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A Note on the Possibility of Silicon Brains and Fading Qualia

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Abstract:

John Searle and David Chalmers have each invoked the silicon-brain thought experiment, though to very different effect. Searle uses the possibility of silicon brains to argue that there is no ontological connection between consciousness and causal/functional role. Chalmers, on the other hand, thinks the possibility of silicon brains is grounds for positing a nomological connection between functional structure and consciousness (the principle of organizational invariance). In this article I attempt to explain how they manage to draw such divergent conclusions from the very same thought experiment. I argue that Searle's hypothesis of the Background coupled with the connection principle militate against his own interpretation of the silicon-brain thought experiment. This leaves him with no alternative, in his bid to undermine the principle of organizational invariance, but to assume the role of the apostate and disavow the silicon-brain thought experiment.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Wichita State University, 1845 North Fairmount, Campus Box 74, Wichita, KS 67260-0074, USA. Email: hershfie@twsuvm.uc.twsu.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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