[Wittrs] Re: I Experience in Ordinary Language

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 08 Mar 2010 04:01:30 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gordon Swobe <wittrsamr@...> wrote:

> True, he does not take the stand that there cannot be some other arrangement, 
> and he allows for such speculation. But In _Rediscovery of Mind_ (third 
> chapter, if memory serves) he argues that we ought not to ascribe 
> consciousness solely on behaviorist grounds. He argues as I have: that we 
> should look both at neurological similarity and behavior. With these criteria 
> we can ascribe consciousness not only to our fellow humans but also to some 
> other animals.
> -gts

Nor is it unreasonable from an empirical perspective since it accords with our 
experience of how things are. Chairs don't impart their thoughts to us, after 
all, nor do rocks, and we have developed a way of explaining the world that 
accounts for that. On the other hand, if a chair or a rock suddenly started 
evidencing conscious behavior (communicating in some autonomous way, for 
instance, where there is no other reasonable explanation, e.g., a trick, a 
remote audio device, etc.) and THAT was the way things were, then we would have 
to drastically revise our picture of the world, e.g., expect that something 
else is the cause of consciousness in the world than brains and their processes 
(maybe a dualist account, for instance). Of course that isn't how things are 
but it certainly looks as though there is nothing, in principle, to tell us 
that could not be how things are.

In the end behaviors are just part of the panoply of information we find in the 
world though these are certainly among the most significant for questions like 
what kinds of things are conscious? This, of course, is just another way of 
saying context counts and that behaviors are only fully grasped in particular 
contexts. A device that is brainlike and is behaving in a conscious way is more 
likely to be taken for being conscious than a talking chair or rock where, all 
other things being equal, we're going to start questioning the data we're 
getting, wondering about what else may be going on (is there a concealed radio 
or a ventriloquist in the next room, etc.).


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