Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm probably not a brain in a vat

This is very naive but has only occurred to me:

  1. If I were a brain in a vat, I'd expect my experiences to be simple or not very orderly (glitchy); but if I were an ordinary human being as I seem to be, the experiences I would expect would be like that.
  2. My experiences are complex, continuous and very orderly.
  3. So, probably, I am an ordinary human being rather than a brain in a vat.
Why believe premise (1)? Well, it's hard to hook up all the nine or so senses to simulated data of great complexity. Furthermore, my experiences have diachronic order and complexity over decades. This could be produced by fake memories, but fake memories would likely be hard to impose.

This argument is specific to brains in vats. It might not apply to other sceptical hypotheses.


entirelyuseless said...

Since you know what you mean by "brain" and more or less what you mean by "vat," it should be evident to you that you are not a brain in a vat. In other words, even if for me it were true that you were a brain in a vat, the sentence "I am a brain in a vat" would be false when said by you, because those words would refer to things in your world.

So the question is not whether you are a brain in a vat, since you obviously are not, but whether you are something analogous to a brain in something analogous to a vat. And in this case, your argument is still a good argument, but somewhat weaker because it is only an analogy that you arguing against, and not a literal fact.

Mr. Green said...

The catch with (1) is that the scenario is difficult in the simulated vat-world — but you have no idea whether the real world in which your brain lives is anything like the simulated physics you experience, so there is no good basis for believing (1).