Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Brains in a vat, philosophy: thought experiment of Hilary Putnam (in Reason, truth and history, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1981) in which brains are floating in a nutrient solution while the reality is simulated through electrical impulses. It is about the question whether we can be sure not to be in such a situation. See also skepticism, reference, knowledge, causal theory of knowledge.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

W. Poundstone on Brains in a Vat - Dictionary of Arguments

I 318
Brains in the Vat/Poundstone: each object then means electrical pulses (only different sequence), then also "brain" - then the reference of "I'm a brain in a vat" also electrical pulse sequence and not the brain.
, >Meaning, >Knowledge, >Certainty, >Skepticism.
So the sentence is wrong, because we are not pulses.
Poundstone/Solution: "I am what they call a "Brain in the vat" in lab speak".
Problem: "Lab speak" is metaphysical.
>Levels/order, >Description Levels, >Metalanguage, >Theory Language.
I 340
The theory of brains in a vat has no predictive power. - As little as the cipher "iii..." - because everything depends on electrical pulses.
The next apple may fall upwards; because it is moved by an electrical pulse and not by gravity.
>Induction, >Causation.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Poundstone I
William Poundstone
Labyrinths of Reason, NY, 1988
German Edition:
Im Labyrinth des Denkens Hamburg 1995

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2024-02-27
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