Object A is a copy iff its creation was intended as a copy of some object B (or maybe even an idea of such an object) and A does not (numerically) equal B.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Copy and original revisited
I realized one possible objection to my definition of copy as
Imagine that an entrepreneur makes a supercomputer that is designed to make him lots of money. All he needs to do is supply it with lots of information about the world and the computer will do what it takes to best insure he gets money. The computer decides the best way is to make counterfeit paintings and sell them. The entrepreneur does not know what his computer is up to and just collects the cash it makes him. Since only a machine was involved with the manufacturing of the counterfeits, does that mean that copies of the painting were made without any intention?
I thought of this objection while reading Michael Rea's paper on pornography. He seems to think that the objection is a good one against certain definitions of porn.
However, I have my doubts because it seems that once machines as complex as the computer in the thought experiment is brought about, we can ascribe intentions to it. We already ascribe intentions to certain (complex) animals like dogs, apes, dolphins, etc. A dog e.g., brings you his frisbee. His intention seems to be that he wants to play. No problems there. I have no problems with intentions in many animals.
The issue is whether computers can do the things in the thought experiment without what can properly be called an intention on its part. It seems to be able to choose among available options and compute the best option and implement a plan of action and perform it despite the fact that it may not have the mental phenomenal content that people and animals who perform similar tasks have. Would that be enough to constitute intention? Can "intention" be defined loosely (so that it lacks for example a phenomenal content) but still maintain its close association with the phenomenon we attribute to our understanding of our own intentions? I'm not sure but it seems plausible to me that if the computer can do that it would have what can properly be called an intention.