experiment 
becomes a cog in the chinese room ability to speak chinese.

In the end, I am a strong sceptic of both computationalism and physical 
supervenience. I believe that consciousness exists only in the eyes of the 
beholder, and is a relativistic property, based on the relativity of (mutual) 
information as defined by Claude Shannon.


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