Kory Heath wrote:
> 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.)

If they were just observing Alice's outward behavior they would say, "It 
that Alice is a conscious being, but of course there's 1e-100 chance that she's 
just an automaton operated by by cosmic rays."  If they were actually observing 
her inner workings, they'd say, "Alice is just an automaton who in an extremely 
improbable coincidence has appeared as if conscious, but we can easily prove 
isn't by watching her future behavior or even by blocking the rays."


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