Rik: he’s funny, charming, charismatic, and wears great cologne

PHILOSOPHY 100:
FINAL PAPER TOPIC
You feel lucky to have a roommate as cool as Rik: he’s funny, charming, charismatic, and
wears great cologne. What’s more, he seems to share your tastes in music, movies, food,
and fashion. One night when you are watching “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” Rik
trips on the dorm room rug and falls, hitting his head on the coffee table. When he stands
up you notice circuit boards and wires protruding from a hole in his head: Rik is a
machine!
Rik tries to console you but you’re not so sure. How could he have understood all those
late-night conversations you shared? Does he really love Dua Lipa? And what was
actually going on when he looked quizzical throughout Tenet? Isn’t he just a sophisticated
version of your MacBook, nothing more than a mere symbol manipulator?
Fortunately for you, your best friend, Kanye, is a way above average guy, super-stylish,
and super-smart to boot. You turn to him for advice. Unfortunately, after listening to your
story, Kanye admits that he is also a machine. Unlike Rik, however, he was born human
and due to a degenerative illness, he has slowly had his brain completely replaced by
computer parts that manipulate symbols. In fact, he’s been like this since before he met
you. Now you’re worried that Kanye has never understood you, too!
Your task is to decide whether Rik or Kanye (or both, or neither) really ever understood
your conversations. You should consider this in the context of Intentionality, specifically!
Utilize Searle’s “Chinese Room” and Lycan’s “Henrietta” thought experiments when
presenting and defending your position.
Guidelines and Submission Instructions
Papers must be typed, double-spaced, and no less than 4 pages in length. You should use
no sources other than the recommended readings; consequently, there is no need to
include a bibliography. Ultimately, the paper should reflect your ability to summarize and
discuss a particular position concisely and critically. Any use of quotations or paraphrases
of the approved texts should be followed, immediately, by the author’s name and the
relevant page number in parentheses. For example,
Searle asks, “Could a machine think?” (Searle, p. 347)
Edit your paper carefully to make sure that your arguments are clear and well supported,
and that there are no grammar or spelling mistakes. Any paper that does not meet these
requirements will receive a grade no higher than the equivalent of a ‘C.’ Students who
plagiarize, collude, or otherwise cheat, will, at the very least, receive an ‘F’ (0) on the
paper, but likely worse.
You must submit an email copy of your paper to me through ‘Dropbox’ on D2L by 9am,
Wed, May 5.

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