Bruno Marchal writes:

> Le 04-oct.-06, à 14:21, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
> >
> > Maudlin's example in his paper is rather complicated. If I could  
> > summarise, he states that one
> > of the requirements for a conscious computation is that it not be the  
> > trivial case of a recording, a
> > machine that plays out the same physical motion regardless of input.  
> > He then proposes a second
> > machine next to one which on its own is just a recording, such that  
> > the second machine comes into
> > play and acts on the first machine should inputs be different. The  
> > system as a whole now handles
> > counterfactuals. However, should the counterfactuals not actually  
> > arise, the second machine just
> > sits there inertly next to the first machine. We would now have to say  
> > that when the first machine
> > goes through physical sequence abc on its own, it is just implementing  
> > a recording and could not
> > possibly be conscious, while if it goes through the same sequence abc  
> > with the second machine sitting
> > inertly next to it it is or could be conscious. This would seem to  
> > contravene the supervenience thesis
> > which most computationalists accept: that mental activity supervenes  
> > on physical activity, and further
> > that the same physical activity will give rise to the same mental  
> > activity. For it seems in the example
> > that physical activity is the same in both cases (since the second  
> > machine does nothing), yet in the
> > first case the system cannot be conscious while in the second case it  
> > can.
> This is a nice summary of Maudlin's paper.
> >
> > There are several possible responses to the above argument. One is  
> > that computationalism is wrong.
> > Another is that the supervenience thesis is wrong and the mental does  
> > not supervene on the physical
> > (but Bruno would say it supervenes on computation as Platonic object).  
> > Yet another response is that
> > the idea that a recording cannot be conscious is wrong, and the  
> > relationship between physical activity
> > and mental activity can be one->many, allowing that any physical  
> > process may implement any
> > computation including any conscious computation.
> Why? The whole point is that consciousness or even just computation  
> would supervene on *absence" of physical activity.
> This is not "on *any* physical activity. I can imagine the quantum  
> vacuum is "full of computations", but saying consciousness supervene on  
> no physical activity at all is equivalent, keeping the comp assumption,  
> to associate consciousness on the immaterial/mathematical computations.  
> This shows then why we have to explain the relative appearance of the  
> "physical stuff".

It is consistent with Maudlin's paper to say consciousness supervenes on no 
physical activity - i.e. on computation as Platonic object - but it is also 
to say that it supervenes on a recording, or on any physical activity, and that 
perhaps if there were no physical universe with at least a single quantum state 
there would be no consciousness. Admittedly the latter is inelegant compared to 
the "no physical supervenience" idea, but I can't quite see how to eliminate it 

Stathis Papaioannou
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