Sunday, January 15, 2006

Reason's Dennett Interview (2003)

I just read a fantastic interview of Dennett from ReasonOnline.
(For people that know me, they know I (almost) heart Dan Dennett. For those that don't, now you do. Either way, you should read part of it. Why? Because I'm projecting my feelings onto you, of course!)

Three excerpts(all from Dennett):

1) If I accomplish one thing in this book, I want to break the bad habit of putting determinism and inevitability together. Inevitability means unavoidability, and if you think about what avoiding means, then you realize that in a deterministic world there's lots of avoidance. The capacity to avoid has been evolving for billions of years. There are very good avoiders now. There's no conflict between being an avoider and living in a deterministic world. There's been a veritable explosion of evitability on this planet, and it's all independent of determinism.

2) One of the main points of my book is that if you want to see the distinctions that matter, you have to look at higher levels. The difference between a responsible brain and a nonresponsible one -- not irresponsible, but nonresponsible -- is not a difference in the physics.
It is a difference in the organization of that brain. It is a difference in the capacity of that brain to respond to information, to respond to reason, to be able to reflect.

Reflection is a really important feature of human competence. If you're simply unable to notice what you're doing and what the implications of that are, then you're not as responsible as somebody who can.

3) Morality is the cultural artifact for improving the circumstances under which we have to act.


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