Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Works In Progress


MelbournePhilosophy.com has been doing good things. A recent site redesign now means that you don't have to recoil in horror at the sheer purpleness of it all, and the WIKI area has been re-jigged to provide better, clearer navigation.

MP has also climbed up to page 5 in Google's rankings for "melbourne philosophy", which isn't bad. I'd like to see it in the first three - that's usually how deep I go when researching something, unless I'm very determined on a particular issue. Reverse the search-words however, and I can't even find it. Oh well.

I am currently working on an essay for my current undergraduate subject, "Minds and Machines". I am arguing that "mind" is not definable in the Aristotelian sense. That is to say, there is no list of conditions which uniquely and precisely identify what a mind is. Rather, it must be understood in a distributed sense, depending on an aggregation of conditions, but not solely on any particular one of them. Answering the question "Could a machine have a mind" is not a simple question, because mindness is unclear. While in a human (for example) the inability to feel pain does not disqualify you from having a mind, it seems that our inability to explain how a machine might feel pain poses a major intuitive problem. I am arguing that mind does not have a consistent set of tests which determine whether or not it is a mind, but each case must be examined.

If that is the case, one might ask what use it is to talk about having a mind as being important. Maybe our decisions (such as can a machine be conscious) hinges not on "whether it has a mind" but rather "can it experience things". It would seem that a machine could have the functional appearance of a mind - for some questions this is enough, and for others it seems to have no answer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

... but rather "can it experience things" ...

You'll have to investigate what an experience is and how something has one, and whether mental states can be reduced to physical ones. Perhaps the notion of mental and physical 'states' is incorrect even. Things to consider here are Cartesian Dualism and the successive thoughts on mind and body.

Congrats on the site, very nice, found it from the whirlpool forums. note to self: I must read my phiolosphy books sometime...


10/27/2004 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger MelbournePhilosopher said...

Yeah, the essay will touch on dualism - although not as much as I'd hope. I'd love get get messy with ontological classifications. I think ultimately that minds are supervenient on brains...

10/27/2004 11:20:00 PM  

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