Peter Jones writes:

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
> > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >
> > > Although you have clearly stated that the two ideas - consciousness
> > > supervening on all physical processes and consciousness supervening on
> > > no physical process - are completely different I think they are related in
> > > that in both cases matter is irrelevant to consciousness,
> >
> > In the second case, matter is relevant to consc. since it is
> > relevant to physical processes.
> Did you mean "in the first case..."?
> Matter is irrelevant to the extent that any piece of matter will do for a 
> and a change in the matter does not change the computation - unless you are
> considering the special subset where the computation interacts with the 
> of its implementation, which is all the computations we are ever going to 
> by definition.

It is a mistake to infer that matter does not matter at all, that it is
The two cases you mention are not the same. In one you do not need any
particular kind of matter. In the other, you do not need matter at all.

OK, that is strictly true. Still, it is more elegant to postulate that no physical world exists than that there exists (at least) a single quantum state which sustains the entire apparent universe. I realise this is not a knock-down argument.

> From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
> "A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things 
can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their 
> From this definition, the mental does not supervene on the physical in either
> of the cases I mentioned.

No, that is mistaken. The mental/computational properties supervene
on the physical properties in any particular realisation.
implies that mental properties can be multiply realised, true, but each
obeys supervenience.

The A properties are mental, the B properties physical. Multiple physical processes may implement the same computation, i.e. there is a one: many relationship between the A properties and the B properties, respectively. This is not controversial, it is really just a restatement of functionalism. However, it is the reverse situation which is problematic, a many: one relationship between the mental and the physical, which you will note is not consistent with the definition of supervenience given above. Maudlin showed that just such a relationship would seem to hold between physical process and consciousness. Even more simply, it is possible to interpret a single physical process as implementing multiple computations, as I have discussed before. So the supervenience thesis of computationalism seems flawed. If you are still keen on computationalism and are willing to drop the supervenience thesis you end up with Bruno's version of comp. If you think computationalism without the physical computers is absurd then maybe you need to drop computationalism.

Stathis Papaioannou
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