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 
implementation of 
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
> situations.

A practical computer requires counterfactuals in order to interact with its 
environment. The 
problem with this idea is that firstly *any* physical system interacting with 
its environment 
handles counterfactuals, and secondly there is no reason to assume that the 
handling of 
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 

Stathis Papaioannou
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