Re: Subjective counterfactuals
Mon, 5 Apr 1999 10:29:56 -0700

Darin Sunley, <>, writes:
> You said earlier that "consciousness is an inherent property of some
> class of agents." The assignation of all other "inherent properties"
> changes across ontological levels. Why should consciousness be any
> different.
> We say the virtual thunderstorm is virtually wet. I say the simulated
> personality, or the deterministic playback of a human personality is
> "virtually" conscious.

I am having trouble understanding your definition of consciousness. It may be different enough from my own that the conclusions you draw will not have any applicability, from my point of view.

Would you say that the fact of your own consciousness is relative to the observer? Suppose we are living in a computer simulation. Would you say that an observer from outside that simulation would be justified in saying that you are not conscious, that you have no more consciousness than a rock?

How can you trust any observer's claims in this regard, no matter how privileged his position? You think, therefore you are conscious, to paraphrase Descartes. If someone else thinks you aren't conscious, they are simply mistaken.

Now, maybe you have a definition of consciousness in which you view it as a relative matter, so that by your definition there is a sense in which you really aren't conscious, from the point of view of an outside observer. But in that case, isn't there still some unnamed property which you have and which a rock does not? You don't want to call it "consciousness", but isn't there a fundamental awareness that you have and that no observer's conclusions can take away from you?