On 19 Nov 2008, at 22:43, Brent Meeker wrote:

> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> On 19 Nov 2008, at 16:06, Telmo Menezes wrote:
>>> Bruno,
>>>> If no one objects, I will present MGA 2 (soon).
>>> I also agree completely and am curious to see where this is going.
>>> Please continue!
>> Thanks Telmo, thanks also to Gordon.
>> I will try to send MGA 2 asap. But this asks me some time.  
>> Meanwhile I
>> suggest a little exercise, which, by the way, finishes the proof of
>> "MECH + MAT implies false", for those who thinks that there is no
>> (conceivable) zombies. (they think that "exists zombie" *is* false).
>> Exercise (mat+mec implies zombie exists or are conceivable):
>> Could you alter the so-lucky cosmic explosion beam a little bit so
>> that Alice still succeed her math exam, but is, reasonably enough, a
>> zombie  during the exam. With zombie taken in the traditional sense  
>> of
>> Kory and Dennett.
>> Of course you have to keep well *both*  MECH *and* MAT.
>> Bruno
> As I understand it a philosophical zombie is someone who looks and  
> acts just
> like a conscious person but isn't conscious, i.e. has no "inner  
> narrative".

No inner narrative, no inner image, no inner souvenir, no inner  
sensation, no qualia, no subject, no first person notions at all. OK.

> Time and circumstance play a part in this.  As Bruno pointed out a  
> cardboard
> cutout of a person's photograph could be a zombie for a moment.  I  
> assume the
> point of the exam is that an exam is long enough in duration and  
> complex enough
> that it rules out the accidental, cutout zombie.

Well, given that it is a thought experiment, the resources are free,  
and I can make the cosmic lucky explosion as lucky as you need for  
making Alice apparently alive, and with COMP+MAT, indeed alive. All  
its neurons break down all the time, and, because she is so lucky, an  
event which occurred 10 billions years before, send to her, at all  
right moment and place (and thus this is certainly NOT random) the  
lucky ray plumber who fixes momentarily the problem by trigging the  
other neurons to which it was supposed to send the infos (for example).
Keeping comp and mat, making her unconscious here would be equivalent  
to give Alice's neurons a sort of physical prescience.

> But then Alice has her normal
> behavior restored by a cosmic ray shower that is just as improbable  
> as the
> accidental zombie, i.e. she is, for the duration of the shower, an  
> accidental
> zombie.

Well, with Telmo solution of the "MGA 1bis exercise", where only the  
motor output neuron are fixed and where no internal neuron is fixed  
(almost all neurons),  with MEC + MAT, Alice has no working brain at  
all, is only a lucky puppet, and she has to be a zombie. But in the  
original problem, all neurons are fixed, and then I would say Alice is  
not a zombie (if not, you  give a magical physical prescience to the  

But now, you are right, that in both case, the luck can only be  
accidental. If, in the same thought experience, keeping the exact same  
"no lucky cosmic explosion, but giving now a phone call to the teacher  
or to Alice, so that she moves 1mm away of the position she had in the  
previous version, she will miss the lucky rays, most probably some  
will go through in wrong places and most probably she will miss the  
exams, and perhaps even die. So you are right, in Telmo's solution of"  
MGA 1bis exercise" she is an accidental zombie. But in the original  
MGA 1, she should remain conscious (with MECH and MAT), even if  
accidentally so.

> So I'm puzzled as to how answer Bruno's question.

Hope it is clear for every one now?

>  In general I don't believe in
> zombies, but that's in the same way I don't believe my glass of  
> water will
> freeze at 20degC.  It's an opinion about what is likely, not what is  
> possible.

OK. Accidental zombie are possible, but are very unlikely (but wait  
for MGA 2 for a lessening of this statement).
Accidental consciousness (like in MGA 1, with MECH+MAT) is possible  
also, and is as much unlikely (same remark).

Of course, as unlikeley as possible, nobody can test if someone else  
is "really conscious" or is a accidental zombie, because for any  
series of test you can imagine, you can conceive a sufficiently lucky  
cosmic explosion.

> It seems similar to the question, could I have gotten in my car and  
> driven to
> the store, bought something, and driven back and yet not be  
> conscious of it.
> It's highly unlikely, yet people apparently have done such things.

(I think here something different occurs, concerning intensity of  
attention with respect to different conscious streams, but it is out- 
of-topic, I think).



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