On 9 March 2010 09:06, Jack Mallah <jackmal...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>> If consciousness supervenes on the physical realization of a computation, 
>> including the inactive part, it means you attach consciousness on an unknown 
>> physical phenomenon. It is a magical move which blurs the difficulty.
> There is no new physics or magic involved in taking laws and counterfactuals 
> into account, obviously.  So you seem to be just talking nonsense.
> The only charitable interpretation of what you are saying that I can think of 
> is that, like Jesse Mazer, you don't think that details of situations that 
> don't occur could have any effect on consciousness.  Did you follow the 
> 'Factual Implications Conjecture' (FIC)?  I do find it basically plausible, 
> and it's no problem for physicalism.
> For example, suppose we have a pair of black boxes, A and B.  The external 
> functioning of each box is simple: it takes a single bit as input, and as 
> output it gives a single bit which has the same value as the input bit.  So 
> they are trivial gates.  We can insert them into our computer with no 
> problem.  Suppose that in the actual run, A comes into play, while B does not.
> The thing about these boxes is, while their input-output relations are 
> simple, inside are very complex Rube Goldberg devices.  If you study 
> schematics of these devices, it would be very hard to predict their 
> functioning without actually doing the experiments.
> Now, if box A were to function differently, the physical activity in our 
> computer would have been different.  But there is a chain of causality that 
> makes it work.  If you reject the idea that such a system could play a role 
> in consciousness, I would characterize that as a variant of the well-known 
> Chinese Room argument.  I don't agree that it's a problem.
> It's harder to believe that the way in which box B functions could matter.  
> Since it didn't come into play, perhaps no one knows what it would have 
> done.  That's why I agree that the FIC is plausible.  However, in principle, 
> there would be no 'magic' involved even if the functioning of B did matter.  
> It's a part of the overall system, and the overall system implements the 
> computation.

But the consciousness of the system would be the same *whatever* the
mechanism inside box A, wouldn't it? Suppose box A contains a
probabilistic mechanism that displays the right I/O behaviour 99% of
the time. Would the consciousness of the system be perfectly normal
until the box misbehaved, or would the consciousness of the system be
(somehow) 1% diminished even while the box was functioning
appropriately? The latter idea seems to me to invoke magic, as if the
system "knows" there is a dodgy box in there even if there is no
evidence of it.

Stathis Papaioannou

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-l...@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to