On 9/25/2013 11:51 AM, David Nyman wrote:
On 25 September 2013 15:01, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

I agree. It is in that sense that we can say that modern biophysics makes
vitalism irrelevant.

  (I am actually arguing that computationalism makes materialism irrelevant
in that same sense).
Yes, I see that.

Of course the standard riposte to this riposte is indeed simply to
deny that there are "really" any such further first-person facts at
Which is or should be seen as contradictory by any non-zombie entity.
True, but nevertheless they don't always admit to it. I'm trying to
put my finger on just what it is that is so question-begging about
such a position.

(a position that Dennett has characterised as third person
Despite this, and because it takes Matter for granted, he still slips
himself into it, alas.
It's worse than that, alas; he seems to regard such absolutism as a
badge of hard-nosed scientific rigour. My point here is to undermine
such a position by pointing out that, in simultaneously appropriating
what it denies, it is in fact radically self-contradictory. In a fit
of hyperbole I once called this "metaphysical grand larceny".

it is central to reductionism that such
emergent levels play no independent role in the fundamental machinery.
OK. Of course it can play a role in our discovering of that fundamental
Sure, but then we must give an account of the emergent levels that has
an explicit motivation and justification in terms of our theory. My
point is that there is no such explicit motivation or justification in
materialism, in which a maximally-reduced substrate has been
hypothesised at the start to do all the work. You argue, I think, that
computationalism escapes this by showing how computation and logic
emerge naturally from arithmetic. Insofar as this is the case, ISTM
that your theory necessarily concedes (and of course tries to justify
from internal considerations) a quite different order of reality to
these derivatives of the fundamental arithmetical base.

Reductive materialism has no business conceding any such ontological
novelty to "composite entities", even though precisely such a
concession is usually, and illicitly, assumed in order to conceal
internal contradiction (aka "sweeping the first-person under the
rug"). But in computationalism it cannot merely be a case of a
third-personal arithmetical substrate "doing all the work" on its own.
Not only has each emergent "level" an explicit constructive role but,
in the final analysis, "reality" itself can only be recovered from a
first-personal perspective (i.e as  filtered through a myriad
self-referential points-of-view).

Nature, as we might say, seems to compute exclusively from the bottom
OK, and with comp the "bottom" is given by 0, its successor and + and *, or
anything else Turing-Universal.
OK. But as I argue above, we cannot merely propose the existence of a
"bottom" and leave it at that; this is the often-overlooked Achilles'
heel of reductive materialism. ISTM that comp's explicitly
constructive approach to each of its theoretical entities is a
distinctive advantage in this regard.

No matter what the metaphysics there sequence of explanation must be circular, have an infinite regress, or have a bottom. Science does presume to say what the bottom is, it just presumes to keep looking. Because materialist say life can be explained by chemistry which can be explained by atoms which are explained by quantum field theory does not mean they have said quantum field theory is the bottom, or even that there is a bottom.

If the foregoing point is fully taken on board, it should be apparent
that our fundamental motivation for ascribing any truly independent
"reality" to derivative or emergent phenomena is actually their
appearance in some first-personal narrative.
Yes, but also our irresistible feeling that such narrative make sense, and
that our words do indeed refer to something.
A crucial point.

Hence the primary
"first-person fact" that demands something beyond a strictly reductive
explanation is the peculiarly "non-derivative" status of a
I would say, "non justifiable entirely" by the machine, unless she bet on
comp explicitly.
I mean, the first person points of view are derived, in comp (+ Theaetetus)
by the machine inability to see that the points of view are ontologically
equivalent. In modal logic, it comes from the fact that the following

Bp <-> Bp & p <-> Bp & Dt <-> Bp & Dt & p

although provable by G* (and thus arithmetically true), are not provable by
the machine, and indeed obeys quite different logics.
This seems to me to be an extraordinarily subtle point (or perhaps I
have simply been very slow in grasping it). When you say above that
"the points of view are ontologically equivalent" you are justifying
this in terms of arithmetical truth itself. If so, the ontology on
which comp is based is not merely that of some simple arithmetical
substrate tout court, but crucially that of all truths derivable from
it, whether provable by any particular machine or not. The
first-personal nuances then seem to depend on the particular
distinctions between what is true and what is provable from the
point-of-view of some particular machine. "What is true" from the
point-of-view of a machine seems to be true in virtue of its
constitution, as opposed to its operational (or logical) capabilities;
i.e. first-personal truths are constitutive not demonstrative.

We could write:
"That this may appear less than obvious to us is a consequence of machine's
inability even to frame the question, without the machine's assuming comp
and accepting the traditional account of knowledge (Bp & p, & Al.)"

Maybe that is because the traditional account leaves out any relation between Bp and p, e.g. epistemology.

Indeed. But some machines seem curiously capable of holding to a
reductively materialistic metaphysics without noticing how it cuts the
very ground from under them.

There seems to be a lot self-congratulatory bashing of reductive materialism on this list without noticing that it has provided all the knowledge of advanced science, while metaphysical Platonism has provided speculation.


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