Friday, December 09, 2011

anticipating an objection

I blogged earlier about the major flaw with the "no horse in my head" argument, and now I want to anticipate an objection. A dedicated substance dualist might counter that the information encoded on the Blu-ray disc still contains an "aboutness"-- a meaning-- that requires a mind to understand it. This merely pushes the issue of intentionality back a step, and it certainly doesn't destroy the dualist's case.

My reply to this objection is that aboutness is not the point of the analogy: the point is that, with the proper apparatus, information that at first looks nothing like a horse can be decoded such that a horse will appear to us, and this is just as true for a human brain as it is for a Blu-ray disc. That's what the analogy shows: the conceivability of decoding the human brain.

Dr. V argued the following:

1. Marty [the Martian scientist studying human brains from a distance] knows all the physical and functional facts about my body and brain during the time I am thinking about a dog.
2. That I am thinking about a dog is a fact.
3. Marty does not know that I am thinking about a dog.
4. Marty does not know all the facts about me and my mental activity.
5. There are mental facts that are not physical or functional facts, and physicalism is false.

I would dispute (3). If Marty has the proper decoder, then he would be aware that I'm thinking about a dog, and that would undermine Dr. V's two therefores.


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