Schwitzgebel on Michael Tye on Vagueness 

Eric Schwitzgebel has also written a review of ‘The Splintered Mind’ by Michael Tye  in which he…

My comment on that was:

There seems to be an explanation of our lack of experience of partial consciousness in “it’s not Tye’s emphasis, that there must also be transitional, borderline states between non-conscious sleep and conscious waking”. If indeed the groggy waking state is still fully “conscious” of the fuzziness of its experience, then perhaps the levels of lesser consciousness are seen only in less mentally complex organisms. That wouldn’t be surprising and would make a plausible case for the possible definition of the consciousness of any physical system in terms of its information processing capacity.

But the idea that any other consciousness-related property such as “consciousness*” might exist for quarks just strikes me as completely silly – especially since the proposal is that there is no physical way to detect it. The “philosophical zombie”, I’m afraid, is either physical nonsense or ultimate solipsism. If every physical property and action of the zombie is indistinguishable from that of a non-zombie then it will tell me it is conscious just like me even if it is not. So any entity that accepts the possibility of such a thing is basically accepting the possibility that its own consciousness is the only one there is.

Borderline Consciousness

Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel has written a paper: Borderline Consciousness, When It’s Neither Determinately True nor Determinately False That Experience Is Present that I think is interesting but perhaps somewhat over-plays the idea of “vagueness” as if something different from merely being a quantity that does in fact have a continuum of values. We don’t talk of position or temperature as “vague” even though we often use vague language like “hot” and “cold” to describe them. Similarly, I think it plausible that while the description of an entity as “conscious” may be vague there may nonetheless be a fairly well defined measure of consciousness which has values on a continuum. (And if I were looking to find such a measure I would probably start by considering the amount of information that the entity is capable of storing in a way that influences its future behaviour. )

Maybe I’ll start some pages on this.