In defense of strong artificial intelligence

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Van Dyk, Michael J.
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Materialism views mental phenomena as ultimately physical in nature. Thus, the apparent problem of mental-physical causation or physical-mental causation disappears leaving normal occurrences of physical-physical causation. Something which confirms both the laws of physics and an overall scientific world view. Among those who oppose this view is the philosopher John Searle. It is his contention that obvious facts about our own experiences prevent the strict materialist stance accepted by most. Subjectivity, in his words, describes that part of mentality which is over and above the physical. The physical realm might indeed be responsible for mental phenomena but it is not thereafter reducible to it. In itself mentality describes an ontologically distinct category which can in no way be ignored or reduced away by materialism. Searle's formal attempt at overthrowing materialism comes in the form of his highly publicized Chinese room argument. Here Searle focuses his attack on the extremist position of strong artificial intelligence, a strain of functionalism proper. It is this philosophical exchange which is of the greatest interest to me. I therefore take this thesis to be, strictly speaking, a defense of strong artificial intelligence against the arguments of John Searle. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)