Daniel Dennett's arguments against qualia fail
Debate Rounds (5)
You didn't even refute those ponts you whining baby.
Here are some thought experiments:
I couldn't be bothered to find a third.
I appologize to that family obligations kept me from responding earlier. This was rushed so I may not have phrased things quite right, but I think this give my opponent something to start on.
My opponent has chose two thought experiment from “Quining Qualia”. Daniel Dennett presents these thought experiment in an attempt to undermine the presumption of qualia. For the purposes of this discussion qualia are properties of experience that Dennett describes in Quining Qualia this way:
What is special about qualia? Traditional analyses suggest some fascinating second-order properties of these properties. First, since one cannot say to another, no matter how eloquent one is and no matter how cooperative and imaginative one's audience is, exactly what way one is currently seeing, tasting, smelling and so forth, qualia are ineffable--in fact the paradigm cases of ineffable items. According to tradition, at least part of the reason why qualia are ineffable is that they are intrinsic properties--which seems to imply inter alia that they are somehow atomic and unanalyzable. Since they are "simple" or "homogeneous" there is nothing to get hold of when trying to describe such a property to one unacquainted with the particular instance in question.
Moreover, verbal comparisons are not the only cross-checks ruled out. Any objective, physiological or "merely behavioral" test--such as those passed by the imaginary wine-tasting system-- would of necessity miss the target (one can plausibly argue), so all interpersonal comparisons of these ways-of-appearing are (apparently) systematically impossible. In other words, qualia are essentially private properties. And, finally, since they are properties of my experiences (they're not chopped liver, and they're not properties of, say, my cerebral blood flow--or haven't you been paying attention?), qualia are essentially directly accessible to the consciousness of their experiencer (whatever that means) or qualia are properties of one's experience with which one is intimately or directly acquainted (whatever that means) or "immediate phenomenological qualities" (Block, 1978) (whatever that means). They are, after all, the very properties the appreciation of which permits us to identify our conscious states. So, to summarize the tradition, qualia are supposed to be properties of a subject's mental states that are
(4) directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness
After a very lengthy discussion about the consequences of his thought experiments he concludes:
So when we look one last time at our original characterization of qualia, as ineffable, intrinsic, private, directly apprehensible properties of experience, we find that there is nothing to fill the bill. In their place are relatively or practically ineffable public properties we can refer to indirectly via reference to our private property-detectors-- private only in the sense of idiosyncratic. And insofar as we wish to cling to our subjective authority about the occurrence within us of states of certain types or with certain properties, we can have some authority--not infallibility or incorrigibility, but something better than sheer guessing--but only if we restrict ourselves to relational, extrinsic properties like the power of certain internal states of ours to provoke acts of apparent re- identification. So contrary to what seems obvious at first blush, there simply are no qualia at all.So when we look one last time at our original characterization of qualia, as ineffable, intrinsic, private, directly apprehensible properties of experience, we find that there is nothing to fill the bill. In their place are relatively or practically ineffable public properties we can refer to indirectly via reference to our private property-detectors-- private only in the sense of idiosyncratic. And insofar as we wish to cling to our subjective authority about the occurrence within us of states of certain types or with certain properties, we can have some authority--not infallibility or incorrigibility, but something better than sheer guessing--but only if we restrict ourselves to relational, extrinsic properties like the power of certain internal states of ours to provoke acts of apparent re- identification. So contrary to what seems obvious at first blush, there simply are no qualia at all.
End of Dennett quotes
Dennett argues that these beliefs about qualia are inconsistent and we are massively mistaken about qualia. This leads him to argue for eliminative materialism.
I claim that this conclusion is a syllogism from a false dilemma.
1. Folk Psychology/Spiritualism or Eliminative Materialism
2. Not Folk Psychology/Spiritualism
Therefore, Eliminative Materialism (There are no qualia)
Note Dennett attributes our mistaken notions about qualia to Folk Psychology in “Quining Qualia” and in his book “Consciousness Explained” he presents the alternative to materialism as the version of dualism that is also known as Spiritualism. In spiritualism the personality survives death and the brain is little more than a pass through to the Cartesian Theatre where the spirit of a human being sits so to speak.
There are alternatives to Eliminative Materialism besides Folk Psychology/Spiritualism that Dennett does not consider that overcome his objections and preserve qualia in a meaningful way. It is important to explain how these views simultaneously overcome his objections and preserve qualia at this point. The claim I am going to make is that he is dead on that Folk Psychology/Spiritualism makes claims that are too strong, but Dennett also makes claims that are too strong. There are alternatives that allow qualia to exist as more than the abstract properties of abstract brain functions while at the same time acknowledging the significance of brain function in consciousness.
The alternative to both Spiritualism and Eliminative Materialism the I will consider is Physicist Henry Stapp’s Quantum Interactive Dualism. Do not be put off by the term dualism. This is consistent with the Von Neumann formulation of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (see http://www-physics.lbl.gov... ) . As such, it is consistent modern physics. It also provides a binding mechanism that can unify portions of the brain and so explain our consciousness of brain functions. This unification is through the growth of the wave function over time before its collapse. The brain state within the boundaries of this wave function collapse in the same instant. This wave function is something that is not individual particles performing an abstract function, but a single thing embodying and performing the function. The wave function collapse in this theory is an experience along the lines of Whitehead’s actual occasion of experience and its duration prior to the collapse and the collapse itself is a process ( see http://www-physics.lbl.gov... ). The properties of this actual occasion of experience are qualia and they have a correlation with brain state. They are indeed private as they exist only in the boundary of the wave function and they are ineffable as the process is not described in it entirety by physics, QM is not causally closed. It recognizes that the process that determines the outcome of the collapse lies outside it. They are properties of the wave function or process and are only partly determined, constained might be a better term, by relations between particles so it is fair to say that a component of them is intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic. They are directly apprehensible because they are properties of the process itself.
It is not necessary that you buy into Stapp’s theory, but it is an example of a host of alternatives that are not considered by Dennett that meet his criteria of qualia and avoid the problems brought out by his mind experiments.
My opponent failed to assert this micgal 'qualia' being hte truth as opposed to objectively decipherable reactions causing subjective experience.
So why does an atheist like myself believe in qualia and that it can be naturalized? For one thing, there appears to be a logical problem with the identification of experiential features with the abstractions we think of a brain functions. This has been pointed out by logicians. The most prominent being Saul Kripke in his book "Naming and Necessity". A summary of his famous argument is presented here: http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu...
I believe that there is another problem. One that is more intuitively clear. That is that saying an experience is the performance of a function is to say it is an abstraction. We abstract from the consequences of masses of particles functions. But if abstractions are felt, they are real, not abstract. So if we want to account for them in a naturalistic way, we need to identify something that is real in the sense that particles are real, something recognized as fundamental by physicists, to an experience. And this thing must account for our beliefs about qualia and experiences. In Stapp"s theory that is one of the processes in Von Neuman"s formulation of QM. This is what decides the collapse of the wave function into particles. We believe that the mind does something. It is not epiphenomenal, in other words. It is also atomic, meaning indivisible, and accounts for the so called unity of mind. The fact that the wave function is over a region of the brain could account for why we experience some brain functions and not others. Those that are experienced fall within the boundaries of the region.
There is no appeal to magic here. I simply ask that you consider the "what if". Would things make more sense? Is this consistent with Physics? If so, this is a reasonable thing to believe.
fine you win i don't even care about this stupid qualia nonsense.
The resolution is incorrect but my opponent is correctly incorrect.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by philochristos 4 years ago
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