Friday, November 21, 2008

Zombie stuff

Richard presents A New Knowledge Argument which apparently strikes him as being really strong...

1. It is a factual question whether you and I experience the same color sensations when looking at an object.
2. This question cannot be settled by any physical information (or scientific inquiry).
3. So there are non-physical facts.

Now there are obviously some questions that cant be settled by physical information, these include things like "what is inside a black hole" or "will the photon go left or right".
In physics we would tend to say, depending on how we want to look at the world "so what? If we can't see the answer that doesn't mean it doesn't exist" or "that shows we are asking the wrong question" (i.e. there is "nothing" in a black hole or the photon goes left in one universe and right in another).

So 3 is a non sequetor and 2 is not something an informed physicalist would deny.

In the comments Michael Vassar raises the issue that
scientific inquiry can ... settle the question of whether Mary and I perceive the same thing when we see red with at least the same level of confidence that it settles the question of whether my perception of "red" today is the same as that of "red" yesterday

But I think there is more to this line of argument. I can propose a bridging law that has no other effect between any two facts or add a factor that has no effect into any process.
e.g. 1+1+god = 2+god
and that is impossible to disprove.

the point is that if we accept (2) for the reasons Richard wants us to do so then we admit that we cant say much useful using this language because we can never make any sort of useful identity statement because we can never exclude the possibility of a bridging law between the two facts.

Richard counters with the question begging argument that this situation is different "because third-personal inquiry isn't even heading in the right direction." Oh come on...

he then seems to summarize much of physicalism with
he only response I can immediately think of is the 'old fact new guise' response, which claims that the phenomenal fact mentioned in #1 is actually identical to some physical fact, albeit in a new (hence unrecognized) guise. But which physical fact is it? I find this claim very mysterious.

but to claim that colour can be represented in a different way that can be tied to other facts in the universe (and thus described in different terms) is basically what physicalism is. - he seems to be saying "I find physicalism mysterious" well... so what?

Meanwhile Richard and Anton are debating physicalism over here

Hmm.... I obviously think about zombies to much...


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