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Old 05-20-2019, 12:27 AM
Half Man Half Wit's Avatar
Half Man Half Wit is offline
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Of course not. And Chalmers is not saying that strong emergence is a rejection of physicalism, he's saying it undermines it as a complete description, meaning AIUI that there arises the possibility of some system that is identical to another system in all physical respects, yet differs from it in some observable functional/behavioral aspect. Not being a believer in magic or mysticism, I think this is nonsense.
Well, you can't have your cake and eat it. Either, the physical facts suffice to determine all the facts about a system: then, there's no strong emergence. Or, they don't: then, physicalism is wrong.

Actually a very simple example with Watson was simply the result of its extensive training exercises. In a real sense, no one fully understood what the hell was going in there in terms of the detailed evolution of its database as it was being trained, but the system was gradually getting smarter.
Computers are essentially paradigm examples of weak emergence (so much so that it's often defined in terms of what a computer simulation of a system includes). Witness Bedau's definition of weak emergence in a system S (original emphasis):
Originally Posted by Mark Bedau
Macrostate P of S with microdynamic D is weakly emergent iff P can be derived from D and S's external conditions but only by simulation.
All computers ever do is to deduce higher-level facts (their behavior) from lower-level facts (their programming). You could print out Watson's machine code, and everything it does follows from those instructions; and, while no human being is likely smart enough to perform the derivation, a sufficiently advanced intellect (think Laplace's demon) would have no trouble at all to predict how Watson reacts in every situation. The very fact that Watson is a computer ensures it to be so, as it entails that there's another computer capable of simulating Watson.

So computationalism can never include strong emergence. That would mean to both believe that a computer could simulate a brain, leading to conscious experience, and that a computer simulation of a brain would lack certain aspects of a real mind (the strongly emergent ones).

Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
I note BTW that Chalmers also cites consciousness as the only known example (in his view) of strong emergence. I'll leave you guys to fight that out, since you objected to that idea so strongly!
I have no qualms with Chalmers; he puts forward a consistent position by acknowledging the rejection of physicalism his belief in strong emergence entails. I still think he's wrong, but there's a substantial question to whether he is.

Last edited by Half Man Half Wit; 05-20-2019 at 12:27 AM.