Rex Allen wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 10:52 PM, Brent Meeker<> wrote:
>> Rex Allen wrote:
>>> On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 4:01 PM, Brent Meeker<> 
>>> 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 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'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, 

Sure it is.  It's what justifies reward and punishment.

> 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.  
And what meaning is that?  Can you give an operational definition, an 
ostensive definition, any definition other than "it is what it is"?

> 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.
First, some things may be random (like the way your brain developed).  
Second, the utilitarian definition of responsibility - something that 
justifies you being punished or rewarded for you actions - applies 
*only* if what you do is determined by your experience.  Otherwise there 
would be no justification for giving you the experience of reward or 

> 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.
You haven't defined it at all.  In fact you seem to assert it doesn't 
exist and hence no one is allowed to define it.


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

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