[Wittrs] Re: Searlian reductions

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 14:44:14 -0000

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

> As I wrote, most of the time we do BOTH a causal and an ontological 
> reduction, just as we do in the case of water in your example above.
> But it doesn't make sense to do both with mental phenomena. We may do both if 
> we really want to, but it just doesn't make any sense.

It absolutely does make sense when we're talking about the science of brains -- 
and AI research relates to that, i.e., if brains do, in fact, work like 
computers, then what we can do with computers will have an impact on what we 
can do with brains and vice versa.

> You need a word like "toothache" to name that painful feeling in your jaw, so 
> if you reduce your toothache ontologically to its third-person definition 
> then you'll need to find another word for the same thing. You will then have 
> the same problem with whatever new word you come up with, so why reduce 
> "toothache" in the first place?

But this is not about jettisoning the language of experience in such discourse, 
it's about whether we can use the language of descriptive science to talk about 
brains and minds. Dennett says yes and, further, that computational technology 
is relevant and I agree. Searle makes the case that computational technology is 
not the right stuff based on a logical argument that is founded on an unsound 
example, because the CR is underspecked, and the argument itself (the CRA) 
depends on an idea of consciousness which is inconsistent with Searle's own 
statements about the relation of brains to minds.

> It's as simple as that. Unfortunate that people misunderstand Searle on this 
> simple point. People infer from it all sorts of incredible balderdash.
> -gts

Searle's argument is against the possibility of using computational technology 
to replicate consciousness and his basis for that lies in the fact that he 
thinks of consciousness in a dualistic way while explicitly denying dualism. 
His CRA fails AND he is in self-contradiction.

This isn't about how we choose to talk but what we can or cannot do and Searle 
is asserting that we cannot use computational technology to replicate 
consciousness on spurious grounds. The CRA doesn't do the job Searle claims it 


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