Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

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Molecules, Microbes, Minds, and Machines: Towards a Science of the Subjective
by Hurley, Matthew M., Ph.D., Indiana University, 2018, 698; 10937314
Abstract (Summary)

In this work I pull together many long-explored ideas on agency, vitality, function, and goal-directedness in an attempt to explain how the subjective properties of our world arise from its objective constituents. The main ingredients of my theory are: (1) a distinction between comparative and evaluative norms, aimed at dividing the philosophical notion of normativity into two separate problems; (2) a view of life and vitality as a form of resistance to material disorder (in contrast to Schrödinger, who saw them as a form of resistance to energetic disorder); (3) the idea that although no organizational pattern in the world has an intrinsic function, certain organizational patterns in the world do possess intrinsic goal-directedness; (4) a new mathematical characterization of the metaphysical notions of identity and value; (5) a set of distinctions, based on my new view of identity and value, that allows different kinds of orderliness in the world to be classified; and finally and most importantly, (6) a theory of teleology, rooted in all these ideas, which I believe can underpin an eventual science of the subjective.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hofstadter, Douglas R.
Commitee: Allen, Colin F., Beer, Randall D., Ekbia, Hamid R.
School: Indiana University
Department: Cognitive Science
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biology, Philosophy, Physics
Keywords: Function, Identity, Normativity, Subjectivity, Teleology, Vitality
Publication Number: 10937314
ISBN: 9780438533981
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