[ExI] The alleged existence of consciousness

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Feb 21 00:47:43 UTC 2010

On 21 February 2010 03:20, Dave Sill <sparge at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM, Stathis Papaioannou
> <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Philosophical zombies by definition exhibit the same complex behaviour
>> as conscious beings. If nature could have produced zombies then why
>> aren't we zombies?
> Who knows? If zombism is possible, maybe we just got lucky that we
> ended up with consciousness.
>> It can't be that zombies take more effort to make,
> Sure it could.
>> since if the patterns of neuronal firing are reproduced in a different
>> substrate that would reproduce the behaviour but, you claim, not
>> necessarily the consciousness.
> That assumes that Swobe's scenario is the only way to achieve zombism.

There may be other ways to make a zombie (although there are separate
arguments against that possibility also) but following the
architecture of the brain is not one of them. Any structure that
reproduces the pattern of neural firing in the brain will also
reproduce the intelligence and the consciousness of the brain.

>> So the brain could have evolved
>> similarly to the way it actually did, but without the added
>> complication of consciousness.
> What makes you so sure it's a complication?

If the brain's intelligence would remain intact despite changes that
would eliminate consciousness, then consciousness would be a useless

>> It is difficult to imagine that
>> something as elaborate and non-adaptive as consciousness could have
>> evolved if there were so many other pathways to the same end without
>> consciousness.
> We don't know anything about the number of pathways to intelligence
> with or without consciousness.

If Searle and Gordon are right and functionalism is wrong, there are
trillions of ways to reproduce brain function and intelligence while
eliminating consciousness.

>> The best explanation is that the brain we happen to
>> have ended up with is not specially blessed, and any other brain based
>> on similar patterns resulting in similar behaviour would have also had
>> a similar consciousness.
> Intuitively, that seems likely. But we just don't know.

We do know. The partial brain replacement thought experiment makes it
true as a matter of logical necessity; in other words more certainly
true than any mere empirical fact, which could be proved false
tomorrow. I would really like to hear a rebuttal, but no-one has yet
attempted one.

Stathis Papaioannou

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