On 9/27/2012 11:57 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:

    Are you saying that you expect replacing someone's brain would be
    no more problematic than replacing any other body part?

    Hi Craig,

        I kinda have to side with Stathis a bit here. The problem that
    you are hinging an argument on it merely technical, it is not
    principled. My opinion is that a neuron is vastly more complex in
    its structure than a transistor, heck its got its own power supply
    and repair system and more built in! Nature, if anything, is
    frugal, there would not be redundant stuff in a neuron such that
    we only need to replace some aspect of it in order to achieve
    functional equivalence.

        The point is that the brain is a specialized biological computer

Yes and no. It is biological and one of the things that it does is compute, but computation is not sufficient to describe the brain (or any organic cell, tissue, or system).

Hi Craig,

    I agree. It does not "just compute".

    that has achieved computational universality because it learned
    how to process language.

The role of language is controversial. It's important, no doubt, but it isn't clear that human language is the killer app that enabled the rise of Homo sapiens. We don't really know which organisms have language, nor can we say for sure that any species has no language as far as I can tell. Quorum sensing is bacterial language. Prairie dogs have language, birds, crickets, trees. It depends how we define it.

Any representational and (at least potentially) sharable form of interaction is language, in my thinking.

    It is because it can figure with symbols and representations that
    it can do what it does. This does not make it "special" in any
    miraculous way, it just shows us how Nature and its evolutionary
    ways is vastly more "intelligent" than we can possibly imagine
    ourselves to be.

I agree it's not special in any miraculous way. I have never advocated human exceptionalism.

I do advocate it. Humans are exceptional if merely because we can make the claim and make attempts to demonstrate the possibility! The fact that we can question whether we are or not and seek answers to the question of consciousness, is exceptional!

What does that have to do with acting being a perfectly appropriate counterfactual for the zombie assumption?

My point about zombies is that if we are going to stipulate their existence as being exactly like humans except that they have no qualia (first person percepts and all that), then we have to be consistent to the definition in our discussions of them.




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