Thursday, July 05, 2012

Dembski responds to Dennett

On Turing and the computational view of the mind.

56 comments:

cl said...

I love this part:

"Now at first blush one would think that because Turing had "invented" a "machine," this might give even Dennett pause and lead him to take a second look at his claim that competence precedes comprehension. For any competence exhibited by a Turing machine would, on its face, presuppose comprehension by, in this case, a mathematician named Turing, who understood the nature of computability and invented a machine (albeit an abstract one) that could perform any and all computations."

I used to think the same thing WRT to atheists who would invoke the Miller experiment as some sort of alleged "proof" that unguided evolution plausible.

cl said...

alleged "proof" that unguided evolution *is* plausible.

Leonhard said...

A cookie to the one who spots the fallacy in the last paragraf of the first comment.

Martin said...

Fallacy? No fallacy per se, but cl is blurring abiogenesis and evolution.

B. Prokop said...

Even better was this line from the article:

atheists like Dennett have a knack for turning even the most damning evidence against their position into decisive confirmation of it.

How many times have we seen that on this very website?!?

Papalinton said...

Cranes and sky hooks.
Turing and Dennett are building the mind from the ground up, competence preceding comprehension. And it works. They use cranes. The crane analogy perfectly explains the evolutionary model of life. From simple single-celled organisms to complex organisms like human life, evolution built up over time the sequence of improved competence after which comprehension emerged. Wonderful, logical and reasonable; the science in synergy with philosophy. Awesome explanatory power.

Contrast this with miraculous intervention by an entity which itself has no explanation, a "deus ex machina", by Dembski and Reppert, who incredulously attempt to use top-down sky hooks to sustain malarkey about comprehension coming before competence. The old biblical two-step shuffle. Ridiculous, unintelligible, and risible. No synergy between the science and the philosophy, indeed a philosophy that is anathema to the science.
No evidence, no proofs, no facts, no instantiation, no substantiation. The use of a sky hook to winch in the 'irreducible complexity of the mind' from who-knows-where[?].
Superstitious supernaturalist woo-woo. Explanatory power? Zilch.

As Lippard notes: "My argument was that if you have two possible worlds that are exactly alike, except that one was created by a top-down designer and one evolved, there's no reason to say that one has semantics and the other one doesn't--how they got to the point at which they have creatures with internal representations that stand in the right causal relationships to the external world doesn't make a difference to whether or not those representations actually refer and have meaning."
http://lippard.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/daniel-dennett-at-asu.html

Dembski? Reppert? Philosophical flatulence. Rebels without a clue.

`

finney said...

Searle gets to the point rather quicker. Evaluate computational machines as linguistic expressions and you find that their meaning is observer-dependent; 0's and 1's only contain meaning as they are apprehended by minds. But mental states are not observer-dependent, and they also from time to time express statements (such as "I feel tired"). So, mental states exhibit an original or intrinsic kind of intentionality, whereas machines and computers and pen strokes on paper and all other syntactical machines only exhibit a derived intentionality.

Karl Grant said...

Bob,

How many times have we seen that on this very website?!?

About three times a week.

B. Prokop said...

All the Turing Machine demonstrates is that a designer (in this case, Alan Turing) is necessary for an entity approaching the complexity and sophistication of the human mind to exist. Put all the components making up a computer in a room, and you can wait 10 trillion years but they will never spontaneously assemble themselves into a PC (or even a Mac). And this is far, far less complex than a single cell - heck, our most advanced machines don't hold a candle to the complexity of a single virus!

No less a diehard atheist than Fred Hoyle himself finally abandoned his atheism over this issue. It was he that likened the idea of life originating spontaneously to a tornado rampaging through a junkyard with the result being a fully functional jet aircraft.

(By the way: Why is Fred Hoyle never brought up when people make the claim that there are no former atheists? Hoyle spent nearly his whole career in debunking God, only to repudiate his entire life's work before the end.)

Martin said...

B Prokop,

I don't think that's a good objection. As Dawkins and others have pointed out, if you have a randomization process plus a selection process, complexity can be built up over time.

HOWEVER...read the above comment about Searle from finney. That is a much better objection to materialism.

On this view, materialism can be shown to be circular:

1. Mind is...
2. A program, which is...
3. An algorithm that manipulates symbols, which...
4. Requires mind to assign meaning to the symbols
5. Go to 1

B. Prokop said...

"complexity can be built up over time"

Some complexity, yes - but not as much as is seen in the human mind. The universe hasn't existed long enough for that to happen on its own.

I agree with you that such proposition cannot be proven/disproven. But it convinces me.

B. Prokop said...

In regards to this thread, I am amused that I must "prove [that I'm] not a robot" before I can post anything!

Martin said...

B Prokop,

This is one of the few places where I think that Dawkins is completely correct, regarding complexity. Given reproducing systems, and environmental pressure, complexity can be built up quickly.

It's a bad objection because it's gappish. It just boils down to "I can't think of how this can happen..." It can be filled in with God, god, aliens, or a future naturalistic explanation.

The Aristotelian view however is not gappish and cuts right to the heart of the matter: mechanism (the view that there is no immanent teleology) is incompatible with mind. All materialists are implicitly committed to mechanism.

No gaps, no appeal to ignorance.

finney said...

Martin: Yup. This circularity is precisely what Searle, et al, accuse Dennett of. He postulates dumb humunculi in our minds to do the manipulating of these symbols.

But OF COURSE, these are not comprehending humunculi. So then what manipulates the humunculi? More humunculi.

Matt DeStefano said...

Martin,

Would you mind (heh) filling in the rest of your argument? I'd try to guess where you are going with it, but I don't want to misrepresent your views.

Martin said...

Matt,

Nothing is a symbol in a materialistic world unless a mind assigns meaning to it. The squiggly pixels "dog" symbolizes a dog only because we assign that meaning to them.

Materialist theories of mind state that the mind is like a program. Like a calculator: symbols are manipulated according to an algorithm.

But since nothing is a symbol in a material world without a mind assigning meaning to it, then the materialist theory of mind requires mind. And so it leaves mind unreduced.

B. Prokop said...

It does have a superficial resemblance to a gappish argument, but no more than "Why is there something rather than nothing?" (which I also consider a show-stopper).

But in any case, it's not an argument for God - it's an argument for design. Apples and oranges. Now it is true that, once you've established a case for design, the argument for God follows almost inevitably, since there is no plausible alternative designer.

But the fact remains that the argument from design is a million miles away from a "gap" argument, if for no other reason than there exist intermediary steps in the process.

Victor Reppert said...

I am inclined to agree with the evolutionary argument that, at least in theory, any degree of sophisticated engineering could be achieved by unguided evolution. Whether it actually was or not is a further empirical question.

However, in dealing with the mental, it looks like you have four elements which are perforce excluded from basic physics, but which are central to the possibility of the rational inference that underlies the very scientific enterprise itself. These are purpose, intentionality (about-ness), normativity, and subjectivity (rational agents have a perspective, as selves, which differs from the perspectives of others). These are matters of meaning, not engineering. It seems to me that you can pile up uninterpreted physical states until the cows come home, and they will never add up to any of these elements.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

By "perspective", do you mean "consciousness"?

As to the other matter, I am about as far from a YEC as one can get... but (and it's a Big But), I do not believe there has been anything near to enough time to accomplish all that the unguided Darwinists claim to have happened. the Earth has only been around for 4 and a half billion years, and most of that time, there was nothing but microorganisms as life. what we now recognize as the biosphere has all come about in the last couple of hundred million years. there simply hasn't been enough time for all to have occurred by itself.

Matt DeStefano said...

Martin,

You should read Dennett's original article, it actually has a lot of bearing on the argument you're attempting to use here.

For example, you claim that symbols only have meaning if a mind gives it to them. However, we find that tufted capuchins can "comprehend" and use symbols. Dennett argues that there is a gradation of comprehension, and that it's not a good argument to suppose that it is an all or nothing ordeal.

We know that we share a common ancestry with tufted capuchins, and we know the biological mechanisms which have given rise to both capuchin monkeys and human beings. I suppose you could deny biological evolution/common ancestry as Prokop seems to do, but that's silly given the abundance of evidence we have for it.

Martin said...

Matt,

I'm well aware of Dennet's writings on this.

He uses the homunculus argument: the "symbols" of your mind have the meaning they do because some sub-process assigns that meaning to them. And then some sub-sub-process assigns meaning to the "little mind inside your mind", and so on down the chain until you are able to reduce "aboutness" to non-aboutness.

The problem is that the bottom level processes either:

* have the ability to assign meaning to the next level up

OR

* do not have that ability

If so, then Dennet has not reduced aboutness because it still remains. If not, then the bottom level cannot assign aboutness to the next level up and so nothing has aboutness at all.

Martin said...

B Prokop,

There is overwhelming evidence for the picture of life as a slow evolution, and nothing to dispute it.

The problem, as Victor points out, is how to reconcile mind (and even the reproduction necessary for evolution) in a world without teleology.

A much better design argument can be made along those lines, and that is basically Victor's (CS Lewis, etc) argument from reason:

It is inconsistent to simultaneously hold two beliefs at once:

* That a set of markings, pictures, symbols, etc were created by unguided natural forces

AND

* That the set of markings accurately refers to something beyond itself

So take the woman who believes a picture of Jesus is in her toast. She is consistent: she believes the picture of Jesus was put their by God, AND that the picture does in fact represent Jesus. You might take issue with her opinion of what petty stuff God might do, but her two beliefs are not inconsistent.

But now take the naturalist. Or more accurately, the mechanist. He believes two things: the human mind is the result of blind and unguided forces, AND it accurately refers to things beyond itself (as when we reason about things).

So that is a better design argument you can make. You come across some sticks arranged on a hill that says "Shire Ahead". But wind can blow sticks into patterns, occasionally, and so maybe it's just an accident. But then you see that the Shire is in fact right up the road. So that combination allows you to conclude that the sticks were arranged purposefully.

Papalinton said...

I despair at the ignorance.
Mind is what the brain does. Nothing more, nothing less. Damage the brain you damage the mind. A disembodied mind or soul doesn't drift off seeking another fully-functioning brain to inhabit to help it express its thoughts, not even to heaven, which most christians believe now is just allegory.

All god-fodder thinking is simply the brain exercising its competence. A person with a brain injury may either lose their capacity to conjure up gods or their god imaginings could surge to rabid proportions depending solely on the extent of the injury. Get a bump on the head and the mind can result in total, partial, temporary or permanent amnesia depending on the severity. It can lead to a vegetative state. It's called brain dead. What happened to that p[erson's mind? Did it simply float off or was it squashed in the contusion?

Perhaps one might want to review people with autism:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/09/atheism-as-mental-deviance/

I wonder if the believer scientist can build the case for atheism as a mental deviance? [Thinks for a moment] Nnaaah.

It just seems to me that Dembski and Reppert are still attempting to describe consciousness, mind, competence and comprehension through the lens of theology. They simply refuse to consider the scientific evidence to date. They are simply too afraid to decouple theology and religious philosophy from fact and evidence that demonstrably show no such link to date has been made. And the more we continue in discovery in the neuro-sciences, whatever imagined link becomes slighter and slighter.

There is so much information on head and brain injuries, loss of empathy, hearing loss; language problems; sensory problems like the inability to recognize family and friends, etc etc etc. I simply cannot understand how Reppert and Dembski and others are unable to reconcile or incorporate these findings into their theology.

I despair at the ignorance.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't see where you've responded at all to the argument I have presented, or, even better, what Martin as presented even more elegantly. It seems to be another instance of "you're just saying that because you're a Christian."

Another classic example of ad hominem circumstantial?

Matt DeStefano said...

He uses the homunculus argument: the "symbols" of your mind have the meaning they do because some sub-process assigns that meaning to them. And then some sub-sub-process assigns meaning to the "little mind inside your mind", and so on down the chain until you are able to reduce "aboutness" to non-aboutness.

First of all, there is a difference between "comprehension" and "aboutness". Dennett is using Turing's work as a springboard for talking about comprehension, not aboutness.

Having said that, this is simply not Dennett's argument, and even reading the article in the Atlantic
could have helped clear up this confusion. He says:

The ape and the apple are made of the same basic ingredients, differently structured and exploited in a many-level cascade of different functional competences. There is no principled dividing line between a sorta ape and an ape. The humanoid robot and the hand calculator are both made of the same basic, unthinking, unfeeling Turing-bricks, but as we compose them into larger, more competent structures, which then become the elements of still more competent structures at higher levels, we eventually arrive at parts so (sorta) intelligent that they can be assembled into competences that deserve to be called comprehending. We use the intentional stance to keep track of the beliefs and desires (or "beliefs" and "desires" or sorta beliefs and sorta desires) of the (sorta-)rational agents at every level from the simplest bacterium through all the discriminating, signaling, comparing, remembering circuits that compose the brains of animals from starfish to astronomers.

Therefore, your distinction between "having the ability to assign meaning" and "not having the ability to assign meaning" is a false dichotomy. It's not an either/or situation, as he explicitly states , but a gradual undertaking.

You can read more about Dennett's position on "aboutness" on his paper on intentionality.

SteveK said...

Leave it to Paps to attack the wrong argument and then claim victory.

Papalinton said...

Dembski is a known apologist. A Research [?] Fellow of the Discovery Institute, the creationist organisation, for heaven's sake.

Yes, I did respond to your argument. It is the context in which you present the argument that makes it appear that I have not attended to it. My argument sought to place some of the contextual evidence about mind, body, competence and comprehension on to the table, which you seem reluctant to do. Dembski's teleological perspective on these aspects is singularly unhelpful, unless you are a believer, of course.

Dembski's remarks on Dennett is a theological response.

It does not behoove me to travel down into the theological labyrinth.

Papalinton said...

"Leave it to Paps to attack the wrong argument and then claim victory."

Please enlighten me Steve K.

Martin said...

Matt,

Yes, that is the same basic idea. Original aboutness or derived aboutness? Dennet says it is derived.

But if it is derived, it is derived from another mind, intentional process, or whatever.

But then you go to infinite regress. Dennet attempts to ground the regress by saying that each one is stupider and stupider, but you can never get rid of the last one otherwise none of the others will have it either.

Valicella addresses this here:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/11/original-and-derived-intentionality-circles-and-regresses.html

Matt DeStefano said...

Paps,

While Dembski is an apologist in some sense of the word, that doesn't mean we can write off all his arguments as "theological response[s]". Undoubtedly, his theology informs his worldview, but he's presenting an argument here that doesn't explicitly rely on theism at all, much less his specific theology.

Matt DeStefano said...

But then you go to infinite regress. Dennet attempts to ground the regress by saying that each one is stupider and stupider, but you can never get rid of the last one otherwise none of the others will have it either.


"Each one is stupider and stupider".. what does "each" refer to here, and can you point where Dennett asserts this about intentionality?

This seems to be a total misrepresentation of his views, so I'd just like to see where you are getting this from.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Matt
I disagree.

From Dembski, "Atheistic materialism admits a very limited set of answers to how life and cognition could have emerged and may properly be explained.

Dembski's commentary, with references for, attributions to, intentionality labelled at Dennett by Demski, is peppered with notions of atheism. I am hard pressed to find one sentence without mention of Dennett's atheism.

Dembski notes, "The reason I say Dennett has misrepresented the substance of Turing's work is that he gives the impression that the Turing machine renders people unnecessary to the task of computation. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Turing machine, as characterized in 1936 by Alan Turing, was a general computational framework in which any particular computation could be realized. Yet to resolve any particular computational problem requires programming a Turing machine to solve it."

This form of statement implies a cut-off in time. A couple of decades ago this might have been a reasonable statement. But as I understand it [artificial] intelligence is now on the verge of indeed 'learning' and changing behaviour to solve issues. So, how much of Demski's perspective can we accept when current research in computer intelligence seems to have overcome the failure-learn-redo-succeed cycle and seems to be a functioning proposition?

As I noted earlier, Lippard outlines: "My argument was that if you have two possible worlds that are exactly alike, except that one was created by a top-down designer and one evolved, there's no reason to say that one has semantics and the other one doesn't--how they got to the point at which they have creatures with internal representations that stand in the right causal relationships to the external world doesn't make a difference to whether or not those representations actually refer and have meaning."
http://lippard.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/daniel-dennett-at-asu.html

Dembski becomes somewhat confused here: "Dennett needs to reverse this order, making comprehension a product of mindless material forces and thus placing comprehension logically downstream from competence. (For him, the world does not begin with mind; mind is something that emerges out of it via a mindless process.)"

I would have thought that Dennett is saying precisely that, that competence comes before comprehension and that comprehension is a higher order form of competence. The idea of the 'world beginning with mind' is a theological construct. Indeed it is fundamental to theological reasoning. It is called teleological intentionality.

It seems to me that Dembski is attempting to tell us that (artificial[?]) intelligence, no matter whether it completely swamps or even supersedes the human mind, no matter how 'smart', 'intelligent', 'self-correcting', 'self-learning' and 'self-instructional' it becomes, whether it ever acquires a competence and level of comprehension that becomes analogous to a 'mind', will never be one simply because a 'mind' can only ever be and exclusively human.

This is a theological statement.

I am of the view that Dembski's response is heavily laden with a perspective that makes sense largely through the prism of theology.

Martin said...

Matt,

I don't have access to the book, but here is a reference to it, starting where it says "The second strategy..."

Papalinton said...

It is interesting to note Dembski drawing reference to Michael Polanyi to critique Dennett's work re the Turing machine.

The new Centre for Creation Science and Intelligent Design established at Baylor University, aptly named the Michael Polanyi Centre for Intelligent Design, or some such, simply characterizes the religious nature of Dembski's response to Dennett. This occurred, with fanfare, when creationism [intelligent design] was at its zenith, before the Dover school court case. Needles to say, the whole edifice of the Baylor University's Michael Polanyi Centre for Intelligent Design, quickly sank below the surface.

Dembski also cites Shapiro in criticism of Dennett's position. A very informative review of Shapiro can be found here:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/08/james_shapiros_evolution_a_vie050111.html

Two comments in the review adds a cautionary note:

From James Shapiro's Evolution: A View from the 21st Century Offers a Stunning Look at Biological Complexity and Non-Darwinian Evolution
by Casey Luskin August 29, 2011 11:55 AM

"Here, Shapiro would seem to be confronted with a difficulty: He doesn't want to rely on blind and random mechanisms for evolution because biological systems simply appear too complex to have arisen in such a fashion. However, if he doesn't rely on blind and random mechanisms for at some point along the process, then he's forced into the realm of intelligent design -- which is exactly where he doesn't want to go." and

"Clearly the specter of intelligent design is haunting Shapiro as he makes his case to other scientists. But his explanation for why ID isn't needed is to simply assert that natural genetic engineering principles would provide a "distinct evolutionary advantage." (p. 135) Here, Shapiro ignores his own advice."

The following provides a further perspective of Dembski's citing of James Shapiro: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/mind-of-james-shapiro.html

Dembski's source material seems somewhat to introduce an IDiot flavour to the critique of Dennett.

Papalinton said...

Here is an article about Dembski and the Polanyi Intelligent Design Centre at Baylor:


http://ncse.com/rncse/20/4/baylors-polanyi-center-turmoil

cl said...

B. Prokop,

Matt DeStefano implies that you "deny biological evolution/common ancestry." Is this correct? Or would you say Matt has incorrectly paraphrased your remarks at July 06, 2012 2:41 PM?

I'm curious because I don't understand how Matt hears "I deny biological evolution/common ancestry" when you simply expresses skepticism over the traditional Darwinian narrative. It seems to me that—like many people—Matt has a tendency to hyperreact WRT this issue.

After all, I see no dichotomy.

cl said...

Victor,

Off topic, but is there a way to collapse Papalinton's ramblings so they don't hog up the thread?

I enjoy reading here, but I really don't like having to parse through his crap, even if it's only briefly. It's just too damn depressing. I know some blogs have "kill" options that allow readers to hide the comments of those they don't consider worth reading.

B. Prokop said...

cl,

Matt doesn't know what he's talking about. I have no problem whatsoever with common biological ancestry/evolution - none, zero, nada, zip, nil, nichego. What I have a huge problem with is the uber-Darwinist narrative that imagines all of this happening "on its own". It's not just that I don't believe in it, it's that I cannot believe in it. It is quite literally unbelievable.

cl said...

B. Prokop,

"Matt doesn't know what he's talking about.

Yeah, that's what I figured.

"I have no problem whatsoever with common biological ancestry/evolution - none, zero, nada, zip, nil, niche go."

I understand. I'm the same way. I think that our position is difficult to grok for people like Matt. I know that Matt grew up "religious" at least and I think even possibly "fundamentalist." Therefore, such false dichotomies make sense. So many people have this "either/or" thing when it comes to origins: you either swallow the Darwinian narrative whole, or you're an anti-science nitwit. All the while, there is so much gray.

At any rate, thanks for the response, just wanted to clarify because something seemed wrong about Matt's remark.

Papalinton said...

"Victor,
Off topic, but is there a way to collapse Papalinton's ramblings so they don't hog up the thread?
I enjoy reading here, but I really don't like having to parse through his crap, even if it's only briefly. It's just too damn depressing. I know some blogs have "kill" options that allow readers to hide the comments of those they don't consider worth reading."


Sorry cl, the truth does hurt.

Perhaps the most appropriate measure would be to review all the data, all the facts we have to date, and set aside that which causes such cognitive dissonance even if it pains one to do so. You are rightly entitled to your own opinion but what your are not entitled to is your own facts. The truth is what is at stake here. From my perspective, theology seems to be odd man out, telling a very different story to that of the sciences, and it seems to me that much of theology relies on re-scripting the science narrative to fit it to the theological perspective. That, to me seems wrong. Please prove to me otherwise. That is all one asks.

It may be that the manner in which I approach religion seems disrespectful and uncivil. But I am not afraid of the truth. My approach may well be discourteous. Time will tell and I am prepared to tone down my rhetoric if that be the case. I try to be mindful of the current debate in the community and take notice:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/the-future-of-blasphemy-by-austin-dacey/article4379660/?cmpid=rss1

"As Dacey writes succinctly, “Blasphemy has been reframed within the secular idiom of respect for persons.” Understood in the past as disrespect for the Deity, blasphemy has been turned into a lack of respect for human beings. The European Court of Human Rights has asserted a universal “right to respect for religious feelings,” while the United Nations has condemned anything that could be categorized as “advocacy of religious hatred.” "

But your call for book burning and censorship [hyperbole cl] is not a solution to escaping from the truth. Just as the religiously-inspired destroyed the Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan, the actions of the church fathers in olden times resulted in a dearth of manuscripts outside the church-sanctioned volumes on any competitive scriptural and religious writings over some 1500 years of western history. And we will never get these back.

Matt DeStefano said...

I have no problem whatsoever with common biological ancestry/evolution - none, zero, nada, zip, nil, nichego. What I have a huge problem with is the uber-Darwinist narrative that imagines all of this happening "on its own". It's not just that I don't believe in it, it's that I cannot believe in it. It is quite literally unbelievable.

As much as arguments from incredulity inspire me to believe that you have a complete understanding of this "narrative", what exactly are you protesting here? Natural selection?

As Martin (and Victor) already nicely summed it up: I don't think that's a good objection. As Dawkins and others have pointed out, if you have a randomization process plus a selection process, complexity can be built up over time.

cl said...

Matt,

"As much as arguments from incredulity inspire me to believe that you have a complete understanding of this "narrative", what exactly are you protesting here?"

May Prokop correct me if I'm wrong, but *PART* of what he's protesting is the fact that you totally misrepresented his views, just as I suspected.

But hey, I guess something along the lines of "My bad, Prokop, I totally misrepresented your views" is completely out of the question.

cl said...

"As Dawkins and others have pointed out, if you have a randomization process plus a selection process, complexity can be built up over time."

Of course, that's an entirely different claim than, "if you have enough time, nothing can become everything, randomly, all by itself, for no good reason."

The latter is what the average "enlightened" atheist believes, and what folks like Prokop and myself doubt. You'll hate it, but it's true: atheists have faith too.

finney said...

Matt: First, you cannot have comprehension without comprehending something, which meants your comprehension must be "about" something. You can't have comprehension without having intentionality.

"but a gradual undertaking."

Matt: Dennett says in other works that the factors that play into ascribing "comprehension" to a thing

finney said...

(Sorry, cut off the rest of my comment)


Dennett says in other works that the factors that play into ascribing comprehension are not intrinsic to the comprehending thing itself, but rather our need to predict its behavior. Intentionality, for Dennett, is a necessary fiction and is not an observer-indepenent reality.

Matt DeStefano said...

Of course, that's an entirely different claim than, "if you have enough time, nothing can become everything, randomly, all by itself, for no good reason."

Hoyle's fallacy, really? Next you're going to tell me that bananas were made to fit human hands.

First, you cannot have comprehension without comprehending something, which meants your comprehension must be "about" something. You can't have comprehension without having intentionality.

This is called "begging the question".

Dennett says in other works that the factors that play into ascribing comprehension are not intrinsic to the comprehending thing itself, but rather our need to predict its behavior. Intentionality, for Dennett, is a necessary fiction and is not an observer-indepenent reality.

Yes, in some works Dennett takes an instrumentalist approach to intentionality. "Gradual undertaking" refers to comprehension.

cl said...

Matt DeStefano,

Ah, I see... so not only are you too proud to apologize to B. Prokop for misrepresenting his views, now you're going to blatantly misrepresent mine without a lick of shame.

"Next you're going to tell me..."

Nothing. I'm not going to tell you anything next. You're basically in Paps' category to me now. Willfully blind. Beyond reproach. Generally incapable of extending charity. Etc.

Take care.

B. Prokop said...

Bananas may not have been made to fit human hands, but there are thousands upon thousands of examples where an attribute of one species was designed specifically to interact with another species, so what's your point in bringing up bananas?

Matt DeStefano said...

Bananas may not have been made to fit human hands, but there are thousands upon thousands of examples where an attribute of one species was designed specifically to interact with another species, so what's your point in bringing up bananas?

It's almost as if there is some sort of selection pressure operating in the environment.

B. Prokop said...

Wait a second... which side of your mouth are you arguing from. Unless I misunderstand you, in your first post, you seem to be ridiculing the idea that bananas could possibly be intended for human hands, and in the second post you use that very intent to buttress your faith in blind evolution???

Are you learning your dance steps from Papalinton?

Matt DeStefano said...

Unless I misunderstand you, in your first post, you seem to be ridiculing the idea that bananas could possibly be intended for human hands, and in the second post you use that very intent to buttress your faith in blind evolution???

I'm ridiculing the idea that bananas fitting human hands serves as evidence for the argument from design. The whole "you have faith" argument is naive and frankly a beacon to your misunderstanding of how evolutionary biology (and science in general) operates.

You still have yet to address my previous comment. What part of "blind evolution" are you denying? Do you deny natural selection? Are you denying co-evolution?

Fellow believers Martin and Victor have already nicely pointed out how your argument from the gaps and argument from incredulity don't hold muster.

finney said...
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finney said...

"Gradual undertaking" refers to comprehension."

But as an instrumentalist, whether a thing is comprehending or not is not a question solely of its abilities but rather the interpretive purposes of others who ascribe intentions and purposes to the thing. a thermostat comprehends the room temperature, in this sense. A sentence that says "The room is 80 degrees celsius" comprehends the room temperature, in this sense.

finney said...

"This is called "begging the question"."

Only if you don't concede the premise. Do you deny that you can't have comprehension without having comprehended "something"?

B. Prokop said...

"What part of "blind evolution" are you denying?"

The "blind" part. I believe in evolution as an established fact. I also believe that evolution works "by design". No gaps there.

And I'm not arguing from incredulity. Read my post again. I'm simply stating that I, personally, find blind evolution to be incredulous.