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Posted on July 25th, 2012, by

Basically, the idea of existence is very important in philosophical works of many philosophers, but it is even important how the existence is perceived. In such a situation, thinking plays an important role, at least, such philosophers as Descartes and Smart pay a lot of attention to both thinking and existence. In this regard, it is possible to admit the possibility of the existence of the world where only robots resides and it is even possible to admit the existence of a robot that is justified in believing that I think, therefore, I exist. However, the sentence I am a robot in such a context could hardly pass Descartes’ doubt test.

To put it more precisely, Descartes stands on the ground that thinking may be viewed as a proof of the existence of a being. However, it is important to underline that Descartes applies this concept to humans, while in order to understand why his idea I think, therefore I am is not fully applicable to robots, it is necessary to briefly dwell upon the essence of robots and their existence. In fact, robots are machines, which are normally created by humans.

Naturally, it is possible to admit the fact that robots may be created by artificial intelligence or by some sophisticated software and mechanisms able to self-reproduction, but external influence of humans, which are the primary cause of the existence of robots is unquestionable. This fact is very important because it explains the essence of robots thinking and existence. To put it more precisely, they exist as machines that are programmed to perform certain functions. Consequently, their actions as well as their thinking are conditioned by programs, which originally are created by humans.

Naturally, robots can think, and, in this part, they meet Descartes’ view on the relationship between existence and thinking. However, the robot stating that he thinks, therefore he exists cannot fails to pass the test because, in such a context, the sentence I am a robot is not indubitable. In this respect, it is necessary to underline that thinking is not enough to prove one’s existence. According to Descartes, the doubt is an important part of thinking and the thinking is proved only when a being can doubt, namely Descartes developed the idea I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am (Cottingham, 1992). Consequently, a robot to justify his believing I think, therefore I exist should, at least have a possibility to doubt about it, but, as robots are conditioned their thinking is programmed and conditioned too. This means that they cannot think consciously and, therefore, they cannot doubt in their thinking or existence. In stark contrast, they are sure one hundred percent in what they are conditioned to think and do. In such a way, the sentence I am a robot is not indubitable because thinking, which is according to Descartes the only indubitable thing, is not conscious but conditioned.

At the same time, this sentence may be also challenged by J.J.C. Smart, who stand on the ground that particular states of the mind are identical with particular states of the brain (Pettit et al, 1987). However, robots’ brains can hardly meet Smart’s Mind-Brain Identity theory since it is hardly possible to distinguish clearly between mind and brain of robots, because the former will inevitably imply the existence of some conscious, which robots are actually deprived of.

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