Essay Exam 2: Animal + Machine Minds

The format of this essay-exam is a textual-analysis assignment. What does that mean? In a textual-analysis, your claims about the author’s ideas do not come from your class notes; rather, they come from your reading of the author’s texts themselves. You must provide specific, footnoted support from the assigned texts to support your responses to the questions below.

How much textual support do you need?
A good rule of thumb is to have 3 footnotes per double-spaced page of writing.
At a minimum, your essay exam must include at least 6 quotations (with footnotes), and at least 12 footnotes total. If your essay does not meet this minimum, it will automatically receive a failing grade (F).

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In 1300-1600 words:
Part A
In “Animal Minds,” Susan Blackmore argues that there are “two extreme positions” on the question of animal minds/animal consciousness. Explain those two extremes. Then explain how they relate to how Martha is depicted in “The Soul of Martha, A Beast,” and how the Mark III Beast is depicted in “The Soul of the Mark III Beast.” (Take note of Anatol Klane’s view of what “biological life” is in the latter story)

Part B
According to Susan Blackmore’s “Animal Minds,” what does it mean to be “self-
conscious”? Explain how this relates to the “the mirror test” and MSR. Then discuss one reason why an animal with MSR might not have true self-awareness.

Part C:
Based on Alan Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”:
Discuss the purpose of the “Turing test,” and how the test works. Then explain one objection that people give to the possibility of thinking machines, along with Turing’s response to that objection.

Part D:
Based on John Searle’s “Is the Brain’s Mind a Computer Program?”:
Explain Strong vs. Weak A.I., the Chinese Room experiment, and how the
syntax/semantics distinction clarifies what’s going on in the experiment. Then explain why Searle sees this experiment as refuting the claims of Turing/Strong A.I. Your response should clarify why semantics is so crucial for Searle.

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