In the scientific realism vs instrumentalism debate, realism is the position that the elements of a scientific theory represent reality. So when general relativity talks about space warping, space really is warping. Instrumentalism, or anti-realism, is the stance that scientific theories are just prediction mechanisms, with no guarantee that they represent reality. Under instrumentalism, general … Continue reading Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?
The director's cut of the 2017 movie Justice League was released for streaming last week, all four hours of it. I watched it over several evenings, grateful that Snyder chose to have labeled acts that made it easy to pause. I don't often bother with director cuts of movies I've already seen. Historically they usually … Continue reading Zack Snyder’s Justice League
I've discussed many times how difficult consciousness can be to define. One of the earliest modern definitions, from John Locke, was, "the perception of what passes in a man's own mind." This definition makes consciousness inherently about introspection. But other definitions over the centuries have focused on knowledge in general as well as intentionality, the … Continue reading A perceptual hierarchy of consciousness
(Warning: neuroscience weeds) This is an interesting study getting attention on social media: Does the Prefrontal Cortex Play an Essential Role in Consciousness? Insights from Intracranial Electrical Stimulation of the Human Brain. Ned Block is one of the authors. (Warning: paywalled, but you might have luck here.) The study looks at data from epileptic patients … Continue reading Stimulating the prefrontal cortex
This week my state expanded vaccine eligibility so I was able to make an appointment. Last night I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I didn't consciously choose Pfizer. It's just what the place I was able to get an appointment at had available. It was a mass vaccination site, so the logistics … Continue reading Getting vaccinated
The recent news reports that cuttlefish are able to pass the marshmallow test are interesting. The classic marshmallow test involved giving a young child a marshmallow but promising them a second one if they could hold off eating the first for 15 minutes. The kid was then left alone in a room with the first … Continue reading The marshmallow test and conscious feeling
Scott Aaronson posted an interesting piece this week coming out about his favorite interpretation of quantum mechanics. I think the most relevant part is this snippet. (Although the full piece has a lot of nuance well worth reading.) I don’t mean to say that the interpretations are all interchangeable, or equally good or bad. If … Continue reading An instrumentalist Everettian