Thursday, December 15, 2005

Galen got there first

Yet another dissertationblogging post that will be of interest to < 3 of my readers, but it seems that my Neutrals example was invented a few years ago by Galen Strawson. Except, with him they're the Aldebaranians:

Consider a race of creatures—the Aldebaranians—that have beliefs, sensations, thoughts, and so on. They are not capable of any affect states at all, but they are capable of entering into states—call them 'M states'—given which, and given that they believe what they believe, they are regularly caused to move in certain ways, and so regularly engage in what looks like purposive behavior. M states, then, may be defined as motivating states that are functionally very similar to states that we normally think of as desire states. They are functionally similar in respect of the way in which they interact with a being's informational states to cause it to move in apparently goal-directed ways. Roughly speaking, specific M states, in combination with specific informational states, lead to specific movements. (Mental Reality, p. 281)

Strawson says that "some may hold" that these creatures have desires, but he defends a view of desire on which connections to affect (and thus to pleasure) are essential to desire. It seems that he's with Mill on this being an a posteriori identity, though it's not really clear.

1 comment:

Rousseau said...

That reminds me, in a clash of politics and your philosophy, Battlestar Galactica is pretty interesting. There's a lot of episodes centered around the question "there are these creatures who we know morally aren't humans, but our minds perceive as humans, and how do immoral actions that treat them as purely objects, change us? What is the value in not torturing for the sake of the torturer?"