Re: [asa] (asa) Re: Robot Minds

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Thu Dec 10 2009 - 15:18:34 EST

Heya all,

Not to mention that consciousness != "dancing". A big part of the problem
with the consciousness question is the first/third person divide - I can
explain everyone else in the world as a mindless robot if I so choose.
Explaining myself, with my subjective experience? That's much trickier.

There's an additional problem that often goes unmentioned as well: Aside
from Christine's apt correction about whether these things are "physically,
just the same", the problem remains that just what is and is not "physical"
remains a difficulty for - believe it or not - physicalists. Hempel's
dilemma, etc, helps to illustrate this. There's a reason materialists now
tend to call themselves "physicalists": because the old idea of materialism
(that came prior to quantum physics and related discoveries) was shattered,
and the reliance now shifts to 'physical theories'.

To give a good example (and it's a favorite of mine): Galen Strawson argues
strongly for what he calls "real materialism". The problem is that
Strawson's "real materialism" happens to be panpsychism. And for those who
haven't heard the term, it's the idea that consciousness/the experiential is
a fundamental component of nature. Meaning, there are experiential aspects
for a human, a bat, a rock, an electron, etc. You can go to the Stanford
encyclopedia of philosophy and find people arguing that panpsychism is
compatible with physicalism. And you also don't have to go far to find
people who argue that panpsychism is "dualism all the way down".

That should give everyone an idea of how wide-open "physicalism" is

What's more, not all emergence is compatible with reductive materialism -
strong emergence, etc, isn't reducible. It's a new feature that appears
"brute" in the physical world, given certain physical conditions. Is this
physicalism? Is this dualism? Again, it depends on who you ask.

And by the way, this is just on the subject of consciousness, of qualia. The
problems of reason and intentionality are a whole other ballgame - and there
are some powerful claims that to find actual, original, real
'intentionality' and directedness in nature means to give up naturalism on
the spot: We'd be back to Aristotle's world of formal and final causes if
intentionality is a real and fundamental part of nature. And yet, try to
work out things like 'reason', 'rationality', etc in a world where intention
and goal-direction is an illusion and non-existant.

On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 2:12 PM, Murray Hogg <>wrote:

> Hi all,
>> Bernie writes:
>> "Consider:
>> 1. A robot with power turned off.
>> 2. A robot with power on and doing his programmed dance.
>> Physically, they are 100% the same. No parts were added or removed."
>> Tehcnically, that's not true. In step #2 you're adding energy to the
>> mechanical medium. Therefore, the two scenarios are not physically the same.
>> In Christ,
>> Christine
> Which would appear to bring us to the crux of the problem.
> I think we would all broadly agree that consciousness is the product of
> brain + something else - just as a dancing robot is the product of "robot +
> power".
> The question would be: what is this "something else"?
> And as an observation it seems that Bernie's robot analogy only works if
> one assumes reductive materialism.
> Sure, it MIGHT be the case that consciousness is just an emergent property
> of brain - just the "robotic dance" we get when we apply power to the
> circuits. But it might also be something else again - something for which
> there ARE no good materialistic analogies because it's not a materialistic
> process. In which case, hypothetical arguments about artificial intelligence
> and robot consciousness would simply be shooting wide of the mark.
> Blessings,
> Murray
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Received on Thu Dec 10 15:18:56 2009

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