[lit-ideas] Re: Turing, Grice, Wittgenstein - Functionalism

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2012 13:11:42 +0000 (GMT)

 From: "palma@xxxxxxxxxx" <palmaadriano@xxxxxxxxx>
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Saturday, 14 January 2012, 12:20
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Turing, Grice, Wittgenstein - Functionalism

>the (below quoted) position is unstable and rather silly. The question is
is intelligent behavior modular/ yes
so, step 2, let us assume (as the quote suggest) that one such module is the 
capacity to do sums-
so step 3, every time I to do 1+1, I think of my parents
here the glaring fallacy and idiocy of the debates about consciousness, the 
"machine" who does not think about (my? his? its?) parents is not doing sums.
the remainder is the traditional verbiage of self-styled philosophers who do 
not think-->

But the "rather silly" position (as you describe it) does not depend on 
anything like this somewhat silly Aunt Sally on your part - i.e. a person who 
brings in extraneous thoughts, e.g. about their parents, when doing sums. Why, 
for example, do so many people answer '45.5' to "What is half of 99?"? It was 
not suggested it is because extraneous thoughts, such as about their parents, 
distract them. Likewise a computer with a misprogramme or malfunction might 
calculate "2 + 2" to equal something other than 4 - a mistake educated humans 
would not typically make. This is because humans have a World 2 grasp of the 
World 3 content of  "2 + 2 = 4" which a computer does not; and so (educated) 
humans grasp that any alternative is false in a way a computer does not - so, 
even if presented with "2 + 2 = 22" as a proposition by a computer, humans will 
baulk at its truth because they understand the content; whereas a 
malfunctioning or misprogrammmed computer will not
 baulk (unless something in its programme causes it to baulk) since it does not 
grasp the content of the proposition qua World 3 content but has simply been 
programmed to 'process' such content in certain ways. [And may wrongly have 
been programmed to take the '+' of addition to process numbers so they are 
simply conjoined, so "2 + 2 = 22"].

The truth is that your 'extraneous thoughts' "fallacy and idiocy" is simply 
itself a fallacy and idiocy of your own extraneous making. Fact.

Think of your parents.


On Sat, Jan 14, 2012 at 2:05 PM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
>>Many thanks. Anyone else here disagree with that?>
>Without disagreeing the characterisation Palma offers, let us point to one 
>central problem with its idea that "to capture what object is you may look at 
>what an object does". The problem is that the character of a process cannot be 
>exhaustively captured by what that process does. Take a simple example: the
 calculation of a sum, say  '2 + 2 = 4'. This sum may be 'processed' or 
'performed' by a computer/calculator or by a human. And let us say we can 
characterise the 'process' in similar terms, of inputs and outputs say, in 
either case. Are we to conclude that therefore what a human experiences when 
performing that calculation is the same as what a computer experiences (if the 
computer experiences anything)? 
>Here we are right back at the metaphysical question of whether we need, in the 
>human case, to account for the' processing' in terms of some World 2 (in P's 
>terminology), whereas in the case of the computer the 'process' is entirely to 
>be understood in terms of some World 1. And then there is the question, Popper 
>would emphasise, whether we need to bring in some World 3 to understand both 
>the human World 2 activity of 'mental arithmetic' and the construction of a 
>World 1 device like a computer. As soon as we raise these questions we can see
 it is naive, if not vain, to think that 'what it is to calculate "2 + 2 = 4"' 
is captured by a functionalist characterisation - that is, captured by what is 
done in functionalist terms. Nor can the human character of the experience of 
calculating be discounted as unimportant to understanding the 'process' - for 
when we explain human errors in 'mental arithmetic' [e.g. 'What is half of 99?' 
- it is not '45.5' as many claim] we  may avail ourselves of a whole level of 
World 2 explanation that we cannot use in accounting for computer errors in 
calculation. (In fact, there are mistakes in mathematics that humans would 
rarely make but a computer easily might [through malfunction or misprogramme], 
as well as vice versa.) Functionalism is doomed insofar as it is simply tries 
to side-step what is metaphysically at stake when the issue raises the question 
of whether what is being 'processed' is at a level beyond a mere World 1. 
>It may be also doomed
 as a proper explanation of what is happening even at a purely World 1 level, 
but that is another story.
>On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 6:10 PM, palma@xxxxxxxxxx <palmaadriano@xxxxxxxxx> 
>>the notion (due to Lewis, Putnam, Block, et a.l)
>>>according to which
>>>to capture what object is you may look at what an object does.
>>>One of the consequences is that, in the case of mind, a mind can be 
>>>"implemented" in different and wildly so, physical substrata (e.g.
>>>suppose a mind has to be able to perceive, humans do it with V cortex and a 
>>>brain, and eyes, and the whole visual neuronal system--
>>>a compuer can/could do it with a cam, chips, circuitry and so forth — if you 
>>>are functioanlist then the machine and the brain perceive, since perceiving 
>>>is characterized by its function and not by its hardware--
>>>>>> John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> 1/13/2012 10:55 AM >>>
>>>Donal, could you or someone else here describe what philosophers mean by 
>>>"functionalism"? When I hear the term, what leaps to mind is a now 
>>>discredited sociological proposition that societies are homeostatic systems 
>>>maintained by negative feedback. "Functions" can mean all sorts of things 
>>>from x=f(y) to a dress-up party. It would help a lot to know what, in 
>>>particular, we are talking about.
>>>On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 5:33 PM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx> 
>>>>----- Original Message -----
>>>>From: "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx"

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