first of all, thanks for your enlightening response, minor editing problems notwithstanding.
“Chalmers believes that, though a zombie world is logically possible, we do not live in one… The only evidence for this theory comes from personal experience… Going by his theory, you see, there is no reason to believe that the laws of physics necessarily cause every human being to be conscious.”
Doesn’t Chalmers cover that point (at least logically) by saying, “Well, I can tell that I am conscious, and therefore not a zombie. What are the odds that, of all the humans walking around me and claiming to be conscious, I am in fact the only one who is?” Any theory in which only David Chalmers achieves qualia-producing consciousness would be, one expects, rather weak. Not that this is bulletproof, but given the nature of the question, I don’t see a much better way around it, considering that the zombie world IS logically possible.
“His theory lacks any way to establish the consciousness of those around us.”
As a more specific criticism of this point, I don’t really think Chalmers is TRYING to establish the consciousness of anyone outside the individual—especially since it is so crucial to his theory that consciousness is non-empirical, completely incapable of being measured, duplicated or verified by any source other than the first-person experiencer of consciousness. It doesn’t seem fair to nail chalmers for not providing that which he claims from the beginning to be impossible.
"Let’s say that your red and blue qualia were switched. If a change in qualia were to alter our subjective experience in any way, then there are two possible outcomes:
- This change will cause a change in behavior, i.e. the spoken phrase: ‘Hey, why did this apple just turn blue?’ If this is the case, qualia can change the physical world."
I’m assuming that you mean the actual, nebulous “qualia” have shifted, and that you don’t just mean that a physical change has caused me to perceive things differently (ie there’s a big difference between you somehow “repolarizing” my rods and cones and, alternatively, me actually perceiving red as blue even though no physical changes have been effected).
This is an interesting point, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Supposing, for example, i had built a computer that could recognize and distinguish between red and blue light. Anything i do to “confuse” the computer into reversing its colors would fall under the “empirical” category i just ruled out—and since there is no evidence that the computer actually experiences color at all, i would have no idea how to affect the computer’s qualia, if in fact it had any.
Which brings us to the interesting point of how one would go about switching a human’s qualia, in light of the non-empirical fiat (this only applies if you bought that part of chalmers’ argument, but i’m assuming you have). It seems impossible to do this.
So, has Chalmers just proposed the ultimate in circular reasoning, as you suggest in the below quote? Or has he found a way to think outside the box so profoundly that it just SEEMS circular to us?
“Chalmers determines the properties of qualia based on what properties are necessary for his theory to work.”
This seems harsh. Chalmers is in a bind from the beginning, seeing as how he is writing a book about consciousness based on the notion that, fundamentally, only Chalmers knows that Chalmers has consciousness, and Chalmers doesn’t know for sure about anybody else. But the only properties of qualia that Chalmers seems confident about are those properties that he observes in his own consciousness, and they consist of “the actual experience of experiencing something.” I didn’t realy notice him changing his definition as the book went on. Then again, perhaps you did.
“Chalmers determines that material ‘stuff’ cannot have the properties that we normally ascribe to consciousness.”
such as we can PERCEIVE it. however, given the example of the just-technically-conscious-because-it-has-two-states light switch, i think it is hasty to say that chalmers does not think consciousness arises out of material properties. It’s just that these are properties with which we are, and evidently shall forever remain, familiar with ONLY by dint of our own personal experience. Material but non-empirical.
“My fundamental objection to Chalmers’s theory is that he believes that there is no reason in the laws of logic for consciousness to arise from a human brain. If we wish to believe that this is true, we must postulate that the laws of physics must be set up just so for this to occur.”
Explain this more, please. How must we set up the laws of physics “just so” according to Chalmers.
Thans for bearing with me on this one…