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PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

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Tyler Zimmer

on 24 January 2017

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Transcript of PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

What is the
Mind/Body Problem?

Four Answers
to the Problem
1. DUALISM
(Mind and body are separate)
2. PHYSICALISM
(Your mind
is
your brain)
3. BEHAVIORISM
(Your mind is your behavior)
4. FUNCTIONALISM
(Minds are like machines)
DUALISM
Could a
Machine Think?
Functionalism
The mind is a kind of a machine that performs certain functions.
Physicalism
The mind just
is
the brain.
Everything is physical.
Mind and body are the same thing.
PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY | NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
INSTRUCTOR: DR. TYLER ZIMMER
LEARNING OBJECTIVES FOR THE WEEK...
1.
Discuss why the mind/body problem is a difficult philosophical puzzle.
2.
Understand a few of the leading ways that philosophers have attempted to solve it.
3.
Critically evaluate which of these attempted solutions best solves the problem.
4.
Apply the above to the problem of whether a machine could think...
(AND WHY IS IT A PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE?)
THE MIND/BODY PROBLEM
Everyone knows that what happens to the mind affects the body.
EXAMPLES?
Everyone knows that what happens to the body affects the mind.
EXAMPLES?
Other formulations...
What is the relationship between your mind and your body?
Is your mind something different from your brain -- or
is
your mind your brain?
Are your thoughts, feelings, experiences, perceptions, sensations, and wishes things that happen
in addition
to all the physical processes in your brain, or are they themselves part of those physical processes?
AN EXAMPLE...
What happens when you bite into a chocolate bar? Break it down into as many steps as you can.
The moment when you actually taste the chocolate... what is that? Is that a physical event?
By studying your brain, could we fully capture this experience? Could a scientist take off the top of your skull and literally observe the taste of chocolate?
MIND/BODY PROBLEM
It seems like our own mental experiences have some kind of
insideness
, some kind of
first-person quality
.
It seems, on the face of it, like our private mental states are different from mere physical states that could be observed from a third-person perspective.
HOW DO WE EXPLAIN THIS? WHAT IS THE MIND/BODY RELATIONSHIP?
Mind and body are separate, distinct things that
sometimes interact with one another.
DESCARTES'S VERSION
OF DUALISM
I can know that I have a mind even while doubting that I have a body.
It's conceptually possible for me to know I have a mind but for me to lack a body.
There is
no contradiction
in supposing that I am a mind without a body.
Thus, if we can imagine a case where
we have one thing without the other
, we have thereby proven that the two things are
not identical
. They do not
necessarily
go together, even if they are often associated.
Another version of Descartes's Argument
1. We know the contents of our own mind more intimately, with more certainty than we know our bodies.
2. We could know we had a mind even if we weren't sure if we had a body.
3. It is conceivable that we could have no body but still exist, but not conceivable that we could have no mind and still exist.
4. It is logically possible minds could exist without bodies or physical matter.
5. But if that's possible, then mind must be an independent, distinct substance from matter.
Evidence for Dualism?
Freaky Friday (2003)
Big (1988)
The Conceivability of Zombies
Zombies lack minds. They are just like us except they are not conscious beings.
They can't think. They are purely physical/bodily.
Yet there is no logical contradiction in supposing that zombies could exist.
But then physicalism is false and dualism is true.
MIND
BODY
Mental
Thinking/reason
Freedom/agency
Non-physical
Non-spatial
Indivisible
Indestructible
Conscious experience
Only visible from the
first-person perspective
Material
Movement
Caused/determined
Physical
Spatial
Infinitely divisible
Destructible
Bodily processes
Visible from
third-person observer
perspective.
OBJECTIONS TO DUALISM?
Do you see any potential problems with dualism?
Or does it, on the whole, seem to be a plausible solution to the mind/body problem?
OBJECTION #1: THE PROBLEM OF INTERACTION
Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia
If the mind and body are totally separate, how then do they interact?
If the mental is a different substance from the physical, how could they have some point of intersection? What would that be like?
It would either be physical, mental or some third category.
The Problem of Interaction
How can something that does not occupy space cause things that are extended in space to change?
How can something that is non-physical be impacted by something that is physical?
OBJECTION #2: THERE IS NOTHING BUT PHYSICAL STUFF IN THE UNIVERSE
A properly scientific understanding of the world does not require us to appeal to anything super-natural or extra-physical.
We can give a satisfying explanation of everything without needing to posit any non-physical entities.
The idea that there are "souls" or that there is "mental substance" is wrong-headed.
Thus mind is just matter.
DUALIST REPLIES?
REPLY 1:
Substance dualism is susceptible to this objection, but not all versions of dualism are.
REPLY 2:
Show that souls are compatible with a modern scientific worldview.
REPLY 3:
Reject science.
THINKING TOOLS: OCKHAM'S RAZOR
If you have two possible explanations of some phenomenon, the simpler more parsimonious explanation is superior.
Explanations that explain the most stuff with the
fewest assumptions
are best.
Explanations with unnecessary assumptions are flawed.
REPLY #1: REVISE DUALISM (REJECT SUBSTANCE DUALISM)
OK, so mind and body are literally separate kinds of stuff in the universe. They are not separate substances.
But there is something irreducible about the mental experiences we have.
They are not identical to physical processes.
We cannot accurately describe our mental life, the phenomenon of consciousness with the language of physics.
We need a different scientific idiom---e.g. psychology or the like---in order to accurately capture what it's like to be conscious from the inside.
ADVANTAGES?
Attempts to give simple, straightforward solution to mind/body problem.
Does not violate Ockham's Razor.
Does not create a problem of interaction.
Does not force us to posit strange entities such as souls or disembodies mental substances.
TEST CASE #1: What is it like to be a bat?
Famous argument by Nagel.
If we knew everything about the neurobiology of bats, would we know everything there is to know about what it's like to be a bat?
If yes, then physicalism wins.
Nagel = there will be a remainder. We won't have explained everything. We still won't know "what it's like" from the inside.
Consciousness cannot be reduced, without remainder, to physical states.
TEST CASE #2: WHAT MARY DIDN'T KNOW
Imagine a neuroscientist, Mary, who has never actually seen the color red.
She knows everything there is to know about the brain, the visual system, color perception as a physical process, etc.
She knows everything about light, wavelengths, etc.
But she has never actually seen red.
When she sees red for the first time, will she learn anything new?
Blade Runner (1982)
OCKHAM'S RAZOR IN ACTION
Question:
When I drop a pencil, how come it falls to the floor?
EXPLANATION #1
EXPLANATION #2
The Earth's gravitational pull causes the pencil to be pulled toward the surface of the Earth.
Also, invisible fairies help gravity by pulling on the pencil, eventually leaving it to rest on the floor.
These two mechanisms are jointly responsible for the pencil falling.
The Earth's gravitational pull causes the pencil to be pulled toward the surface of the Earth.
OK, fine... But
which
functions?
A toaster isn't a mind.
Neither is a sling-shot.
What makes some machines minds and others not?
Hi, I'm a mind.
FUNCTIONALISM
A mind is a machine that fulfills the following functions:
(1)

It has "
doxastic states
," i.e. like beliefs, that model the world as having certain characteristics.

(2)
It has "
motivational states
," i.e. like desires, that model what an optimal state of affairs would be like.
How well does this explain what it's like to be a conscious being?
We definitely have
beliefs
about the world that represent it as having certain characteristics. Rocks don't.
We also have
desires
or
preferences
that we are motivated to satisfy. These desires specify states of affairs that we understand to be good or optimal (e.g. I'm hungry, to so I desire a situation in which my hunger is satisfied).
So far so good...
But what does this look like when we apply it to real cases?
Does it lead us to label too many things as having minds?
Does the definition allow to much?
CASE #1: AIR CONDITIONER
It has "doxastic states," i.e. it takes in and registers certain information about the temperature of the environment in which it is located.
It has "motivational states," i.e. it can be set to have "preferences" for what an optimal temperature would be, and it either turns on or off depending on whether those events cause the optimal temperature to be acheived.
It combines its "beliefs" and "desires" in complex ways in order to "act" in the world to bring about changes in the environment.
But does it have a mind?
Is it conscious?
Case #2: Automatic Doors
They have sensors as states that represent the world as having certain characteristics.
They have been programmed to have "preferences" about optimal states of affairs (e.g. if there is no motion on the sensor, then close the doors... if there is, then open them).
The doors combine 'beliefs' and 'desires' to 'act' in the world to bring about changes (i.e. opening and closing the doors as needed).
But does it have a mind? Does it think? Is it conscious?
STEPHEN LAW: COULD A MACHINE THINK?
Emit

and

Kimberly
Kimberly
: "You don't
really
understand anything. You can't think. You don't have feelings. You're just a piece of machinery."
Kimberly
: "Inside you there's a powerful computer... it
simulates
intelligence... You have no beliefs, no desires, no feelings. In fact you have no
mind
at all. You no more understand the words coming out of your mouth than a tape recorder understands the words coming out of its speaker."
"A computer that flies planes does not
understand
that its flying... so far as the computer is concerned, it's just mechanically shuffling symbols according to the program... those symbols don't
mean anything
to the computer."
John Searle's
Chinese Room Experiment
An argument against A.I.
A woman is locked in a room with a bunch of cards with symbols on them. Unbeknownst to her, these symbols are Chinese characters... she doesn't understand Chinese. She thinks the symbols are meaningless shapes.
More cards are inserted into the room via a small slot.
She is given a manual that instructs her on how to shuffle the cards together and give back batches of symbols in response to the cards that are coming in.
In fact, the bunch of cards coming in through the slot tell a story in Chinese. The second bunch that the woman sends out asks a question about that story.
The instructions for shuffling the cards---the woman's "program" if you like---allow her to give back correct Chinese answers to those questions.
The folks outside the room are Chinese... it would be understandable if they were fooled into believing that the person on the side understood Chinese and followed the story.
But in fact the person understands nothing.
All the woman on the inside is doing is shuffling around cards with symbols she does not understand. She doesn't even know there's a story at all.
She's just following her "program."
That's all computers do.
SEARLE'S POINT:
Computers shuffle around symbols but they don't actually
understand
anything.
They are not conscious. They lack minds.
CONCLUSION:
Artificial intelligence is impossible... a machine could not think. They would only simulate real thinking, real understanding. Machines are not capable of actual understanding, thought, emotion, etc.
Ok, fine... but what is Emit
missing
then?
What
else
does it take to genuinely understand things that "he" lacks?
...a brain?
Kim = "You're made of the wrong stuff."
Emit's reply: what if you replaced Kim's organic neurons one by one with artificial ones one by one...
Would Kim at some point cease to understand? Would she cease to be conscious and have a mind? If so,
when
would this occur?
SOLUTIONS?
Substance vs. Property Dualism
The irreducibility of the mental.
THE MIND BODY PROBLEM
What relation (if any) does your mind have to the physical world -- in particular, to your body?
THE FUNCTIONALIST CRITIQUE OF PHYSICALISM
Functionalists argue that the mind is a computing machine of a special sort that can be "realized" or "instantiated" on many different forms of hardware: e.g. silicon chips as well as human brains.
Psychological states such as "pain" can be realized in creatures with nervous systems quite different from our own and -- in principle at least -- in the silicon-based creatures of sci-fi. Thus, there is no single physical substance that correlates with the psychological phenomenon of pain.
Her (2013)
THE TURING TEST
Also called the "imitation test."
To pass the test, a machine needs to be able to successfully imitate the behaviors of an adult human being so well that we couldn't tell it was a machine.
The behaviors we're most interested in are those that are evidence of thinking:
Speaking, conversing, reasoning, communicating, etc.
Could a machine think?
Obviously, for this question to be precise, we need definitions of at least two things:
Machines
Thinking
Let's brainstorm about both.
EX MACHINA (2015)
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