Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Zombie arguments

Zombie philosophers - are running around on the net causing a fuss recently so I thought I might summarize some of the most interesting thought experiments and rules

to start zombie philosophers believe that we have a sort of 'supernatural' (ie somehow beyond normal science) qualia.
they tend to believe A) science has never made any ground trying to understand the 'soul'
B) Epiphenomenalist believe the qualia/soul has no physical effect

1) In a debate with a Epiphenomenalist zombie supporter (one who thinks that the 'soul' has no effect on our decisions) I got to the point where they admitted that their comments to me that they have qualia is not casually related to them actually having it. this is because they deny that qualia can have any effect on anything (including what they say).

the defense was that al one needsto do is to accept a standard of proof with no evidence. I'm yet to be convinced that is not a huge bullet to bite.

2) A simple thought experiment by Elizer at overcoming bias, similar to much more sophisticated ones you might find at the splintered mind blog, relates to how you can catch yourself thinking. this is the Cartesian theartre experience, where you find yourself experiencing being hte listener but not the creator of the thought. the Epiphenomenalist zombie supporter can dodge this by arguing htat the thought process is zombie thought and that its jsut things like the sensation of 'being a listener' that are qualia. But note for future reference how much we have retreated from the normal concept of a soul/qualia (ie scientifically qualia are defined as things that MUST have effects!).

Despite the Epiphenomenalist argument that psychology and science never make any progress in this sort of area, it would seem that science has no power has been on the retreat in precisely this area - rather like every other area.

3) Occams razor argument (believing in invisibles) as per eliezer post. he states.

"What you believe (assign probability to) is a set of simple equations; you believe these equations describe the universe. You believe these equations because they are the simplest equations you could find that describe the evidence. These equations are highly experimentally testable; they explain huge mounds of evidence visible in the past, and predict the results of many observations in the future."

Aside from that one should no believe in any additional fact except where they are required to simplify the explanation of other facts. An as it relates to invisible things (like qualia"

"you should assign unaltered prior probability to additional invisibles"

Indicating that the alternative to 'zombie logic' is more consistent with the standard methodology.

4) what is the alternative to zombie logic? zombie philosophers may argue that it is the strong nessecities of physicalism. that might be true if we were not concerned with creating strong nessecities, but if we are then the alternative is surely just "not qualia" no statement about there being a strong nessecity for that unless the evidence says so.

5) I remember a debate with a Epiphenomenalist regarding quantum immortality. His was that causality was an important part of your continuality and therefore he rejected quantum imortality. However the same person takes the above position that attitudes have no concequences on this world - thus there is no causality relationship between the qualia (which I presume we take to be "I") and any other qualia. So are we willing to bite the continuality bullet?

6) following from the above imagine this Epiphenomenalist zombie thought experiment - a dozen buckets on a horizontally spinning's whel with holes in the bottom - each is driping water into a pool. the splashes in the pool are qualia and the buckets are the people's physical bodies.
now the person has continuality in that every splash comes from a particular bucket, BUT if yu ignore the buckets there is no connection between the splashes and the splashes have no effect back on the buckets overhead, every qualia is directly triggered by a physical action. So my point is there is apparently (experimentally) no continuality of qualia or soul except for that held together by the zombie body and remembered in the zombie memory. So the implication is your qualia would be incapable of logic even if it could communicate that logic back to the brain.

7) if you took a trip to zombie world, I presume you would die, and yet if you return you would remember being there in all the colour and meaning as if it wasn't zombie world. That implies that qualia is less like an image pulled into place by actions on earth and more like a force (like gravity) defined by the presence of the real world (also for a little induction note how gravity is generally best understood as a dent in space)

One also should consider if htey can concieve of what it would be like to walk into your universe crossing machine and stop in the doorway? half your head on one side half on the other.

8) clarifying our model of Epiphenomenalism. I suggest we need(in the looser sense) to actualy put conciousness in the circle inside of the 'world' not outside it. In the multi world model (whether this is possible or whatever) we have to define a unit we are duplicating and that world is defined by the rules as to how they can intereact - generally we define 'the universe' and 'no interaction' in that model then the qualia world is inside the universe.

So its not so much a bridging law holding onto qualia but rather a exception law regarding properties of qualia (i.e. qualia have a special exemptions regarding normal laws as opposed to being beyond them).

9) what are the rules that define qualia being attached to a particular thing? A normal scientist could argue that qualia are just 'perspective' ie qualia in the looser sense potentially exist for everything it just happens that an object like a table does nothing so it has no experiences an ant on the other hand makes a few decisions so there is a vague sense of how it might have 'experience' a chimp would of course have far more and a human even more of course you only experience this 'qualia' if you happen to be that thing.
However zombie philosophers face the issue of having to attribute their 'supernatural' attribute via a rule. generally things have qualia depending on their complexity (like the above approach) and yet that isn't the magical connection - the connection is a second law which excludes some things that are complex.

10) the same Epiphenomenalist oce pesented to be an argument for free will.
A) there is value in having beliefs that are true
B) if you have no free will then you cnat change your belief
C) if you choose to belive in fre will you can change yourself from wrong to right but neverfrom right to wrong therefore increasing hte truth probability of the statement
D) from above - you should believe in free wil.

Qualia are in the same area as free will so how does it apply to that?

A) there is value in having beliefs that are true (possibly the only value?)
B) if you have Ep qualia then you can't change your belief baised on them (there is no causal conection) so you can't increase the truth value. But if you don't then they can.
C) if you choose to belive in Ep qualia will you can change yourself from right to wrong but never from wrong to right therefore decreasing the truth probability of the statement
D) from above - you should not believe in ep qualia.

That leaves a believer in ep qualia needing to use other reasons for believing in it...

11) to a common scientific view qualia are things that emerge from reality. They are defined by the pattern of the individual - so a certain pattern represents "me thinking about red". there is no need to invoke special properties. In fact it seems natural that if a zombie was thinking about red that it would be concievable to be that zombie and be experiencing red qualia. The zombie philosophy seems to delete this in order to ad it back in the real world and not add it at all in he zombie world.
Imagine if one was to (as I guess people used to) look at a certain race and say - sure they are identical to us but it isnt concievable to 'be them' or 'imagine oneself in their place' because they dont have 'souls'.

The second part to this is how do we draw the dividing line between you having a perspective and a table not having one? Well the easy way to do that is to say there is no dividing like it is just that tables never create patterns anything could recognize as a qualia, there perspective is uninteresting. A chimp on the other hand can, and a mouse can to just to a much lesser degree.

Bottom line is that if part of the 'physical world explination' is 'everything has a perspective' then a physical world lacking any perspective is a contradiction.


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