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philosophical zombies (and extra-temporal subjunctive possibility)  (with definitions)
Posted: 08 September 2011 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Stephen,

Try this from the opposite direction. Don’t we need ‘meta-qualia’ to observe qualia? And ‘meta-meta- ...’...? Why this doubling of reality? The best place to stop an infinite regress is at the beginning.
Being able to react in the complex way we can is being conscious. If a p-zombie can react as advanced as we can, he is conscious. And therefore no p-zombie.

As an example, read the first paragraph.

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Posted: 08 September 2011 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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GdB - 08 September 2011 06:52 AM

Stephen,

Try this from the opposite direction.

Don’t we need ‘meta-qualia’ to observe qualia? And ‘meta-meta- ...’...?

No, the experience is qualia.

Why this doubling of reality?

Two ways to get to the same point.

1) What we experience isn’t external reality it is to do with how we (our brains) react to it, so there is external reality and there is the reaction, two things.

2) Illusions: Take the one in which two squares the same shade of grey look different. If our experience is them appearing different but in external reality they are the same we have two different things, the experience and what they are in external reality.

Stephen

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Posted: 08 September 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I always thought of qualia as being anything that is experienced, which in turn confirms the existence of my consciousness, because I must be conscious to experience something. But, having a materialist worldview, I believe my consciousness is just a part of my physical brain, which means that without qualia my (p-zombie’s) brain’s functioning would be fundamentally altered, as you said, GdB.

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Posted: 08 September 2011 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 September 2011 05:18 AM

What does it mean to say we experience the world around us?

It means we are able to anticipate the future by observing our surroundings and acting based on them.

StephenLawrence - 08 September 2011 05:18 AM

f our feelings and thoughts are internal to us, then so is the world around us that we experience. so this is not external objective reality.

And don’t examples of illusions show us this? If the illusions aren’t external reality then what are they?edit: And where are they? Whatever the illusions are, the brain getting them straightened out doesn’t change the nature of the stuff except that it’s more correct.

No. I did not say that we see the world as it is. We may err. We only see a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. But we are not looking at qualia (so to speak pictures) in our brain.

If a p-zombie is defined as exactly the same matter with exactly the same processes as we have, then he is human. An exact copy of you, made in the Dr Frankenstein University in the future, will discuss with me about qualia, and seriously think he has them. We know he hasn’t, he is a p-zombie… wink Imagine you and your copy step into an elevator, you both come out, and start to discuss who is the real Stephen. Do you think you get through by saying “But I have qualia, he hasn’t!”. Will not your copy say exactly the same? He does, per definition! So I kill one of them, and the other goes home. Your wife will will not be able to tell the difference…

StephenLawrence - 08 September 2011 05:36 AM

The world around me can’t change depending on whether I have my glasses on or not, so how do you account for this without qualia?

By seeing your behaviour. You cannot read the road signs anymore, and ask me in which direction you should drive. The point is: qualia can completely be analysed in the terms of neural processes and their interaction with the environment. They do not play an additional causal role to everything that already happens in your brain. To see what I mean start reading on page 285. It might contain the mental exercises you need. Be sure to read on till Dennett explains the CADBLIND Mark III.

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Posted: 08 September 2011 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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domokato - 08 September 2011 10:54 AM

I always thought of qualia as being anything that is experienced, which in turn confirms the existence of my consciousness, because I must be conscious to experience something. But, having a materialist worldview, I believe my consciousness is just a part of my physical brain, which means that without qualia my (p-zombie’s) brain’s functioning would be fundamentally altered, as you said, GdB.

Sorry, I do not quite get it. I do not recognise my own words. A p-zombie is physically exactly the same as a human. So it behaves like a human, and will say it is conscious, and if it is just unreflective as others here, will say it has qualia, which make the difference with p-zombies…
A p-zombie saying he has no qualia is not a real p-zombie, except he is an advanced philosopher. wink

And as small nitpicking detail, consciousness is not part of your brain, more or less the same way that running is not part of your legs. It is the process of the brain as a whole.

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Posted: 09 September 2011 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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GdB - 08 September 2011 11:59 PM

A p-zombie is physically exactly the same as a human. So it behaves like a human, and will say it is conscious, and if it is just unreflective as others here, will say it has qualia, which make the difference with p-zombies…
A p-zombie saying he has no qualia is not a real p-zombie, except he is an advanced philosopher. wink

Wait a second… I admit that a lot of this philosophical stuff is over my head. But this part set off an alarm in my brain. If the “p-zombie is physically exactly the same as a human” then the p-zombie is by definition, a human. What other qualities do humans possess besides our physiology? Even if consciousness is some sort of emergent property of firing neurons, it should always emerge given the right physiology.

Surely you aren’t arguing for the existence of a soul?

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Posted: 09 September 2011 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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GdB - 08 September 2011 11:59 PM
domokato - 08 September 2011 10:54 AM

I always thought of qualia as being anything that is experienced, which in turn confirms the existence of my consciousness, because I must be conscious to experience something. But, having a materialist worldview, I believe my consciousness is just a part of my physical brain, which means that without qualia my (p-zombie’s) brain’s functioning would be fundamentally altered, as you said, GdB.

Sorry, I do not quite get it. I do not recognise my own words.

These are the words I was referring to:

Being able to react in the complex way we can is being conscious. If a p-zombie can react as advanced as we can, he is conscious. And therefore no p-zombie.

If my p-zombie didn’t have qualia, it similarly would not be a p-zombie since it wouldn’t be able to act as if it has consciousness.

A p-zombie is physically exactly the same as a human. So it behaves like a human, and will say it is conscious, and if it is just unreflective as others here, will say it has qualia, which make the difference with p-zombies…
A p-zombie saying he has no qualia is not a real p-zombie, except he is an advanced philosopher. wink

My point was that my definition of qualia makes it an inherent part of consciousness, yet this does not defeat the materialist worldview. According to wikipedia, one definition of qualia is: “The ‘what it is like’ character of mental states. The way it feels to have mental states such as pain, seeing red, smelling a rose, etc.”. This doesn’t seem to contradict materialism in any way.

And as small nitpicking detail, consciousness is not part of your brain, more or less the same way that running is not part of your legs. It is the process of the brain as a whole.

I agree. I was considering writing “consciousness is an expression of my brain”, but figured that would be less clear. The way you put it sounds accurate, although (to nitpick) I wouldn’t say “as a whole”. Consciousness is clearly only part of the brain and not the whole, since we are not conscious of much of the processing the rest of the brain does (for example, sensorimotor processing and intuition).

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Posted: 09 September 2011 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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GdB - 08 September 2011 11:52 PM

No. I did not say that we see the world as it is. We may err.

So when we err are we experiencing the world around us?

Stephen

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Posted: 09 September 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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GdB - 08 September 2011 11:52 PM

If a p-zombie is defined as exactly the same matter with exactly the same processes as we have, then he is human.

I haven’t looked into p-zombies much but I’d be amazed if this is what a p-zombie is because there is no difference at all, as you say.

I think the idea is there is no way to tell the difference from the p-zombie’s outward behaviour, but it doesn’t have conscious experience.

Stephen

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Posted: 09 September 2011 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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GdB - 08 September 2011 11:52 PM

The point is: qualia can completely be analysed in the terms of neural processes and their interaction with the environment.

Ok so qualia is to do with neural processes and their interaction with the environment.

Neural processes and their interaction with the environment is not the same as external reality.

That is why I say we do not experience external reality.

Stephen

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Posted: 10 September 2011 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 September 2011 12:13 PM
GdB - 08 September 2011 11:52 PM

If a p-zombie is defined as exactly the same matter with exactly the same processes as we have, then he is human.

I haven’t looked into p-zombies much but I’d be amazed if this is what a p-zombie is because there is no difference at all, as you say.

I think the idea is there is no way to tell the difference from the p-zombie’s outward behaviour, but it doesn’t have conscious experience.

Stephen

Chalmers says a p-zombie is physically identical to a human, including the physical processes it undergoes.  His argument then tries to show:

1. it is conceivable to have a physically (pieces and processes) identical being that lacks subjective experience (qualia). 
2. if something is conceivable, then it is metaphysically possible.
3.  p-zombies are metaphysically possible.
4. if physicalism is true, then p-zombies are not metaphysically possible.
5. Therefore, physicalism is not true.

Your response seems to be that premise 1 is false, i.e., if one conceives of a being physically identical to a human, then the subjective experiences must be there too, so one cannot conceivably separate the two.  I think the best way to defend this route is to say that premise 1 is underdescribed, and that if it included all the actual physical facts, we would see that subjective experience is entailed by them.  This view is called ‘a priori physicalism’.  You are in good company with Daniel Dennett and Frank Jackson, and I guess myself. 

However, Chalmers doesn’t need premise 1 to be so strong.  All he needs is for the physical facts to be held fixed while the subjective, qualia facts be different.  So, one can say that p-zombies are physically identical, but see in black and white.  The rods and cones, and all the parts of the eye, connections from the eye to brain, and connections among neurons are the same between Regular Seth and P-zombie Seth.  R-Seth sees in regular color vision, while P-zombie Seth experiences the world in black and white.  Many people think this situation is at least conceivable.  Chalmers argues that if it is conceivable, then it is metaphysically possible to separate the physical facts and the qualia-facts, and if it is so metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false.  If that is still too strong, it can be weakened to a mere subtle difference in SHADE of red experienced by R-Seth and P-zombie Seth.  All he needs is for the physicalist to agree that it is conceivable to separate the physical facts from the subjective experience, or qualia, and he has premise 1 secured.  Of course, there are many other responses available to the physicalist.

Chalmers’ argument depends on an elaborate semantics for modal logic, which he then uses to argue for premise 2.  The system is called “Two Dimensional Semantics”, and it is a behemoth of formal machinery.  I think the best way to undermine his argument is to attack the machinery.

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Posted: 10 September 2011 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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SethJKurtenbach - 10 September 2011 09:11 AM

 

Chalmers says a p-zombie is physically identical to a human, including the physical processes it undergoes.  His argument then tries to show:

Oh, OK thanks.

1. it is conceivable to have a physically (pieces and processes) identical being that lacks subjective experience (qualia). 
2. if something is conceivable, then it is metaphysically possible.
3.  p-zombies are metaphysically possible.
4. if physicalism is true, then p-zombies are not metaphysically possible.
5. Therefore, physicalism is not true.

Your response seems to be that premise 1 is false,

Yes and 2 as well I think.

However, Chalmers doesn’t need premise 1 to be so strong.  All he needs is for the physical facts to be held fixed while the subjective, qualia facts be different.  So, one can say that p-zombies are physically identical, but see in black and white.  The rods and cones, and all the parts of the eye, connections from the eye to brain, and connections among neurons are the same between Regular Seth and P-zombie Seth.  R-Seth sees in regular color vision, while P-zombie Seth experiences the world in black and white.

I can’t see it, same brain activity same experience. And say I could conceive of it, I would still say but I might be mistaken and it might be metaphysically impossible, disagreeing with 2.

Many people think this situation is at least conceivable.  Chalmers argues that if it is conceivable, then it is metaphysically possible to separate the physical facts and the qualia-facts, and if it is so metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false.

Don’t see how that follows at all.

  If that is still too strong, it can be weakened to a mere subtle difference in SHADE of red experienced by R-Seth and P-zombie Seth.  All he needs is for the physicalist to agree that it is conceivable to separate the physical facts from the subjective experience, or qualia, and he has premise 1 secured.

We can separate the physical facts of the external world from what we experience surely? I can do that just by looking at a newspaper with my glasses on and then my glasses off, of course the newspaper doesn’t change from blurry to sharp so what does?.

Of course, there are many other responses available to the physicalist.

The problem I have is not with physicalism, it’s with the idea that we experience the world around us.

So take these two quotes from GdB:

1) “We experience the world around us”

2) “The point is: qualia can completely be analysed in the terms of neural processes and their interaction with the environment”


If this is the case it seems to me that 1 and 2 are the same thing but that’s not right surely? It seems to me it’s a bit like saying the drum vibrating is the drumstick that hits it.

Stephen

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Posted: 10 September 2011 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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StephenLawrence - 10 September 2011 10:40 AM
SethJKurtenbach - 10 September 2011 09:11 AM

 

Many people think this situation is at least conceivable.  Chalmers argues that if it is conceivable, then it is metaphysically possible to separate the physical facts and the qualia-facts, and if it is so metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false.

Don’t see how that follows at all.

Physicalism is a metaphysical thesis about the nature of the mind.  Chalmers is presuming that metaphysical theses are true only if they are necessarily true.  This may seem like an unfair assumption, but it has a pretty long track record among philosophers, and most physicalists would agree to it.  They think that physicalism is true, and that it is necessarily true.  That is, they think it is necessarily true that the mind supervenes on the physical brain.

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Posted: 10 September 2011 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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SethJKurtenbach - 10 September 2011 12:15 PM
StephenLawrence - 10 September 2011 10:40 AM
SethJKurtenbach - 10 September 2011 09:11 AM

 

Many people think this situation is at least conceivable.  Chalmers argues that if it is conceivable, then it is metaphysically possible to separate the physical facts and the qualia-facts, and if it is so metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false.

Don’t see how that follows at all.

Physicalism is a metaphysical thesis about the nature of the mind.  Chalmers is presuming that metaphysical theses are true only if they are necessarily true.  This may seem like an unfair assumption, but it has a pretty long track record among philosophers, and most physicalists would agree to it.  They think that physicalism is true, and that it is necessarily true.  That is, they think it is necessarily true that the mind supervenes on the physical brain.

Ok, I see how it is supposed to follow.

Stephen

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Posted: 10 September 2011 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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StephenLawrence - 10 September 2011 10:40 AM

The problem I have is not with physicalism, it’s with the idea that we experience the world around us.

So take these two quotes from GdB:

1) “We experience the world around us”

2) “The point is: qualia can completely be analysed in the terms of neural processes and their interaction with the environment”


If this is the case it seems to me that 1 and 2 are the same thing but that’s not right surely? It seems to me it’s a bit like saying the drum vibrating is the drumstick that hits it.

Stephen

When you say, “If this is the case…” I’m not sure to what you’re referring with “this”.  Neither physicalism nor Chalmers’ strange naturalistic dualism (or whatever he calls it now) claims that our sense perceptions are equivalent to the parts of the external world that cause them.  They acknowledge the distinction between an object in the world and its representation in our minds.  The question they address is whether subjective experience of mental representations is a wholly physical thing, or whether it is irreducibly ‘non-physical’ in some sense.  Consider nonpulsatile tinnitus: the sensation that one’s ears are ringing caused by problems in the nerves.  There is no object in the external world vibrating that this sound represents, but there is still a subjective sensory experience of it.  A physicalist will say that the subjective experience is entirely reducible to physical facts about neurons firing in particular ways, and Chalmers says that the subjective experience is something above and beyond the mere physical, that consciousness and subjective experience are irreducible to the physical. 

Earlier, someone brought up the analogy to legs running.  Running is just a physical process that legs sometimes undergo.  Physicalists think consciousness and subjective experience are the same way.  You can give a precise and complete physical descriptions of the nerves firing and muscles contracting in a leg, and describe the legs’ running in that way.  Similarly, a physicalist thinks that a precise and complete description of the neurons firing in the brain also describe consciousness and subjective experience.  However, a non-physicalist, like Chalmers, thinks that a precise and complete physical description of neuronal processes will never be able to describe subjective experience, because it is not expressible in merely physical terms.  He thinks on must make reference to some irreducibly qualitative facts.  Hence, even with a precise and complete physical description, it is still conceivable, he says, that the entity being described is a p-zombie.

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