Entries by Colin McGinn

Oliver Sacks

My review of Oliver Sacks’ On The Move has just appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It’s a marvelous book, though it might upset some people with its candor. This is the human being behind the image–and I greatly prefer the human being to the image. Here we find the passionate and intense motor-cycle rider and […]

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Testing Turing

Turing Tests     The classic Turing test involves a robot that passes for a conscious human. The examiner spends time with the robot, asking questions, interacting, and the question is whether it presents a convincing appearance of intelligence and consciousness. It is like an audition for playing the part of a normal human being. […]

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Ex Machina

I went to see the new film Ex Machina, about whether a female robot will pass the Turing Test. It is never quite clear whether she is conscious in a human kind of way, even when she is flirting with her examiner. But the matter is put beyond doubt when she turns on her maker […]

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Stalin’s Fallacy

Stalin famously said, “Death solves all problems–no man, no problem”. He meant that murdering people solves the problem their existence poses–hence his murder of millions of Russians who threatened to be a “problem”. I suspect many people in power have thought along similar lines–and the saying has a certain cogency. But it is important to […]

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Philosophy

Why does philosophy even exist? Is the world an inherently philosophical place? That seems unlikely. Is it our concepts that generate philosophical problems? But why should we have concepts that do that? Does it show there is something deeply wrong with our concepts? And why are we so confused, if conceptual confusions are the problem? […]

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Philosophical Fun for the Whole Family

The Simulation Game     The following document recently fell into my hands:   “Report to the Commissioner of Games: We recently met to discuss, plan and implement a new game, to be called the Simulation Game (hereafter SG). For this purpose we have created a small group (about 6 billion) of individual centers of […]

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Blind Review

The obsession with blind review of journal articles is peculiar. Why not blind examining or blind book reviewing or blind job selection? Anyone entrusted with these jobs is expected to evaluate in an unbiased manner, and if they can’t they should not be so trusted. I think all information about a candidate can be useful, […]

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Serena

I was glad Serena Williams decided to return to Indian Wells after that shameful incident 14 years ago. Her return made the point with great force and clarity. But I also am glad that Venus and their father did not return this year, because that mob behavior can never be forgotten or forgiven. It was […]

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