virus: Belief and Knowledge (was: The truth about faith)

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 12 Sep 1997 18:40:49 -0400 (EDT)

>Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 18:29:17 -0600
>From: David McFadzean <>
>At 04:14 PM 9/11/97 -0700, Richard Brodie wrote:
>>Exactly. Their behavior emerges from a set of instincts and abilities that
>>have evolved over the eons to the extent that they support propagation of
>>the genetic material. This emergent behavior simulates purposefulness well
>You could just as easily be describing humans here.

He is, in a sense.

>>under ideal circumstances, but a simulation it is. Attributing more to it
>>than that is committing the teleological fallacy, just like saying that
>>genes are "really" selfish.
>So where do you make the cut off point between intentional agents and
>mindless robots? Do only humans have goals or only some humans? If you
>saw a dolphin drowning in a fishnet would you be suckered into believing
>that its simulated struggle to breathe was real? Do you believe what you
>are saying or is this another test?

You can't tell the difference between a robot and and agent. Taking an
"Intentional Stance" with respect to something is an investment of faith.
You must assume the entity is willful as a precondition of the stance. In
essence, we are all successful Turing machines, even to ourselves.
Descartes: "I think therefore I am": we explicitly choose to see ourselves
as intentional. But seeking to justify the aesthetic or ethical choices
you make with respect to which entities you respond to as intentional will
not be--cannot be--fruitful. Even Descartes' claim is an assertion, not a


Reed Konsler