Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Reply to Johnson on nonmental reasoning

Johnson also says I missed the relevance of non-mental forms of reasoning.38 He says that “His argument explicitly claims that purely physical, nonmental processes—the kind he says naturalism insists are ultimately explanatory—cannot reliably produce true beliefs.”39 I wish he had quoted me on this, because I can’t find a statement to that effect in my own essays myself.  I replied that what is needed for my argument is that we sometimes go through explicit mental reasoning processes, and that this is critical for the kind of knowledge on which naturalism is grounded. Perhaps I did not make that as clear as I might have in the debate, but that is the point I want to make. There can be noninferential forms of knowledge, such as my direct awareness that I am in front of a computer screen right now. As a long-time, though intermittent, tournament chessplayer, I can agree with Kasparov that not every step in a chessplayer’s mind is an explicit rational inference, and this is even more the case in something like basketball. If LeBron were to rely on explicit reasoning to decide whether to shoot or pass the ball to Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers would never get into the NBA playoffs, much less reach the Finals. Whether these processes are purely physical or not probably depends upon your theory of mind, but we can come to some true beliefs without explicit, premise-to-conclusion reasoning. He also mentions computers, but he misses my central point that computers are by necessity products of intelligent design, and their reasoning processes are dependent upon the thoughts of their builders, programmers and users. The template of meaning that makes a computer’s process mean rook to f6 can only exist if there are humans who invest the computer’s activity with the meanings associated with chess. Now, once we do that, certainly the computer can slaughter me in a chess game. But what computers have is what philosophers call derived intentionality, not original intentionality. 

1 comment:

Stardusty Psyche said...

OP"...cannot reliably produce true beliefs.”
--Nothing can. One might hold a belief that is true, but how could you or I or anybody reliably determine the truth of any particular belief? We can't. We can only use analytical techniques for which we consider there to be good reasons to think will lead our belief to be more likely to be true than if we had not engaged in what we consider to be such preferable analytical techniques.


" If LeBron were to rely on explicit reasoning to decide whether to shoot or pass the ball to Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers would never get into the NBA playoffs,"
--That assumes non-conscious brain activity is not "explicit". I assert all brain activity is explicit, but our consciousness brain process does not have a direct monitoring link path to non-conscious brain activity

" But what computers have is what philosophers call derived intentionality, not original intentionality. "
--Computers can now learn, so that distinction now breaks down.