[ExI] How not to make a thought experiment

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Sun Feb 21 18:50:16 UTC 2010

Ben Zaiboc <bbenzai at yahoo.com>:
> Ah, I see.  I see where the misunderstanding lies.
> The idea the author has is that the thing that implements the program is the same as the thing that has the mental states (which are the result of the running of the program).

Yeah, I noticed that too. It's tricky territory. Phrasing the
proposition as you do there, without the later qualifications, does
not in any way make it sound false.

You could rephrase it as "neurons which implement thinking are
themselves thinking", yes, but you could also rephrase it as "brains
which implement thinking are themselves thinking". This conveys the
same essential information but is actually a better analogy, since
microprocessors, for example, can't be neatly broken up the way that
brains can. One neuron certainly can't implement a mind, but one
microprocessor might.

We have a property, "thinking", and nowhere to put it. Right smack
into dualism again, and at the moment I don't much feel like working
out the possible implications.

If I may address the other computationalists present: would you say
that a mind is a running program, or would you say that a running
program instantiates a mind? These seem to me like the only two sane
options for a genuine computationalist, but if you can think of a
third I'd like to hear it.

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