Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

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Mosesquine
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Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Mosesquine » September 29th, 2017, 3:43 pm

In this post, I offer some questions about P-zombies hypothesis. P-zombies are, by definition, hypothetical entities that behave like conscious people like us, and that are physically the same as us, but that have no consciousness. The hypothesis was offered genuinely by the philosopher named David Chalmers to refute materialism. If there were physically-equal-but-no-mental-life sorts of things, then materialism would not be the case.

However, I have some questions about the hypothesis. First, is it possible that physically normal beings like us are not conscious??? Dead bodies not like us are not conscious, since they are different from us in the sense of physical states. The question might be put like this: Is there a possible world in which the same physical states lack of metal world???

The second question is mostly the main issue that I am interested in. P-zombies behave like us as if they are conscious but they are not conscious. How can non-conscious being behave like conscious??? This is very important. In our actual world, people who are not conscious cannot behave like conscious.

Conscious behaviors imply being conscious. If you are behaving with consciousness, then you are conscious. If you are not conscious, then you cannot behave like you are conscious. So, the second question is more important.

I am very interested in what you think.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by JamesOfSeattle » September 29th, 2017, 6:59 pm

[Devil's advocate hat firmly in place]

Consciousness is not about behavior. Consciousness is about what it feels like to have experiences. I can experience the sight and sound of wind in a tree without doing anything, i.e., exhibiting behavior. Also, a machine can be caused to say "ooooo look at that wind!" without having the experience of seeing the tree. So why can't you have a machine that is caused to act like a human but doesn't actually have any of the feelings that a human has?

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Burning ghost » September 29th, 2017, 7:56 pm

Think of a computer game where you decide what the character in some story line does. Within the game there are also characters that act independently but appear as if having their own thoughts and goals (essentially p-zombies for this analogy). If you then had a human observer they may not be able to distinguish between the characters as being under human control or led by automated responses (this would depend upon the complexity of the game).

The point is we can imagine this as if it were impossible to tell any difference between human and non-human operations.
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Atreyu » September 30th, 2017, 3:52 am

Mosesquine wrote:How can non-conscious being behave like conscious??? This is very important. In our actual world, people who are not conscious cannot behave like conscious.

Conscious behaviors imply being conscious. If you are behaving with consciousness, then you are conscious. If you are not conscious, then you cannot behave like you are conscious. So, the second question is more important.
This is quite false. I can easily imagine a good robot behaving like a conscious entity. And people can certainly do things consciously or unconsciously, and an observer would not know the difference. You can be daydreaming, and not aware of what you are doing in the least, and still do the dishes, sweep the floor, organize things, etc. For example, you can walk into a room, see the light switch is off, and say to yourself 'I will now turn the lights on' and then turn them on. Or you can walk into the room and, without thinking about it or even being aware of it in the least, mechanically and automatically just flick the lights on. And an observer in the room would have no way of knowing which was which, when they simply watch you turning the lights on.

So the P-Zombies hypothesis is quite correct. Consciousness cannot be seen in others, only in oneself....

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Steve3007 » October 1st, 2017, 6:51 am

OP:
If there were physically-equal-but-no-mental-life sorts of things, then materialism would not be the case.
I don't see how that conclusion follows from that premise.
First, is it possible that physically normal beings like us are not conscious???
As Descartes famously noted, it's possible of everybody else except yourself. Although later people pointed out that even that is open to debate.

But just because something is possible doesn't necessarily make it useful to entertain it as a serious idea.
The second question is mostly the main issue that I am interested in. P-zombies behave like us as if they are conscious but they are not conscious. How can non-conscious being behave like conscious??? This is very important. In our actual world, people who are not conscious cannot behave like conscious.
You've presumably heard of the Turing test?
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Atreyu » October 3rd, 2017, 10:40 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
First, is it possible that physically normal beings like us are not conscious???
As Descartes famously noted, it's possible of everybody else except yourself. Although later people pointed out that even that is open to debate.

But just because something is possible doesn't necessarily make it useful to entertain it as a serious idea.
The question of whether or not we are really conscious is a very important idea, because in a way, it's the beginning of actual self-knowledge. In reality, people are rarely fully aware of what they're doing and why, i.e. they're not normally conscious, as we understand and define it, and in the way we like to imagine ourselves being. And once this is realized, a man might look for ways to strengthen and augment consciousness in himself. However, if one assumes that himself and everyone else is "conscious", one will never make any efforts in this area.
The second question is mostly the main issue that I am interested in. P-zombies behave like us as if they are conscious but they are not conscious. How can non-conscious being behave like conscious??? This is very important. In our actual world, people who are not conscious cannot behave like conscious.
Quite false. People do this all the time, and I gave some examples above. We unconsciously and automatically do things all the time, and I'm not just referring to the automatic instinctive functions of the body, I'm referring to unconscious and automatic thoughts, feelings, and actions. In fact, this is the norm. We're not in control of our thoughts much of the time (daydreaming), we're never in control of our feelings (easily seen with negative emotions and outbursts like anger or fear), and often our physical "voluntary" movements are quite habitual and mechanical (like flipping the light switch when we walk in a room).

And the P-Zombies Hypothesis is a very clever way of showing this....

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Consul » October 4th, 2017, 1:20 pm

Steve3007 wrote:OP:
If there were physically-equal-but-no-mental-life sorts of things, then materialism would not be the case.
I don't see how that conclusion follows from that premise.
According to materialism, mental properties are either identical to, or different from but (metaphysically/ontologically) necessitated by (certain) physical properties of subjects, such that there is no (metaphysically/ontologically) possible world where there are physical duplicates of subjects of mentality which aren't themselves subjects of mentality. So if materialism is true, the existence of P-zombies may be conceivable, but it is impossible. And if their existence were possible, materialism would be false.
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Chili » October 5th, 2017, 7:21 pm

My own thinking goes along the lines of what many people here have said. The problem of other minds - combined with the mounting successes of reductionist science - lead one to increasingly entertain the idea that while one's own consciousness is undeniable, that other minds are quite the opposite. Using scientific methods, "you can't get there from here".

I read and re-read Chalmer's summation of p-Zombies and keep noticing that there is a blithe assumption of other minds. If one does not make that slip, then upon considering the "hard problem of consciousness", one is really not left with anything more that the "problem of other minds" but muddled a bit.

The argument seems to be something like: since we all know that we all are conscious, then we know for sure that nobody is a p-Zombie. But What If There Were?

By presuming to skate around the other minds problem, something confusing statements are made.

Can anyone describe the hard problem of consciousness in a way which differentiates it from the problem of other minds.

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Consul » October 6th, 2017, 5:44 pm

Chili wrote:Can anyone describe the hard problem of consciousness in a way which differentiates it from the problem of other minds.
"The problem of other minds is the problem of how to justify the almost universal belief that others have minds very like our own."

(SEP entry on Other Minds)

So this is basically an epistemological problem.

"The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious. It is the problem of explaining why there is “something it is like” for a subject in conscious experience, why conscious mental states “light up” and directly appear to the subject."

(IEP entry on The Hard Problem of Consciousness)

So this is basically an ontological problem.

"The subjective nature of consciousness presents a real puzzle to both neuroscientists and philosophers these days and (at least in the case of the philosophers) also some days ago: How is it possible that something as subjective as consciousness and its phenomenal features can arise within the objective physical world in general, and our seemingly purely physical brain in particular? This question touches upon what philosophers like David Chalmers describe as the “hard problem.”
Put in an abbreviated way, this hard problem is the question of why there is and how it is possible that there is consciousness and thus subjectivity at all in the midst of an otherwise purely objective and completely non-conscious physical world. To address this question, the focus in this second volume shifts from the brain itself and its physical features, as dealt with in the first volume, to consciousness and its phenomenal features: How can the seemingly objective and purely physical brain possibly generate something as subjective and phenomenal as consciousness?"


(Northoff, Georg. Unlocking the Brain, Vol 2: Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. p. xvi)
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Chili » October 6th, 2017, 7:19 pm

So roughly it is as I said. One skips over the inability to know about other minds, assumes they are out there, and then asks, how it is that they exist.

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Consul » October 6th, 2017, 7:41 pm

Chili wrote:So roughly it is as I said. One skips over the inability to know about other minds, assumes they are out there, and then asks, how it is that they exist.
The solipsist who thinks that his mind/consciousness is the only one there is is confronted with the hard problem as well.
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Chili » October 6th, 2017, 9:46 pm

Consul wrote:
Chili wrote:So roughly it is as I said. One skips over the inability to know about other minds, assumes they are out there, and then asks, how it is that they exist.
The solipsist who thinks that his mind/consciousness is the only one there is is confronted with the hard problem as well.
No. Especially the reductionist scientist solipsist will say that sure there is matter outside of his mind, but it would be unscientific folly to speculate that it has a mind of its own. No problem.

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Steve3007 » October 7th, 2017, 5:01 pm

Consol:
According to materialism, mental properties are either identical to, or different from but (metaphysically/ontologically) necessitated by (certain) physical properties of subjects, such that there is no (metaphysically/ontologically) possible world where there are physical duplicates of subjects of mentality which aren't themselves subjects of mentality. So if materialism is true, the existence of P-zombies may be conceivable, but it is impossible. And if their existence were possible, materialism would be false.
Yes, ok. I see what you mean now.
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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by Greta » October 7th, 2017, 6:30 pm

Atreyu wrote:We unconsciously and automatically do things all the time, and I'm not just referring to the automatic instinctive functions of the body, I'm referring to unconscious and automatic thoughts, feelings, and actions. In fact, this is the norm. We're not in control of our thoughts much of the time (daydreaming), we're never in control of our feelings (easily seen with negative emotions and outbursts like anger or fear), and often our physical "voluntary" movements are quite habitual and mechanical (like flipping the light switch when we walk in a room).
A great point, Atreyu. This would seem to be leading to a link between focus and what we think of as consciousness.

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Re: Some Questions about P-Zombies Hypothesis

Post by JamesOfSeattle » October 7th, 2017, 11:07 pm

Greta wrote:
Atreyu wrote:We unconsciously and automatically do things all the time, and I'm not just referring to the automatic instinctive functions of the body, I'm referring to unconscious and automatic thoughts, feelings, and actions. In fact, this is the norm. We're not in control of our thoughts much of the time (daydreaming), we're never in control of our feelings (easily seen with negative emotions and outbursts like anger or fear), and often our physical "voluntary" movements are quite habitual and mechanical (like flipping the light switch when we walk in a room).
A great point, Atreyu. This would seem to be leading to a link between focus and what we think of as consciousness.
Atreyu, I'm curious as to your idea of the role of memory with regard to consciousness. You mention flipping a light switch unconsciously, but what if everything regarding consciousness is the same between two such light switch flippings, except one is remembered and one is not? Is it that memory is necessary but not sufficient?

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