Cybernetics and mind-body problems

Inquiry 12 (1-4):406-19 (1969)
It is asked to what extent answers to such questions as ?Can machines think??, ?Could robots have feelings?? might be expected to yield insight into traditional mind?body questions. It has sometimes been assumed that answering the first set of questions would be the same as answering the second. Against this approach other philosophers have argued that answering the first set of questions would not help us to answer the second. It is argued that both of these assessments are mistaken. It is then claimed, although not argued in detail, that the following three approaches to the first set of questions are mistaken: (1) machines (and robots) obviously cannot think, feel, create, etc., since they do only what they are programmed to do; (2) on the basis of ah analysis of the meaning of the words ?machine? ('robot?, ?think?, ?feel?, etc.) we can see that in principle it would be impossible for machines (or robots) to think, feel, create, etc.; (3) machines (and robots) obviously can (or could) think, feel, etc., since they do certain things which, if we were to do them, would require thought, feeling, etc. It is argued that, once it is seen why approach (2) is mistaken, it becomes desirable to decline ?in principle? approaches to the first set of questions and to favor ?piecemeal investigations? where attention is centered upon what is actually taking place in machine technology, the development of new programming techniques, etc. Some suggestions are made concerning the relevance of current computer simulation studies to traditional mind?body questions. A new set of questions is proposed as a substitute for the first set of questions. It is hoped that attempts to answer these may provide us with new and detailed portraits of the mind?body relationship
Keywords Body  Cybernetics  Feeling  Machine  Metaphysics  Mind  Thought
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DOI 10.1080/00201746908601562
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References found in this work BETA
Hilary Putnam (1960). Minds and Machines. In Sidney Hook (ed.), Journal of Symbolic Logic. New York University Press 57-80.
Keith Gunderson (1968). Robots, Consciousness and Programmed Behaviour. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 19 (August):109-22.
Julien Offray De La Mettrie (1914). Man a Machine. Philosophical Review 23 (3):359-360.

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