Re: Mindless Thought Experiments

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Mon Mar 03 2008 - 22:34:06 MST

Matt writes

> Lee Corbin wrote:
>> Krekoski writes
>> > Why is whether something has experience or not even relevant?
>> Because all moral questions revolve around the answer! And so unless
>> you are a complete nihilist, solipsist, or sociopath, all actions whatsoever
>> that affect other sentients depend crucially upon the answer.
> No it doesn't. Morality evolved (memetically) because it increases overall
> fitness of the tribe. Thus, hunting, war, and judicial punishment are
> permitted.

Of course. And you do account nicely for its existence and properties

What I was saying is that *your* own morality, e.g. the answers you would
provide to morally challenging questions, depends utterly on the experiences
you expect others to have.

This is obvious. For example, if you could prevent extreme pain from
afflicting one of two creatures of your acquaintance, and you are having
a hard time deciding, the question is immediately resolved were you
to learn the truth that one was a robot incapable of sensation.

So, you see, whether something has experience or can be extremely relevant.

> There is no test to tell whether something has experiences or just expresses
> belief in experience.

Yes. But there will still be a fact of the matter, whether or not we are
able to learn it.

> However, evolution favors animals that behave as if they believe that
> experience is real (e.g. actively avoiding pain). This might explain
> why you find consciousness so mysterious.

Consciousness is only mysterious to me in the same way that the sun's
corona is mysterious. (We don't yet know for sure why it's so hot.)
As yet, we don't have very good criteria for determining just how conscious
a system under examination is.


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