ANS52(2)82-85 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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Activitas Nervosa Superior 2010; 52 :1,82-85 82 T WO B LACK B OXES : A F ABLE 1 Daniel Dennett* Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, Medford, MA Received June 23, 2010; accepted June 25, 2010 Abstract Once upon a time, there were two large black boxes, A and B, connected by a long insulated copper wire. On box A there were two buttons, marked *a* and *b*, and on box B there were three lights, red, green, and amber. Scientists studying the behavior of the boxes had observed that whenever you pushed the *a* button on box A, the red light flashed briefly on box B, and whenever you pushed the *b* button on box A, the green light flashed briefly. The amber light never seemed to flash. They performed a few billion trials, under a very wide variety of conditions, and found no exceptions. There seemed to them to be a causal regularity. Key words: Black box; Causality; Regularity Once upon a time, there were two large black boxes, A and B, connected by a long insulated copper wire. 2 On box A there were two buttons, marked *a* and *b*, and on box B there were three lights, red, green, and amber. Scientists studying the behavior of the boxes had ob- served that whenever you pushed the *a* button on box A, the red light flashed briefly on box B, and whenever you pushed the *b* button on box A, the green light flashed briefly. The amber light never seemed to flash. They performed a few billion trials, under a very wide variety of conditions, and found no exceptions. There seemed to them to be a causal regularity, which they conveniently summarized thus: all *a*'s cause reds all *b*'s cause greens The causation passed through the copper wire some- how, they determined, since severing it turned off all effects in box B, and shielding the two boxes from each other without severing the wire never disrupted the re- gularity. So naturally they were curious to know just how the causal regularity they had discovered was ef- fected through the wire. Perhaps, they thought, pressing button *a* caused a low voltage pulse to be emitted down the wire, triggering the red light, and pressing button *b* caused a high voltage pulse, which triggered the green. Or perhaps pressing *a* caused a single pulse, which triggered the red light, and pressing *b* caused a double pulse. Clearly, there was something that always happened in the wire when you pressed but- ton *a*, and something different that always happened in the wire when you pressed *b*. Discovering just what this was would explain the causal regularity they had discovered. A wiretap of sorts on the wire soon revealed that things were more complicated. Whenever either button was pushed on box A, a long stream of pulses and gaps (ons and offs, or bits) was sent swiftly down the wire to box B--10,000 bits, to be exact. But it was a different pattern each time! Clearly there had to be a feature or property of the
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This note was uploaded on 03/08/2011 for the course CLINICAL P 2010 taught by Professor Actnervsuper during the Spring '11 term at The Chicago School of Prof. Psychology.

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ANS52(2)82-85 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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