Tutor profile: Gracie R.
What is "Euthyphro's Dilemma"? Why is this a problem for traditional accounts of religion?
In the "Euthyphro," Socrates challenges Euthyphro to explain the relationship between God and morality. Specifically, he asks whether the "Gods love what is pious because it is pious," or whether "what is pious is pious because it is loved by the Gods." (Put in plain English, this is to ask whether morality comes from God, or whether morality can exist independently of God.) Euthyphro begins by discussing the first option, that the Gods love what is good because it is good. Socrates shows how this is problematic: If God says that donating to charity is good, because God observes that donating to charity is good, then there isn't any special relationship between God and morality. It means that morality doesn't come from God. Donating to charity was good, whether or not God thought so. The alternative possibility is similarly troubling, however: If God decides what's good and what's bad, then God could just as easily say that donating to charity is immoral (or that hurting others is morally right). If you think that this couldn't be true, that God couldn't make donating to charity immoral, then you have to accept that morality exists independently of God. This causes issue for typical religious accounts, as they commonly propose that God determines what's right and wrong.
What is "classical conditioning"? Describe how "Pavlov's dog" is an example of classical conditioning.
Our minds are designed to look for patterns in the world; classical conditioning is one way that we learn these patterns. For example, you may have heard of "Pavlov's Dog." Pavlov was a scientist interested in how dogs salivate, and he would ring a bell whenever it was time to feed his dog. When the food would appear, his dog would begin to slobber. Over time, Pavlov noticed that his dog began to drool before the food even appeared... His dog would slobber as soon as the bell rang. This is a case of classical conditioning. Pavlov's dog came to associate the bell with eating food---which is why he started to salivate just to the sound of the bell. He became "conditioned" to expect food with that noise. On its own, the bell sound doesn't mean anything. But after repeated associations, Pavlov's dog learned---specifically, he learned that the bell means it's time to eat!
Subject: Cognitive Science
What is the "Chinese Room" thought experiment, and what is it meant to tell us about artificial intelligence?
It's popular to say that the mind works like a computer---or that a computer can be built to think like a mind. Is this actually true? The "Chinese Room" thought experiment, proposed by philosopher John Searle, suggests that it isn't. A computer might be able to follow rules and execute functions, but it cannot think. Here's the reason why: Imagine that you're locked alone in a room, and you only speak English. (You'll see why this is important in a second.) There are only three objects in the room. Beside you is a huge stack of paper, and each piece has a single Chinese symbol written on it. Next to this stack of paper, you see a large book with a list of rules, written out in English. Finally, there's a door with a mail slot. A piece of paper slides through the slot with a set of Chinese symbols on it, which you don't understand. You look to the book. It tells you which symbols to send back through the door (but it doesn't tell you what the symbols mean). You keep up this routine of getting symbols through the door, and sending them back through. To anyone outside, it would seem like you understand Chinese! But the point here is, you don't understand Chinese. Even with the rule book, you still don't know what the symbols mean. This is Searle's point in the "Chinese Room" hypothetical: Computers might be able to follow a programmed set of rules, but they cannot (and will not ever be able to) think like we do.
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