ICS Colloquia - Dr. Eric Schwitzgebel, Nov 6, 2020 - Shared screen with speaker view
Erich Mark Riesen
It seems like to answer the question of whether organism X has consciousness, it would be helpful to know why consciousness showed up in the phylogenetic tree in the first place. Was consciousness a spandrel that showed up simply because of the complexity of the brain or its computational processes (or something), which were themselves selected for. Or was consciousness selected for because it itself is adaptive. Do you have a view on this?
Matt Jones
if it did at all. the question presupposes both that consciousness is a meaningful property that humans have, and that rocks etc don’t have it.
Erich Mark Riesen
I would accept both of those assumptions.
Is consciousness an ontological primitive or a construct? Are the arguments about luminosity and subjectivity to be taken as deductions regarding the properties consciousness necessarily has? Or, should they be read as properties that any useful definition of consciousness should satisfy?
Rebecca Lee
Your discussions of how to define concepts such as furniture etc remind me of the notions of prototype or family resemblance…would these concepts be useful in understanding what consciousness is?
Family resemblance is a great example. What family resemblance does in human cognition is create an illusion of essentialism when really all there are are a set of more-or-less correlated features. Hence the notorious slipperiness of the concept of consciousness: any attempt at definition captures only (a subset of) those correlated features, and people are compelled to reply, no, there must be more than that.
Chelsea Brown
(Pertaining to whether consciousness is graded: Hasn’t an argument been made such that consciousness can be measured by both level (wakefulness) and content (awareness)?)
Yes Rob! For a psychologist, consciousness is just a stand-in until we have more detailed theories.
Clayton H Lewis
re rob's argument:
Clayton H Lewis
couldn't there be models of the same thing that do or don't have some given character, so the overlap question would have different answers?