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Ned Block (born 1942) is a philosopher of mind who has made important contributions to matters of consciousness and cognitive science. He obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and was a student of Hilary Putnam. Block was for many years professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and now teaches at New York University (NYU).
Famous for presenting an argument against the Turing Test as a test of intelligence in a paper entitled Psychologism and Behaviourism by using a thought experiment in which he suggests the creation of a computer which has come to be known as Blockhead. Block also tried to develop a counterexample to functionalism; there could exist a system which has the same functional states as a human but no consciousness. In his more recent work on consciousness, he made a distinction between two types of consciousness: phenomenal consciousness, and access consciousness. Phenomenal consciousness is a matter of subjective experience and feelings. Access consciousness is a matter of information being globally available in the cognitive system for the purposes of reasoning, speech and high-level action control. Block has argued that access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness might not always coincide in human beings.
He has been a judge at the Loebner Prize contest, to determine if a conversant is a computer or human, in the tradition of the Turing Test.
Block is married to the developmental psychologist Susan Carey.
- Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at New York University (NYU) 1996 - Current
- Chair of the Philosophy Program At Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - ?.....- 1996
- Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Guggenheim Fellow
- Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Language and Information
- Sloan Foundation Fellow
- Recipient of Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies
- Recipient of Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
- Past President of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology
- Past Chair of the MIT Press Cognitive Science Board of Syndics
- Past President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
- Co-editor of The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates (MIT Press, 1997).
- Block's Professional page
- Discussion of Block in a wikibook about consciousness.
- Minds and Machines course by Ned Block
- de:Ned Block
- fi:Ned Block
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