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The Strength of the Fading and Dancing Arguments

An Honors Thesis by Philip Spitzer Professor Alexis Burgess Second Reader Krista Lawlor Stanford University Philosophy Department May 15, 2009

Abstract When I began the process of brainstorming for this project at the beginning of the year, I had a vague sense that I wanted to write about something within metaphysics or the philosophy of mind. As I spoke with Professor Burgess on many an afternoon, I came to realize how much the idea of robots invigorated me, and decided finally that I would write about whether they will be conscious. Ive long been a fan of Ray Kurzweil and the surprising things he has to say about the near future, a future filled with robots. For this reason, questioning a robots consciousness has been an excellent experience, as it seems directly pertinent to the coming decades. Before Im middle aged, the answer to this question will influence how we will think of and treat robots on a fundamental level (and perhaps how they will think of and treat us), making it a pressing and exciting issue in my mind. Within a few weeks of pursuing this avenue, Alexi told me, You need to get the Chalmers book. This step was the crucial one, and I soon identified his fading qualia and dancing qualia arguments as two of the strongest arguments for the principle of organizational invariance, a cornerstone of functional theories of mind and a principle directly supporting the hypothesis that robots can indeed be conscious.1 The fading and dancing arguments were entertaining and interesting, involving the replacement of neurons in a persons brain with silicon chips.

1 I will clarify these terms in the introduction to my first chapter.

I then began exploring criticisms of the fading and dancing qualia arguments, eventually recognizing a criticism from philosopher Brian Crabb as the strongest threat. Crabb claims the fading and dancing arguments are circular, and while he makes a persuasive case, the success of his argument relies on a separate question: whether or not conscious experience can affect a systems functional organization. To see if Crabbs criticism truly holds weight, my task was then to explore this question. I came to the conclusion that while perhaps hard to stomach, it is very likely that conscious experience can not affect a functional organization at all. Crabbs criticism then loses steam, and Chalmers arguments are not circular, providing strong support for the hypothesis that robots can be conscious.

Acknowledgements I would first like to thank Professor Burgess for being a fantastic advisor. He takes no argument for granted, and is one of the greatest people to bounce ideas off, taking them in and thoroughly analyzing them with a sharp wit. Second, I thank Professor Lawlor, epistemology extraordinaire, who helped me formulate perhaps the most interesting part of my thesis. Third, I thank Sarah Paul, who was very helpful and enthusiastic in directing me toward promising ideas. And finally, I thank my friends and loved ones, who have supported me and encouraged me throughout this process, especially Sarah and Harry, who have put up with my blabbering about robots for five months.

Table of Contents Chapter 1: The Fading and Dancing Arguments 1. Fading Qualia 2. Dancing Qualia 3. Final Remarks on Fading and Dancing Qualia Chapter 2: Can a Functional Profile be Maintained? 1. Crabbs Consequence
2. Is Crabb Correct to Point Out His Consequence?

a. Crabbs First Reason b. Crabbs Second Reason

3. Crabbs Consequence Taken Seriously

4. Concluding Remarks Chapter 3: Can Qualia Change a Functional Organization? 1. The Intuitive Argument Against Explanatory Irrelevance 2. The Argument From Self-Knowledge a. Chalmers Response b. A Criticism of Chalmers Response 3. Independent Support for Explanatory Irrelevance 4. Concluding Remarks Concluding Remarks on the Fading and Dancing Arguments Works Cited

Chapter 1: The Fading and Dancing Qualia Arguments In this chapter, I will provide accounts of the fading and dancing qualia arguments, similar to Chalmers accounts as laid out in The Conscious Mind. Before launching into the arguments, I define terms that will set an appropriate backdrop for understanding the chapter: First, functional organization should be understood as a pattern of interaction between causal components of a system, and between those components and external inputs and outputs. A wide range of systems can have functional organizations, ranging from complex ones like the human brain to simple ones like levers and scales. Importantly, the physiological makeup of a system that realizes a certain functional organization is irrelevant to whether or not that functional organization will give rise to conscience experience. For example, the functional organization of my mind might be replicated in a number of different physical systems, from a robot made of silicon chips to a machine constructed of rubber bands and ping pong balls. Any functional organization can be characterized in terms of components, the states of those components, and a system of relations between component states, inputs, and outputs.2 Second, functional isomorphs refers to two or more systems that have identical functional organizations.

2 I could spend an entire thesis defining the precise nature of a functional organization, but for this thesis it should be taken as exactly the sort of thing functionalists talk about when characterizing the organization of a brain, or any other system.

Third, the term functionalism will refer to the theory of mind that says that consciousness is due to the functional organization of a system, and that certain functional organizations are conscious while others are not. Fourth, I make the distinction between natural possibility and logical possibility, following Chalmers. Something is naturally possible if it could occur in any world we can imagine that shares our fundamental laws. Everything naturally possible is also logically possible, as logical possibility is only constrained by the rules of logic. For example, a perpetual-motion machine is not naturally possible, but is logically possible. A circle that has a circumference of two inches and also has a circumference of three inches is neither naturally nor logically possible. Like Chalmers, I will use the fading and dancing qualia arguments to argue for the natural impossibility of absent qualia, which supports a nonreductive version of functionalism that describes mental states as naturally supervening on physical states. Reductive theories of consciousness generally say that mental states logically supervene on physical statesso if I wanted to support such a theory, my task would be to show the logical impossibility, rather than natural impossibility, of absent qualia. Fifth, qualia will refer to the phenomenal aspect of consciousness, or, whatever it is like to be something. Throughout this thesis, I use the terms qualia and conscious experience interchangeably, and when saying a being is conscious, I mean it has conscious experience. A being with absent qualia, usually referred to in the philosophy of mind as a zombie, lacks any

and all conscious experience, but can have other mental states devoid of any phenomenal aspect. With those definitions in mind, the principle of organizational invariance dictates that if a system (like a brain) has conscious experiences, a functional isomorph of that system in any naturally possible world will have qualitatively identical conscious experiences irrespective of its physiology. If absent qualia and zombies are naturally possible, organizational invariance is false. However, the fading and dancing qualia arguments are meant to support the principle of organizational invariance by showing absent qualia to be almost certainly naturally impossible. If they are successful, the arguments give good reason to believe that robotic functional isomorphs of humans are just as conscious as you and I. I will first give an account of the fading qualia argument, and explain why the argument effectively shows absent qualia to be naturally impossible. I will then do the same for the dancing qualia argument, except I will show inverted qualia to be naturally impossible. In explaining the two arguments and their consequences, the principle of organizational invariance will become the clear alternative to supposing absent or inverted qualia to be naturally possible. My versions of the fading and dancing qualia arguments are directly modeled off Chalmers, with slight variations to make certain points more clear. As I lay out the arguments, I will explain why I made minor changes, and how I think they help clarify the arguments. Both arguments will take

the form of a reductio ad absurdum, first assuming that absent qualia (for the fading argument) or inverted qualia (for the dancing argument) are naturally possible, then showing why these assumptions lead to unfavorable consequences, making them almost certainly naturally impossible.


Fading Qualia

An objection to functionalism put forth by Ned Block3 is based on the intuition that it doesnt seem likely that certain realizations of the functional organizations of conscious systems will have qualia (conscious experience). This is known as an objection from absent qualia. Block imagines the functional organization of a human mind replicated in a system consisting of the Chinese population, every person playing the causal functional role of a neuron or any physical part of a human mind, including nerves, the visual cortex, and any other physical aspect of a mind imaginable (assuming there are enough people), with radio transmitters such that the functional organization of a mind is perfectly replicated. The radio transmitters will be used in such a way as to perfectly replicate the functional organization of a brain on both the electrical and biochemical levels. Additionally, every input and output of a normal human brain will be perfectly functionally replicated
3 Block, Ned. Troubles With Functionalism. Rep. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 1978.

such that every component of a brain (like the centers for touch, smell, and speech) are all functionally accounted for by people with radio transmitters. Block pumps the intuition, surely this system is not conscious.4 However, the natural response to such an intuition is to consider the human brain: why should a hunk of neurons, chemicals and electricity give rise to consciousness any more readily than a system of people and radio transmitters? Relying on intuition alone, this argument shouldnt be considered a strong one for the natural possibility of absent qualia. However, Block is right in asserting that the burden of proof lies with the philosopher who says conscious experience is organizationally invariant, so I will proceed in giving an account of why absent qualia are almost certainly naturally impossible. As mentioned, for the purpose of the argument, assume absent qualia to be naturally possible. Say there exists in some naturally possible world a robot named Jonas that is my functional isomorph, yet Jonas has no conscious experiences (in accordance with the possibility of absent qualia). Suppose for the sake of argument that Jonas lacks conscious experience because hes made of silicon.5 As my functional isomorph, his body and brain have precisely the same causal patterns as my body and brain, and
4 Block. 5 I make this supposition because if Jonas lacked conscious experience for a reason other than the physiological details of his functional organization, it would not be relevant to the purpose of this thesis. The fading qualia argument is meant to combat intuitions like Blocks: that the physiological details of a functional organization are relevant to whether or not a conscious experience is present. Recall that Block thought that the nation of China couldnt be conscious because it is made up of people and radio transmitters.


hence the same behavioral dispositions. He will act the way I would if he picks blackberries, nostalgically exclaiming, this reminds me of my childhood. To clarify this point, Jonas and I will not act identically (saying the same words at the same time, etc.), as we have different inputs from the world. He has the same behavior dispositions that I do, and like me will, say, eighty three percent of the time report nostalgia when picking blackberries (although will not actually feel or be nostalgic, as he is not conscious, but just reports it). Crucially, anyone would take him to be conscious just like me, but he lacks all qualitative experiencehes as conscious as a nine iron. Now consider a series of intermediate cases between Jonas and me, a spectrum of Joes, with functional organization preserved throughout. The difference between one Joe and the next, moving in the direction from me to Jonas, is that each succeeding Joe has one more neuron replaced with a silicon chip, with Jonas at the end of the spectrum with the completely silicon brain.6 To clarify the notion of silicon replacement, consider the first Joe along the spectrum, most similar to me. He has had one neuron replaced with a silicon chip that performs every causal function the neuron did. We will
6 Chalmers lays out the argument such that each succeeding Joe has larger and larger
neuronal sections replaced with silicon chips, which helps make the scenario more comprehensible because perhaps only 100 Joes would be needed for the full spectrum. Additionally, replacing whole sections of the brain rather than one neuron at a time makes for a useful backdrop to Chalmers dancing qualia argument, which I will explain in the following section. However, I think that replacing one neuron at a time simplifies the thought experiment, and am not worried about the comprehensibility of having to think of, say, one hundred billion Joesas this is only an issue of scale, which does not bare any philosophical difficulties for the argument. Furthermore, my version of the scenario allows for the same convenient setup of the dancing qualia thought experiment, with a slight variation that I will describe when I come to the scenario.


assume the chip to be highly advanced: it can perform all of the same local functions as the neuron, including the processing of all chemical and electrical inputs and outputs. We can stipulate that every carbon atom within the neuron is replaced with a silicon one and function is precisely replicated, as such a scenario is naturally possible. However, addressing concerns that such a technological feat seems unfeasible, the method by which the silicon chip produces the appropriate outputs from its inputs is irrelevant: it might look up how to appropriately act on a table programmed into it, or it might perform an internal calculation that mirrors the way the neuron acts internally. In any case, the replacement of a neuron hasnt changed the functional organization of the system at all, and this Joe will act just as he would if he had an entirely neuronal brain. In the second Joe along the spectrum (Joe2), we replace one more neuron, again maintaining the precise fine-grained functional organization of my mind. As stipulated, each succeeding Joe has one more neuron replaced with a silicon chip. The biochemical interaction in the brain only takes place between neurons and between neurons and silicon chips. As we move along the spectrum, there will be silicon chips that are only connected to other silicon chips, nixing the need for biochemical interaction, which can be functionally replicated entirely by electrical signals between the chips. Throughout the spectrum, the system is connected to a body, and reacts appropriately to inputs and outputs from bodily signals, maintaining my


behavioral dispositionsif a Joe or Jonas is burned, they will yell ouch! as quickly as me. Imagine Jonas takes a stroll through the quad. He sees the beautiful and historic Memorial Church and is filled with a sense of appreciation to be attending a place like Stanford. He gazes up at the sun and squintsthe brightness is a bit much for his eyes. Hes eating some frozen yogurt from Fraiche, and tastes the fresh strawberries he ordered as an add-in. However, Jonas experiences none of this: he actually feels no appreciation, senses no light from the sun, and doesnt taste strawberries. There is nothing it is like to be him, as he has no conscious life. The crucial difference between Jonas and I is that I have the phenomenal aspect of consciousness (which I refer to as conscious experience), and he doesnt.7 Considering what it is like to be Jonas raises the important question of what it is like to be a Joe. Here is where the thought experiment comes to a head: it seems that it must either be the case that conscious experience fades along the spectrum of Joes, or it drops off somewhere. Admittedly, it is possible that something else happens to conscious experience as we move along the spectrum that has yet to be thought of. However, the scrutiny of philosophers over the past few decades hasnt come up with any viable alternative to experience fading or dropping off that isnt a version of one of those two options. So while I am not completely certain these two options

7 Here I differentiate my scenario from Chalmers in that I include an emotion, appreciation.

I find this useful in spelling out what conscious experience is likeconsisting of more than just the physical senses.


are the only naturally possible options, it remains very likely that they are, and the argument loses none of its force until a third reasonable option is put forth. Considering the option that conscious experience drops off or disappears somewhere along the spectrum of Joes, we come to the strange conclusion that the replacement of one neuron with a silicon chip would cause consciousness to completely disappear. My version of the argument of one neuron replaced in each successive Joe rather than sections of the brain replacedstrengthens this intuition. The absurdity is immediately apparent: at what point would the arbitrary line be drawn where consciousness drops out? How could the replacement of one neuron cause us to go from rich conscious experience to nothingness? Because conscious experience suddenly dropping off seems so unlikely, we are left with the second option: that conscious experience fades as we move along the spectrum of Joes. The question now becomes, how might a Joe from somewhere in the middle of the spectrum (like Joefifty billion) experience the walk through the quad? Presuming he has something like half-faded qualia (lets take this notion to be intelligible), he feels a weak sense of appreciation, the light is only a little bothersome to his eyes, and he can taste a dulled-down strawberry taste. However, as our scenario demands, Joefifty billion has the same functional organization and hence behavioral dispositions as me, Jonas, and all of the other Joes. Therefore, he acts just like Jonas did and I would

have: as if he is fully appreciative, as if the light is bright, and as if he can taste strawberries to the fullest extent. Herein lays the basic problem with fading qualiathe Joes are out of touch with their conscious experience they report all of the same experiences as I do, and even more problematic, they judge that they have the same experiences I do.8 Joeninety billion would judge that he fully tastes strawberry, yet only actually tastes something like what you or I might call a hint of strawberry. This represents a significant dissociation between consciousness and cognitionand we have good reason to believe the mind couldnt act in such a problematic way. It is outlandish, based on our knowledge of conscious systems, that a rational and conscious system could be so out of touch with its conscious experience. When I told the story of Jonas walking through the quad and appearing to have rich conscious experiences, this account was less bothersome, because he was having no experiences at all. Imagine I built an elementary robot that could report I see blue. I know this robot isnt conscious, as I built him with very limited hardware and software that doesnt in any way resemble my functional organization. In this case, its not bothersome at all that he should report seeing blue, as I know hes not out of touch with any type of consciousness-as he has none at all. In the thought scenario, Jonas is just the same way: it doesnt bother me that he would report (while much more convincingly than my robot) that he sees blue, as hes not out of touch with any conscious experienceas he has none. However, Joeninety billion only
8 Here I use a deflationary meaning of the term judge which lacks any phenomenal aspect. I will discuss this deflationary definition of judgment in chapter two.


has a faded glimmer of conscious experience, yet acts as if he were having sharp and bright experiences! This seems more troublesome than a consciousnessless robot claiming to see blue yet not seeing anything at all, as he has no conscious experience to be so wrong about. One of the most basic assumptions about conscious systems with the appropriate conceptual sophistication is that they can form reasonably accurate judgments about their experiences, yet the Joes are sophisticated systems totally wrong about their experiences. I grant that there are conscious systems in nature that are consistently wrong about their experiences, just like the Joesyet crucially, these systems dont have consistently true judgments like I do. Take humans suffering from blindness denial, who report visual experiences when they actually have none. These patients have been shown to have no neural activity from visual stimuli through MRI studies, indicating that they truly have no visual experience. It comes as no surprise that these patients should have a disconnect between their consciousness and cognition, as their brains do not operate rationally, and they do not have consistently true judgments. While these patients are cases in nature of consciousness being out of touch with cognition, they are disanalogous to the players in my thought experiment: I have consistently true judgments, so I should expect that my functional isomorphs who share my behavioral dispositions will too. Consequently, its surprising that a Joe would be out of touch with his conscious experience, but not at all surprising that a patient suffering from

blindness denial might be. However, for the purpose of explaining the matter clearly, I will consider natural cases that appear like the fading qualia possibility. For example, consider drifting off to sleep. Lets presume that conscious experience fades over this process. Its immediately apparent that this case is disanalogous to the fading qualia in my thought experiment, because in Joes case, behavioral dispositions are maintained while qualia fade, yet in this case as qualia fade, behavior changes with it (going from wakefulness to sleep). As another example, consider my vision, dog vision, and a series of man-dog hybrids between a dog and me such that the quality of vision fades over the spectrum. The case is again disanalogous, as the dog has different visual hardware with a different functional organization (less perceptive eyes), and hence is not my functional isomorph. It seems clear that nature provides no cases of fading qualia of the kind postulated. However, this doesnt yet allow us to rule out its natural possibility, so I return to the reductio to prove it. Consider that a Joe close to Jonas on the spectrum might experience red and pink as the same color, yet oddly, hasnt lost his ability to discern between the two as his functional state and behavioral dispositions match mine exactly. As shown, the possibility of fading qualia entails the possibility of beings that are consistently poor judges of their own conscious experiences despite being fully rational. This seems significantly less plausible than the hypothesis that rational conscious beings are generally correct in their judgments about their

experiences. Because fading qualia entails a strangeness about consciousness that renders it almost certainly naturally impossible, we can say the same for absent qualia because if absent qualia were naturally possible, fading qualia would almost certainly be as well. Therefore, the most rational step based on this reductio is to drop the natural possibility of absent qualia, and accept the uncontroversial premise that rational, conscious beings will generally be correct in judging their conscious experiences. It follows that the Joes qualia do not fade as we move along the spectrum, but instead that they all have conscious experiences and Jonas does too. After arguing for the physical impossibility of fading qualia, Chalmers notes that he has only shown that consciousness is preserved with functional organization and not that the character or the same type of consciousness is preserved. To this end, Chalmers discusses the inverted color spectrum, the idea that an individual or a group might perceive inverse colors, such that the experience I call blue, an individual with an inverted color spectrum might call red. Chalmers considers a similar thought experiment to fading qualia called dancing qualia, in which the visual field jumps from normal colors to inverted colors. By showing inverted qualia to be almost certainly naturally impossible, Chalmers provides good reason to believe not only that consciousness is conserved with organizational invariance, but that the nature of that consciousness remains constant as well. In the following section I will lay out my version of the dancing qualia argument, detailing

when and why I differ from Chalmers. I also note that the dancing qualia argument and its intuitive force can be used to strengthen the conclusion of the fading qualia argument: that absent qualia are almost certainly naturally impossible. The fading qualia argument remains relevant however, because it clearly lays out the thought experiment and highlights the concern of a dissociation between consciousness and cognition in a simple way. The dancing qualia argument can be thought of as the cherry on top of the fading argument, as it has the same basic structure, only presents the absurdity of absent and inverted qualia in a more obvious way. Because it has so much in common with the fading qualia argument, I will devote less time to explaining the setup and will primarily focus on those areas where the dancing argument differs from the fading argument. II. Dancing Qualia

The dancing qualia argument makes the strange and off-putting consequences of absent and inverted qualia more glaring. As in my presentation of the fading qualia thought experiment, I will employ a reductio ad absurdum, ultimately showing the problematic consequences of presuming inverted qualia to be physically possible. As mentioned in the previous section, I have thus far only showed that consciousness is preserved with functional organization being preserved, and havent established that the same type of conscious experience is preserved. It might be the case that functional organization and the presence of inputs preserve the existence of conscious experience, but physiological makeup

determines the nature of this experience. To show that the same type of consciousness is preserved among functional isomorphs, one must consider inverted qualia, which will provide good reason to believe that the Jonas is not naturally possible: as my functional isomorph, Jonas would actually have the same type of conscious experience as me. But to keep clean boundaries between the two thought experiments, lets call my functionally isomorphic robot that has a completely inverted color spectrum Edward rather than Jonas. In this thought experiment, I suppose for reductio that inverted qualia are naturally possible in functional isomorphs. That is, I see red as red, and Edward sees red as blue. Color words like red can be understood as labels for certain kinds of conscious experiences, such that the experience I label as red, Jonas labels as blue. Like the fading qualia thought experiment, imagine a spectrum of intermediate Eds between myself and Edward such that each succeeding Ed has one more neuron replaced with a silicon chip. The question arises, what sort of experience does an Ed have when he looks at, say, a red apple? As with fading qualia, there appear to be two possible ways the Eds experience what I label as red. One possibility is that a certain percent of the Eds perceive red exactly the way I do, and the rest perceive red as blue just like Edward: that somewhere along the spectrum, the replacement of a single neuron suddenly changes the perception from red to blue. Perhaps a certain number of neurons replaced in the areas of the brain pertinent to color perception make up a critical mass that can immediately

switch the perception of red from red to blue and vice versa.9 While this possibility seems somewhat unlikely, if it obtained it would not hurt the setup of the thought experiment. However the second possibility that the red experience will turn from red to blue as we move along the spectrum, similar to the fade from conscious experience to none in the fading qualia argument, seems more likely. Considering this turn from redness to blueness, take two Eds along the spectrum who differ in their brain physiology by about five percent, as ones brain has slightly more silicon (I make the difference between the two Eds small; my reason for doing so will become clear in the following paragraph). Lets also assume that these two Eds perceive a red balloon in significantly different ways: one sees it as dark red while the other sees it as purple. We have chosen two Joes for which the five percent difference in brain physiology will be able to account for this significant difference in perception.10 Notably, if a normal person were to experience the dark red that the first Ed (well call Ed1) experiences and then the purple the second (Ed2) experiences, she would be able to tell the difference.

9 In the fading qualia argument, I rejected the critical mass hypothesis that replacing just one neuron would cause consciousness to drop off completely. In this case, it seems much more intuitively possible, as the difference between seeing red as red vs. blue is miniscule compared to the difference between being fully conscious and not at all. 10 This should be possible, considering that the five-percent difference in brain physiology could be mostly (or if need be, entirely) visual cortex, such that the five percent difference in physiology could make a significant difference in color perception. Even if ten percent of the brain were devoted purely to visual processing (which seems a very high estimate), the five percent difference I stipulate between the two Eds could be half of the visual processing part of the brain, making for a significant difference in color perception.


Recall that the only difference between the two functional isomorphs Ed1 and Ed2 is that Ed2 has an additional five percent of his neuronal brain replaced with silicon. For the purpose of the experiment, consider installing that silicon circuit in Ed1s head in the appropriate place without removing the existing neuronal correlate, and also installing a switch that, when flipped, will engage the currently unused circuit and disengage the currently used one, immediately integrating the previously unused circuit into the overall brain functional organization such that no functional organization is lost. Chalmers offers a useful metaphor to help conceptualize the silicon circuit installed with a switch: it dangles when not engaged, and is instantaneously plugged in and takes over for its functionally isomorphic neuronal circuit, making the neuronal correlate dangle unengaged until the switch is again flipped. Suppose I as an observer have a remote that can flip the switch in Ed1s head, such that he goes from experiencing a balloon as dark red to purple and back at my whim. Given the premises of the thought experiment, Ed1 must experience the balloon as oddly dancing between dark red and purple, yet as a functional isomorph with preserved behavioral dispositions, will act as if everything is normal!11 Any unusual reaction in Ed1 would imply a functional difference, which is stipulated as impossible, thus he could not act in any other way than as if everything were normal.
11 It should be noted that if red did not slowly turn to blue along the spectrum of Eds, that if at some critical mass of neurons the perception of red suddenly jumped to blue, the thought experiment is even easier to set up. We could make the switch only switch one neuron, and the Eds vision would dance between seeing red and blue. However, it seems more likely that the color perception will turn slowly from red to blue, just as it was more likely that conscious experience would fade rather than just drop off.


Consequently, there is no room for other behavioral responses or beliefs to arise, as the two realizations of Ed1s functional organization are functionally isomorphic.12 As with the fading qualia experiment, it seems highly implausible to suppose that Ed1s experiences could change in such a significant way without him noticing, even when he pays full attention. Like the fading qualia thought experiment, this phenomenon indicates a severe dissociation between consciousness and cognition. If qualia are dependent on the precise physiological details of a system, as the possibility of inverted qualia would suggest, it's possible we are currently having our qualia switched by evil demons who appreciate the irony of our not being able to tell the difference in the slightest! We would even have good reason to believe our qualia could be constantly dancing before our eyes just through natural means. Chalmers notes that our physiology is always changing, as molecules change in position and atomic structure constantly, altering the physiological properties of our functional system. If physiological details of a functional system made a difference in experience, we might constantly be
12Following Chalmers, I make the difference between the two Eds very small to neutralize the worry that identity will not be preserved in the Ed every time I flip the switch. This basic worry goes: the Ed would not be able to notice the difference in color, because every time the switch is flipped he becomes a new person. Presumably, only a five percent difference in brain physiology should neutralize the worry. However, if an objector is still convinced that a five percent difference in brain physiology would instantiate a new identity, it raises the question: what arbitrary number of neurons replaced instantiates a new identity? It seems the only non-arbitrary way to answer this question would be to say that any difference, even one neuron, instantiates a new identity. However, this commits one to saying that identity is never preserved through time, even for normal peopleas neurons are constantly dying and rebuilding, changing our functional organizations at a very fine grain.


having our experiences dance before our unsuspecting eyes. Why should a silicon implementation of the brain be any more likely to change our experience than changes in neural realization, which also constitute alterations in the physiological properties of a functional system? Important to notice here is that the dancing qualia thought experiment works just as well when applied to absent qualia, strengthening our conviction against the latters natural possibility. The thought experiment brings the difficulties with absent and inverted qualia into greater focus and makes them seem stranger than ever: the dissociation between consciousness and cognition is more immediate, and it takes place within one person. Like absent qualia, the notion of inverted qualia implies problematic consequences for our understanding of consciousness. If inverted qualia were possible, then we would have to accept that fully rational conscious beings can be utterly out of touch with their conscious experiencesa notion that seems both highly unlikely and bizarre. The principle of organizational invariance seems much more plausible: that preserving functional organization will preserve qualia regardless of physiological details, and that experience is wholly determined by functional organization in any naturally possible world. III. Final Remarks on Fading and Dancing Qualia

As described earlier, if absent qualia are possible, fading qualia are almost certainly possible. Likewise, if inverted qualia are possible, then

dancing qualia are almost certainly possible. Because of the absurdities that result from supposing fading and dancing qualia to be possible, absent and inverted qualia are almost certainly naturally impossible. Notably, I have not shown absent and inverted qualia to be logically impossible; however, showing them to be naturally impossible is all that is needed to support a non-reductive theory of mind.


Chapter 2: Can a Functional Profile be Maintained? In this chapter I will analyze an objection to Chalmers fading and dancing qualia thought experiments put forth by Brian Crabb in his paper, Fading and Dancing Qualia Moving and Shaking Arguments. Crabb questions the fading and dancing arguments by calling into doubt a core principle of the thought experiments: that functional organization can be maintained along the spectrum of Joes or Eds. Crabb first describes a consequence of the arguments that he thinks initially seems promising for their success, then goes on to argue that this consequence contributes to their downfall as it exposes them as circular. I will first discuss the consequence of the thought experiments that Crabb points out and will describe its intuitive pull. I will then show why Crabbs consequence only holds weight if qualia can affect a functional organization. In his paper, Crabb hints at two main reasons to believe this, and I will develop these reasons into more direct arguments, and will assess how they fare. Finally, I will consider the strange outcome of presuming Crabbs consequence to be correct, and will consequently show why this outcome actually supports Chalmers principle of organizational invariance. I. Crabbs Consequence

Crabb thinks the fading and dancing qualia arguments can be simplified, proving their points (if indeed the arguments prove their points) through a faster and more direct method. He points out that in assuming that functional profile will be maintained, it is implied that any Joes

experiential reports [will remain] accurate expressions of his experiential beliefs.13 Crabb thinks that a preservation of functional profile will also preserve the fidelity of experiential reportsthat along the spectrum of Joes, reports will remain true indicators of [their] experiential beliefs.14 It should be noted that Crabb believes reports will remain true, but that even in normal people, experiential reports arent always true expressions of experiential beliefs. Perhaps a better way to make his point is to say that the propensity to report accurately based on experiential beliefs will be maintained with functional organizationthat each Joes experiential reports will be just as likely to be true expressions of their experiential beliefs as mine are. From here on out, Ill discuss Crabbs point of view with this slight alteration, as it does not weaken his point. Crabb argues that because the propensity of experiential reports to be true indicators of experiential beliefs will be maintained if a functional organization is maintained, fading qualia wont happen because if qualia did fade, the conscious Joe would notice and report the changeinstantiating a different functional profile from the original. Crabb points out that this initially seems like a virtue of the argument: faded qualia simply will not occur, indicating that qualia will remain constant along the spectrum and Jonas is naturally impossible. However, Crabb then explains why this virtue is evanescent, as his consequence exposes the arguments as circular: in
13 Crabb, Brian. "Fading and Dancing Qualia - Moving and Shaking Arguments." Symposia. Feb. 2008. <>. 14 Crabb.


setting up a scenario to show that qualia will not fade, we say functional organization will be maintained along the spectrum, which implies that fading qualia are impossible.


Is Crabb Correct to Point Out His Consequence?

Crabb has made a good case for the fading and dancing qualia arguments circularity, but I contest that his case relies on an uncertain assumption. His basic point is that in assuming organizational invariance, we are also assuming that qualia just wont fade. Crabb argues, since it is extremely unlikely that Joe would continue to believe that his experiences remain unchanged unless they did, it follows that they do.15 His point relies on the assumption that qualia can affect a functional organization, and his consequence holds weight only if we take that assumption to be true. Crabb hints at two reasons why he thinks qualia can affect a functional organization, which I will try to develop into arguments. a. Crabbs First Reason Crabbs first reason why qualia can affect a functional organization is based on the idea that qualia can affect beliefs, and he just takes it to be the case that changing a belief can change a functional organization. When questioning the fading qualia thought experiment, Crabb wonders how Joes original beliefs (functional organisation) could be sustained (original

15 Crabb.


parentheses).16 He implies that changing beliefs in Joe is the same thing as changing Joes functional organization, which isnt obviously true. However, I will outline how I think he might have come to the position that changing a belief just is changing a functional organization: Crabb says that if qualia were to change noticeably in the mind of an individual (like Ed in the dancing qualia scenario), Ed would notice the change, and would have a new belief like My god, that balloon is changing colors from red to purple and back! Having this new belief, his behavior would undoubtedly be different than if he didnt have the belief, as he would scream out, or at least tell his friend about this strange phenomenon. However, as stipulated in the thought experiments, behavioral dispositions are entirely determined by functional organization. Hence, a change in behavior compared to how he would behave without the belief (presumably he would act normally) would indicate that his functional organization has also changed. It seems there are two possible conclusions to draw from this statement: 1. It is only when behavior changes that functional organization changes, or 2. It is the change in beliefs itself that is the change in functional organization, and the potential change in behavior is just the evidence for this change in functional organization. Either way, saying that qualia can affect beliefs implies that qualia can affect a functional organization. So, it seems Crabb has good reason to equate a change in beliefs with a change in functional organization, and consequently has a good argument that qualia

16 Crabb.


can affect a functional organization. However, while the argument has intuitive force, it still presumes an answer to the question whether qualia can affect functional organizations, as it just takes it to be true that qualia can affect beliefs, which implies that qualia can affect functional organizations.17 b. Crabbs Second Reason The second reason that Crabb provides for why qualia might affect a functional profile is that a Joes faded qualia might restrict the functional profiles available to him.18 It is unclear exactly what Crabb means hereis he saying we all have access to a certain number of functional profiles that combine to make up our total functional profile? Perhaps Crabbs argument could be strengthened if he argued that faded qualia can restrict the beliefs available to a Joe. This might take the form: assume a Joe with severely faded qualia perceives two different shades of blue (that a normal person could distinguish between) exactly the same way. That is, Joes experience of both of these shades is identical. Perhaps Joe loses the ability to have the belief, those two blues are distinct colors. However, like Crabbs first reason, this argument just assumes that qualia will affect beliefs, which begs the question of whether qualia can affect a functional organization.

17If beliefs can indeed affect functional organizations, Crabb should give an account of why
only some beliefs will have this effectas we have novel beliefs all the time yet (presumably) maintain our functional organizations. What is special about certain beliefs that can change our functional organizations, while others cant? 18 Crabb.


While Crabb doesnt provide independent support for his reasons why qualia can affect a functional organization, his view still has intuitive pull. If changing qualia can indeed affect beliefs and hence functional organization, the fading and dancing qualia thought experiments could not happen, because functional organization could not be maintained as qualia fade or dance. Chalmers asserts that scenarios in which functional organization is not maintained are irrelevant to the truth of the invariance principle, however, which applies only to systems with the appropriate functional organization.19 However, Crabbs core contention with Chalmers is that functional organization cannot be maintained if we presume qualia to fade. So, Chalmers response to Crabb seems to beg Crabbs question: is it possible that functional organization can be maintained, assuming that experiential reports will remain accurate expressions of experiential beliefs? I. Crabbs Consequence Taken Seriously

It seems that the best arguments Crabb can make in support of qualia affecting functional organization have intuitive force but need more development as independent arguments, as they beg the question by presuming that qualia can affect beliefs. In any case, it is still useful to play the devils advocate and look at the consequences of presuming Crabb to be correct. First though, it is pertinent to discuss Crabbs stance on the possibility of zombies:

19 Chalmers, David J. "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia." PhilPapers. 1995.


In his essay, Crabb criticizes Chalmers for saying that the natural impossibility of fading qualia implies the natural impossibility of absent qualia. He argues, For if there are special difficulties in coming up with a conscious Joe who can be systematically wrong about his own experiences, those special difficulties exist precisely because Joe is conscious . . . The fullblown zombie, or Robot, does not suffer from those difficulties, simply because it is not conscious, and therefore has no qualia.20 From this passage, it would seem that Crabb believes zombies to be naturally possible. Later, ending his essay, he mentions the possibility of zombies has not been settled either way. On the one hand, if Crabb says zombies are naturally impossible, he directly supports Chalmers principle of organizational invariance, which the fading and dancing arguments are meant to support. On the other hand, if Crabb thinks zombies are naturally possible, that view combined with his idea that qualia can affect a functional profile leads to absurd consequences, consequently supporting the principle of organizational invariance.21 In Crabbs scenario, as qualia dance inside of Joes head, he is able to notice the dancing, has beliefs about the dancing, and hence a new functional organization. Assuming were discussing a dancing scenario between bright and faded qualia (rather than color inversion), the world will dance from bright to faded, and Joe will be able to notice. As we move along

20 Crabb. 21 Thanks to Professor Burgess for pointing out the absurd consequences.


the spectrum, the Joes have increasingly faded qualia and paralysis sets in, because as qualia fade in Crabbs scenario, functional profiles are restricted and certain beliefs can no longer be had. For example, consider the fade of vision through the spectrum of Joes: the first Joe that can no longer tell the difference between two shades of blue has lost the ability to have the belief that they are two distinct shades, and will report as such. A Joe further down the line loses the ability to distinguish between any colors, and his actions will reflect his lack of access to color beliefs. At some Joe along the spectrum, all vision is lost, and if this Joe still has speaking abilities (which is doubtful), he might say that he sees nothing. This type of diminishment occurs with every type of quale, effectively reducing the Joes to near-death statesand its unclear whether the Joes close to Jonas would even have heartbeats, as this too is regulated by the brain. Consider the Joe next to Jonas, a (questionably living) vegetable with only the faintest possible hint of consciousness. He lays on the ground, appears dead, and isnt even aware that he has a tiny spark of consciousness, as self-awareness requires a certain amount of cognitive functioning, a capability his poor remaining neurons lost along the spectrum as they were replaced with silicon chips. Now consider Jonas, who appears just as alive as me, walking, talking, and interacting just as I would. Herein lays the absurdity, as the difference between the Joe next to Jonas and Jonas himself is close to nothing: only one neuron in place of one silicon chip. However, their lives could not be more distinct! Should we believe that

replacing one neuron in Joes head with a silicon chip will make him spring to life and wonder what hes been sleeping on the ground for? Or perhaps Joe will become completely dead, having lost all consciousness. In this case, Joe is now completely physiologically identical to Jonas, yet somehow Jonas runs about, and Joe is a corpse. Clearly, both options imply absurd consequences. Why should replacing a neuron with a silicon chip suddenly give rise to a lively robot? Was it the elimination of the minute human consciousness that allowed the robot to finally awaken from his slumber? Furthermore, if Joe became completely dead with the replacement of the neurons, we are left with two physiologically identical machines that act in completely divergent ways. Because of these strange scenarios that result from imagining functional organization to change as qualia fade, the more reasonable hypothesis is Chalmers: that the principle of organizational invariance holds, and that qualia do not fade if functional organization is preserved, regardless of the physiological makeup. II. Concluding Remarks

In this section I considered Crabbs objection to the fading and dancing thought experiments, and explained why it holds weight if and only if qualia can affect a functional organization. I considered the possibility that they can, and that Crabb is correct to point out the thought scenarios as circular, yet showed why doing so reaps strange consequences and provides good reason to turn to the principle of organizational invariance. However,

whether or not functional organization can be affected by qualia, and hence whether or not Chalmers thought experiments are circular, remains an open question. In the following chapter, I will explore this question, and will closely analyze Chalmers treatment of the complex issue.


Chapter 3: Can Qualia Change a Functional Organization? In the previous Chapter, I came to the conclusion that the success of Crabbs criticism of Chalmers fading and dancing qualia arguments depends on the question of whether or not changing qualia can change a persons functional profile. Crabb argues that because fading qualia can change a functional profile, the thought experiments are circular: to prove that fading qualia are physically impossible, the thought experiments are set up in a way such that fading qualia would simply not happen because if qualia faded, a functional profile could not be held constant along the spectrum. However, Crabb provides no independent justification for his claim that changing qualia can change a functional organization beyond his unconvincing intuitive reasons that I addressed in the previous chapter. In this Chapter I will explore the crucial question of whether qualia can affect a functional profile, and will see if Crabbs criticism of the fading and dancing arguments holds weight. Like Chalmers, I will use the term explanatory irrelevance (EI) to refer to the view that our behavior and our purely psychological (devoid of a phenomenal aspect) mental states can be completely explained in physical and functional terms, without mentioning conscious experience. In particular and most relevant to this chapter, EI entails that qualia are explanatorily irrelevant to our claims and judgments about consciousness. In this chapter I will first consider the intuitive argument against EI, and will show why it loses its force upon inspection. Next I will discuss the

argument from self-knowledge, a forceful argument against EI based on what Chalmers calls the paradox of phenomenal judgment. I will give an account of Chalmers response, and will assess whether or not he has responded adequately. I will then evaluate a potential criticism of Chalmers response to the argument from self-knowledge. Finally, I will provide two independent reasons to support EI outside of the topics mentioned prior to this final section.

The Intuitive Argument Against Explanatory Irrelevance

The first argument against EI makes reference to our basic intuition that our conscious experiences play a role in explaining our actions and beliefs, and hence our functional profiles. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Crabbs argument is based on this intuition. Consider the case of a person withdrawing her hand from a flame and having the judgment ouch, pain! We intuitively say that she has this judgment because of her experience of pain. However, we attribute causation or at least some sort of explanatory relevance between experience and judgments about our experiences because of their constant conjunction: our intuition can be explained away by the systematic regularities that we see between experience and judgment.22 In fact, it is plausible to think that having the judgment ouch, pain! can be entirely explained in purely physical, functional terms, and consciousness is irrelevant to the explanation. Here we see that the intuitive argument is actually just an intuitionand when
22 Chalmers, David J. The Conscious Mind In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind Series). New York: Oxford UP, USA, 1997. 151.


explored, it seems plausible that experience plays no explanatory role in our judgments of our experiences, as our judgments can be completely explained in physical terms. It is easy to see why first-order phenomenal judgments like ouch, pain! can be explained entirely by physical processes. However, I will explain in the following section why this is less easy for second-order judgments, judgments of reflecting on having conscious experiences like Im experiencing pain right now.


The Argument from Self-Knowledge

The argument from self-knowledge poses a strong challenge to EI because of the worry that we cant reconcile our knowledge of phenomenal judgments with the fact that our conscious experience played no role in our attainment of this knowledge. As Chalmers points out, when we judge truly and reliably that P, the fact that P is true generally plays a central role in the explanation of the judgment.23 Similarly, it is reasonable to believe that when we judge truly and reliably that we are conscious, the fact that we are conscious should play an explanatory role in explaining this judgment. This leads to the basic thought behind the argument from self knowledge: how can we know about consciousness if it plays no explanatory role in our judgments about it? Chalmers first explains the argument from self-knowledge by considering the logical possibility of his zombie twin. He distinguishes

23 Chalmers 183.


between phenomenal beliefs (which conscious beings have), and phenomenal judgments, which are essentially the parts of phenomenal beliefs that lack any aspect of conscious experience. If one could remove the conscious aspects of a phenomenal belief, shed be left with a phenomenal judgment. So, Chalmers zombie twin doesnt have beliefs to the fullest extent, but both Chalmers and his zombie twin have identical phenomenal judgments. It is these judgments, the shared mental states of Chalmers and his zombie, that I will discuss. The argument from self-knowledge takes hold by pointing out that Chalmers and his zombie twin have identical mechanisms that produce their judgments that they are conscious. It follows that Chalmers is no more justified than his zombie twin in his judgment that he is consciousyet the zombies judgments are not justified at all because they are not based on any experiential evidence! The problem then is that Chalmers isnt any more justified in his judgment that he is conscious than his zombie twin, who is not conscious at all. The argument can be refined by appealing to a causal theory of knowledge. Under this view, in order for someone to know something, their knowledge must have a causal relation to whatever it is they know: they are justified insofar as their knowledge is shown to be causally related to the object of belief in some appropriate way. Clearly, this poses a problem for Chalmers knowledge that hes conscious, because his conscious experience is stipulated as explanatorily irrelevant to his phenomenal judgments. A

causal theory of knowledge says that his experiences should in some appropriate way play a causal role in his judgments about those experiences, yet such a causal role would constitute an explanatory role, which Chalmers stipulates as nonexistent. So, Chalmers cant have knowledge of his phenomenal judgments, because he cant concede that experiences play a causal role in forming those judgments. a. Chalmers Response Chalmers responds to the argument against EI of self-knowledge by noting that our knowledge of our own consciousness is, in a sense, stronger than ordinary knowledgethat our knowledge of our conscious experience has an intimate relation to the conscious experience itself. If we are to operate under a causal theory of knowledge, Chalmers claims our selfknowledge is untainted, as our knowledge of experience doesnt depend causally on experience, but has a closer tie to it. Indeed, Chalmers asserts, it is our having the experiences that provides evidence for and justifies our judgments that we have the experiences. The basic problem Chalmers points out here is that a causal account of knowledge is inappropriate for knowledge of phenomenal judgments, as such accounts dont allow for certainty, while Chalmers is certain of his consciousness. One might point out that this is a useless point because his zombie twin would report that hes certain that hes conscious tooas he should, being a perfect functional isomorph. However, I know that I am certainly conscious, and I take it on faith that Chalmers is too. It might be disputed that someone cannot be

certain about their own consciousness, but I dont take this objection seriously, as I am certain I am conscious.
b. A Criticism of Chalmers Response24

Chalmers says our knowledge of our personal subjective experiences is somehow stronger than other types of knowledge, because in his words, of our direct acquaintance with it. Essentially, that our judgments about our experiences are justified simply in virtue of having those experiences, as those experiences are at the core of our epistemic world: were directly acquainted with them. This account of knowledge of qualia as stronger than other types of knowledge is meant to neutralize the worry of the argument from self-knowledge that qualia are in some way explanatorily relevant to our judgments about them. One might criticize Chalmers notion of acquaintance, however, as it is unclear how it allows for the explanatory irrelevance of qualia to our phenomenal judgments. In exploring this criticism I first ask the question, what is it to be acquainted with something? It seems that acquaintance must be some type of mental state, so what kind of mental state might it be? To understand Chalmers notion of acquaintance better, it is helpful to consider the three plausible mental state types: purely psychological (lacking any phenomenal aspect), partially psychological and partially phenomenal, or purely phenomenal. If acquaintance were purely psychological and hence describable in purely functional terms, Chalmers zombie twin would have

24 Thanks to Professor Lawlor for providing the inspiration behind this criticism.


the mental state acquaintance too. But it seems patently false that this is possibleas the quintessential aspect of acquaintance is the fact that its so closely tied to phenomenal experiences, and the zombie has no phenomenal experiences. Similarly, if acquaintance is both phenomenal and psychological, it seems strange that a zombie could have even a deflated acquaintance that is purely psychological, for the same reason. We are left with the third option: that acquaintance is a purely phenomenal state. However, this conception is problematic. If acquaintance is purely phenomenal and is a quale in itself, what makes it different from other quale such that it allows our qualia to immediately justify our phenomenal judgments? Are we acquainted with our acquaintance, which is just another quale? Chalmers leaves these questions unansweredand if we are to accept the idea that qualia play no explanatory role in phenomenal judgments, Chalmers should take these questions seriously. Without appealing to some interesting metaphysics, it seems that Chalmers route to explaining the phenomena of acquaintance is to hammer home that because acquaintance is so intrinsic and immediate to our epistemic situations, it doesnt matter how it operates on a metaphysical level. He might say this question should be left to the physicistsand all that is philosophically relevant is that we know we are acquainted with things, simply in virtue of being acquainted with them. Such an explanation, while perhaps appropriate for describing acquaintance on a philosophical level, is not satisfying, as the questions of how it works and why it exists remain open.

Because Chalmers account of acquaintance isnt completely satisfying, it doesnt provide an airtight answer to how and why qualia are explanatorily irrelevant to phenomenal judgments. Consider Chalmers assertion that "there is no way to construct a skeptical scenario in which I am in a qualitatively equivalent epistemic position, but in which my experiences are radically different".25 Note that if Chalmers has some experience e and forms the judgment j(e) because he is directly acquainted with e, he is committed to saying e played no explanatory role in forming j(e). However, it seems that his acquaintance with e played some role in differentiating the j(e) from other judgments, and individuating j(e), separating it from other judgments and characterizing it as unique. He even implies that j(e) wouldnt arise if he were having an experience different than e. At first glance it seems that Chalmers has contradicted himself as a proponent of EI, however his aim is to point out the constant conjunction between our experiences and our phenomenal judgments, not that our experiences play an explanatory role to our phenomenal judgments. In this spirit, Chalmers can respond to the intuition that acquaintance somehow plays an explanatory role in the same way he responded (as I describe in section I of this chapter) to the intuitive argument that qualia play an explanatory role in our experiential judgments. Say I look at a red balloon. I have a direct acquaintance with the redness, and form the second-order judgment Im having a red experience.

25 Chalmers 196.


My acquaintance with the quale of redness makes that quale direct evidence for my experiential judgment. Like the first-order judgment thats red, it is natural to think my acquaintance with the red quale plays a role in explaining my second-order judgment, because if I were not acquainted with redness, I wouldnt form the judgment of seeing red. However, the red quale I experience and my acquaintance with it correspond with and naturally supervene on some purely functional/physical states. For this reason, although I wouldnt have a judgment that Im seeing red unless I was acquainted with redness, it doesnt follow that my acquaintance with redness was necessary for my judgment, but rather that my acquaintance with redness naturally supervenes on a functional/physical state that was necessary for my judgment. My zombie twin also has that functional/physical state, just as he has the functional/physical state associated with other qualia, only he has no acquaintance with redness naturally supervening on it. My judgment of seeing red was certainly individuated and differentiated from other judgments, but it wasnt the red quale or my direct acquaintance with it that did this individuating, but rather the functional/physical states that the quale and the acquaintance naturally supervene on. It seems that Chalmers must do more work in developing and clarifying acquaintance and how it allows for EI. However, his strong point remains that even our second-order phenomenal judgments can be explained without any mention of phenomenal experience. Although Chalmers notion of

acquaintance needs some explanation, it should be taken seriously because it seems to be one of the strongest ways to defend EI, a principle that is very likely true for reasons irrespective of these arguments, as I will explain in the following section. I. Independent Support for Explanatory Irrelevance

So far in my discussion of EI Ive responded to arguments against it, and havent provided independent positive arguments for accepting it as a realistic aspect of a modern theory of consciousness. In this section Ill provide two compelling reasons why, contra our immediate intuitions, EI is a reasonable aspect of a theory of consciousness, and will very likely continue to be a prominent aspect of theories of consciousness as our theories mature. Chalmers puts forth the idea of a sophisticated robot that has appropriate sensors and cognitive system such that it can interact within the world, reflecting on what it sees, feels, and experiences. It seems that the only logical way the robot might interact with the world would be very similar to the way that a conscious being like you or I might: that when asked why it knows that it sees red, it replies that it just does, rather than because such and such visual sensors are currently activated. Even in systems where consciousness is absent (and hence clearly plays no role in judgments), it seems a natural consequence that such systems will still act as if they have conscious experiences. This directly contradicts the intuition that our conscious experiences must play a causal role in our functional profilesas

systems without conscious experiences would probably act just as we do, reporting consciousness and all.26 A somewhat more direct support for EI is the incorrigibility of conscious experience coupled with the fact that it cannot be physically explained. Chalmers notoriously calls conscious experience the hard problem of consciousness because there is no explanation as to how a purely physical process could give rise to the thing we call experience. If we were to accept that conscious experience was explanatorily relevant to functional organization, we would have to come to terms with consequences that significantly deviate from commonly accepted physics and theories of mind. We would either have to deny physical closure (because these experiential states would be interacting with the physical world), which contradicts with the vast majority of physical theories, or we would have to somehow reconcile physical closure with the causality of the mental, which seems difficult if not paradoxical for obvious reasons. II. Concluding Remarks

Although explanatory irrelevance at first encounter is hard to swallow, it emerges as a reasonable aspect of a theory of mind when examined closely. Crucially, it can withstand the argument from self-knowledge by making reference to our close epistemic relation to our own experience, thereby neutralizing the (arguably) best argument against

26 My zombie twin is a perfect example of such a system. However, this intuitive argument has a great deal more force when considering systems that we can imagine in the natural worldrather than the zombie, who is probably only logically possible.


epiphenomenalism, and hence EI. Furthermore, there are compelling reasons to include EI in theories of mind, because excluding it reaps difficult consequences both physically and metaphysically. Finally, as mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, because EI has been shown to be the most plausible role of conscious experience, Crabbs objection to the fading and dancing qualia arguments fails, and the arguments remain untainted.


Concluding Remarks on the Fading and Dancing Arguments After a good deal of research, it seemed clear to me that Brian Crabb had thought of the best criticism of Chalmers fading and dancing arguments. I then found that while his criticism has strong intuitive pull, it relies on the assumption that qualia can affect beliefs (I use the term judgments in my third chapter), which implies that qualia can affect functional organizations. In order to evaluate the success of Crabbs argument, I looked closely at the question of whether or not qualia can affect functional organizations, and found that the best reason to believe they can is just the intuition that they can. However, contra our intuitions, our behavior and functional organization can be entirely explained in physical terms without invoking any conscious experience. Furthermore, nearly all modern physical theories include the causal closure of the physical realm, which the notion that qualia can affect functional organizations directly contradicts. My conclusion is that Crabb is probably incorrect to point out the fading and dancing arguments as circular because of his assumption that qualia can affect beliefs, which seems unlikely. This means that when we reach the technological capacity to create robots functionally isomorphic to ourselves, these robots will be conscious, just as we are. It is unsettling that we can create consciousness, and people will be apprehensive to call robots conscious, even if they are. There will likely be a strong movement to deny


robot consciousness both from a theological base and from the desire to see ourselves as unique in the universe. I will clearly call these robots conscious, yet I am still undecided regarding my stance on the important moral questions that my topic raises: if we create conscious beings, will it be morally remiss to enslave them? My first response is to say yesas I think whatever value there is in a human such that we find it morally remiss to enslave one can entirely be captured in the fact that the human is conscious. But perhaps I need to ponder the issue at greater length to form an argument beyond my gut reaction. In writing this thesis, I got to explore the cutting edge of the philosophy of mind, investigating a topic surrounded by compelling moral and social issues. Robot consciousness remained interesting after months of inspection, and Ive developed an appreciation for the complexity and nuances of the issue. In any case, I hope to someday meet a conscious robot.


Works Cited Block, Ned. Troubles With Functionalism. Rep. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 1978. Chalmers, David J. "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia." PhilPapers. 1995. Chalmers, David J. The Conscious Mind In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind Series). New York: Oxford UP, USA, 1997. 151. Crabb, Brian. "Fading and Dancing Qualia - Moving and Shaking Arguments." Symposia. Feb. 2008. <>.