In 1995, David Chalmers authored a paper entitled "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia" in which he proposes a principle of organizational invariance: "The invariance principle holds that any functional isomorph of a conscious system has experiences that are qualitatively identical to those of the original system" (http://consc.net/papers/qualia.html). He makes his argument through a set of thought experiments involving replacing some or all neurons (he assumes neurons are the fundamental elements of the organization that is the brain but this is not a crucial assumption). He argues that the implausibility of fading or dancing qualia is reason enough to claim that qualia (the stuff of conscious experience) will somehow "arise" from whatever physical matter is abstractly behaving like the neurons, just as it does in the brain. He takes this to mean (contra Searle) that such diverse things as a set of water pipes or an entire population would be conscious if organized correctly. He states his conclusion thus:
"I conclude that by far the most plausible hypothesis is that replacement of neurons while preserving functional organization will preserve qualia, and that experience is wholly determined by functional organization."
A correlary of this hypothesis is that slightly different functional organizations will have a slightly different variation on "conscious" experience, and thus by extension through successive similar variations, all physical processes must have some kind of primal "proto-consciousness", otherwise there would be no "raw material" out of which nature could have constructed human or animal consciousness, as proposed by Steven Lehar in his paragraph on "The Ultimate Question of Consciousness".
Camp Name : Functional Equivalence
Parent Camp : Mind-Brain Identity
Keywords : functional, equivalence
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