Several versions of materialism seem to be compatible
with the possibility that some artifacts, robots, for example, might have minds
similar to human beings. In fact some versions of functionalism are committed
to this possibility. Discuss whether a sentient robot would be a person. For
example, could it be capable of the same independence of thought and action as
a human being; would it be wrong to destroy such a robot?
The human brain is a complex network that has yet to be
understood in terms of science. Though scientists understand the functionality
of the brain the cognitive level is still a mystery.
Memory, behavior and
consciousness is till a mystery to science. This mystery is understood on
levels of the creative spirit which is abstract. This creative spirit of the
brain is what differentiates man from the other species. Robots no matter how
self-expressive will lack this spirit as do to an extent animals. And so if we
as humans believe that killing an animal is not wrong, than the standard for a
robot should not be any different.
pairing of innovative technologies with scientific discoveries about the brain
opens new ways of handling information, treating diseases, and possibly
creating robots with human characteristics.
However, if humans are able to
create sentient robots, that is, robots who have a sense of the self-will they
be treated as humans—this is the basis of a debate that few know the answer
to. Yet, no matter how human like the robots become they will in essence not
have the same functional ability that man is capable off. The emotional and
cognitive level of thought will be lower and thus, destroying the robot would
not be wrong.
Are minds and bodies distinct? If so, how do they
interact? There are still no good answers. But spurred by recent work in
neuroscience and artificial intelligence today’s philosophers are trying harder
than ever to find some. Scientists have gone far towards understanding the
brain without discovering a spirit or soul.
Though the soul’s elusiveness is
hardly news to a science-minded world, a more pressing redundancy looms.
Neurologists can explain in impressive detail how brains control bodies. Never
do their findings reveal or seem to require an immaterial mind.
materialism is the answer then remember, that the outlook is rooted in a
philosophical naturalism: as part of nature, humans are objects of science and
any human phenomenon, including "the phenomenal" (subjective
experience), has a material cause. Despite its successes elsewhere, as regards
the mind this outlook is still a program, not a result. Unfortunately, not all
materialists admit this.
Partly from the sensible philosophical habit of
testing a good insight to breaking point and partly from sheer techno-hype,
philosophers like Mr Dennett often talk as if victory were already at hand:
brains are to minds, they have said in effect, as computers are to processing;
the mystery of consciousness is solved.
it has not been solved. Must sound explanations of the mind come from hard
science? Even if computing does prove a good model for thinking, can it be
right for feeling and experience? How can brain activity be all there is to
twinges of pain or sensations of color? Questions like that are being put with
new sharpness as some of the snags with earlier or cruder versions of
materialism are re-exposed.
belief that matter is basic and that mind comes after or on top was a favorite
of the early Greeks. It irked Plato who insisted that people had souls that
survived bodily death. Aristotle countered that separating mind and body was
like trying to apprise a coin’s imprint from its wax-a potent image,
suggestively equating mind with form or structure.
Yet Aristotle recoiled from
the atomism of Democritus, who held that the soul was made of matter. To him
and to the Epicureans, the universe contained just matter in different
mixtures. Epicureanism, which entailed denial of an afterlife, became notorious
to Christians and its adepts were confined to living graves in Dante’s sixth
circle of hell.
was so struck by the mind’s oddity that he dubbed mind and matter different
substances. Few modern dualists put it that way. They do not believe in spirit
stuff or ectoplasm.
But the core image of dualism-grey matter with its material
properties, thoughts and feelings with their peculiar mental ones-seems
with its heaven of a unified science, is a broad church. It includes
fundamentalists who treat mind-talk as folklore and who try to explain away
mental phenomena by reductionism tactics. And it includes subtler folk who
accept that mental things belong .