I will ignore the first part of his post, in which he is once again arguing against some argument that is not the argument I made.
Next, Feser points out that my objection, even if it worked against Ross, was irrelevant against Feser's own version of the argument.
For another thing, it is not just Ross’s views that are in question here, but mine. And I can assure Oerter that what I am claiming is (2) rather than (1). So, even if what he had to say in his latest post was relevant to the cogency of Ross’s version of the argument in question, it wouldn’t affect my own version of it.
Well, I never said I was arguing against Feser's version of the argument, I explicitly stated I was critiquing Ross's argument. And that is what I will continue to do here, though I may return to Feser's version later if I have the time and inclination.
Feser then goes on to explain why he thinks his version of the argument is actually what Ross intended anyway. Specifically, he addresses what Ross means by saying the calculator is not adding. Now, Ross makes a clear and consistent distinction in his paper between true adding, which he elaborates as carrying out the "pure function" of addition, and what the calculator does, which is only "simulating addition." This is a crucial distinction for him, because his basic claim is that humans can execute pure functions, while any purely physical system cannot.
In my posts I have consistently (I hope) been using "adding" in Ross's first sense. I didn't think it was necessary to spell this out: since I was critiquing Ross's paper, I was using Ross's terminology, except where I explicitly stated otherwise. But to be clear, I will henceforth use ETPFOA ("executing the "pure function" of addition") instead of "adding."
So when I said that Ross denied that the machine was adding, I meant it was not ETPFOA. Feser, on the other hand, wrote,
Ross is not denying, for example, that your pocket calculator is really adding rather than “quadding”....
So how does Feser respond? He quotes Ross's discussion of simulated addition, then writes:
So, Ross plainly does say that there is a sense in which the machine adds -- a sense that involves simulation, analogy, something that is “adding” in the way that what a puppet does is “walking.” How can that be given what he says in the passage Oerter quotes? The answer is obvious: The machine “adds” relative to the intentions of the designers and users, just as a puppet “walks” relative to the motions of the puppeteer. The puppet has no power to walk on its own and the machine has no power to do adding (as opposed to “quadding,” say) on its own. But something from outside the system -- the puppeteer in the one case, the designers and users in the other -- are also part of the larger context, and taken together with the physical properties of the system result in “walking” or “adding” of a sort.
In short, Ross says just what I said he says.
Now it is very strange for Feser, who is a professional philosopher, to sweep aside an crucial distinction like this, as if it were unimportant. It is not true that Ross says the machine can add in the ETPFOA sense that both Ross and I are using. It is true that Ross says the machine can do something like adding - but only something that has the name of adding, and gets that name by analogy to ETPFOA, not because it is actually ETPFOAing.
Moreover, I don't see anywhere Ross says that the machine "adds relative to the intentions of the designers and users," as Feser claims. And what exactly is Feser claiming here? That the machine ETPFOAs relative to the intentions of the designers? Or that it only simulates adding relative them? OK, the machine taken together with the larger context results in addition "of a sort" - but of which sort? Again, Feser glosses over the crucial distinction.
You wouldn't think it possible, but there's actually worse to come. Quoting Feser again:
Oerter insists that I am misunderstanding Ross here. As we will see in a moment, I am not misunderstanding him at all, but it is important to emphasize that even if I were, that would be completely irrelevant to the question of whether the argument for the immateriality of the intellect that we are debating is sound. For one thing, and quite obviously, whether or not I have gotten Ross right on some exegetical matter is irrelevant to whether premises (A) and (B) of the argument in question are true, and whether the conclusion (C) follows from them. So Oerter is, whether he realizes it or not, just changing the subject.
Later on, he continues in a similar vein:
Evidently the reason Oerter thinks all this is worth spilling pixels over is that he thinks his “Hilda” example shows that Ross is being inconsistent, and he needs for me to have gotten Ross wrong in order to make his “Hilda” example work. I have already explained, in my previous post, why Ross is not at all being inconsistent. But even if he were, it wouldn’t matter. The alleged inconsistency, you’ll recall, is that Ross treats Hilda as adding despite the fact that we can’t tell from her physical properties alone whether she is, whereas he does not treat the machine as adding despite the fact that we can’t tell from its physical properties alone whether it is. Suppose he really were inconsistent in this way. How does that show that premise (B) of his argument is false (much less that (A) is false, or that the conclusion doesn’t follow)?
Answer: It doesn’t. The most such an inconsistency would show is that Ross needs to clarify what is going on with Hilda that isn’t going on with the machine. And there are several ways he can do this consistent with the argument. First, he could say what I would say (and what, as I have shown, he does in fact say himself, despite what Oerter thinks) -- namely that the machine does add in a sense, but just not by virtue of its physical properties alone. There is perfect consistency here -- both systems, Hilda and the machine, add (albeit in analogous senses), but neither does so in virtue of its physical properties alone.
This is just bizarre. Ed Feser, who revels in pointing out inconsistencies of the naturalists, is arguing that an inconsistency doesn't matter? Nor is this some trivial point of Rossian exegesis, as Feser implies: it's a basic contradiction in Ross's whole scheme.As I pointed out already, the distinction between ETPFOA and simulated adding is crucial to Ross's argument.
The logic of my Hilda example is straightforward. Ross says that humans can ETPFOA. Ross says that A, B, and C entail that a computer cannot ETPFOA. I claim that A, B, and C are true for Hilda, too. So A, B, and C entail that Hilda cannot ETPFOA.
With this contradiction, the whole argument falls to pieces. Now, you can argue that I am wrong: that A, B, and C are not true of Hilda. Or you can argue that there is some D that I missed that is true of the computer but not true of Hilda. But you can't say this example is irrelevant to the soundness of Ross's argument.