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  • Response to the Commentaries
  • Ian Wright, Aaron Sloman, and Luc Beaudoin

We are very grateful for the care with which the commentators have read our paper, and the sympathy with which they treated what we acknowledged to be at best a preliminary attempt to make sense of a range of phenomena involving grief and other emotions in terms of our draft architecture. We are fortunate to have commentators that are so much in sympathy with what we have written.

The comments of Castelfranchi and Miceli draw attention to a problem that we expect many readers to bring up, namely that there is a notion of “information processing” that cannot carry the explanatory weight that we attach to our information processing architecture. We believe that there is a concept of “information processing” such as is used by engineers who design software systems to perform such tasks as controlling an aircraft. We claim that within an appropriate system architecture, information processing states can have all the causal powers that we require for states like pain, pleasure, and the like. However this is not obvious, and defending this claim will have to await another occasion.

Lloyd helpfully illustrates the relevance of our proposed architecture even to the effects of imagining the death of a loved one. He also makes the useful observation that second-order states can arise when a person who is suffering because events violate some important motivator, discovers that nothing can be done about the cause of the suffering, and then suffers even more because of feeling helpless in that situation. We acknowledge that these are phenomena that the architecture will have to accommodate, and accept the challenge to demonstrate this in due course.

We believe that there is enough commonality between the commentators and ourselves to support our view that the research community is on the verge of an important new breakthrough in the study of mind, in which philosophers, psychologists, therapists, brain scientists, and AI researchers can collaborate fruitfully, and from which profound practical and theoretical consequences will follow.

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Commentary: Commentary by Lloyd

Commentary: Commentary by Miceli and Castelfranchi

Commentary: Commentary by Boden

Response: Response to the Commentaries


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