A blog to discuss the argument from reason.
posted by Victor Reppert @ 2:16 PM
His writings came off as sane back then, over ten years ago. It's kinda sad where he has gone.If he were to write it now, he'd have to include a discussion of computational neuroscience, and the Hodgkin-Huxely class of conductance-based models in particular. Also, fMRI was just getting underway. I love this quote he uses from Gerard: "it remains sadly true that most of our present understanding of mind would remain as valid and useful if, for all we know, the cranium were stuffed with cotton wadding." That's cute. I think it's not true, but it's very cute.
I liked Dembski's critique of supervenience. But I confess to dissatisfaction with quite a bit of the rest of the piece. I feel that the AfR only makes sense as a phenomenological argument. That is, the problem with computational theories of mind is not that they cannot plausibly account for behavior, but that they cannot explain the experience that accompanies behavior (Hasker seems to be coming from more or less the same place). Dembski's argument--that human behavior is too varied to be captured by computational theories of cognition--has much in common with ID theory itself. I'm dubious in this case. Does the chess playing ability of computers really prove nothing whatsoever about the theoretical possibility of computational simulation of human behavior generally? The answer is not as obvious for me as it seems to be for Dembski. What is obvious for me is that a computer playing chess as if it could consciously contemplate various outcomes of moves is not, definitionally, the same as a computer consciously contemplating outcomes and making moves because of that experience. Once this definitional distinction is established, computationalism has its back to the wall.
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I am the author of C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason, published by Inter-Varsity Press. I received a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.
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