On Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 1:43 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> No, the paper does *not* assume that there is a set of functions that
>> if reproduced will will cause consciousness. It assumes that something
>> like what you are saying is right.
> By assume I mean the implicit assumptions which are unstated in the paper.
> The thought experiment comes out of a paradox arising from assumptions about
> qualia and the brain which are both false in my view. I see the brain as the
> flattened qualia of human experience.

Chalmer's position is that functionalism is true, and he states this
in the introduction, but this is not *assumed* in the thought
experiment. The thought experiment explicitly assumes that
functionalism is *false*; that consciousness is dependent on the
substrate and swapping a brain for a functional equivalent will not
necessarily give rise to the same consciousness or any consciousness
at all. Isn't that what you believe?

>> And if it were possible to replicate the behaviour without the
>> experiences - i.e. make a zombie - it would be possible to make a
>> partial zombie, which lacks some experiences but behaves normally and
>> doesn't realise that it lacks those experiences. Do you agree that
>> this is the implication? If not, where is the flaw in the reasoning?
> The word zombie implies that you have an expectation of consciousness but
> there isn't any. That is a fallacy from the start, since there is not reason
> to expect a simulation to have any experience at all. It's not a zombie,
> it's a puppet.

Replace the word "zombie" with "puppet" if that makes it easier to understand.

> A partial zombie is just someone who has brain damage, and yes if you tried
> to replace enough of a person's brain with a non-biological material, you
> would get brain damage, dementia, coma, and death.

Not if the puppet components perform the same purely mechanical
functions as the original components. In order for this to happen
according to the paper you have to accept that the physics of the
brain is in fact computable. If it is computable, then we can model
the behaviour of the brain, although according to the assumptions in
the paper (which coincide with your assumptions) modeling the
behaviour won't reproduce the consciousness. All the evidence we have
suggests that physics is computable, but it might not be. It may turn
out that there is some exotic physics in the brain which requires
solving the halting problem, for example, in order to model it, and
that would mean that a computer could not adequately simulate those
components of the brain which utilise this physics. But going beyond
the paper, the argument for functionalism (substrate-independence of
consciousness) could still be made by considering theoretical
components with non-biological hypercomputers.

Stathis Papaioannou

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