2009/9/11 Flammarion <peterdjo...@yahoo.com>:

>> I'm not sure I see what distinction you're making.  If as you say the
>> realisation of computation in a physical system doesn't cause
>> consciousness, that would entail that no physically-realised
>> computation could be identical to any mental state.
>
> That doesn't follow because causation and identity are different
> The realisation could be consciousness (fire IS combustion)
> without causing it (fire CAUSES smoke but it not smoke)

So what did you mean the reader to conclude from your original
argument?  You concluded that the realisation of a computation doesn't
cause consciousness.  But did you also mean to imply that nonetheless
the realisation of a computation IS consciousness?  If so, why didn't
you say so?  And how would that now influence your evaluation of CTM?

>> This is what
>> follows if one accepts the argument from MGA or Olympia that
>> consciousness does not attach to physical states qua computatio.
>>
> I find them both quite contestable

If you would risk saying precisely why, you might have a counter-argument.

>> I agree.  Nonetheless, when two states are functionally equivalent one
>> can still say what it is about them that is physically relevant.  For
>> example, in driving from A to B it is functionally irrelevant to my
>> experience whether my car is fuelled by petrol or diesel.  But there
>> is no ambiguity about the physical details of my car trip or precisely
>> how either fuel contributes to this effect.
>
>
> One can say what it is about physical systems that explains
> its ability to realise a certain computation. One can't say that
> there is anything that makes it exclusively able to. Equally
> one can explain various ways of getting from A to B, but
> one can't argue that there is only one possible way.

The point at issue is not whether there is only one way to realise a
computation, or to get from A to B.  The point is that in the case of
the journey, the transition from physical irrelevance to relevance is
at the point where the physical result emerges as identical - i.e. as
the same journey form A to B.  In the case of the computation, no such
physical identity of result ever emerges; all you have is a collection
of heterogeneous physical processes, each merely *formally* identical
to a given computation.  It is a further - and physically entirely ad
hoc - assumption that this heterogeneity of physical states is
homogeneous with a single experiential state.

>> Yes, I agree.  But if we're after a physical theory, we also want to
>> be able to give in either case a clear physical account of their
>> apprehensiveness, which would include a physical justification of why
>> the fine-grained differences make no difference at the level of
>> experience.
>
> THat would be because they make no computational difference,
> if CTM is correct.

If all you have to offer is circular arguments we shall simply go
round in circles.

>> I can only suppose that complete arbitrariness would be a random
>> association between physical states and mental states.  This is not
>> what is meant by arbitrary realisation.  What is meant is that the
>> requirement that a physical system be deemed conscious purely in
>> virtue of its implementing a computation rules out no particular kind
>> of physical realisation.  Consequently a theory of this type is
>> incapable of explicating general principles of physical-mental
>> association independent of its functional posit.
>
> It isn't. Why is that a problem?

The problem is that theories which aren't reducible to fundamental
physics don't warrant consideration as physical theories.  This is
amply demonstrated by the fact that, when reduced to a physical
interpretation, CTM is in fact shown to entail gross implausibilities.

>> Yes, but the upshot is that CTM is reduced to the theory that
>> conscious states can be associated with material systems only in a
>> manner that ex hypothesi must obscure any prospect of a general
>> reduction of their detailed material causes, because any such causes
>> could only be specific to each realisation.
>
> You can have as many material details as you like
> so long as they are relevant to explaining the computation.
>
> Maybe you are hung up on causes. CTM is really an identity theory--
> mental
> states are identified with functional states. It's not fire-causes-
> smoke causation.

I'm fine with mental states being identified with functional states.
The problem is one functional state reduces to multiple physical
states.  Hence CTM entails that one experiential state reduces to
multiple physical states, without being able to give any consistent
physical, as opposed to formal, criterion for such identity.  Prima
facie this renders any claim that consciousness is identical with
physical states physically empty (i.e. without significant commitment)
and under further analysis, renders it grossly implausible.

>> Doesn't that make CTM
>> somewhat spurious as a materialist theory of consciousness?
>
> It's materialist because it doesn't require anything immaterial.

Is this materialism's last gasp?  A materialist theory requires a
materialist approach to explanation, else its commitment to
materialism is, shall we say, somewhat non-committal.

>> I can only suppose that complete arbitrariness would be a random
>> association between physical states and mental states.  This is not
>> what is meant by arbitrary realisation.  What is meant is that the
>> requirement that a physical system be deemed conscious purely in
>> virtue of its implementing a computation rules out no particular kind
>> of physical realisation.  Consequently a theory of this type is
>> incapable of explicating general principles of physical-mental
>> association independent of its functional posit.
>
> It isn't. Why is that a problem?

Well I'm glad we agree that it isn't capable of so doing.  This would
consequently be a problem if in fact we wished to elucidate such
general principles of physical-mental association, wouldn't you say?
It would be even more of a problem if following CTM to its logical
conclusion in fact showed its implied physical-mental associations to
be grossly implausible.  Wouldn't you say?

>> It doesn't need to say that to be obscure as a physical theory.  The
>> point is that it can ex hypothesi say nothing remotely physically
>> illuminating about what causes a mental state.  To say that it results
>> whenever a physical system implements a specific computation is to say
>> nothing physical about that system other than to insist that it is
>> 'physical'.
>
>
> ..and it implements a certain computation. That's kind of the point.
> It is not a criticism of the CTM that it doesn't work like
> a reductive physcial theory: it;s not suppposed to be.
> It just supposed to be a phsycialist theory that doesn't have ghosts
> in the machine

We've been all round the houses on this, and we've arrived back where
we started.  To restate the criticism: when an uncommitted examination
is made of what CTM necessarily entails as a reductive materialist
theory (which in the final analysis any physical theory must be) it is
revealed as incapable of justifying the consistent attachment of a
given phenomenal experience to any non-formally identified physical
events.  Of course if one is concerned only to dodge any such
reductive analysis by ignoring it, such a devastating criticism can be
obscured, but what is to be gained by such obscurantism?  All one ends
up with is precisely what one sought to avoid: the ghost of a
'consciousness' that is - ex hypothesi without need for justification
- allegedly conjured by any ad-hoc collection of physical events that
happens to accord with the purely formal criteria of the theory.

It turns out that if CTM is true on any basis, then it cannot be
because consciousness is attached to objectively identifiable material
events on the basis of consistent physical principles that transcend
any purely formal equivalence.  Conversely the attempt to reduce it to
a consistent physical interpretation reveals - to anyone prepared to
confront rather than ignore the arguments - that it can only be false,
or at best vacuous, as a materialist theory.

David

>
>
>
> On 10 Sep, 14:56, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> 2009/9/9 Flammarion <peterdjo...@yahoo.com>:
>>
>> >> What you say above seems pretty much in sympathy with the reductio
>> >> arguments based on arbitrariness of implementation.
>>
>> > It is strictly an argument against the claim that
>> > computation causes consciousness , as opposed
>> > to the claim that mental states are identical to computational
>> > states.
>>
>> I'm not sure I see what distinction you're making.  If as you say the
>> realisation of computation in a physical system doesn't cause
>> consciousness, that would entail that no physically-realised
>> computation could be identical to any mental state.
>
> That doesn't follow because causation and identity are different
> The realisation could be consciousness (fire IS combustion)
> without causing it (fire CAUSES smoke but it not smoke)
>
>> This is what
>> follows if one accepts the argument from MGA or Olympia that
>> consciousness does not attach to physical states qua computatio.
>>
> I find them both quite contestable
>
>> >> But CTM is not engaged on such a project; in fact it entails
>> >> the opposite conclusion: i.e. by stipulating its type-token identities
>> >> purely functionally it requires that a homogeneous phenomenal state
>> >> must somehow be associated with a teeming plurality of heterogeneous
>> >> physical states.
>>
>> > It doesn't suggest that any mental state can be associated with any
>> > phsycial
>> > state.
>>
>> It doesn't need to say that to be obscure as a physical theory.  The
>> point is that it can ex hypothesi say nothing remotely physically
>> illuminating about what causes a mental state.  To say that it results
>> whenever a physical system implements a specific computation is to say
>> nothing physical about that system other than to insist that it is
>> 'physical'.
>
>
> ..and it implements a certain computation. That's kind of the point.
> It is not a criticism of the CTM that it doesn't work like
> a reductive physcial theory: it;s not suppposed to be.
> It just supposed to be a phsycialist theory that doesn't have ghosts
> in the machine
>
>> > It has been accused of overdoing  Multiple Realisability, but MR
>> > can be underdone as well.
>>
>> I agree.  Nonetheless, when two states are functionally equivalent one
>> can still say what it is about them that is physically relevant.  For
>> example, in driving from A to B it is functionally irrelevant to my
>> experience whether my car is fuelled by petrol or diesel.  But there
>> is no ambiguity about the physical details of my car trip or precisely
>> how either fuel contributes to this effect.
>
>
> One can say what it is about physical systems that explains
> its ability to realise a certain computation. One can't say that
> there is anything that makes it exclusively able to. Equally
> one can explain various ways of getting from A to B, but
> one can't argue that there is only one possible way.
>
>
>
>> >> Various arguments - Olympia, MGA, the Chinese Room etc. - seek to
>> >> expose the myriad physical implausibilities consequential on such
>> >> implementation independence.  But the root of all this is that CTM
>> >> makes impossible at the outset any possibility of linking a phenomenal
>> >> state to any unique, fully-explicated physical reduction.
>>
>> > That's probably a good thing. We want to be able to say that
>> > two people with fine-grained differences in their brain structure
>> > can both be (for instance) apprehensiveness.
>>
>> Yes, I agree.  But if we're after a physical theory, we also want to
>> be able to give in either case a clear physical account of their
>> apprehensiveness, which would include a physical justification of why
>> the fine-grained differences make no difference at the level of
>> experience.
>
> THat would be because they make no computational difference,
> if CTM is correct.
>
>> >> If nothing
>> >> physical can in principle be ruled out as an explanation for
>> >> experience,
>>
>> > That isn't an implication of CTM. CTM can regard computers as
>> > a small subset of physical systems, and conscious computers as
>> > a small subset of computers.
>>
>> Yes, but we needn't push "nothing physical" to the extent of random
>> association to make the point at issue.  The relevant point is that,
>> in picking out the subset of physical systems solely qua computatio,
>> no kind of physical realisation is capable of being ruled out in
>> principle.  That is unproblematic in the usual case because our
>> interest is restricted to the computational output of such systems,
>> and we are unconcerned by the physical details that occasion this.
>> But if we are seeking a physical explanation of consciousness, then it
>> is precisely the coupling of the physical process and the mental
>> process which requires explication in a physical theory, and this is
>> now obscured from any general resolution by the computational posit.
>
> Obscured? It goes in two stages. Physical-.computational and
> computational->mental.
> Beyond that, your objectio to CTM seems to be (again) that it is not
> reductive physicalism.
>
>> >> no uniquely-justified physical explanation need - or in
>> >> practice could - be explicated.
>>
>> > I don't think "unique justification" is a requirement
>>
>> >>The detailed implausibilities
>> >> variously invoked all fall out of this.
>>
>> >> So if a physical theory of mind is what is needed, CTM would seem to
>> >> fail even as a candidate because its arbitrariness with respect to
>> >> physical realisation renders it incapable of grounding consciousness
>> >> in any specific fundamental physical reduction.
>>
>> > MR is not complete arbitrariness.
>>
>> I can only suppose that complete arbitrariness would be a random
>> association between physical states and mental states.  This is not
>> what is meant by arbitrary realisation.  What is meant is that the
>> requirement that a physical system be deemed conscious purely in
>> virtue of its implementing a computation rules out no particular kind
>> of physical realisation.  Consequently a theory of this type is
>> incapable of explicating general principles of physical-mental
>> association independent of its functional posit.
>
> It isn't. Why is that a problem?
>
>> > If CTM had the implication that one material
>> > system could realise more than one computation, then there
>> > would be a conflict with the phsyical supervenience principle.
>>
>> I agree.
>


>
>> > But CTM only has the implication that one computation
>> > system could be realised more on more than one
>> > material system.
>>
>> Yes, but the upshot is that CTM is reduced to the theory that
>> conscious states can be associated with material systems only in a
>> manner that ex hypothesi must obscure any prospect of a general
>> reduction of their detailed material causes, because any such causes
>> could only be specific to each realisation.
>
> You can have as many material details as you like
> so long as they are relevant to explaining the computation.
>
> Maybe you are hung up on causes. CTM is really an identity theory--
> mental
> states are identified with functional states. It's not fire-causes-
> smoke causation.
>
>> Doesn't that make CTM
>> somewhat spurious as a materialist theory of consciousness?
>
> It's materialist because it doesn't require anything immaterial.
>
>> >>Indeed, its success could only be in direct
>> >> opposition to the principles of materialist reductive theory.
>>
>> > I don't think that follows at all.
>>
>> Shouldn't the business of a physical theory be to seek general
>> physical principles that lead to a detailed physical reduction?
>
> CTM associates the set of relevant physcial properties with
> the physical properties that makes something a certain kind
> of computer. What's wrong with that?
> >
>

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