[Wittrs] Re: Stuart Admits to Fallacious Reasoning

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2010 01:49:38 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Joseph Polanik <jPolanik@...> wrote:
> SWM wrote:
>  >Joseph Polanik wrote:

>  >>what does 'implies' mean today? are you saying that Searle's position
>  >>presumes Cartesian dualism; or, are you saying that Cartesian dualism
>  >>follows (can be deduced) from Searle's position?

>  >I have used the term "presumes" numerous times by now so why do you
>  >even think you have to ask? A presumption is also an implication if we
>  >reverse the line of reasoning. That is, if a conclusion DEPENDS on a
>  >presumption, then, if the conclusion is true, it follows that the
>  >presumption is.

> well, Stuart, what you have here is a very concise formula for
> perpetrating the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

> if a conclusion, Q, depends on a presumption, P, then you have a
> conditional statement: P -> Q [P implies or entails Q]. if you find that
> the conclusion is true, you may assert Q. if you say that it follows
> that P is true you have the argument:

> P -> Q
> Q
> (therefore) P

> that is precisely what the fallacy of affirming the consequent is.

> did you even read the page to which I referred you a few days ago,
> http://www.onegoodmove.org/fallacy/affirm.htm?
> Joe

If I am in Calgary, then I am in Alberta.

I am in Alberta

thus, I am in Calgary.

(Of course, even though the premises are true, I might be in Edmonton, Alberta.)

If the mill were polluting the river then we would see an increase in fish 

Fish deaths have increased.

Thus, the mill is polluting the river.

Let's explore the logic, shall we?

Note that in the first argument, being in Alberta implies nothing about being 
in Calgary though being in Calgary implies being in Alberta. What is required 
is to understand the concepts in each premise.

In the second case, the issue has to do with what the cause is. Since many 
kinds of things can cause fish to die, one cannot say that one thing is the 
cause since that is an empirical question. Occurrence of death doesn't imply 
cause of death.

My claim, on the other hand, is that:

1) To conclude that the constituents of the CR cannot cause consciousness in 
any R, you must assume that the constituents cannot be reduced to anything more 
basic than themselves.

2) The CRA concludes that CR constituents cannot cause consciousness in any R.

3) Therefore the CRA concludes that the constituents of the CR cannot be 
reduced to anything more basic than themselves.

Note that the examples above depend on factors external to the arguments given 
(i.e., what is Alberta in relation to the two cities named and what are the 
possible causses of fish deaths). My argument depends on the terms of the CRA 

1) Brains have semantics

2) Computers consist of programs which are only syntax

3) Syntax does not constitute and is not sufficient for semantics

4) Therefore Computers can't cause minds (in later iterations Searle restated 
the argument to more narrowly address "understanding" as in "understanding 
Chinese" but it amounts to the same thing).

Note that there are no references here to the world at large, no empirical 
facts to be determined. Everything is contained in the CRA -- everything, that 
is, but the unexpressed hidden premise that allows the general conclusion 
applicable to all computer systems (anything constituted by the same kind of 
mindless processes as we find in the CR).

Why this conclusion? On what basis can one generalize from the CR to any R?

Note that if mind is a system property then the system demonstrated by the CR 
is not the whole story unless you ASSUME something about mind that would make 
it so, in this case that mind (or understanding or whatever Searle's latest 
iteration is) is not a system property, i.e., that it is something which must 
attach to the individual constituents of the CR rather than be a function of 
their arrangement.

Note that I certainly don't dispute that there are empirical questions here. It 
is empirically possible (see Hawkins and Edelman) that computers cannot produce 
minds (or understanding) just as the CRA claims. But the CRA is not based on 
anything extraneous, on anything beyond the CR and the concepts assumed to be 
relevant to it.

Searle tells us computers are syntactical (that is he defines computational 
processes). He tells us minds have semantics (defining what it means to be 
aware, to understand), and he tells us that "syntax does not constitute and is 
not sufficient for semantics" based on what we allegedly realize upon 
considering the CR thought experiment, i.e., nothing remotely like what we call 
understanding is going on there!

My point is that there's a fourth, suppressed premise, that Searle doesn't 
notice, i.e., that the only way the third premise (the one about not being 
constitutive of nor sufficient for) can be true, WITHOUT ADDING ANY EMPIRICAL 
INFORMATION (as in research to confirm Hawkins thinking or Edelman's), is if we 
think consciousness has a certain characteristic, namely that it must be a 
process property and therefore irreducible to constituents that are 
qualitatively different than itself.

The point of the logical fallacy you describe is to note that we cannot prove 
by classical logical syllogism something which is not entirely contained in the 
information in the argument.

To be in Alberta does not imply being in Calgary so one cannot draw that 

But for the constituents of the CR to be unable to do in other configurations 
what they cannot do in the CR, based on the three premises alone, does imply 
that there is a missing premise, absent a reference to empirical information 
and note that Searle is NOT making an empirical claim such as what it means to 
be in one particular city rather than another or to identify causes of death. 
He is making a logical claim about a conceptual "thought experiment".

Just because there are fallacious ways of reasoning doesn't mean that the form 
(the syntax of the argument if you will) applies in all cases. There is an 
important difference between applying logic to an empirical question and 
applying it to a conceptual one.


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