- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Brains in Vats1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 27/05/2020): Brains in Vats
- There are three variants that I want to consider:-
- The traditional disembodied brain in a vat of nutrients, connected to the world by input sensory and output motor devices.
- The Matrix-case, where the “vat” is a living human body, but where we have the same exchange of sensory and motor messages with a computer. I have a real body4, but not the one I think I have.
- The simulation case (which depends on Functionalism5 for any plausibility whatever), whereby I am living in a computer simulation. I am a computer program6.
- I’m not sure how well-motivated these supposed possibilities are for an explanation of what we are7. Within the context of my research project, I’ve no interest in the sceptical use of these TEs8, but there may be other uses.
- "Bostrom (Nick) - Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?" (2003) argues that it is highly probable that we are computer simulations (Case 3 above). See also the altercation below:-
→ "Weatherson (Brian) - Are You a Sim?" (2003), and
→ "Bostrom (Nick) - The Simulation Argument: Reply to Weatherson" (2005).
- "Chalmers (David) - The Matrix as Metaphysics" (2005) seems to take the possibility of our being brains in vats (in the traditional “Case 1” sense) more seriously than might have been expected. However, I think his interest is purely in rebutting the sceptical conclusions of traditional epistemology. He thinks that if we were BIVs, we’d still know what we claim to know, because our words would have meanings appropriate to our envatted status.
→ See "Lloyd (Peter) - A Review of David Chalmers' essay 'The Matrix as Metaphysics'", 2008, for an attempted refutation.
- For a Page of Links9 to this Note, Click here.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read10 include the following:-
- "Bostrom (Nick) - Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?", Bostrom
- "Bostrom (Nick) - How Long Before Superintelligence?", Bostrom
- "Chalmers (David) - The Matrix as Metaphysics", Chalmers
- "Dennett (Daniel) - Where Am I?", Dennett, 1978
- "Searle (John) - Minds, Brains, and Programs: Author's Response to Peer Review", Searle
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Barrow (John) - Living in a Simulated Universe", Barrow, 2007
- "Brueckner (Anthony) - Brains in a Vat", Bruekner, 1986
- "Brueckner (Anthony) - If I Am a Brain in a Vat, Then I Am Not a Brain in a Vat", Bruekner, 1992
- "Collier (John D.) - Could I conceive being a brain in a vat?", Collier
- "Grau (Christopher) - Philosophers Explore 'The Matrix'", Grau, 2005
- "Haggqvist (Soren) - Thought Experiments and Arguments", Haggqvist
→ "Haggqvist (Soren) - Application", Haggqvist
→ "Haggqvist (Soren) - The Central Cases", Haggqvist
- "Madden (Rory) - Could a Brain in a Vat Self-Refer?", Madden, 2010
- "Moravec (Hans) - Pigs in Cyberspace", Moravcek
- "Murray (David) - Disembodied Brains", Murray, 1969
- "Noe (Alva) - Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness", Noe11
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Brains", Olson
- "Pautz (Adam) - Brains in Vats, Inverts, and Swampmen: The Real Trouble with Armchair Arguments Against Phenomenal Externalism", Pautz
- This is mostly a place-holder12.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (27/05/2020).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- While this claim is often made by futurologists, it doesn’t make sense to me.
- Computer programs are universals. I am a particular.
- What I am – in the sense intended here – is a particular implementation of a computer program “running” on a particular piece of hardware.
- So, I would be a particular partition of a particular piece of hardware, configured in an appropriate way.
- Noe: See the conclusion of Chapter 8.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020