Sound and Fury

Signifying nothing

The Alien Intuition and Science

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In the philosophy of mind, the “alien intuition” is the idea that one should be open to the possibility that there might be aliens with beliefs and feelings and whatnot who are vastly different from us. It is a useful tool to stop you becoming too human-centric in discussions about the mind-body problem.

I am writing an essay on whether robots can do science and I asked myself “Can aliens do science?” Much like the alien intuition in philosophy of mind, the answer seems to be “yes. There might be aliens who do something we would recognise as science.” I thought this was an interesting counterpoint to the failings in current robot scientists.

It is also another interesting analogue between philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. Another thing I have been thinking of is the similarity between questions in philosophical discussions of A.I. and my own questions about the robot scientist. Can robots think? Can robots do science?

I wonder how far you could push this parallel. Is there a spectrum of things ranging from “Emphatically science!” through to “Not science.”?

Well. It’s just a thought I had that I thought I’d write down. Basically I’m procrastinating lots because I’m not hugely interested in the stuff I’m currently reading. Le sigh.


Written by Seamus

April 22, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in philosophy

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