Matching Items (5)

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On Consciousness in Artificial and Non-Biological Systems

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The problems addressed by the philosophy of mind arise anew when we consider the possibility of consciousness in artificial and non-biological systems. In this thesis I adapt traditional theories of

The problems addressed by the philosophy of mind arise anew when we consider the possibility of consciousness in artificial and non-biological systems. In this thesis I adapt traditional theories of mind and theories meaning in natural language to the new problems posed by these non-human systems, attempting answers to the questions: Can a given system think? Can a given system have subjective experiences? Can a given system have intentionality? Together these capture most of the typical features of consciousness discussed in the literature. Hence, answers to these questions have the potential to form a basis for a robust and practical future theory of consciousness in non-human systems, and I argue that the broad classes of functionalist and emergentist theories of mind are those worth considering more in the literature. The answers given in this thesis through the lenses of these two classes of theories are not exclusive, and may interact with or be supportive of one another. The functionalist account tells us that a system can be thinking, sentient, and intentional just in case it exhibits the correct structure, and the emergentist account tells us how this structure might arise from previous systems of the right complexity. What these necessary structures or complexities are depends on which functionalist and emergentist accounts we accept, and so this thesis also addresses some of the possibilities allowed for by certain variants of these theories. What we shall obtain, in the end, are some prima facie reasons for believing that certain systems can be conscious in the ways described above.

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Date Created
  • 2017-05

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Is interactive computation a superset of Turing computation?

Description

Modern computers interact with the external environment in complex ways — for instance, they interact with human users via keyboards, mouses, monitors, etc., and with other computers via networking. Existing

Modern computers interact with the external environment in complex ways — for instance, they interact with human users via keyboards, mouses, monitors, etc., and with other computers via networking. Existing models of computation — Turing machines, λ-calculus functions, etc. — cannot model these behaviors completely. Some additional conceptual apparatus is required in order to model processes of interactive computation.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Disputes and defective disputes

Description

One activity for which philosophers are perhaps best known is having disputes with one another. Some non-philosophers, and increasingly many philosophers, believe that a number of these disputes are silly

One activity for which philosophers are perhaps best known is having disputes with one another. Some non-philosophers, and increasingly many philosophers, believe that a number of these disputes are silly or misguided in some way. Call such silly or misguided disputes defective disputes. When is a dispute defective? What kinds of defective disputes are there? How are these different kinds of defective disputes different from one another? What does it mean to call a dispute 'merely verbal'? These questions come up for consideration in Part One of this manuscript. In Part Two I examine whether certain disputes in ontology and over the nature of possible worlds are defective in any of the ways described in Part One. I focus mainly on the question of whether these disputes are merely verbal disputes, though I examine whether they are defective in any other ways. I conclude that neither dispute is defective in any of the senses that I make clear in Part One. Moreover, I conclude that even some defective philosophical disputes can be worth consideration under certain circumstances.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Equal treatment for equal relevance: the unjustifiable exemption of farm animals from animal cruelty laws

Description

In the past 100 years pet, zoo/aquarium, and research animals have gained unprecedented legal protection from unnecessary human harm via the creation of strict animal cruelty laws. Due to the

In the past 100 years pet, zoo/aquarium, and research animals have gained unprecedented legal protection from unnecessary human harm via the creation of strict animal cruelty laws. Due to the work of moral philosophers and compassionate lawyers/judges animal cruelty laws have been improved to provide harsher punishments for violations, had their scopes widened to include more animals and had their language changed to better match our evolving conception of animals as independent living entities rather than as merely things for human use. However, while the group of pet, zoo/aquarium, and research animals has enjoyed more consideration by the US legal system, another group of animals has inexplicably been ignored. The farm animals that humans raise for use as food are exempted from nearly every state and federal animal cruelty law for no justifiable reason. In this paper I will argue that our best moral and legal theories concede that we should take animal suffering seriously, and that no relevant difference exists between the group of animals protected by animal cruelty laws and farm animals. Given the lack of a relevant distinction between these two groups I will conclude that current animal cruelty laws should be amended to include farm animals.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Private property, coercion, and the Impossibility of libertarianism

Description

Libertarians affirm the right to liberty, i.e., the right to do what one wants free from interference. Libertarians also affirm the right to private property. One objection to libertarianism is

Libertarians affirm the right to liberty, i.e., the right to do what one wants free from interference. Libertarians also affirm the right to private property. One objection to libertarianism is that private property relations restrict liberty. This objection appears to have the consequence that libertarianism is an incoherent position. I examine Jan Narveson's version of the libertarian view and his defense of its coherence. Narveson understands the right to liberty as a prohibition on the initiation of force. I argue that if that is what the right to liberty is, then the enforcement of property rights violates it. I also examine Narveson's attempt to support private property with his distinction between interference with and mere prevention of activity and argue that this distinction does not do the work that he needs it to do. My conclusion is that libertarianism is, in a sense, impossible because conceptually unsound.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011