On Nov 21, 2008, at 3:45 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> A variant of Chalmers' "Fading Qualia" argument
> (http://consc.net/papers/qualia.html) can be used to show Alice must
> be conscious.

The same argument can be used to show that Empty-Headed Alice must  
also be conscious. (Empty-Headed Alice is the version where only  
Alice's motor neurons are stimulated by cosmic rays, while all of the  
other neurons in Alice's head do nothing. Alice's body continues to  
act indistinguishably from the way it would have acted, but there's  
nothing going on in the rest of Alice's brain, random or otherwise.  
Telmo and Bruno have both indicated that they don't think this Alice  
is conscious. Or at least, that a mechanist-materialist shouldn't  
believe that this Alice is conscious.)

Let's assume that Lucky Alice is conscious. Every neuron in her head  
(they're all artificial) has become causally disconnected from all the  
others, but they (very improbably) continue to do exactly what they  
would have done when they were connected, due to cosmic rays. Let's  
say that we remove one of the neurons from Alice's head. This has no  
effect on her outward behavior, or on the behavior of any of her other  
neurons (since they're already causally disconnected). Of course, we  
can remove two neurons, and then three, etc. We can remove her entire  
visual cortex. This can't have any noticeable effect on her  
consciousness, because the neurons that do remain go right on acting  
the way they would have acted if the cortex was there. Eventually, we  
can remove every neuron that isn't a motor neuron, so that we have an  
empty-headed Alice whose body takes the exam, ducks when I throw the  
ball at her head, etc.

If Lucky Alice is conscious and Empty-Headed Alice is not conscious,  
then there are partial zombies halfway between them. Like you, I can't  
make any sense of these partial zombies. But I also can't make any  
sense of the idea that Empty-Headed Alice is conscious. Therefore, I  
don't think this argument shows that Empty-Headed Alice (and by  
extension, Lucky Alice) must be conscious. I think it shows that  
there's a deeper problem - probably with one of our assumptions.

Even though I actually think that mechanist-materialists should view  
both Lucky Alice and Empty-Headed Alice as not conscious, I still  
think they have to deal with this problem. They have to deal with the  
spectrum of intermediate states between Fully-Functional Alice and  
Lucky Alice. (Or between Fully-Functional Alice and Empty-Headed Alice.)

-- Kory


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