The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

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Chili
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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Chili » November 2nd, 2017, 9:36 pm

Consul wrote: Physics isn't the only natural science, let alone the only empirical science, so scientific knowledge is more than physical knowledge; and in "concrete reality" I use "concrete" in the sense of "physical or mental" (inclusive "or", which doesn't exclude the mental and sociocultural forms thereof from being part of the physical).
Do you consider any empirical natural science to have results which contradict physics? Or is it just that chemistry & biology offer shortcuts that trying to tackle via physics is too laborious.

-- Updated November 2nd, 2017, 10:38 pm to add the following --
Consul wrote: Physics isn't the only natural science, let alone the only empirical science, so scientific knowledge is more than physical knowledge; and in "concrete reality" I use "concrete" in the sense of "physical or mental" (inclusive "or", which doesn't exclude the mental and sociocultural forms thereof from being part of the physical).
Do you consider any empirical natural science to have results which contradict physics? Or is it just that chemistry & biology offer shortcuts that trying to tackle via physics is too laborious.

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Londoner » November 3rd, 2017, 6:52 am

"If our only sources of knowledge and justified belief were perception, consciousness, memory, and reason, we would be at best impoverished. We do not even learn to speak or think without the help of others, and much of what we know depends on what they tell us. Children in their first years of life depend almost entirely on others for their knowledge of the world. If perception, memory, consciousness, and reason are our primary individual sources of knowledge and justification, testimony from others is our primary social source of them. This is why it is a primary concern of social epistemology. The distinctive situations in which testimony yields knowledge and justification are social: in each case one or more persons convey something to one or more others. There are various kinds of testimony, however, and there are many questions about how one or another kind yields knowledge or justification."
(p. 150)

"Testimony is a pervasive and natural source of beliefs. Many testimony-based beliefs are justified or constitute knowledge. They may even constitute basic knowledge or basic belief, both in the sense that they are not grounded in premises and in the sense that they play a pivotal role in the life of the believer. We might thus say that testimony-based beliefs not only constitute some of our basic knowledge but also are psychologically and existentially basic. These beliefs are, however, not unqualifiedly basic epistemically. They are basic only in the sense that they are not inferentially dependent on knowledge or justified belief of prior premises. They are epistemically dependent, in a way perceptual beliefs are not, on one’s having grounds for knowledge or justification, and they are psychologically dependent on one’s having some ground—such as hearing someone speak—in another, non-testimonial experiential mode. Testimony-based beliefs, then, are not premise-dependent but do depend, for their epistemic or justificational status, on the basic experiential sources of knowledge and justification considered in Chapters 1–6 [= perception, memory, introspection, reason/intuition – my add.]. As a source of knowledge and justification, testimony depends both epistemically and psychologically on these other sources. This is entirely consistent, however, with its playing an incalculably important role in the normal development of our justification and knowledge."
(p. 167)

(Audi, Robert. Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2011.)

Epistemological Problems of Testimony: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/testimony-episprob/

So, all in all, these are our natural sources of belief-justification and knowledge:

1. sensory perception
2. introspection
3. rational intuition/intellection (reason)
4. recollection (memory)
5. testification (testimony): communication of (semantic) information (that isn't mis- or disinformation)
If we are discussing where people normally get their beliefs from, then certainly you would include testimony. But that is to describe people, not the beliefs. I accept people do believe in astrology, I can guess why they came to believe in astrology but I do not accept that their belief is justified. If we are to say they are 'justified' we would be using 'justified' to mean something different, like 'what they would say if asked where their belief originated'.

We might trust what we have been told, but we do not trust it because we have been told it. What we are trusting is that the person who is telling us is reporting some information that ultimately rests on something other than hearsay.

In the quoted passage he writes 'Many testimony-based beliefs are justified or constitute knowledge' To say that is to allow that there is no link between testimony and knowledge. The two may coincide or they may not - to find out which we would have to go outside testimony. And in your summary you write '(that isn't mis- or disinformation)' , which is again to say that we only accept such knowledge as provisional, depending on something else.

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Ecurb » November 3rd, 2017, 10:11 am

Most of us probably believe that testimony should be vetted. In Courts of Law (where juries are asked to form an opinion) the process includes cross-examination and the testimony of those who might contradict a witness's testimony. In academia, the process involves peer review. None of these processes is perfect: we occasionally convict innocent people, and we occasionally embrace facts which are later debunked or theoretical frameworks which become obsolete (in the case of peer review). Nonetheless, we must ,muddle through the best we can.

Experiments show that chimpanzee and gorilla babies are as proficient at IQ-type tests as human babies until the humans begin learning language, at which point the human children soon outstrip their distant relatives. Language alters perception: we think about our own perceptions differently once we tell a story about them, and we remember our perceptions far better when we tell a story about them. Most significantly, though, language allows us to learn about things we have never seen and will never see. Without it, science would progress slowly. The "testimony" of scientists would never be heard, either by lay-people, or by other scientists.

By the way, "believing in" astrology is quite different from (for example) believing that the world is round. Astrology is not a set of purported facts, but a theoretical framework for interpreting facts. The facts are identical for astrologers and astronomers (who, after all, used to be the same people), and most of us probably accept them on the basis of the authority of the astronomers who inform us of them. What we don't (or do) accept is the value of the astrological theoretical framework. I once dated a world-famous astrologer, who would have claimed that she didn't think astrology had "scientific" or "predictive" value, but that the mythic archetypes on which astrologers rely provide psychological insights. This (perhaps) represents another example of a kind of "knowledge" that is non-naturalistic. I get the same feeling from reading great works of fiction -- in addition to gaining "knowledge" about, for example, how the fictional Anna Karenina met her doom, I gain insight into human motivation and the human condition. This represents knowledge both in terms of learning new facts (about what happens in the novel) and learning new approaches (theoretical frameworks) for thinking about myself and others.

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Consul
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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Consul » November 3rd, 2017, 11:11 am

Londoner wrote:If we are discussing where people normally get their beliefs from, then certainly you would include testimony. But that is to describe people, not the beliefs. I accept people do believe in astrology, I can guess why they came to believe in astrology but I do not accept that their belief is justified. If we are to say they are 'justified' we would be using 'justified' to mean something different, like 'what they would say if asked where their belief originated'.

We might trust what we have been told, but we do not trust it because we have been told it. What we are trusting is that the person who is telling us is reporting some information that ultimately rests on something other than hearsay.

In the quoted passage he writes 'Many testimony-based beliefs are justified or constitute knowledge' To say that is to allow that there is no link between testimony and knowledge. The two may coincide or they may not - to find out which we would have to go outside testimony. And in your summary you write '(that isn't mis- or disinformation)' , which is again to say that we only accept such knowledge as provisional, depending on something else.
Testimony is epistemologically problematic because people can knowingly or unknowingly tell the untruth; that is, they can lie or just be wrong.

When "testimony" is defined as "(intentional) communication of information", this means that I cannot acquire knowledge through testimony unless the communicated information is veridical (true/truthful).

I know that the word "information" is often used in such a way that it merely means "syntactically well-formed and semantically meaningful data". (See Semantic Conceptions of Information!) Information thus defined needn't be true (veridical/correct/accurate) and can be mis- or disinfirmation.

"I like to think of information, at least as a first approximation, as what is left from knowledge when you subtract justification, truth, belief, and any other ingredients such as reliability that relate to justification. Information is, as it were, a mere 'idle thought'. Oh, one other thing, I want to subtract the thinker. Anyone who has searched for information on the Web does not have to have this concept drummed home. So much of what we find on the Web has no truth or justification, and one would have to be a fool to believe it, and it is not even clear that anyone would want to claim credit for thinking it. It is something like a Fregean 'thought', i.e., the 'content' of a belief that is equally shared by a doubt, a concern, a wish, etc. It might be helpful to say that it is what philosophers call a 'proposition', but that term itself would need explanation."

(Dunn, Michael J. "Information in Computer Science." In Philosophy of Information, edited by Pieter Adriaans and Johan van Benthem, 581-608. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2008. p. 581)

Information qua mere semantic content is independent of truth, with false information being information all the same. But others reject this truth-independent concept of information:

"What information a signal carries is what it is capable of 'telling' us, telling us truly, about another state of affairs. Roughly speaking, information is that commodity capable of yielding knowledge, and what information a signal carries is what we can learn from it. If everything I say to you is false, then I have given you no information."
(p. 44)

"A state of affairs contains information about X to just that extent to which a suitably placed observer could learn something about X by consulting it. This, I suggest, is the very same sense in which we speak of books, newspapers, and authorities as containing, or having, information about a particular topic, and I shall refer to it as the nuclear sense of the term 'information'. In this sense of the term, false information and mis-information are not kinds of information—any more than decoy ducks and rubber ducks are kinds of ducks."
(p. 45)

(Dretske, Fred I. Knowledge and the Flow of Information. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981.)

Anyway, it is clear that testimony isn't a source of knowledge unless it is the intentional communication of veridical information. Here is the epistemic link between testimony and knowledge.

Of course, now the epistemological problem is how to find out whether someone telling me that p is in fact telling the truth, and whether I am justified in believing that p (solely) on the basis of being told that p by that person. Asking the person "Is what you say really true?" is not very helpful, since a liar would certainly reply "Yes!". So what matters here is how trustworthy the witness is. For example, ceteris paribus, expert testimony is more trustworthy than nonexpert testimony (on the same subject matter).
Trust and trustworthiness play a central and crucial role in the justification of testimony-based beliefs.

"Since we are in great need of information from others, we will not be so demanding that in order to avoid error, we refuse to take any risks of misinformation to gain valuable truths. Gelfert (2006) presents Kant as arguing that we have a presumptive (imperfect) duty not to distrust others and a duty of fidelity to trust the word of others because a stance of incredulity is an active suspicion of others and imposes a higher standard than is socially, conversationally, or epistemically appropriate.
An epistemological problem enters, however, if our ground for coming to these beliefs is only the speaker’s word, since that seems a very weak basis. What reason, if any, is there for a hearer to just take the speaker’s word, given that the speaker is capable of lies, deception, error, and poor, ambiguous, or misleading expression? For the hearer to trust the speaker’s word is for the hearer to ascribe authority to the speaker. Within the limits of presumed competence, the hearer ascribes to the speaker justification or warrant or knowledge for what she asserts. The hearer takes the speaker to be in a better position to settle the matter easily and transmit the relevant information, and so seeks the speaker’s testimony (Gibbard 1990; Brandom 1994; Faulkner 2007; Keren 2007). Does the hearer have good reason to ascribe that authority? In what follows, this is referred to as the Vulnerability Problem."


Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/testimony-episprob/

-- Updated November 3rd, 2017, 10:30 am to add the following --
Chili wrote:
Consul wrote: Physics isn't the only natural science, let alone the only empirical science, so scientific knowledge is more than physical knowledge; and in "concrete reality" I use "concrete" in the sense of "physical or mental" (inclusive "or", which doesn't exclude the mental and sociocultural forms thereof from being part of the physical).
Do you consider any empirical natural science to have results which contradict physics? Or is it just that chemistry & biology offer shortcuts that trying to tackle via physics is too laborious.
In my understanding, natural science = physical science = physics + chemistry + biology. That is, I regard chemistry as chemophysics and biology as biophysics, such that these sciences cannot contradict basic physics and its laws. I do so because I think the ontology of chemistry and the ontology of biology are reducible to the ontology of basic physics. Chemical entities and biological ones are physical systems. There are no hyperphysical chemical or biological entities such as an élan vital, a nonphysical life-force. In contemporary biology, vitalism is as dead as the dodo.

Note that this ontological reductionism is different from and independent of ideological or theoretical reductionism, the view that all scientific concepts/predicates and theories are translatable into and replaceable by the concepts/predicates and theories of physics. Chemistry and biology are conceptually and theoretically autonomous sciences, but they are not ontologically autonomous, in the sense that their respective ontologies don't contain any hyperphysical, physically irreducible entities.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Steve3007
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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Steve3007 » November 3rd, 2017, 11:48 am

Consul:
In my understanding, natural science = physical science = physics + chemistry + biology. That is, I regard chemistry as chemophysics and biology as biophysics, such that these sciences cannot contradict basic physics and its laws. I do so because I think the ontology of chemistry and the ontology of biology are reducible to the ontology of basic physics. Chemical entities and biological ones are physical systems. There are no hyperphysical chemical or biological entities such as an élan vital, a nonphysical life-force. In contemporary biology, vitalism is as dead as the dodo.
Attributed to Ernest Rutherford:
That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting.
I presume he had Chemistry and Biology in mind.

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Chili » November 3rd, 2017, 11:53 am

Consul wrote:Note that this ontological reductionism is different from and independent of ideological or theoretical reductionism, the view that all scientific concepts/predicates and theories are translatable into and replaceable by the concepts/predicates and theories of physics. Chemistry and biology are conceptually and theoretically autonomous sciences, but they are not ontologically autonomous, in the sense that their respective ontologies don't contain any hyperphysical, physically irreducible entities.
The lack "ideological or theoretical" reductionism - is it fundamental, or is a lack of computing power which prevents these fields from being recast as physics?

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Consul » November 3rd, 2017, 12:12 pm

Steve3007 wrote: Attributed to Ernest Rutherford:
That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting.
I presume he had Chemistry and Biology in mind.
Physicalists (in the ontological sense of the term) don't have to regard all academic disciplines other than physics as non- or pseudosciences. As far as I'm concerned, I don't.

-- Updated November 3rd, 2017, 11:28 am to add the following --
Chili wrote:
Consul wrote:Note that this ontological reductionism is different from and independent of ideological or theoretical reductionism, the view that all scientific concepts/predicates and theories are translatable into and replaceable by the concepts/predicates and theories of physics. Chemistry and biology are conceptually and theoretically autonomous sciences, but they are not ontologically autonomous, in the sense that their respective ontologies don't contain any hyperphysical, physically irreducible entities.
The lack "ideological or theoretical" reductionism - is it fundamental, or is a lack of computing power which prevents these fields from being recast as physics?
Good question! It is arguable that if ontological physicalism is true, what Robert Kirk calls redescriptive physicalism is true too. That is, then it seems possible in principle at least, if not in practice (for us humans) to alternatively express and describe all (chemical, biological, psychological, and sociological) facts of nature in the language of physics

"There is nothing in the world but things describable in terms of physics. That is a version of physicalism, and I am strongly inclined to accept it. If it is true, then descriptions of the world in non-physical terms are different ways of talking about what physics describes: a vast swirl of matter and energy. Consider a pebble. It is an aggregate of atoms and subatomic particles; if you have the aggregate, you have the pebble. So a statement such as ‘There is a heap of pebbles at x,y,z,t’ is a redescription of what could have been specified in terms of the locations and states of particles. Similarly, I shall argue, mental truths such as ‘Napoleon had a headache on 1st April 1800’ are redescriptions of parts or aspects of what could have been specified in terms of the locations and states of particles."

(Kirk, Robert. The Conceptual Link from Physical to Mental. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 1)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Chili » November 3rd, 2017, 12:35 pm

Consul wrote:"There is nothing in the world but things describable in terms of physics. That is a version of physicalism, and I am strongly inclined to accept it. If it is true, then descriptions of the world in non-physical terms are different ways of talking about what physics describes: a vast swirl of matter and energy. Consider a pebble. It is an aggregate of atoms and subatomic particles; if you have the aggregate, you have the pebble. So a statement such as ‘There is a heap of pebbles at x,y,z,t’ is a redescription of what could have been specified in terms of the locations and states of particles. Similarly, I shall argue, mental truths such as ‘Napoleon had a headache on 1st April 1800’ are redescriptions of parts or aspects of what could have been specified in terms of the locations and states of particles."

(Kirk, Robert. The Conceptual Link from Physical to Mental. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 1)
Ah but his very example steps into questionable space, since it posits Napoleon's internal experience, which is not really so much implied to exist by physics. Perhaps if he reworded it to "Napoleon *reported* a headache" ...

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Consul » November 3rd, 2017, 1:52 pm

Chili wrote:
Consul wrote:"There is nothing in the world but things describable in terms of physics. That is a version of physicalism, and I am strongly inclined to accept it. If it is true, then descriptions of the world in non-physical terms are different ways of talking about what physics describes: a vast swirl of matter and energy. Consider a pebble. It is an aggregate of atoms and subatomic particles; if you have the aggregate, you have the pebble. So a statement such as ‘There is a heap of pebbles at x,y,z,t’ is a redescription of what could have been specified in terms of the locations and states of particles. Similarly, I shall argue, mental truths such as ‘Napoleon had a headache on 1st April 1800’ are redescriptions of parts or aspects of what could have been specified in terms of the locations and states of particles."

(Kirk, Robert. The Conceptual Link from Physical to Mental. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. p. 1)
Ah but his very example steps into questionable space, since it posits Napoleon's internal experience, which is not really so much implied to exist by physics. Perhaps if he reworded it to "Napoleon *reported* a headache" ...
Of course, physicalism is a contentious position, but its adherents do believe and assert that the physical facts fix all the facts (ontologically rather than just nomologically, such that zombie scenarios are absolutely impossible).

I should have added in my previous post that even if all nonphysical (chemical/biological/psychological/sociological) facts are in principle physically describable, nonphysical concepts/predicates and propositions/sentences are not synonymous with physical ones. Gottlob Frege famously distinguished between sense/meaning and reference; so if physicalism is true, there is some (true) physical description PD for every (true) nonphysical description NPD, such that PD and NPD have different meanings but refer to the same fact/state of affairs. That is to say, PD and NPD are different "modes of presentation" of the same fact/state of affairs.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Chili » November 3rd, 2017, 2:08 pm

Consul wrote:Of course, physicalism is a contentious position, but its adherents do believe and assert that the physical facts fix all the facts (ontologically rather than just nomologically, such that zombie scenarios are absolutely impossible).
Could you elaborate on that? What version of zombie scenario is impossible?

The AI program which doesn't quite fool adults of normal intelligence today will still convince children & low-iq adults that it is conscious. So there can be disagreement regarding whether the entity on the other side of the online interaction is a conscious person or a non-conscious zombie imitation.

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Consul » November 3rd, 2017, 4:13 pm

Chili wrote:
Consul wrote:Of course, physicalism is a contentious position, but its adherents do believe and assert that the physical facts fix all the facts (ontologically rather than just nomologically, such that zombie scenarios are absolutely impossible).
Could you elaborate on that? What version of zombie scenario is impossible?

The one according to which there is an ontologically possible world where nonconscious physical duplicates of conscious beings exist.

"I said ‘the’ idea of zombies, but there is more than one even if we ignore Caribbean folklore. To make sure we agree on the relevant zombie idea, imagine that somewhere in this or another world there is an exact physical double of yourself. It not only looks and behaves like you, it matches you in every detail of body and brain: it is a particle-for-particle duplicate. So (we can assume) it says and writes exactly the same things as you do. In my own case this creature talks a lot about consciousness, which it apparently regards as a deep philosophical problem. It even writes articles and books on the subject. Naturally everyone treats it as if it were conscious. Not only is that attitude natural; it seems to be supported by overwhelming evidence. How could this creature talk and write about consciousness unless it were conscious? But the example is strictly philosophical, and this particular physical duplicate is a philosophical zombie. By definition philosophical zombies are supposed to have no conscious experiences at all: ‘all is silent and dark within’.

All the philosophers I know—indeed all the sane people I know—agree that in fact there are no philosophical zombies. Not only that: they agree they are ruled out by the laws of nature. But the question is whether zombies are possible at all. Is there a possible world where there are zombies in the sense explained: a world physically like what we tend to assume the actual world is, including organisms physically just like ourselves, but where there are no ‘qualia’ (to introduce a word I try to avoid if possible, and will say more about later)? If zombies are so much as a bare possibility, the world is a very paradoxical place. That possibility doesn't just imply that there is more to us than the behavioural or other physical facts can provide for. It implies that our part of the world involves something non-physical, on top of the molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles that compose our bodies and those of other sentient creatures. If on the other hand zombies are not possible, then if we can make clear why that is so, we shall have solved the hardest part of the mind-body problem."


(Kirk, Robert. Zombies and Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. pp. 3-4)
Chili wrote:The AI program which doesn't quite fool adults of normal intelligence today will still convince children & low-iq adults that it is conscious. So there can be disagreement regarding whether the entity on the other side of the online interaction is a conscious person or a non-conscious zombie imitation.
Yes, but if physicalism is true, what is ruled out a priori is the possibility that the AI machine or robot in question is a philosophical zombie in the sense of being a nonconscious physical duplicate of a conscious agent. Its behavior might be extremely similar to or virtually indistinguishable from that of a conscious agent, but there would still be certain internal structural and functional differences making the difference between nonconsciousness and consciousness.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Chili » November 3rd, 2017, 4:25 pm

Consul wrote:"All the philosophers I know—indeed all the sane people I know—agree that in fact there are no philosophical zombies."
More commentary from the very familiar universe of the emperor's new clothes. He is declaring others to not be zombies, and furthermore declaring anyone who questions this to be not "sane". (This is called circular thinking.) He should put away his academic clothes and put on the clothes of a pope or an emperor, I think.

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Consul » November 3rd, 2017, 4:56 pm

Chili wrote:
Consul wrote:"All the philosophers I know—indeed all the sane people I know—agree that in fact there are no philosophical zombies."
More commentary from the very familiar universe of the emperor's new clothes. He is declaring others to not be zombies, and furthermore declaring anyone who questions this to be not "sane". (This is called circular thinking.) He should put away his academic clothes and put on the clothes of a pope or an emperor, I think.
No, he's stating a social fact about the philosophical community, and to say that "in fact there are no philosophical zombies" is not to dismiss the epistemological problem of other minds/consciousnesses in general and the problem of third-person criteria for (the absence or presence) consciousness in a given individual or species in particular.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Chili » November 3rd, 2017, 5:04 pm

Consul wrote: No, he's stating a social fact about the philosophical community, and to say that "in fact there are no philosophical zombies" is not to dismiss the epistemological problem of other minds/consciousnesses in general and the problem of third-person criteria for (the absence or presence) consciousness in a given individual or species in particular.
Ok. Thanks.

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Re: The Weaknesses of Naturalsim

Post by Steve3007 » November 5th, 2017, 8:53 am

Consul:
Physicalists (in the ontological sense of the term) don't have to regard all academic disciplines other than physics as non- or pseudosciences. As far as I'm concerned, I don't.
Neither do I. I'm just a sucker for snappy sound bites.

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