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									 Summer 2011
Thursday, 07/21
          Appeals to Intuition

• Intuitively, it may not seem that the Chinese
  room has understanding or that the Blockhead
  or China-brain have consciousness.
• Philosophers call these sorts of thought-
  experiments intuition pumps.
• Intuition pumps can show how counter-
  intuitive the consequences of a theory, e.g.
  machine functionalism, can be.
           Appeals to Intuition
• But what exactly does the fact that we find
  something intuitive/counter-intuitive show?
• In science we often accept some pretty wild,
  counter-intuitive, claims. (Aristotle thought
  that a heavier object must fall to the ground
  faster than a lighter one. That’s very intuitive,
  but false!)
• Why can’t we do the same in the Chinese-
  room, the Blockhead and the China-brain
           Appeals to Intuition
• This is tricky territory. Full consideration of the
  issue will take us far into the theory of
  knowledge and rationality.
• Everything here is extremely controversial and
  the answer may vary depending on domain,
  e.g. physical science, psychology,
  mathematics, etc.
• But here’s one, far from definitive, suggestion.
           Appeals to Intuition

• Our intuitive judgments reveal something
  about our concepts/ways-of-thinking.
• For example, someone (e.g. a child) may find
  it extremely counterintuitive that water is
  really the same substance as ice.
• This may reveal that the person is thinking of
  water as a liquid and of ice as a solid.
          Appeals to Intuition
• But of course, the abundance of scientific
  evidence shows that the counterintuitive
  claim is, in fact, true.
• The person’s concept, or way of thinking of
  water, does not line up with or reflect what
  water really is.
• From an epistemic (or purely
  “rational”)standpoint, the person should start
  thinking of water in a different way.
           Appeals to Intuition
• Similarly, it may be counterintuitive to regard the
  Chinese room (or any system like it) as having
• But if we have strong, scientific evidence to
  believe that thought/understanding arises from
  this sort of symbol manipulation, we should
  disregard our intuitions and think about
  thought/understanding in a different way.
• We’ve already looked at some reasons for
  regarding thought in this way and we’ll look at
  others next week. But it’s fishy that Searle never
  even begins to deal with this question.
           Appeals to Intuition
• Still, it seems that we should be entitled to go
  with our intuitive judgments in cases where
  no scientific evidence to disregard them is
• Again, this is extremely controversial. But
  something like this does seem to be our
  ordinary practice. It’s hard to see how we
  could engage in any inquiry whatsoever if all
  of our concepts were constantly put to doubt.
• This can help us grasp the difference between
  Searle’s and Block’s approaches…
     Everyday Coping Argument
• Phenomenology = Philosophical Movement
• phenomenology = experience

                            • Dreyfus gives a
                              argument against the
                              idea that intelligence
                              consists in
                              manipulating symbols
                              according to
                              formal/syntactic rules.
     Everyday Coping Argument
• Early AI researchers have tried to model
  common sense by coming up with a
  complicated theory that we bring to bear to
  concrete situations.
• Since this have proven difficult, they focused
  on modeling specific skills (seemingly isolated
  from common sense), e.g. disease diagnosis.
• A computer program that models such a skill
  is called an expert system. You are probably
  familiar with ones…
      Everyday Coping Argument
• The assumption was that learning a skill consists
  in first deriving general rules from specific cases.
• We first follow the rules explicitly, but then get so
  good at following the rules that we don’t even
  need to think about them at all.
• Even though we don’t need to think about the
  rules, the rules still guide our conduct.
• If this is right, all we need to do to imitate the
  behavior of the expert is to figure out which rules
  the expert follows and building a PSS that would
  carry out these rules.
       Everyday Coping Argument
• The assumption that expertise consists in
  following rules goes back to Socrates.
• Socrates questions Euthyphro, a self-
  proclaimed expert on piety, to tell him
  how to distinguish pious from impious
• Euthyphro fails to articulate a general
  principle and just points to cases.
• “Socrates ran into the same problem with
  craftsmen, poets and even statesmen.
  They also could not articulate the
  principles underlying their expertise.
  Socrates therefore concluded that none
  of these experts knew anything and he
  didn't know anything either.”
       Everyday Coping Argument
• “Plato admired Socrates and saw his
  problem. So he developed an account
  of what caused the difficulty. Experts,
  at least in areas involving non-
  empirical knowledge such as morality
  and mathematics, had, in another life,
  Plato said, learned the principles
  involved, but they had forgotten them.
  The role of the philosopher was to help
  such moral and mathematical experts
  recollect the principles on which they
  acted.” (from Dreyfus)
• Notice the resemblance between this
  Platonic view of rules and the AI
  researchers’ view!
   Phenomenological Arguments
• Dreyfus tries to describe the experience of
  becoming an expert in “slow motion”.
• He claims that paying close attention to our
  experience of acquiring skills reveals that
  being an expert does not consist in following
  internalized rules at all.
• Assessing such a phenomenological argument
  involves figuring out whether his description
  reflects your own experience of learning a

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