This paper explores the theme “quantum approaches to consciousness” by considering the work of one of the pioneers in the field. The physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) not only made important contributions to quantum physics, but also had a long-term interest in interpreting the results of quantum physics and relativity in order to develop a general world view. His idea was further that living and mental processes could be understood in a new, scientifically and philosophically more coherent way in the context of such a new world view. This paper gives a brief overview of different – and sometimes contradictory - aspects of Bohm’s research programme, and evaluates how they can be used to give an account of topics of interest in contemporary consciousness studies, such as analogies between thought and quantum processes, the problem of mental causation, the mind-body problem and the problem of time consciousness.
In Dasgupta (2013) I defended a relationalist view of mass. On this view mass is fundamentally relational, so that the state of a physical system vis-a-vis mass consists at bottom just in facts about mass-relationships, such as that one body is more massive than another. This is in contrast to the absolutist view that in addition to the mass-relations there are further facts about which “intrinsic” mass each body has. In my paper I discussed a number of virtues of
The need for expressing temporal constraints in conceptual models is well-known, but it is unclear which representation is preferred and what would be easier to understand by modellers. We assessed five different modes of representing temporal constraints, being the formal semantics, Description logics notation, a coding-style notation, temporal EER diagrams, and (pseudo-)natural language sentences. The same information was presented to 15 participants in an experimental evaluation. Principally, it showed that 1) there was a clear preference for diagrams and natural language versus a dislike for other representations; 2) diagrams were preferred for simple constraints, but the natural language rendering was preferred for more complex temporal constraints; and 3) a multi-modal modelling tool will be needed for the data analysis stage to be effective.
In this paper I discuss the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment by giving a straightforward account in standard quantum mechanics. At first glance, the experiment suggests that measurements on one part of an entangled photon pair (the idler) can be employed to control whether the measurement outcome of the other part of the photon pair (the signal) produces interference fringes at a screen after being sent through a double slit. Significantly, the choice whether there is interference or not can be made long after the signal photon encounters the screen. The results of the experiment have been alleged to invoke some sort of ‘backwards in time influences’. I argue that in the standard collapse interpretation the issue can be eliminated by taking into account the collapse of the overall entangled state due to the signal photon. Likewise, in the de Broglie-Bohm picture the particle’s trajectories can be given a well-defined description at any instant of time during the experiment. Thus, there is no need to resort to any kind of ‘backwards in time influence’. As a matter of fact, the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment turns out to resemble a Bell-type measurement, and so there really is no mystery.
In the comments on the previous post I was alerted, by Matthias Michel, to a couple of papers that I had not yet read. The first was a paper in Neuroscience Research which came out in 2016:
Using category theory to assess the relationship between consciousness and integrated information theory by Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Shigeru Taguchi, and Hayato Saigo
And the second was a paper in Philosophy Compass that came out in March 2017:
“What is it like to be a bat?”—a pathway to the answer from the integrated information theory by Naotsugu Tsuchiya
After reading these I realized that I had heard an early version of this stuff when I was part of a plenary session with Tsuchiya in Tucson back in April of 2016. …
Scientists have developed a new technology, CRISPR-Cas9, for editing genes in day old human embryos. The technology (explained here with terrific graphics) was used to edit out a gene that leads to a severe heart detect, though the embryos were then discarded. …
Psychophysical supervenience requires that the mental properties of a system cannot change without the change of its physical properties. For a system with many minds, the principle requires that the mental properties of each mind of the system cannot change without the change of the physical properties of the system. In this paper, I argue that Everett’s theory seems to violate this principle of psychophysical supervenience. The violation results from the three key assumptions of the theory: (1) the completeness of the physical description by the wave function, (2) the linearity of the dynamics for the wave function, and (3) multiplicity. For a post-measurement state with two decoherent result branches, multiplicity means that each result branch corresponds to a mindful observer, whose mental properties supervene on the branch, and in particular, whose mental content contains a definite record corresponding to the result branch. Under certain unitary evolution which swaps the two result branches, the post-measurement state does not change, and the completeness of the physical description by the wave function then means that the physical state of the composite system does not change. While the linearity of the dynamics for the wave function requires that each result branch changes, and correspondingly the mental properties of the observer which supervene on the branch also change. Thus the principle of psychophysical supervenience as defined above is violated by Everett’s theory.
Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. This paper proposes a unified framework for modelling levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and show that it can accommodate descriptive, explanatory, and ontological notions of levels. I further illustrate the usefulness of this framework by applying it to some salient philosophical questions: (1) Is there a linear hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the bottom? And what does the answer to this question imply for physicalism, the thesis that everything supervenes on the physical? (2) Are there emergent properties? (3) Are higher-level descriptions reducible to lower-level ones? (4) Can the relationship between normative and non-normative domains be viewed as one involving levels? Although I use the terminology of “levels”, the proposed framework can also represent “scales”, “domains”, or “subject matters”, where these are not linearly but only partially ordered by relations of supervenience or inclusion.
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As any parent can readily testify, little kids get upset. A lot. Sometimes it’s for broadly comprehensible stuff - because they have to go to bed or to daycare, for example. …
Transhumanism is a movement aimed at enhancing and lengthening our lives by means of futuristic technology. The name derives from the ultimate goal of freeing us from the limitations imposed by our humanity. Human beings are subject to many ills: disability, exhaustion, hunger, injury, disease, ageing, and death, among others. They set a limit to the length and quality of our lives. There’s only so much you can do to make a human being better off, simply because of what it is to be human. But if we could cease to be human in the biological sense–better yet, if we could cease to be biological at all–these limitations could be overcome. An inorganic person would not be subject to exhaustion, disease, ageing, or death. The length and quality of her life could be extended more or less indefinitely. So it would be a great benefit, transhumanists say, if we could make ourselves inorganic.
As with so many issues in gay and lesbian philosophy, Claudia Card may have said it best. Sexuality, she tells us, shows that “a more generous vocabulary is needed than is provided by the dichotomy of ‘freely chosen’ on the one hand and ‘fated’ or ‘determined’ on the other.” In this paper I will not claim that theorizing about sexual identity solves the philosophical dilemma of free will and determinism. I will argue, however, that gay and lesbian experience may show us a way to reject a rigid division between traits and aspects of the self (like sexuality) that seem determined and aspects of the self that seem freely chosen. To do this, however, it will be necessary to show that our enduring sexual desire, what we ordinarily think of as sexual orientation, is partly constituted by choice. Showing that our orientation originates partly in our own choices will of course change dramatically our understanding of sexual desire and sexual identity, as well as present a more ambiguous picture of the relationship between aspects of the self that appear determined and those that appear chosen.
What is an epiphenomenal property? This question needs to be settled before we get to decide whether higher-level properties are epiphenomenal or not. In this paper, I offer an account of what it is for a property to have some causal power. From this, I derive a characterisation of the notion of an epiphenomenal property. I then argue that physically realized higher-level properties are not epiphenomenal because laws of nature impose causal similarities on the bearers of such properties, and these similarities figure as powers in the causal profiles of these properties.
The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness has been garnering some attention lately. There was even a very high profile piece in Nature. Having just listened to Hakwan Lau’s talk on this (available at this conference website) I thought I would write down a couple of reactions. …
Suppose a blind man can tell by touch the difference between a sphere and a cube: Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man to be made to see. Quaere, whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish, and tell, which is the globe, which the cube.
Comparative work in the history of philosophy is a difficult thing to do well. It requires bringing into dialogue systems and arguments which are, even when close chronological and intellectual connections exist, often driven by very different ambitions and pressures, and which are frequently couched in terminological and conceptual frameworks untranslatable without remainder. Yet such comparative work is also extremely important. This is in part because of the complex and distinctive relation between philosophy and its past. It was for Kant, and for many of his successors within European thought, both natural and necessary to vindicate their work in part by relating it to pre-existing dialectics and texts: above all, by providing a type of error theory, an explanation of how one might plausibly arrive at, say Humean empiricism, and yet why it was nevertheless fundamentally mistaken - a tactic that at times achieves something close to methodological dominance once one reaches Hegel and Heidegger.
Is virtual reality truly real? The most common view is that virtual reality is a sort of fictional or illusory reality, and that what goes in in virtual reality is not truly real. I will defend the opposite view: virtual reality is a sort of genuine reality, and what goes on in virtual reality is truly real. The issue manifests itself in a number of questions. Are virtual objects, such as the avatars and tools found in a typical virtual world, real or fictional? Do virtual events, such as a trek through a virtual world, really take place? When we perceive virtual worlds by having immersive experiences of a world surrounding us, are our experiences illusory? And are experiences in a virtual world as valuable as experiences in a nonvirtual world?
When I was in graduate school, I recall hearing “One starts as a materialist, then one becomes a dualist, then a panpsychist, and one ends up as an idealist”. I don’t know where this comes from, but I think the idea was something like this. First, one is impressed by the successes of science, endorsing materialism about everything and so about the mind. Second, one is moved by problem of consciousness to see a gap between physics and consciousness, thereby endorsing dualism, where both matter and consciousness are fundamental. Third, one is moved by the inscrutability of matter to realize that science reveals at most the structure of matter and not its underlying nature, and to speculate that this nature may involve consciousness, thereby endorsing panpsychism. Fourth, one comes to think that there is little reason to believe in anything beyond consciousness and that the physical world is wholly constituted by consciousness, thereby endorsing idealism. Some recent strands in philosophical discussion of the mind–body problem have recapitulated this progression: the rise of materialism in the 1950s and 1960s, the dualist response in the 1980s and 1990s, the festival of panpsychism in the 2000s, and some recent stirrings of idealism. In my own work, I have certainly taken the first two steps and have flirted heavily with the third. In this paper I want to examine the prospects for the fourth step: the move to idealism.
We define a notion of difference-making for partial grounds of a fact in rough analogy to existing notions of difference-making for causes of an event. Using orthodox assumptions about ground, we show that it induces a non-trivial division with examples of partial grounds on both sides. We then demonstrate the theoretical fruitfulness of the notion by applying it to the analysis of a certain kind of putative counter-example to the transitivity of ground recently described by Jonathan Schaffer. First, we show that our conceptual apparatus of difference-making enables us to give a much clearer description than Schaffer does of what makes the relevant instances of transitivity appear problematic. Second, we suggest that difference-making is best seen as a mark of good grounding-based explanations rather than a necessary condition on grounding, and argue that this enables us to deal with the counter-example in a satisfactory way. Along the way, we show that Schaffer’s own proposal for salvaging a form of transitivity by moving to a contrastive conception of ground is unsuccessful. We conclude by sketching some natural strategies for extending our proposal to a more comprehensive account of grounding-based explanations.
There is an argument based on sentences that describe pictures in favor of a viewpoint-centered possible worlds semantics for pictures, over a propositional semantics (J. Ross 1997). The argument involves perspectival lexical items such as “front”. We show that when a projective possible worlds semantics for pictures is employed, there is a problem with the argument coming from propositional contents being strong. The argument is reconstructed in a model modal space involving linear worlds, and it is shown that it works there, by computing the possible worlds semantics. The construction involves propositions and centered propositions that are regular sets of strings. Finally, by manipulating the marking parameter in a projective semantics for pictures, the argument is reconstructed also for 3D models.
A number of philosophers and logicians have argued for the conclusion that maps are logically tractable modes of representation by analyzing them in propositional terms. But in doing so, they have often left what they mean by ‘propositional’ undefined or unjustified. I argue that propositions are characterized by a structure that is digital, universal, asymmetrical, and recursive. There is little positive evidence that maps exhibit these features. Instead, we can better explain their functional structure by taking seriously the observation that maps arrange their constituent elements in a non-hierarchical, holistic structure. This is compatible with the more basic claim advanced by defenders of a propositional analysis: that (many) maps do have a formal semantics and logic.
For the sake of this post, stipulate death to be permanent cessation of existence. Epicurus famously argues that death is not a harm to one, because the living aren’t harmed by death while the dead do not exist. …
Regret is different from remorse is different from shame is different from guilt. At any rate, we can often make these distinctions. And we can often describe attitudes to our past less-than-admirable actions that do not fit easily into any of these categories. I shall attempt to characterize a range of emotions which includes the emotions we apply these words to, but in terms that do not presuppose that the distinctions between them are psychologically or morally very deep. In fact, I don't think they are. Not that there are not important distinctions to make here. I describe an alternative set of distinctions which suggests that the line between moral and non-moral is not well reflected in our attitudes to our past actions.
Let us hug to us as closely as we like that there is real succession, that rivers flow and winds blow, that things burn and burst, that men strive and guess and die. All this is the concrete stuff of the manifold, the reality of serial happening, one event after another, in exactly the time spread which we have been at pains to diagram. What does the theory allege except what we find, and what do we find that is not accepted and asserted by the theory? Suppose a pure intelligence, bred outside of time, instructed in the nature of the manifold and the design of the human space-time worm, with its mnemic organization and the strands of world history which flank it, and suppose him incarnated among us: what could he have expected the temporal experience to be like except just about what he actually discovers it to be? How, in brief, could processes which endure and succeed each other along the time line appear as anything other than enduring and successive processes?
Many scientific models are representations. Building on Goodman and Elgin’s notion of representation-as we analyse what this claim involves by providing a general definition of what makes something a scientific model, and formulating a novel account of how they represent. We call the result the DEKI account of representation, which offers a complex kind of representation involving an interplay of, denotation, exemplification, keying up of properties, and imputation. Throughout we focus on material models, and we illustrate our claims with the Phillips-Newlyn machine. In the conclusion we suggest that, mutatis mutandis, the DEKI account can be carried over to other kinds of models, notably fictional and mathematical models.
Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also
of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives. They are, that is, self-conscious (or, equivalently, self-aware). Self-consciousness can be understood as an awareness of oneself. But a
self-conscious subject is not just aware of something that merely
happens to be themselves, as one is if one sees an old photograph
without realising that it is of oneself. Rather a self-conscious
subject is aware of themselves as themselves; it is manifest
to them that they themselves are the object of awareness.
In this essay I begin to lay out a conceptual scheme for: (i) analysing dualities as cases of theoretical equivalence; (ii) assessing when cases of theoretical equivalence are also cases of physical equivalence. The scheme is applied to gauge/gravity dualities. I expound what I argue to be their contribution to questions about: (iii) the nature of spacetime in quantum gravity; (iv) broader philosophical and physical discussions of spacetime. (i)-(ii) proceed by analysing duality through four contrasts. A duality will be a suitable isomorphism between models: and the four relevant contrasts are as follows: (a) Bare theory: a triple of states, quantities, and dynamics endowed with appropriate structures and symmetries; vs. interpreted theory: which is endowed with, in addition, a suitable pair of interpretative maps.
I'm a dispositionalist about belief. To believe that there is beer in the fridge is nothing more or less than to have a particular suite of dispositions. It is to be disposed, ceteris paribus (all else being equal, or normal, or absent countervailing forces), to behave in certain ways, to have certain conscious experiences, and to transition to related mental states. …
Remarkably little is known regarding what people talk to themselves about (inner speech use) in their everyday lives. Existing self-directed speech measures (e.g., thought sampling and questionnaires) either uniquely capture inner speech frequency and neglect its content, or classify self-reported thoughts instances in overly simplistic categories determined by the researchers. In the current study we describe an open-format thought listing procedure as well as a refined coding scheme and present detailed inner speech content self-generated by 76 university students. The most frequently self-reported inner speech activities were self-regulation (e.g., planning, problem solving), self-reflection (e.g., emotions, self-motivation, appearance, behavior/performance, autobiography), critical thinking (e.g., evaluating, judging, criticizing), people in general, education, and current events. Inner speech occurred most commonly while studying and driving. These results are consistent with the self-regulatory and self-referential functions of inner speech often emphasized in the literature. Future research avenues using the open-format inner speech listing procedure and coding scheme are proposed.
Theories in cognitive science, and especially cognitive neuroscience, often claim that parts of cognitive systems are reused for different cognitive functions. Philosophical analysis of this concept, however, is rare. Here, I first provide a set of criteria for an analysis of reuse, and then I analyze reuse in terms of the functions of subsystems. I also discuss how cognitive systems execute cognitive functions, the relation between learning and reuse, and how to differentiate reuse from related concepts like multi-use, redundancy, and duplication of parts. Finally, I illustrate how my account captures the reuse of dynamical subsystems as unveiled by recent research in cognitive neurobiology. This recent research suggests two different evolutionary justifications for reuse claims.
Here is what I have to say in response to the schmidentity challenge as posed to the sui generis view of identity statements. (See also these two related posts from several years ago.) OK, so we can grant that you can introduce a 'schmidentity' predicate in the way Kripke describes. …