Mind: Section 3

Discussion Question: Week 9 (November 29)

For our final meeting, we will choose one of the following two questions to discuss.

1. Human minds: Features or flaws?
Laboratory studies have generated overwhelming empirical evidence that our cognitive functions are unreliable at best. It seems to be relatively easy to create conditions in which people systematically commit errors of perception, reasoning and decision making, among others. Yet, in everyday life we seem to be able to function just fine and most of us are not even aware of the serious limitations of our cognitive apparatus. How is this possible, and what does it imply about the design of the human mind?

2. Artificial minds: Possible or impossible
It is well established that there is a causal relation between physical and chemical features of the brain/body and cognition, suggesting that the mind ultimately derives from properties of the brain, which is functionally a (biological) computational device. If this conclusion is correct, does that mean that it would be in principle possible to construct an artificial mind, or are minds restricted to humans (or at least to biological entities)?

Put another way, if we had a computer with unlimited processing and storage capabilities and were able to completely reproduce the design features of the human brain, is it possible that such a device could host/give rise to mind? How would we know?