The Instigator
Killer542
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
Vi_Veri
Con (against)
Winning
47 Points

It is possible that we are in the matrix right now

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,619 times Debate No: 7300
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (9)

 

Killer542

Pro

I believe that it is possible that we are in the matrix(or some similar program/entity) right now for one reason: there is no reason we can't be in it, if my opponent can disprove this then he wins, if he can't I win, it's that simple.
Vi_Veri

Con

Pro has the burden to prove his hypothesis that there could possibly be no way that we could not be brains in vats. Good luck, pro.

The idea was presented that we might possibly be in a sort of "Matrix" world, or, as I will clarify for him: a world that is a simulation. My opponent also presents only one restriction on the debate (direct quote from Pro) : there is no reason we can't be in it, if my opponent can disprove this then he wins, if he can't I win, it's that simple.

Your opponent (she in this instant ;) instead of he) will now deconstruct his "unshakable" hypothesis.

All I, as con, have to do, is show proof for any sort of way that the "matrix" theory could not work, just one, and I will come away with a victory in this debate. All my opponent is asking for is one reason.

So here it is:

The argument Pro presents is a famed argument in the realm of Philosophy. Instead of calling it "The Matrix" (like the hit movie based on this philosophical construct I am about to present), we call it "brain in a vat."

My argument will have to include a rejection of metaphysical realism and will follow from the Causal Theory of Reference. Say there is a brain in a vat named "Neo," and Neo thinks, "I am not a brain in a vat." First of all, Neo and his linguistic community does not know what a real brain or a real vat look like, so his true sentence statement really reads, "I am not a brain-image in a vat-image." That statement is incoherent. And similarly, if Neo is a brain in a vat, saying that he is a brain in a vat is equally incoherent (this time because he actually means the opposite).

The syllogism to this argument is as follows:

"Let ‘vat-English' refer to the language of the BIV, let ‘brain*' refer to the computer program feature that causes experiences in the BIV that are qualitatively indistinguishable from normal experiences that represent brains, and let ‘vat*' refer to the computer program feature that cause experiences that are qualitatively indistinguishable from normal experiences that represent vats. A BIV, then, is not a brain* in a vat*: a BIV is not a certain computer program feature located in a certain other computer program feature. Here is DA:

a. Either I am a BIV (speaking vat-English) or I am a non-BIV (speaking English).
b. If I am a BIV (speaking vat-English), then my utterances of ‘I am a BIV' are true iff I am a brain* in a vat*.
c. If I am a BIV (speaking vat-English), then I am not a brain* in a vat*.
d. If I am a BIV (speaking vat-English), then my utterances of ‘I am a BIV' are false. [(b),(c)]
e. If I am a non-BIV (speaking English), then my utterances of ‘I am a BIV' are true iff I am a BIV.
f. If I am a non-BIV (speaking English), then my utterances of ‘I am a BIV' are false. [(e)]
g. My utterances of ‘I am a BIV' are false. [(a),(d),(f)]...........

(�SK) I am not a BIV.

To establish (�SK) we need to add a couple of further steps:

(h) My utterances of ‘I am not a BIV' are true.

(T) My utterances of ‘I am not a BIV' are true iff I am not a BIV.

(�SK) follows from (h) and (T). Step (h) itself follows from (g) on natural assumptions about negation, truth, and quotation, but (T) is problematic in the current anti-skeptical context. The assumption of (T) seems to beg the question against the skeptic. Putnam's semantic externalist picture is this: if I am an non-BIV (speaking English) then (T) is the correct statement of the truth conditions of my sentence ‘I am a BIV', using the device of disquotation; but if instead I am a BIV (speaking vat-English), then the correct statement of my sentence's truth conditions is the strange one given in (b) of DA, not using the device of disquotation. So in order to know that (T) is the correct statement of my sentence's truth conditions, I need to know that I am a non-BIV (speaking English). But that is what the anti-skeptical argument was supposed to prove. According to this objection, Supplemented DA (DA plus (h) and (T)) is epistemically circular, in William Alston's sense: knowledge of one of its premises — (T) — requires knowledge of its conclusion." (Stanford Metaphysics Research Lab)

To cleanly end this argument, Hilary Putnam states in his book, "Reason, Truth, and History"

"This is a form of epistemological externalism: knowledge or justification depends on factors outside the mind and is not solely determined internally. By showing that such a scenario is impossible, attempts to show that this notion of a gap between man's concept of the world and the way it is in itself is absurd. Man cannot have a "God's eye" view of reality. He is limited to his conceptual schemes. Metaphysical realism is therefore false"

Regards,

Vi Veri

References:

http://plato.stanford.edu...

Philosopher Hilary Putnam, "Reason, Truth, and History"
Debate Round No. 1
Killer542

Pro

I really don't see how man not having a "god's eye view" has anything to do with that argument, it seems to prove my point more than yours. Since we don't have a "god's eye view" there is no way we can know that we are in a computer program(or "brains in a vat" as they call it), therefore, even if we are in a simulation, we would come to the conclusion that we are not, thus rendering the whole chain purposeless.

P.S. thank you for accepting this debate, and I only used the pronoun "he" in the first period because in english it is proper to use the male pronoun in that type of situation.
Vi_Veri

Con

My opponent's failure to understand the argument is not my burden.
Debate Round No. 2
Killer542

Pro

I understood it fine, I simply found a loophole in it.
Vi_Veri

Con

Ok....

So my opponent completely missunderstood the idea of the Causal Theory of Reference - the whole point of my argument was to disprove what he thought was a loophole in "round 2." There's not much more I can say to his complete throw away.

Pro's solipsist argument has a problem with content: that is, how - if at all - can the brain's thoughts be about a person or place with whom it has never interacted and which perhaps does not exist. I must say, to understand the argument, one must look at it as the Verification principle - http://en.wikipedia.org...

Maybe that might help my opponent understand why his round 2 made no sense after my round 1.

Regards,

Vi Veri
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I think I see what you mean now, MTG :) Like I stated in my comment, the misunderstanding could have been mine. To be fair, I haven't studied BIV or related theories in about 4 years, so I'm warming back up :)

My problem was that Putnam LITERALLY means a brain in a vat, not a person in the vat with the brain :) Hence, in Putnam's world, if I am recalling my reading correctly, there is nothing "outside of the matrix," per se.

I'm better now :D
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
"MTG: the flaw you point out, unless I misunderstand you, isn't really a flaw."

It is still a flaw. (Did you explain why it isn't a flaw? If you did, I missed it.) In addition to the reason explained in my comment, it is a flaw specifically because it is the Matrix:

We know exactly what the Matrix is. We saw the movie. In fact, it was specially designed to that inside the Matrix looked just like 20th-century earth. If we are in the Matrix, we are fully capable of comprehending what lies outside of the Matrix. So when we say that we are in the Matrix, we know exactly what we mean.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Preface: this isn't an RFD. I am choosing not to vote on the debate.

There are some significant problems on both sides of this debate. While Pro significantly undercovers what could be a good Con advocacy in Putnam's disjunctive argument, Con makes the serious mistake of copy/pasting a complex syllogism and then hoping that Stanford can make her argument clear for her. I'm not accusing Vi of plagiarizing; she clearly cites her source. I am accusing her of bad form—she didn't even bother to transition into the disjunctive argument, or link it to the debate in any sort of meaningful way. The Pro & the audience are left guess as to what the heck "DA" could possibly be. Instead of pasting most of her advocacy, she should be striving to explain this advocacy to the widest audience possible. Had I decided to vote, she'd have lost both conduct & convincing arguments. Then, we skip back to much clearer causal theory with Putnam's final quotation, which seems unwarranted because of Vi's lack of explanation in the rest of the debate. Con's advocacy is incomplete at best.

MTG: the flaw you point out, unless I misunderstand you, isn't really a flaw. The flaw is in the lack of clarity and ability to communicate, in my opinion :) The Matrix, as a film, really does fit the BIV model. Not only that, but Pro accepted this as of Rd 2, so we all should at this point. If you want to get literal, Putnam's disjunctive argument is set up to deal with The Matrix in near exact form.

Roy: good point that neither debater bothers to address.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Even though Con's argument was flawed, Pro conceded. Arguments goes to Con.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Con's proof is flawed for several reasons. Firstly, Pro never stated that he was a brain in a vat.

"b. If I am a BIV (speaking vat-English), then my utterances of ‘I am a BIV' are true iff I am a brain* in a vat*."

This statement is false. "Brain" when spoken by the BIV means "brain" or "brain*". This is proven possible by the very fact that Con refers to "brains" and "brains*", proving that it is possible to comprehend what a "brain" is and realize that it is essentially the same as a "brain*".
Posted by Derek.Gunn 8 years ago
Derek.Gunn
Killer... to have won, all you had to do was point out that the "Matrix" as in the movie is indistinguishable from reality, therefore we cannot perceive whether or not we're in it, so we could be.
But you didn't.
So you didn't [win].
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
Blegh Hilary Putnam..
Posted by Meganrihanne1992x 8 years ago
Meganrihanne1992x
Aha veri you seem to be the hypocrite

you are simply only "trying " to ridicule me over the fact you are friends with THE L WERD so in that perspective this arguement is stupid ..its not about the debate , your simply "only sticking up for your friend" whether or not you were pro, con on my arguement.
As for trying to insult my intelligence you are completely naieve i have supported my quotes with explanations ( you would of seen that if you took notice ) You have no judge of charcter for all you know i could be autistic regarding my spelling grammar ( irrelevant also, and i am dyslexic )

You are bieng the hypocrite aswell as childish for the statement. regarding preetiest girl on the website, hmmm... seems your morals are a bit mixed up there? thought this website was based on debates not "physical appearence"

You both are supposed to be older, yet you both act like children, my intellect has been thought through and i count each opinion and belief for the way it is, i suggest you stop "assuming" and commenting my debates if you dont know the arguement itself.
Makes you sound stupid my dear
Posted by DylanAsdale 8 years ago
DylanAsdale
Pro gave absolutely no logical arguments to Con's points. His answers were short, sloppy, and incorrectly laid out. And, as pro, who holds the burden of proof, he failed to prove his point.

Therefore, contradictory to your statement, Roy, this debate goes to Con.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
The "matrix" scenario supposes that it is possible to escape the BIV limitation so as to establish a broader perspective. The broad philosophical argument supposes that escape is impossible, under which conditions the question is nonsensical. Con did not reflect the posited scenario, so the debate goes to Pro.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by DylanAsdale 7 years ago
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