On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 10:52 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>
> Rex Allen wrote:
>> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 4:01 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>>> Where are you trying to get?  to an immortal soul?
>>> a ghost-in-the-machine?  What's wrong with my
>>> mind is what my brain does?
>>
>> Where I'm trying to get is that there is no explanation for our
>> conscious experience.  It just is.
>
> Depends on what you want an explanation in terms of.

I want an explanation that explains what's really real and how that
connects to my conscious experience.

BUT, I see now that this apparently isn't possible, even in principle.
 And even if physicalism or platonism were answers to what's "really
real"...those answers don't mean anything.

So.  That's a bummer.


>> So all that we have to work with are our observations, plus our innate
>> reasoning processes.
>>
>> Unfortunately, these two things are not enough to determine what, if
>> anything, really exists outside of our experience.
>>
>> At best, we can take our observations and apply our innate reasoning
>> processes to produce theoretical models that are consistent with what
>> we have observed.
>
> Right.  Forget the really real and I'll settle for a good model.

Hmmm.  Well, apparently that's as good as it gets.  So I reckon you
have the right attitude.


>> And third, even if true, the bottom line for all of them is,
>> "conscious experience just is what it is".
>
> The problem with that is that is applies equally to everything.  So it's 
> completely devoid
> of meaning.

Yep.  I don't see it as a problem.  That's just the way it is.


>>
>> For instance:  Bits of matter in particular configurations "cause"
>> conscious experience.  Fine.  So what deeper meaning can we draw from
>> this?  None.
>
> Maybe not meaning, but engineering.  That's why I think the "hard problem" 
> will eventually
> be considered a philosophical curiosity like how many angels can dance on the 
> head of a
> pin.  If we learn to build machines, robots, artificial brains, that behave 
> as if they
> were conscious we'll stop worrying about perceptual qualia and phenomenal 
> self-reference
> and instead we'll talk about visual processing and memory access and other 
> new concepts
> that'll be invented.

I'd say that when we actually have such robots will be when interest
in the "hard problem" will peak.  We're just in the early stages of
this process now.

But, I think there is no answer to the hard problem, and at some point
you just have to get on with things.  So practical considerations will
ultimately rule the day.  If it's convenient to treat such robots as
conscious entities then we will, otherwise we won't.

It seems unlikely that we would design a robot to feel much suffering,
and certainly not to display "human-like" signs of suffering...so can
you be cruel or abusive to something that doesn't suffer?  Seems
unlikely.

So maybe there is no robot parallel to the animal-rights type ethics
to worry about.


>>>>> "If you make yourself small enough you can avoid responsibility for 
>>>>> everything."
>>>>>        --- Daniel Dennett, in Elbow Room
>>>> Every word in your quote, except "for", has to be considered in the
>>>> context of Dennett's special terminology.
>>> Seems prefectly straightforward to me.  If you define yourself as something 
>>> apart from the
>>> physical processes that move your arms and legs then you avoid 
>>> responsibility for what
>>> your arms and legs do.
>>
>> Right.  "If you define yourself as...".  Well sure.  That makes it
>> easy, and that's what Dennett does.  Just makes up arbitrary
>> definitions that suit his ends.
>
> On the contrary he was criticizing that way of defining yourself.  And of 
> course
> definitions of words are arbitrary - we just chose the words.

Right.  And Dennett is choosing his words carefully, so as to advance
his social re-engineering agenda.  He want's to keep the idea of
responsibility for utilitarian reasons..it's hard to keep a society
going without it, and so he redefines it's meaning to be compatible
with determinism.

It's not "responsiblity" in the common usage, it's "Dennettian
compatibilist responsibility".  He just shortens the latter to plain
"responsibility" in an attempt to mislead the unwary.

The common usage of "responsibility" may not be logical, but it has a
definite meaning, and it's not the meaning that Dennett assigns to it
in that quote.  Dennett knows this, but he wants society to adopt his
terminology and view point, so he keeps throwing it out there in the
hopes that it'll stick.

If determinism is true, then there is no responsibility (common
usage).  My acts are an inevitable result of the initial state of the
universe and the laws that govern its evolution...neither of which are
my doing.  I get neither credit nor blame for anything, as events
could not have transpired other than they did.

You (and Dennett) can redefine responsiblity and then say, "there, you
have that".  But this is a change from the common usage...and so
effectively a new word.

As far as I know Dennett isn't contesting determinism.  He's just
trying to make it more palatable.

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