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Problems of Bioethics

Series:

Lukas Ohly

This book criticizes the suggestive implication of newer bioethics that we need a new ethical paradigm in order to handle with the innovations of medicine and biotechnology. It holds that these innovations have a suggestive character at all which is not relevant however in order to justify a paradigm shift in ethics. Especially the suggestions of reproduction, genetics, mercy killing and neuroscience reveal a misunderstanding about ethics. Moreover they show inevitably theological implications they actually like to avoid especially in secular ethics.

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6 Could computers feel like humans? (Qualia)

Extract

So-called “qualia” are mental states which refer to how it is felt to have some mental state. Qualia refer to the subjective perspective of consciousness. The thought “This is a red dress” could be true for everyone. But how it is felt to perceive a red dress, how it is felt for me, is another matter. But it is an impor- tant one for self-awareness, especially for religious people. Christians, for in- stance, do not only believe in God. But their belief is accompanied by a special kind of feeling, of certitude, of silence, of happiness. I cannot know if your feel- ings of Christian belief are the same as mine. We could discuss whether if we feel the same, but even if we confess that we feel the same, it remains an indi- vidual feeling which could never be translated in a public language. The feeling itself, as the intensity of having beliefs, is incommensurable. So it seems. But neuroscience has developed some proposals that other enti- ties could feel the same, not only the same object but the same subjective inten- sity. One of the most impressing arguments was proposed from the philosopher David Chalmers26. I would like to mention his argument first: his argument why, for instance, robots could feel the same as humans if the brain could be repro- duced physically. Chalmers’ argument is a philosophical one. We are not prepared to prove physically whether robots could feel the same as humans. Therefore, we need more...

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