[Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Consciousness, Philosophical Zombies, Phenomenology, Pragmatism]
Respect the Machines:

A Pragmatist Argument for the Extension of Human Rights to P-zombies and Artificial Intelligences

 

Artificial Intelligence Sketch by Alejandro Zorrilal Cruz - consciousness, rights, A.I., philosophical zombies - David Chalmers, John Searle, Alan Turing, G.E. Moore

Sketch by Alejandro Zorrilal Cruz

Introduction:

In this article, I will argue that pragmatists and phenomenologists must grant to zombies (philosophical zombies) and A.I. (weak or strong artificial general intelligences) all of the rights, dignities, and protections that they currently grant to other human beings (and in some cases, other animals).

I would like to confront two potential misapprehensions immediately. The first is that this article will devolve into quibbling among various materialist, idealist, and dualist models of consciousness. This article is not about whether an artificial intelligence or somesuch can possess consciousness. Rather, this article proceeds from the fact that the hypothetical entities of sufficiently complex A.I. and philosophical zombies (both explained below) are definitively and pragmatically indistinguishable (in intellectual behavior, from the outside) from the other humans to whom we extend rights and respect.[1]

The second potential misapprehension is that I intend this article as a flippant argumentum ad absurdum against some versions of egalitarian ethics or physicalism; far from it, this article is a sincere expression of a state of affairs (at least concerning A.I.) that I see as practically inevitable.

Frankly, although I have not exhaustively sought whether this is the case, I would be enormously surprised to learn that this argument is original; plenty of ethical philosophers have argued for the legal personhood of future A.I., so it is no very great stretch to imagine that one or more of them have done so from this pragmatist and phenomenological perspective.

Continue reading

[Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Consciousness, Philosophical Zombies, Phenomenology, Pragmatism]
Respect the Machines:

A Pragmatist Argument for the Extension of Human Rights to P-zombies and Artificial Intelligences

was last modified: June 16th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Assumption, Evidence, Skepticism, Belief]
The Least Assumptions:

Cartesian Skepticism, and Reducing Guesses and Assertions in a Belief Network to the Minimum

 

Portrait of René Descartes after Frans Hals - minimizing assumptions

Portrait of René Descartes (based on the painting by Frans Hals)

Introduction:

I closed the examination of pragmatic ethics in the previous article by saying that this time I would talk about “the one and only assumption I am always willing to make (and the only assumption that you should ever be willing to stand by).” So I’m going to do just that. But before getting to that one assumption, I want to make a few remarks about why it is important to minimize assumptions when forming beliefs.

As René Descartes famously observed, it is always striking how very much of what any given person claims to know (and so believe) rests upon a network of baseless or near-baseless assumptions, assertions, and heuristics so densely matted together that the person fails to realize that there is no actual solidity to its foundation whatsoever. An important feature of this nebulous nest of guesses and half-considered notions is the redundant and overlapping (if occasionally contradicting) nature of its constituent elements. It is just such a nest to which I aim to provide a superior alternative.

Continue reading

[Topics: Assumption, Evidence, Skepticism, Belief]
The Least Assumptions:

Cartesian Skepticism, and Reducing Guesses and Assertions in a Belief Network to the Minimum

was last modified: March 11th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Epistemology, Moorean Shift, Skepticism]
Intuition All Alone:

On G.E. Moore’s Tempting but Insufficient Answer to Radical Skepticism

 

G.E. Moore Sketch by M.R.P. - criticism - radical skepticism, common sense, Moorean shift, Moorean facts

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

Although there are several voices that shine the brightest as philosophers of philosophical skepticism, it is a topic which has captured the attention of a huge number of philosophers throughout time. The so-called challenge of radical skepticism has been raised and allegedly met time and time again. One of the aforementioned notable voices in the past century was G.E. Moore, who advocated what he and others have termed a ‘common sense’ response to radical skepticism (where radical skepticism refers to the position that knowledge—or certainly knowledge of the external world—is impossible).

Formally, Moore’s response proceeds from what is now in certain contexts called a Moorean shift—changing a modus ponens argument’s second premise to create a modus tollens argument which has an opposing conclusion (explained at more length below)—to support what are now in certain contexts called Moorean facts (a notion that is more intuitively knowable to a person than philosophical premises that contradict the notion). Those naming schema ought to tell you how influential these ideas have been. G.E. Moore was a capable and perceptive philosopher, and his work on skepticism was inspirational for Ludwig Wittgenstein (who later tried to formulate a more rigorous account of Moore’s approach in notes which were assembled into a book after Wittgenstein’s death). Now I will point out why G.E. Moore’s confident argument is insufficient for meeting the challenge of radical skepticism.

Continue reading

[Topics: Epistemology, Moorean Shift, Skepticism]
Intuition All Alone:

On G.E. Moore’s Tempting but Insufficient Answer to Radical Skepticism

was last modified: June 16th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Decision-making, Logic, Metaethics]
Moral Decision-making, and Navigating Philosophy:

How Both Consequentialists and Deontologists Actually Make Choices

 

David Hume Engraving 1754 - consequentalist - deontologist - decision-makingThis is a post about moral decision-making, but it is not a post that engages at length with the particular theories involved. As the title is meant to imply, this article discusses a more general point about how any given philosopher uses philosophy to inform both the ises and the oughts of their perceptions and practices.

In the first post in this series, I argued that moral anti-realism may be true and yet have a functionally objective morality nested within it (as a feature of our evolved minds). Across the past few thousand years, compatibilists have argued that determinism may be true and yet have free will nested within it (as a feature of our freedom to act in accordance with our determined motivations). And, as I will treat briefly below, there is a general strategy available here of reconciling two halves of a dichotomous debate by attempting to understand what aspects of each side are really supported by the relevant evidence for each side. In particular, consequentialists and deontologists might make a more compelling case if they ceased to see their views as mutually exclusive.

Continue reading

[Topics: Decision-making, Logic, Metaethics]
Moral Decision-making, and Navigating Philosophy:

How Both Consequentialists and Deontologists Actually Make Choices

was last modified: January 2nd, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Moral Knowledge, Moral Realism, Pragmatism]
The Morality Pageant:

On the Relative Attractiveness of Moral Realism and its Alternatives

 

Introduction:

William James Sketch by M.R.P. - moral realism - nihilism - pragmatism

Sketch by M.R.P.

Looking back at my school days, I remember a Ph.D. student in the philosophy department remarking on the differences between moral realism (the system of thought that says that there exists a literal, objective morality) and its alternatives by appealing to the consequences of holding each belief. The moral realist, he underscored, has the advantages of being able to say that society is making moral progress, and that some societies have been immoral at different times, such as Nazi Germany and slaveholding America. Moral relativists, moral nihilists, and all related parties, he pointed out, have no such recourse. So, surely, even if one is convinced that moral realism is false, this student concluded, it might be better not to mention that conviction ‘in polite company.’

In fact, the article by James Rachels which I discussed last week makes some very similar statements in its singular effort to refute cultural relativism. But is it true that believing morality is not truly objective is somehow uglier or less desirable than believing that there is an objective morality? To explore this, I will take a closer look at both sides.

Continue reading

[Topics: Moral Knowledge, Moral Realism, Pragmatism]
The Morality Pageant:

On the Relative Attractiveness of Moral Realism and its Alternatives

was last modified: May 12th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski