Brain In A Vat Revisited Analysis

1816 Words 8 Pages
Zhiyuan Li
Philosophy 3000

In his paper Realism and Skepticism: Brains in a Vat Revisited, Graeme Forbes tries to articulate Putnam’s brains in a vat (BIV) argument. According to Forbes (1995), in order for a normally embodied thinker to think about concepts such as brain, in and vat, she “must somehow be informationally linked to” instances of those concepts (206). However, Forbes does not consider (and it seems to me that he does not think he needs to consider) what particular sorts of “informational links” are sufficient to enable a thinker to think about those concepts, though he suggests that an is-and-always-has-been BIV has no such informational links (206). Since no sufficient informational links are available, a BIV cannot think about the concepts of brain, in and vat. It then follows that when this BIV does have the thought that “I am not a BIV” (in vat-English), it is not having the thought that “I am not a BIV” (in English), but really that “I am not a BIV-in-the-image” (in English) (206). Apparently, the BIV is not a BIV-in-the-image (in English), but a physical BIV (in English), and hence it is perfectly right for this BIV to think that “I am not a BIV” (in vat-English) (206). At the same time, for a normally embodied thinker who is not a BIV, it is also right for her to think that “I am not a BIV” (in English) (206). Therefore, either a BIV or a non-BIV is right to think that “I am not a BIV” (in both vat-English and English) (206). We can thus conclude that we are not
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(4) If I am a BIV, it is right for me to think that “I am not a BIV” (in vat-English).
(5) If I am not a BIV, it is right for me to think that “I am not a BIV” (in English) iff I am not a BIV (in English).
(6) If I am not a BIV, it is right for me to think that “I am not a BIV” (in English).
(7) Therefore, it is right for me to think that “I am not a BIV” (in both English and vat-English).
(8) Therefore, I am not a

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