- 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 Summary" above.
Write-up2 (as at 11/04/2018 20:57:07): 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.
- 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
- "Dennett (Daniel) - Where Am I?", Dennett, 1978
- "Grau (Christopher) - Philosophers Explore 'The Matrix'", Grau, 2005
- "Madden (Rory) - Could a Brain in a Vat Self-Refer?", Madden, 2010
- "Murray (David) - Disembodied Brains", Murray, 1969
- This is mostly a place-holder9. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (11/04/2018 20:57:07).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
- 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 an an appropriate way.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018