>I would bet on functionalism as the correct theory of mind for various
>reasons, but I don't see that there is anything illogical the possibility
>that consciousness is substrate-dependent. Let's say that when you rub two
>carbon atoms together they have a scratchy experience, whereas when you rub
>two silicon atoms together they have a squirmy experience. This could just
>be a mundane fact about the universe, no more mysterious than any other
>basic physical fact.  What is illogical, however, is the "no causal effect"
>criterion if this is called epiphenomenalism. If the effect is purely and
>necessarily on first person experience, it's no less an effect; we might 
>notice if the carbon atoms were zombified, but the carbon atoms would
>certainly notice. I think it all comes down to the deep-seated and very
>obviously wrong idea that only third person empirical data is genuine
>empirical data. It is a legitimate concern of science that data should be
>verifiable and experiments repeatable, but it's taking it a bit far to
>conclude from this that we are therefore all zombies.
>Stathis Papaioannou

One major argument against the idea that qualia and/or consciousness could 
be substrate-dependent is what philosopher David Chalmers refers to as the 
"dancing qualia" and "fading qualia" arguments, which you can read more 
about at http://consc.net/papers/qualia.html . As a thought-experiment, 
imagine gradually replacing neurons in my brain with functionally identical 
devices whose physical construction was quite different from neurons 
(silicon chips emulating the input and output of the neurons they replaced, 
perhaps). If one believes that this substrate is associated with either 
different qualia or absent qualia, then as one gradually replaces more and 
more of my brain, they'll either have to be a sudden discontinuous change 
(and it seems implausible that the replacement of a single neuron would 
cause such a radical change) or else a gradual shift or fade-out of the 
qualia my brain experiences...but if I were noticing such a shift or 
fade-out, I would expect to be able to comment on it, and yet the assumption 
that the new parts are functionally identical means my behavior should be 
indistinguishable from what it would be if my neurons were left alone. And 
if we suppose that I might be having panicked thoughts about a change in my 
perceptions yet find that my voice and body are acting as if nothing is 
wrong, and there is no neural activity associated with these panicked 
thoughts, then there would have to be a radical disconnect between 
subjective experiences and physical activity in my brain, which would 
contradict the assumption of supervenience (see 
http://philosophy.uwaterloo.ca/MindDict/supervenience.html ) and lead to the 
possibility of radical mind/body disconnects like rocks and trees having 
complex thoughts and experiences that have nothing to do with any physical 
activity within them.


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