On Sat, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:55 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

> What you think third party observable behavior means is the set of all
> properties which are externally discoverable. I am saying that is a
> projection of naive realism, and that in reality, there is no such set, and
> that in fact the process of discovery of any properties supervenes on the
> properties of all participants and the methods of their interaction.

Of course there is a set of all properties that are externally
discoverable, even if you think this set is very small! Moreover, this
set has subsets, and we can limit our discussion to these subsets. For
example, if we are interested only in mass, we can simulate a human
perfectly using the right number of rocks. Even someone who believes
in an immortal soul would agree with this.

> My point of using cats in this thought experiment is to specifically point
> out our naivete in assuming that instruments which extend our perception in
> only the most deterministic and easy to control ways are sufficient to
> define a 'third person'. If we look at the brain with a microscope, we see
> those parts of the brain that microscopes can see. If we look at New York
> with a swarm of cats, then we see the parts of New York that cats can see.

Yes, but there are properties of the brain that may not be relevant to
behaviour. Which properties are in fact important is determined by
experiment. For example, we may replace the myelin sheath with a
synthetic material that has similar electrical properties and then
test an isolated nerve to see if action potentials propagate in the
same way. If they do, then the next step is to incorporate the nerve
in a network and see if the pattern of firing in the network looks
normal. The step after that is to replace the myelin in the brain of a
rat to see if the animal's behaviour changes. The modified rats are
compared to unmodified rats by a blinded researcher to see if he can
tell the difference. If no-one can consistently tell the difference
then it is announced that the synthetic myelin appears to be a
functionally identical substitute for natural myelin. As is the nature
of science, another team of researchers may then find some deficit in
the behaviour of the modified rats under conditions the first team did
not examine. Scientists then make modifications to the formula of the
synthetic myelin and do the experiments again.

> This is the point of the thought experiment. The limitations of all forms of
> measurement and perception preclude all possibility of there ever being a
> such thing as an exhaustively complete set of third person behaviors of any
> system.
> What is it that you don't think I understand?

What you don't understand is that an exhaustively complete set of
behaviours is not required. I don't access an exhaustively complete
set of behaviours to determine if my friends are the same people from
day to day, and in fact they are *not* the same systems from day to
day, as they change both physically and psychologically. I have in
mind a rather vague set of behavioural behavioural limits and if the
people who I think are my friends deviate significantly from these
limits I will start to worry.

Stathis Papaioannou

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