International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7 (2):127 – 140 (1993)
Abstract An examination of John Pollock's theory of artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind raises difficulties for his mechanist concept of person. Token physicalism, agent materialism, and strong artificial intelligence are so related that if the first two propositions are not well?established, then there is no justification for believing that an artificial consciousness can be designed and built. Pollock's arguments are shown to be inconclusive in upholding a functionalist theory of persons as supervenient but purely physical entities. In part this is the result of Pollock's thin definition of the concept of supervenience, according to which any complex supervenes on its proper parts. The limitations of this account are apparent when contrasted with richer conceptions of supervenience, such as Joseph Margolis?. But on Margolis? theory, the mind and its expressions supervene on or rise above their material embodiments in the sense that they cannot be fully explained in physical terms, which contradicts Pollock's token physicalism and agent materialism. The consequence for Pollock's project to explain the mind as mechanical, and to manufacture artificial persons, is that these systems can at best aspire to impressive innovations in weak artificial intelligence, but realistically cannot aspire to strong or mentalistic artificial intelligence
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