What is the difference between A Priori and A Posteriori? What are analytic and synthetic statements?

What is the difference between A Priori and A Posteriori statements or arguments? A Posteriori statements are statements or truths ‘post experience’. In other words, you have to have experienced something in order to make the claim. Remember it because ‘post’ means after – after experience. A Priori Philosophical statements are based on logic A … Read more

How successful is the Teleological argument in proving the existence of God?

For many scholars, the answer to the question of the Teleological Argument comes down to probability. Which is more probable, God as a designer or the universe as ‘brute fact’? Does God Exist? Is the Teleological Argument for God’s Existence really ‘proof’? Even Hume, with all of his criticisms, accepts that the the teleological argument … Read more

Philosophy Mugs – Great gifts for Students!

Philosophy Mugs

Philosophers love to drink tea whilst philosophyzing! We found this great selection of Philosophy Mugs online. They are perfect for A-level and University students. Philosophy mugs also make a great gift for your favourite Philosophy or Religious Studies teacher.

This ‘hard to get a handle on Philosophy’ mug names all the greats from Plato to Nietzsche. Perfect for a Philosophy student!

How about a ‘Freudian sip’ rather than a ‘Freudian slip?’ On this fabulous Philosophy mug, Sigmund Freud is quoted saying ‘When you say one thing but mean your mother!’

Nietzsche fans – is God Dead or is Neitzshce Dead? This is a great cup for fans of his Nihilist philosophy!

Into Philosophy and Astronomy? How about this heat sensitive constellations mug? Pour in your tea and coffee and the constellations will magically appear. Includes: Cassiopea, Perseus, Saggitarius, Hercules, Andromeda, Scorpius, Taurus, Ursa Major (Big Dipper), Ursa Minor (Little Dipper), Orion, Gemini.

If you like to drink tea or coffee while revising then this philosophers timeline mug is for you!

If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like to read about the best Philosophy movies for students.

The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

What is the Ontological Argument? The Ontological argument for God’s existence is often the most difficult to understand.  I would like to simplify the argument and break it down into easy understandable steps! The Ontological argument is a popular exam or essay question in AS, A-Level and degree level philosophy. The Ontological argument was first … Read more

AI Persons: Can a Machine or AI (Artificial Intelligence) be a Person?

Artificial Intelligence are minded machines that display characteristics of personhood – AI Persons.

AI Persons – Can Machines ever be persons?

If you are studying AQA Philosophy, you might study a module on ‘Can machines be persons?’ You may agree or disagree with the fact that AI/machines can be persons.

However, in a philosophy essay, you will need to present an argument. Therefore, you will need to understand arguments for and against machines as persons.  Of course, it will depend on how you define ‘a person’, so as a philosopher, it is important that you get that straight first, before you attempt to answer such a question!

Weak and Strong AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Philosophers differentiate between Weak AI (artificial intelligence) and Strong AI (Artificial Intelligence), If a machine could be a considered a person, that would be Strong AI. If a machine could develop some charateristics of personhood, but that an independant minded machine should not be created is Weak AI.

Can Machines be persons? Optimistic approaches

Alan Turing argued that if a machine could be indistinguishable from a person in terms of language, it could be regarded as being on the scale of personhood.

He developed the ‘Turing Test’ to try to demonstrate this. A human interrogator and a human volunteer were place in separate rooms and connected by a computer. The interrogator typed questions into the computer, and both the human volunteer and the computer answered.

If the interrogator could not distinguish between the computer and the human, the computer passed the test.  Turing argued that if a machine could have a proper conversation with us, it would be sufficient to call it a person.

Kenneth Colby also devised a test by constructing a computer programme called PARRY. It was a simulation of a paranoid patient who thought that the mafia were after him. When psychiatrists questioned a real paranoid patient, and PARRY, they could not tell the difference. This implied that the machine had human characteristics, and passed Turings test.

Great to watch…

Codebreaker – re-counts the story of this maverick British genius, Alan Turing, who was crucial to founding three new fields of science as well as breaking the Nazis’ naval Enigma code during World War II.

Can Machines be persons? Pessimistic Approaches

Some people argue that machines cannot and never will demonstrate the characteristics of personhood. There are several tests or arguments can be used in support of this view.

PARRY and the Turing Test

Daniel Dennett argued that the PARRY test was not a real test because it was flawed because of the ethical limitations of the test. Questioning of the psychiatrists was restricted because they realised that they would be questioning a real paranoid person, and didn’t want to confuse or upset him or her.  PARRY was pre-programmed with stock paranoid answers which seemed to be plausible to the psychiatrists because the subject was supposed to be a paranoid person.

American philosopher John Searle questioned Turings test and tried to undermine the idea of computer systems with human-like minds. He did this through the Chinese Room Experiment.  The experiment demonstrates that computers don’t understand the meaning of Chinese symbols, and therefore they are not thinking.

AI Persons – What do you Think?

Remember that if you are asked this question as an extended essay question, you must give BOTH sides of the argument. What do you think?  Can machines be persons?  Do leave your comments on our blog!

Students – Earn money online with Matched Betting.

You might also like to read about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and The Theory of Forms.