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HON 294: On the Human: Final Review. Gary Comstock Professor of Philosophy Fall 2009, NC State University. Overview 1. Course goals Analyzing arguments Humans and persons Animals Machines. 1. Course goals

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slide1

HON 294: On the Human:

Final Review

Gary Comstock

Professor of Philosophy

Fall 2009, NC State University

slide2

Overview

  • 1. Course goals
  • Analyzing arguments
  • Humans and persons
  • Animals
  • Machines
slide3

1. Course goals

The goal of this course is to deepen our understanding of the human using philosophical and scientific modes of inquiry.

slide4

1. Course goals

We focus on human singularity: the properties, if any, that make us superior to nonhuman animals and cyborgs. It's a commonplace to think humans are unique in a variety of ways.

Only we have music, language, reason, free will, souls, religion, empathy, altruism, social cooperation, reciprocity, self-consciousness, ability to use tools, or lead autobiographical lives.

But do all of us have all of the properties? Might some animals--other mammals, birds, even fish--have some of them? Might future learning machines acquire one or another? If we possess these properties are we therefore morally superior to those who lack them? If so, why? If not, why not?

slide5

Course goals

  • As a result of learning the material in this course you will be able to:
  • Identify, reconstruct, interpret, and analyze complex arguments about the meaning of human life
  • Understand fundamental issues crossing academic
  • disciplines
  • Distinguish degrees of plausibility and verification by
  • critically examining evidence and logic
  • Answer questions about controversies concerning the
  • meaning of being human
slide6

Paradigm case:

Humans,

Animals,

Machines

Dr. Miguel NicolelisFirst microchip implanted in monkey’s brain, 2003”Monkeys Consciously Control a Robot Arm Using Only Brain Signals; Appear to ‘Assimilate’ Arm As If it Were Their Own”

overview
Overview

A. What is a human being?

B. Which conditions are necessary and sufficient to be a person?

  • Human mother & father
  • Human DNA
  • Sentient
  • Use tools
  • Emotions
  • Empathy
  • Theory of mind
  • Altruism
  • Biographical lives
  • Self-consciousness

C. Do we have physical causes (scientism, Melnyk, Rosenberg) or not (dualism, Goetz & Taliaferro, Kass)?

  • Semantics
  • Higher order
  • experiences
  • Artistic creativity
  • Political institutions
  • Sense of justice
  • Judicial institutions
  • Autobiographical
  • lives
what is a human being
What is a human being?

1. We are souls with purpose and meaning.

Contention: "Scientism is robbing persons of their souls”

- Leon Kass, “Keeping Life Human”

2. We are not souls; we lack purpose and meaning.

Contention: "Darwinism proves there are no souls and life is meaningless”

- Alex Rosenberg, “Darwin’s Nice Nihilism”

slide9

Singular = unique, one of a kind, irreplaceable

1. Why are individual humans singular?

No one else has your:

Mother and father

DNA

Body

Soul

Personal identity

unique individuals you are irreplaceable no one else has your dna

Monozygotic twins

Unique Individuals

You are irreplaceable.

No one else has your:

DNA ?

unique individuals you are irreplaceable no one else has your body

Dicephaly

Unique Individuals

You are irreplaceable.

No one else has your:

Body ?

slide12

Singularity

  • The Immaterial Soul:
  • I am not my DNA, my body, or my brain.
  • I am my spiritual essence, the part of me that thinks and feels, remembers and hopes--the immaterial self that perceives and is affected by and acts on the material world.
  • I am incorporeal, not necessarily causally tied to my body or bound by the operations of my brain.
unique individuals you are irreplaceable no one else has your soul

Singularity

Unique Individuals

You are irreplaceable.

No one else has your:

Soul ?

  • Drunken sailors
slide14
Problem 1 with dualistic soul:

Chemicals introduced to the brain invariably cause the self to shut down.

slide15

Souls

Problem 2 with dualistic soul:

Electrical stimulus to brain Area 25 causes previously untreatable depression to lift.

  • Deep brain stimulation
slide16

Dualistic accounts of human identity face 2 problemsProblem 1: ChemicalAlcohol impairs thinking and diminishes brain function. Dualism is not a convincing explanation of the fact that there is a causal connection between the time alcohol enters the drinker’s brain and the time the drinker’s mental functions are impaired. Or when alcohol leaves the brain and mental function is restored.Problem 2: Physiological Severe damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain results invariably in severe damage to a person’s ability temporally to order information and, thus, plan future activities. Dualism is not the best explanation of such facts.

humans are persons persons are irreplaceable no one else has your autobiographical identity

Singularity

Humans are persons

Persons are irreplaceable.

No one else has your:

Autobiographical identity?

slide18

A person is an embodied mind, a brain that can

control its narrative identity and bodily behavior

according to reasons.

A first-person psychologically continuous nonbranching point of view from which one exercises control over one's

Second order representations, such as beliefs and desires, allowing one to

Craft strong narrative connections to integrate relationships of cause and effect among retrospective and prospective mental states of multi-year duration

slide19

4. Ability to use one or more socially learned communicative mechanisms

a. Language, for the autobiographical elements: Darwin, ‘Autobiography’

b. Pictures, for the autobiopictorial elements Grandin, “Thinking in Pictures’

c. Music, for the autobiorythmic elements Baggs, “In My Language”

5. To teach other embodied minds domain-general competencies thereby

6. Forming auto-generated publicly accessible accounts (e.g., autobiographies, autobiopicturies, autobiorthymies) of one's prospective mental states

7. Expressing one's intentions to achieve long-term categorical interests

8. Evoking moral emotions in others

slide20

Near-persons

Psychological continuities whose temporal horizons--their memories and anticipations--are much shorter and simpler than those of persons.

slide21

HM, Harry Molaison

  • 1926-2008
  • Severe amnesia
  • Lives in the present
  • Able to retain a learned skill for 3 days without remembering that he’d performed it previously
amnesia associated brain regions
Amnesia - associated brain regions
  • Medial temporal lobe amnesia
  • Damage to the hippocampal formation, uncus, amygdala, and surrounding temporal pole and cortical areas
slide23
Far-persons

Humans with severe deficiencies in control, psychological complexity, theory of mind, temporal horizons, etc.

Victor of Aveyron

slide24

Non-persons

Human bodies without minds, that is, lacking all executive function, control, temporal horizon, psychological continuity, etc.

Zachariah Kupfer?

Nancy Cruzan?

Terry Schiavo?

slide25
Might animals be near persons, embodied minds with limited temporal horizons?

Might a pig think about an event several days or weeks in its past, or anticipate tomorrow? Have both the memory and an appreciation of the memory’s worth?

Might a pig appreciate the goods in her life and want to do something with or about them?

Oreo makes a nest

slide26

Past (memories, for example, of pain or conspecifics)?Future (anticipations, desires)?Strong direct psychological connectedness over days?

slide27

Which animals feel pain?Sentience = The capacity for phenomenally conscious suffering and/or enjoymentNociceptorsCentral nervous systemsEndogenous opiodsPain behaviors analogous to humans’Analgesics effective in modifying pain behaviors

slide28

INVERTEBRATES

INVERTEBRATES

VERTEBRATES

VERTEBRATES

Earth

Earth

-

-

Cepha

Cepha

-

-

Insects

Insects

Fish

Fish

Herps

Herps

Birds

Birds

Mammals

Mammals

worms

worms

lopods

lopods

Nociceptors

Nociceptors

?

?

-

-

?

?

-

-

/ ?

/ ?

-

-

/ ?

/ ?

+

+

+

+

present

present

Central

Central

-

-

-

-

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

nervous system

nervous system

Nociceptors

Nociceptors

connected to

connected to

-

-

-

-

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

central nervous

central nervous

system

system

Endogenous

Endogenous

+

+

+

+

?

?

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

opioids

opiods

present

present

Responses

Responses

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

?

+

+

+

+

modified by

modified by

analgesics

analgesics

Response to

Response to

damaging

damaging

-

-

-

-

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

stimuli

stimuli

analogousto

analogous to

humans'

humans'

slide29

Which animals feel pain?Probably: Mammals Birds Reptiles and amphibians FishProbably not: Insects EarthwormsThat is, probably: All vertebrates No invertebrateshttp://www-phil.tamu.edu/~gary/awvar/lecture/pain.html

slide30
Self-Recognition in Apes (HQ).aviAre dolphins self-aware_ - part 2_3 (HQ).aviORIGINAL Elephant Painting (HQ) 1,00-2,50 tail 4,50-6,00.avi

Which animals have self-consciousness?-> Mirror test Monkeys No Bottle-nose dolphins ?

Great apes Yes Elephants Yes

slide31

Which animals act altruistically?

-> Rope test: Chimps

1930’s Nissen and Crawford Study, Yerkes archives (2 minutes)http://www.emory.edu/LIVING_LINKS/av/nissencrawford_cut.mov

slide32

Which animals are near-persons?Probably: Chimpanzees, dolphins, elephants, octopiPerhaps: All mammals Some birdsProbably not: Reptiles and amphibians Fish http://www-phil.tamu.edu/~gary/awvar/lecture/pain.html

conclusion
Conclusion
  • Why does personhood matter?

Human singularity claims seem to support the sanctity of life ethic:

    • All humans have moral standing, including human zygotes, embryos, those with advanced Alzheimer’s, the severely congenitally cognitively impaired, the brain dead and, for many writers, corpses.
    • Only humans have moral standing: nonhuman animals may be used as instruments, within bounds, to serve our purposes.
slide34
And the sanctity of human life ethic seems to imply human superiority:
  • Extensive protections for humans used in agriculture and research (Institutional Review Boards).
  • Extensive permissions for animals in agriculture and research and agriculture (100 million hogs killed in US per year).
slide35
But if some humans are near and far-persons and some animals are near and far-persons, then the singularity, sanctity and superiority of the human is unjustifiable.
  • Animals would have to have more extensive protections in agriculture and research
  • Vegetarianism might be required.
machines
Machines

Artificial intelligence

What are the implications of superiority for the future?

Would post-Singularity cyborgs superior to us be justified in treating us the way we treat animals?

slide37

Course evaluation

  • Did the use of Austhink Rationale software help you to achieve course goals?
  • Identify, reconstruct, interpret, and analyze complex arguments about the meaning of human life
  • Bringing visual clarity to complex issues
  • Teaching critical thinking using diagramming techniques
  • Helping you to understand complicated disagreements
    • more rigorously and deeply
slide38

Evaluate

  • Did Rationale help you to:
  • Understand fundamental issues crossing academic
  • disciplines?
  • Distinguish degrees of plausibility and verification by
  • critically examining evidence and logic?
  • Answer questions about controversies concerning the
  • meaning of being human?