Peter Jones writes (quoting Russell Standish and SP):
> > > It is true that Maudlin's argument depends on the absurdity of a
> > > recording being conscious. If you can accept a recording as being
> > > conscious, then you would have trouble in accepting the conclusion
> > > that counterfactuals are relevant.
> > That's what I'm disputing. You can have machines handling counterfactuals,
> > like a thermostat,
> > that aren't conscious (not much, anyway), and machines not handling
> > counterfactuals, like a
> > complex computer or human with rigidly constrained inputs, that is
> > conscious.
> Computer always have counterfactuals, because there changing
> one part of them (whether data or programme) has an effect on
> the overall behaviour. Changing one part of a recording (e.g splicing
> a film) changes only *that* part.
I don't think you can distinguish between recording and computation on that
basis. By "recording"
I don't mean just the film, but the film + projector as system. The film is the
computer's fixed input
and the computer is the projector in this case. A closer analogy would be a
software media player
playing an .mpg file: the output is rigidly fixed by the input, although the
media player handles
counterfactuals in that the output would be different if the input were
different. But the same is
true of any physical system sensitive to initial conditions.
> > The latter seems
> > obvious to me from the fact that an entity experiences only one stream of
> > consciousness at a
> > time, regardless of how many actual (in the multiverse) or possible (in a
> > single universe model,
> > with or without true randomness) braches there are in which that entity is
> > conscious.
> That doesn't follow. A counterfactual is a COUNTERfactual - -it is
> something that could have happenned but didn't. There is no
> reason why we should be conscious of in things
> we coudl have done but didn't. (Unless counterfactuals
> are itnerpreted as alternate worlds, but then they
> are not really COUNTERfactuals -- they actually
> did happen, buit "somewhere else").
That's just the point I am making: there is no reason why we should be
conscious of things we
could have done but didn't, and there is no reason I should notice anything
strange had happened
if all my copies in other multiverse branches suddenly drop dead. Even if as a
matter of fact it can be
shown that consciousness is always associated with the actual or potential
counterfactuals, it does not follow that we are conscious *as a result* of this.
> The claim that consciousness requires counterfactuals
> stems from the argument that consciousness is
> comptutation, and computation requires counterfactuals.
> It doesn't stem from an expeiential insight into counterfactual
A practical computer requires counterfactuals in order to interact with its
problem with this idea is that firstly *any* physical system interacting with
handles counterfactuals, and secondly there is no reason to assume that the
counterfactuals is somehow responsible for consciousness. A rigidly determined
may be a "trivial" case of a computation but it does not mean it is not a
computation. A machine
hardwired to compute the digits of pi, and nothing else, is still computing the
digits of pi even though
it isn't much use as a general purpose computer. Similarly, we can imagine
beings who are still
conscious even though their lives are rigidly determined. You have to come up
with a good reason
as to why constraining the possible paths a stream of consciousness can take
will cause loss of
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