On 27 December 2011 10:42, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

> Of course, when consciousness is taken seriously into account, we can sense
> some incoherence, but empirically, this is the hard part to convey, and
> without MGA/Maudlin, I have not been able to convince of the "frank
> incoherence".

The "frank incoherence" comment was directed towards the case where,
rejecting any form of dualism, one grasps the "single primitive" horn
of the dilemma in the form of a primitively-physical monism, rather
than the  arithmetical alternative.  But for those willing to
contemplate some sort of property dualism (which is not always made
explicit), there is, as you say, no immediately obvious contradiction.

My own reasoning on this latter option has focused on the unquestioned
acceptance of  composite material structure which seems to underpin
the notion of a "primitively physical machine".  As you once put it
"ontological reduction entails ontological elimination".  IOW, the
reduction of "materiality" to a causally-complete micro-physical
"mechanism" automatically entails that macro-physical composites must
be considered fundamentally to be epistemological, not ontological,
realities. Micro-physics "qua materia" entails no such additional
ontological levels of organisation.

Consequently, it would have to be the case that any "physical
computer" (e.g. our brains), proposed as a supervenience base for
experience, would itself first require to be constructed out of
"epistemological properties" before it could begin to "compute"
anything further.  This should seem, to say the least, odd.  It might
even seem to be indistinguishable, in the final analysis, from
computational supervenience.

David

>
> On 26 Dec 2011, at 18:35, David Nyman wrote:
>
>> On 26 December 2011 16:23, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
>>
>>>> On reflection,
>>>> this distinction can be made explicit in two ways: either they are
>>>> distinct and separable (i.e. physico-computational dualism), or they
>>>> are ultimately indistinguishable (i.e. frank eliminativism about
>>>> consciousness, or immaterialism - take your pick).
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Some people, like Peter Jones (and many others) believe that
>>> consciousness
>>> might need both a computation together with at least one concrete
>>> primitive
>>> physical implementation. MGA is supposed to help those people to see that
>>> such an option cannot work.
>>
>>
>> But then they are dualists, even if they can't or won't admit it.  The
>> fact that they go on thinking and talking in a dualist way but won't
>> confess to it is why I say the ambiguity is "studied".  Dennett, for
>> example, winks at it when he describes himself as a "third-person
>> absolutist", revealing in the process perhaps a stronger commitment to
>> doctrine than truth; and consequently, despite his analytical rigour,
>> he is often led to use bullying and sophistry to defend absolutism
>> where truthfulness does not serve his purpose.
>>
>> But once the central ontological distinction is made between "qua
>> materia" and "qua computatio", a truthful eye cannot avoid seeing that
>> either there are two "primitives" in play here or only one.  If the
>> former, then a dualism of some kind must be contemplated, though a
>> duality in which one pole is placed at an unbridgeable epistemic
>> distance from the other (as Kant shows us).  Should one consequently
>> lean towards the latter option as more parsimonious, one of the pair
>> of ontological primitives must be dispensed with - i.e. redefined in
>> terms of the other.
>>
>> If we attempt to collapse computation into the "primitive" physics
>> that implements it, then we are left just with physics; everything
>> must in the end be accounted for qua materia.  But in the presence of
>> consciousness, this is frankly incoherent, or more simply, impossible.
>> In the light of this, as Sherlock Holmes sagaciously observed, the
>> alternative, however improbable, must be true: if computation is to be
>> the chosen supervention base for consciousness, there can be no sense
>> in further appeal to any more "primitive" ontology.  Quod erat
>> demonstrandum.
>>
>
> I agree with some use of Occam, but this might not follow from a pure
> logical point of view (if you let me play the role of the devil advocate).
>
> The reason is that, without MGA or Maudlin, we might single out a universal
> machine which would be a primitive material system, and decide that
> consciousness is related to the computations appearing in that primitive
> physical frame, and defined by the organization of matter in that frame).
> This entails a property form of dualism, which is not obviously
> contradictory. The physical universe becomes a sort of primitive programming
> language, as it can be indeed, and consciousness would supervene on the
> physical computation only. The fact that, without MGA, we can conceive this
> explains the success of the mechanist idea among materialist: there is
> matter obeying some laws, and from those laws we can explain layers of
> different organizations.
> Of course, when consciousness is taken seriously into account, we can sense
> some incoherence, but empirically, this is the hard part to convey, and
> without MGA/Maudlin, I have not been able to convince of the "frank
> incoherence". The materialist move might seems ad hoc, but to prove that it
> is incoherent is not easy. At first it seems to provide an ability of
> distinguishing real from fictive, by universal machine, but the problem is
> that, like Peter Jones defended, the materialist will just consider the non
> material computation has having no consciousness at all: so that the
> universal machine can still not make the difference between real from
> fictive, but not because its consciousness does not change, but because it
> disappears in the fictive frame. They accept the idea that arithmetic is
> full of zombie, because they believe that mathematics is essentially
> fictive, which makes sense with their singling out a particular universal
> and material (for them) machine. The only problem I can see is that they
> have to attribute some physical activity to inactive (here and now) piece of
> matter and to violate the 323 principle.
>
> Bruno
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>>
>>
>>>
>>> On 26 Dec 2011, at 14:50, David Nyman wrote:
>>>
>>>> On 26 December 2011 11:06, Russell Standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>>> I guess I should make this clearer. SUP-PHYS is SUP-PRIMITIVE-PHYS.
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> This does clarify some things. But I still don't see where
>>>>> "primitiveness" is defined, or comes into the argument. Maudlin's
>>>>> argument is about regular supervenience, with no mention of
>>>>> primitiveness.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> The confusion is surely a consequence of a studied ambiguity in the
>>>> definition of supervention in the computational theory of mind: it is
>>>> simply not stipulated explicitly whether consciousness is supposed to
>>>> supervene on a physical system - "qua materia" - or on the abstract
>>>> computation it implements - "qua computatio".  Maudlin's argument is
>>>> supposed to pump our intuition about the absurdity of the former
>>>> option, by showing that it is possible to reduce the structure and
>>>> activity of a physical implementation (qua materia) to some
>>>> arbitrarily trivial level.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Yet, it never occurs to Maudlin that we might just abandon the
>>> supervenience
>>> of mind or computation on matter.
>>> In his book on quantum mechanics, he seems reluctant to accept the MW,
>>> for
>>> similar reason.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>
>>>> But if we remove the aforesaid ambiguity, the "qua materia" option is
>>>> surely empty of content from the outset.  If "primitive" physical
>>>> activity is supposed to be what ultimately determines what is real,
>>>> then second-order notions such as "computation" must be, in the final
>>>> analysis, explanatorily irrelevant - we have no need of such
>>>> hypotheses.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> This is not entirely obvious. Many people, like Peter Jones on this list,
>>> will define "real" by "primitively material", and will believe that a
>>> computation can bring consciousness only if that computation is
>>> implemented
>>> in some primitively material set up.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> The behaviour of any physical system can always be shown
>>>> to be fully adequate, qua materia, in its own terms, and further
>>>> explanation is consequently otiose (i.e. the zombie argument, in
>>>> effect).
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> For a reductionist materialist only, not for a dualist. We do explain
>>> complex program behavior from a higher level description of a program,
>>> but
>>> most people will think that what makes Deep Blue (say) real is provided
>>> by
>>> its "real" (physical) implementation.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> The ambiguity in the definition of CTM is that it makes an
>>>> appeal to "computation" without making the explicit ontological
>>>> distinction between "qua computatio" and "qua materia" that is
>>>> required to make any sense of the supervention claim.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Because they take the very idea of "qua materia" for granted. Of course
>>> we
>>> know better, I guess.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> On reflection,
>>>> this distinction can be made explicit in two ways: either they are
>>>> distinct and separable (i.e. physico-computational dualism), or they
>>>> are ultimately indistinguishable (i.e. frank eliminativism about
>>>> consciousness, or immaterialism - take your pick).
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Some people, like Peter Jones (and many others) believe that
>>> consciousness
>>> might need both a computation together with at least one concrete
>>> primitive
>>> physical implementation. MGA is supposed to help those people to see that
>>> such an option cannot work.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> That's it, in a
>>>> nutshell.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Good summary, but I am not sure it can convince some die hard atheists,
>>> believing in both primitive matter and abstract computation, which does
>>> not
>>> really exists for them, unless they are "concretely" implemented.
>>>
>>> Bruno
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>> On Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 11:09:27AM +0100, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On 26 Dec 2011, at 02:00, Russell Standish wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 04:44:41PM +0100, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> The concept of supervenience has no purchase on the concreteness or
>>>>>>>>> otherwise of the supervened on.
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> Maudlin uses "supervenience" for "physical supervenience", like Kim
>>>>>>>> and most "expert" on supervenience.
>>>>>>>> I use "physical supervenience", because in the dilemma mechanism/
>>>>>>>> materialsim I choose mechanism. I keep comp, and withdraw the
>>>>>>>> physical supervenience, so what remains is comp-supervenience, which
>>>>>>>> do no more refer to anything physical. the physical belongs at this
>>>>>>>> stage to the appearance of physical, and we have to retrieve the
>>>>>>>> physical laws from machine's psychology/theology. Which motivates
>>>>>>>> for AUDA.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> Even if the physics is not concrete, but purely phenomenological as
>>>>>>> indicated by steps 1-7 of the UDA, and if the consciousness
>>>>>>> supervenes on
>>>>>>> it, it is still physical supervenience, surely.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Not in the usual sense of supervenience, or what I call sup-phys. It
>>>>>> is a notion invented by the materialist/naturalist.
>>>>>> We can still have (and we shoud have) a remaining comp-phys
>>>>>> supervenience.
>>>>>> I guess I should make this clearer. SUP-PHYS is SUP-PRIMITIVE-PHYS.
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> This does clarify some things. But I still don't see where
>>>>> "primitiveness" is defined, or comes into the argument. Maudlin's
>>>>> argument is about regular supervenience, with no mention of
>>>>> primitiveness.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>> Good analogy. Let's explore it further. Tommy is in the classroom. So
>>>>>>> is Samantha. Let's swap Tommy's consciousness for Samantha's. But the
>>>>>>> classroom does not change!
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Are you swapping the brain? That would be a change in the classroom.
>>>>>> If you swap just the consciousness, I don't see the meaning, nor the
>>>>>> relevance.
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> No, swapping the consciousness, not the brains. First consider whether
>>>>> Tommy's consciousness supervenes on the classroom. If yes, then
>>>>> consider whether Samantha's consciousness supervenes on the
>>>>> classroom. By symmetry with Tommy, one should also say yes. In that
>>>>> case you have two conscious entities supervening on the same
>>>>> "hardware", which contradicts the definition of supervenience.
>>>>>
>>>>> Therefore we must conclude that nobody supervenes on the classroom.
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> So neither Tommy's nor Samantha's
>>>>>>> consciousness supervenes on the classroom as a whole, only (possibly)
>>>>>>> on subsystems of the classroom.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> They supervene on the whole activity of the classroom, in
>>>>>> particular. A change in their consciousness (like seeing a bird)
>>>>>> entails some change in the classroom.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Bruno
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
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>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> --
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
>>>>> Principal, High Performance Coders
>>>>> Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
>>>>> University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
>>>>>
>>>>>
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>>>
>>> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/
>>>
>>>
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>
> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/
>
>
>
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