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« Hope for Clinton's campaign | Main | More phenomenal content! »

June 07, 2008


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Are "force and vivacity" subject to purely behavioural/functionalist analysis? I would've thought the associated or enlivened "ideas" are themselves phenomenal, no?

Aaron Boyden

Some of the associated or enlivened ideas may well have notable phenomenal character, sure. So? I don't see exactly what the objection here is. I'm saying that phenomenal character is constituted by what the ideas do in the mind (and so functional). This will also apply to any associated ideas which have phenomenal character (they'll have associations and enlivening effects of their own). Where is the difficulty?


I was thinking of a possible circularity worry, since your reduction basis itself presupposed phenomenology ('enlivening ideas'). But you respond that we can simply repeat the reduction -- "they'll have associations and enlivening effects of their own". That solves the worry about 'ideas'. But you'll also need a non-phenomenlogical notion of 'enliven' here, so you can't appeal to the idea or belief seeming more plausible (because seemings are phenomenal). It must be a purely functional/computational property: e.g. being such as to increase the credence value that the system applies to the proposition. Something like that. But then it no longer seems (to this non-reductionist) that qualia are still in the picture. It seems like you've changed the subject and are talking about something else instead -- the functional properties of association and credence-raising, rather than what it is like to be in some state.

Aaron Boyden

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I fail to see where the subject changed; it seems to me that I was continuing on the same topic. Why do you think what it's like isn't a matter of association and credence-raising? Why do you think those can come apart?


Zombie intuition: you could have a being which exhibits all that same behaviour, processes the same computations, but without there being "anything it is like" for it to go through this process.

Is your account meant to be an analytic reduction? ('Conscious' just means 'credence-raising in a certain way'?) Presumably not. But then it seems we're just left with nomological coincidence or correlation (at most); there's no reason to think the correlation is metaphysically necessary as the materialist would require.


To answer your question, then: they're distinct concepts, and distinct concepts (usually) imply distinct properties (modulo Kripkean complications which don't apply here).

Aaron Boyden

I'm not sure what you mean by an analytic reduction. Is Lewis engaged in an analytic reduction in "An Argument for the Identity Theory"? He speaks of the analytic necessity of experiences having certain causal roles. If that's analytic reduction, I'm sure I'm guilty as well, but I'm not sure why you presumed I wasn't doing it. If that isn't analytic reduction, you'll need to further explain what analytic reduction is.

It is certainly not for Kripkean reasons that I find the inference from distinct concepts to distinct properties suspicious; I am no fan of Kripke. I should think anyone would find it suspicious.

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