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Continuing on Ned Block's “Troubles with Functionalism” (1978) and David Chalmers’s “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia” (1995).
What would it be like to be halfway between person and machine? If you think the machine can't have consciousness, then Chalmers thinks that there's no sensible way to describe such an experience, ergo the machine (if functionally equivalent to the person) must have consciousness after all.
Mark, Wes, and Seth continue trying to figure out whether this argument makes sense, whether it's actually a defense of the kind of functionalism Block is attacking, and whether the argument is stronger by considering instead of transition between consciousness and no consciousness, one between consciousness and different consciousness (e.g. my green = your yellow). Also, is there a way to describe the inputs and outputs of functionalism that isn't either chauvinistic (ruling out machines being conscious by definition) or too permissive (allowing, e.g. the economy of Bolivia to be counted as a mind)?
Listen to part one first, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL!
End song: "Machine" by Helen Money as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #101.
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I’ve been reading Dennett lately, and the contrast with you guys is pretty stark. Wes has been pretty intensely prejudiced against him for many years — and it had somehow infected me and I avoided Dennitt. But his main concern does seem to be the “Hard Problem” that Wes always falls back on, how can you get from brute facts to qualia? Dennett also writes very clearly — he introduces jargon and explains the inside baseball of various Analytic controversies, but in a conversational and transparent way. He also seems to be very up on Neuroscience, Behaviorism, and AI.
I do find “social theory and political stuff” to be “a drag, frankly,” and I would rather always be listening to PEL talk analytic philosophy. Of course, some analytic philosophy might “feel futile” like some “social theory and political stuff.” It’s best to read and discuss the philosophy you find interesting. This has been a fun and useful series for me, thank you Mark, Wes, Seth, Dylan, and Gregory for bringing such clarity and insight to someone like me with far less of an understanding of these issues. Mark, you have a great voice singing and talking, love listening to it, and the natural tempo in which you talk is wonderful, just please slow it down to normal speed when you’re reading difficult parts of the texts. I know you said you sometimes listen to things at 1.5 or 2X speed, but please don’t read at those speeds and instead read from the text like how Wes did this episode. Thanks again guys