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Computation in physical systems

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2010)

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  1. Naive Realism for Unconscious Perceptions.Ori Beck - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-16.
    Unconscious perceptions (i.e., person-level perceptions that lack phenomenal character) have recently become a focal point in the debate for and against naive realism. In this paper I defend the naive realist side. More specifically, I use an idea of Martin’s to develop a new version of naive realism - neuro-computational naive realism. I argue that neuro-computational naive realism offers a uniform treatment of both conscious and unconscious perceptions. I also argue that it accommodates the possibility of phenomenally different conscious perceptions (...)
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  • Computers in Abstraction/Representation Theory.Samuel Fletcher - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (3):445-463.
    Recently, Horsman et al. have proposed a new framework, Abstraction/Representation theory, for understanding and evaluating claims about unconventional or non-standard computation. Among its attractive features, the theory in particular implies a novel account of what is means to be a computer. After expounding on this account, I compare it with other accounts of concrete computation, finding that it does not quite fit in the standard categorization: while it is most similar to some semantic accounts, it is not itself a semantic (...)
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  • Analytic Idealism: A Consciousness-Only Ontology.Bernardo Kastrup - 2019 - Dissertation, Radboud University Nijmegen
    This thesis articulates an analytic version of the ontology of idealism, according to which universal phenomenal consciousness is all there ultimately is, everything else in nature being reducible to patterns of excitation of this consciousness. The thesis’ key challenge is to explain how the seemingly distinct conscious inner lives of different subjects—such as you and me—can arise within this fundamentally unitary phenomenal field. Along the way, a variety of other challenges are addressed, such as: how we can reconcile idealism with (...)
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  • The Anti-Mechanist Argument Based on Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, Indescribability of the Concept of Natural Number and Deviant Encodings.Paula Quinon - 2020 - Studia Semiotyczne 34 (1):243-266.
    This paper reassesses the criticism of the Lucas-Penrose anti-mechanist argument, based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, as formulated by Krajewski : this argument only works with the additional extra-formal assumption that “the human mind is consistent”. Krajewski argues that this assumption cannot be formalized, and therefore that the anti-mechanist argument – which requires the formalization of the whole reasoning process – fails to establish that the human mind is not mechanistic. A similar situation occurs with a corollary to the argument, that (...)
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  • Where the Smart Things Are: Social Machines and the Internet of Things.Paul Smart, Aastha Madaan & Wendy Hall - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (3):551-575.
    The emergence of large-scale social media systems, such as Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter, has given rise to a new multi-disciplinary effort based around the concept of social machines. For the most part, this research effort has limited its attention to the study of Web-based systems. It has also, perhaps unsurprisingly, tended to highlight the social scientific relevance of such systems. The present paper seeks to expand the scope of the social machine research effort to encompass the Internet of Things. One (...)
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  • Conflating Abstraction with Empirical Observation: The False Mind-Matter Dichotomy.Bernardo Kastrup - 2018 - Constructivist Foundations 13 (3):341-361.
    > Context • The alleged dichotomy between mind and matter is pervasive. Therefore, the attempt to explain mat- ter in terms of mind (idealism) is often considered a mirror image of that of explaining mind in terms of mat- ter (mainstream physicalism), in the sense of being structurally equivalent despite being reversely arranged. > Problem • I argue that this is an error arising from language artifacts, for dichotomies must reside in the same level of abstraction. > Method • I (...)
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  • The World is Either Digital or Analogue.Francesco Berto & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):481-497.
    We address an argument by Floridi (Synthese 168(1):151–178, 2009; 2011a), to the effect that digital and analogue are not features of reality, only of modes of presentation of reality. One can therefore have an informational ontology, like Floridi’s Informational Structural Realism, without commitment to a supposedly digital or analogue world. After introducing the topic in Sect. 1, in Sect. 2 we explain what the proposition expressed by the title of our paper means. In Sect. 3, we describe Floridi’s argument. In (...)
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  • The Perception‐Action Model: Counting Computational Mechanisms.Thor Grünbaum - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (4):416-445.
    Milner and Goodale's Two Visual Systems Hypothesis is regarded as common ground in recent discussions of visual consciousness. A central part of TVSH is a functional model of vision and action. In this paper, I provide a brief overview of these current discussions and argue that there is ambiguity between a strong and a weak version of PAM. I argue that, given a standard way of individuating computational mechanisms, the available evidence cannot be used to distinguish between these versions. This (...)
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  • Bayes in the Brain—On Bayesian Modelling in Neuroscience.Matteo Colombo & Peggy Seriès - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (3):697-723.
    According to a growing trend in theoretical neuroscience, the human perceptual system is akin to a Bayesian machine. The aim of this article is to clearly articulate the claims that perception can be considered Bayesian inference and that the brain can be considered a Bayesian machine, some of the epistemological challenges to these claims; and some of the implications of these claims. We address two questions: (i) How are Bayesian models used in theoretical neuroscience? (ii) From the use of Bayesian (...)
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  • Where There is Life There is Mind: In Support of a Strong Life-Mind Continuity Thesis.Michael David Kirchhoff & Tom Froese - 2017 - Entropy 19.
    This paper considers questions about continuity and discontinuity between life and mind. It begins by examining such questions from the perspective of the free energy principle (FEP). The FEP is becoming increasingly influential in neuroscience and cognitive science. It says that organisms act to maintain themselves in their expected biological and cognitive states, and that they can do so only by minimizing their free energy given that the long-term average of free energy is entropy. The paper then argues that there (...)
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  • Morphological Computation: Nothing but Physical Computation.Marcin Miłkowski - 2018 - Entropy 10 (20):942.
    The purpose of this paper is to argue against the claim that morphological computation is substantially different from other kinds of physical computation. I show that some (but not all) purported cases of morphological computation do not count as specifically computational, and that those that do are solely physical computational systems. These latter cases are not, however, specific enough: all computational systems, not only morphological ones, may (and sometimes should) be studied in various ways, including their energy efficiency, cost, reliability, (...)
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  • The Indeterminacy of Computation.Nir Fresco, B. Jack Copeland & Marty J. Wolf - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12753-12775.
    Do the dynamics of a physical system determine what function the system computes? Except in special cases, the answer is no: it is often indeterminate what function a given physical system computes. Accordingly, care should be taken when the question ‘What does a particular neuronal system do?’ is answered by hypothesising that the system computes a particular function. The phenomenon of the indeterminacy of computation has important implications for the development of computational explanations of biological systems. Additionally, the phenomenon lends (...)
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  • Counterpossibles in Science: The Case of Relative Computability.Matthias Jenny - 2018 - Noûs 52 (3):530-560.
    I develop a theory of counterfactuals about relative computability, i.e. counterfactuals such as 'If the validity problem were algorithmically decidable, then the halting problem would also be algorithmically decidable,' which is true, and 'If the validity problem were algorithmically decidable, then arithmetical truth would also be algorithmically decidable,' which is false. These counterfactuals are counterpossibles, i.e. they have metaphysically impossible antecedents. They thus pose a challenge to the orthodoxy about counterfactuals, which would treat them as uniformly true. What’s more, I (...)
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  • Computing, Modelling, and Scientific Practice: Foundational Analyses and Limitations.Filippos A. Papagiannopoulos - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    This dissertation examines aspects of the interplay between computing and scientific practice. The appropriate foundational framework for such an endeavour is rather real computability than the classical computability theory. This is so because physical sciences, engineering, and applied mathematics mostly employ functions defined in continuous domains. But, contrary to the case of computation over natural numbers, there is no universally accepted framework for real computation; rather, there are two incompatible approaches --computable analysis and BSS model--, both claiming to formalise algorithmic (...)
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  • A Challenge to the Second Law of Thermodynamics From Cognitive Science and Vice Versa.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4897-4927.
    We show that the so-called Multiple-Computations Theorem in cognitive science and philosophy of mind challenges Landauer’s Principle in physics. Since the orthodox wisdom in statistical physics is that Landauer’s Principle is implied by, or is the mechanical equivalent of, the Second Law of thermodynamics, our argument shows that the Multiple-Computations Theorem challenges the universal validity of the Second Law of thermodynamics itself. We construct two examples of computations carried out by one and the same dynamical process with respect to which (...)
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  • Computational Domestication of Ignorant Entities.Lorenzo Magnani - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7503-7532.
    Eco-cognitive computationalism considers computation in context, following some of the main tenets advanced by the recent cognitive science views on embodied, situated, and distributed cognition. It is in the framework of this eco-cognitive perspective that we can usefully analyze the recent attention in computer science devoted to the importance of the simplification of cognitive and motor tasks caused in organic entities by the morphological features: ignorant bodies can be domesticated to become useful “mimetic bodies”, that is able to render an (...)
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  • Computers Are Syntax All the Way Down: Reply to Bozşahin.William J. Rapaport - 2019 - Minds and Machines 29 (2):227-237.
    A response to a recent critique by Cem Bozşahin of the theory of syntactic semantics as it applies to Helen Keller, and some applications of the theory to the philosophy of computer science.
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  • The Ontology of Digital Physics.Anderson Beraldo-de-Araújo & Lorenzo Baravalle - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (6):1211-1231.
    Digital physics claims that the entire universe is, at the very bottom, made out of bits; as a result, all physical processes are intrinsically computational. For that reason, many digital physicists go further and affirm that the universe is indeed a giant computer. The aim of this article is to make explicit the ontological assumptions underlying such a view. Our main concern is to clarify what kind of properties the universe must instantiate in order to perform computations. We analyse the (...)
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  • Current Perspectives on the Development of the Philosophy of Informatics.Paweł Polak - 2017 - Philosophical Problems in Science 63:77-100.
    This article is an overview of the philosophy of informatics with a special regard to some Polish philosophers. It juxtaposes the informationistic worldview with the long-prevailing mechanical conceptualization of nature before introducing the metaphysical perspective of the information revolution in sciences. The article shows also how ontic pancomputationalism – regarded as an update to structural realism – could enrich the philosophical research in some classical topics. The paper concludes with a discussion of the philosophy of Jan Salamucha, a philosopher from (...)
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  • Why Functionalism Is a Form of ‘Token-Dualism’.Meir Hemmo & Orly R. Shenker - unknown
    We present a novel reductive theory of type-identity physicalism, which is inspired by the foundations of statistical mechanics as a general theory of natural kinds. We show that all the claims mounted against type-identity physicalism in the literature don’t apply to Flat Physicalism, and moreover that this reductive theory solves many of the problems faced by the various non-reductive approaches including functionalism. In particular, we show that Flat Physicalism can account for the appearance of multiple realizability in the special sciences, (...)
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  • A Theory of Computational Implementation.Michael Rescorla - 2014 - Synthese 191 (6):1277-1307.
    I articulate and defend a new theory of what it is for a physical system to implement an abstract computational model. According to my descriptivist theory, a physical system implements a computational model just in case the model accurately describes the system. Specifically, the system must reliably transit between computational states in accord with mechanical instructions encoded by the model. I contrast my theory with an influential approach to computational implementation espoused by Chalmers, Putnam, and others. I deploy my theory (...)
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  • The Architecture of Mind as a Network of Networks of Natural Computational Processes.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic - 2016 - Philosophies 1 (1):111--125.
    In discussions regarding models of cognition, the very mention of “computationalism” often incites reactions against the insufficiency of the Turing machine model, its abstractness, determinism, the lack of naturalist foundations, triviality and the absence of clarity. None of those objections, however, concerns models based on natural computation or computing nature, where the model of computation is broader than symbol manipulation or conventional models of computation. Computing nature consists of physical structures that form layered computational architecture, with computation processes ranging from (...)
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  • Does the Solar System Compute the Laws of Motion?Douglas Ian Campbell & Yi Yang - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3203-3220.
    The counterfactual account of physical computation is simple and, for the most part, very attractive. However, it is usually thought to trivialize the notion of physical computation insofar as it implies ‘limited pancomputationalism’, this being the doctrine that every deterministic physical system computes some function. Should we bite the bullet and accept limited pancomputationalism, or reject the counterfactual account as untenable? Jack Copeland would have us do neither of the above. He attempts to thread a path between the two horns (...)
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  • Implicit and Explicit Examples of the Phenomenon of Deviant Encodings.Paula Quinon - 2020 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 63 (1):53-67.
    The core of the problem discussed in this paper is the following: the Church-Turing Thesis states that Turing Machines formally explicate the intuitive concept of computability. The description of Turing Machines requires description of the notation used for the input and for the output. Providing a general definition of notations acceptable in the process of computations causes problems. This is because a notation, or an encoding suitable for a computation, has to be computable. Yet, using the concept of computation, in (...)
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  • Computational Intention.Raymond Turner - 2020 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 63 (1):19-30.
    The core entities of computer science include formal languages, spec-ifications, models, programs, implementations, semantic theories, type inference systems, abstract and physical machines. While there are conceptual questions concerning their nature, and in particular ontological ones, our main focus here will be on the relationships between them. These relationships have an extensional aspect that articulates the propositional connection between the two entities, and an intentional one that fixes the direction of governance. An analysis of these two aspects will drive our investigation; (...)
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  • Computing Mechanisms and Autopoietic Systems.Joe Dewhurst - 2016 - In Vincent Müller (ed.), Computing and Philosophy. Springer Verlag. pp. 17-26.
    This chapter draws an analogy between computing mechanisms and autopoietic systems, focusing on the non-representational status of both kinds of system (computational and autopoietic). It will be argued that the role played by input and output components in a computing mechanism closely resembles the relationship between an autopoietic system and its environment, and in this sense differs from the classical understanding of inputs and outputs. The analogy helps to make sense of why we should think of computing mechanisms as non-representational, (...)
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  • A Simplicity Criterion for Physical Computation.Tyler Millhouse - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):153-178.
    The aim of this paper is to offer a formal criterion for physical computation that allows us to objectively distinguish between competing computational interpretations of a physical system. The criterion construes a computational interpretation as an ordered pair of functions mapping (1) states of a physical system to states of an abstract machine, and (2) inputs to this machine to interventions in this physical system. This interpretation must ensure that counterfactuals true of the abstract machine have appropriate counterparts which are (...)
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  • La deriva genética como fuerza evolutiva.Ariel Jonathan Roffé - 2015 - In J. Ahumada, N. Venturelli & S. Seno Chibeni (eds.), Selección de Trabajos del IX Encuentro AFHIC y las XXV Jornadas de Epistemología e Historia de la ciencia. Córdoba, Argentina: pp. 615-626.
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  • Computing, Modelling, and Scientific Practice: Foundational Analyses and Limitations.Philippos Papayannopoulos - 2018 - Dissertation,
    This dissertation examines aspects of the interplay between computing and scientific practice. The appropriate foundational framework for such an endeavour is rather real computability than the classical computability theory. This is so because physical sciences, engineering, and applied mathematics mostly employ functions defined in continuous domains. But, contrary to the case of computation over natural numbers, there is no universally accepted framework for real computation; rather, there are two incompatible approaches --computable analysis and BSS model--, both claiming to formalise algorithmic (...)
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  • Visual Reference and Iconic Content.Santiago Echeverri - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (4):761-781.
    Evidence from cognitive science supports the claim that humans and other animals see the world as divided into objects. Although this claim is widely accepted, it remains unclear whether the mechanisms of visual reference have representational content or are directly instantiated in the functional architecture. I put forward a version of the former approach that construes object files as icons for objects. This view is consistent with the evidence that motivates the architectural account, can respond to the key arguments against (...)
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  • Objective Computation Versus Subjective Computation.Nir Fresco - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):1031-1053.
    The question ‘What is computation?’ might seem a trivial one to many, but this is far from being in consensus in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and even in physics. The lack of consensus leads to some interesting, yet contentious, claims, such as that cognition or even the universe is computational. Some have argued, though, that computation is a subjective phenomenon: whether or not a physical system is computational, and if so, which computation it performs, is entirely a matter of (...)
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  • Nature's Providence: The Representational Role of Vision.Tim Klaassen - manuscript
    This paper presents a novel theory of what it is that makes vision a representational affair. Vision is a process of representation; a fact that does not depend on it being "contentfull" or "indirect". Even if it turns out that vision is direct and/or intrinsically "contentless", it is nevertheless defined by features that decisively make it count as a process or representation. The phenomenology of vision is key here: as we see, we are directly presented with aspects of the environment (...)
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  • The Philosophy of Computer Science.Raymond Turner - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Computation and Multiple Realizability.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - In Vincent Müller (ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence. Springer. pp. 29-41.
    Multiple realizability (MR) is traditionally conceived of as the feature of computational systems, and has been used to argue for irreducibility of higher-level theories. I will show that there are several ways a computational system may be seen to display MR. These ways correspond to (at least) five ways one can conceive of the function of the physical computational system. However, they do not match common intuitions about MR. I show that MR is deeply interest-related, and for this reason, difficult (...)
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  • How to Explain Miscomputation.Chris Tucker - 2018 - Philosophers' Imprint 18:1-17.
    Just as theory of representation is deficient if it can’t explain how misrepresentation is possible, a theory of computation is deficient if it can’t explain how miscomputation is possible. Nonetheless, philosophers have generally ignored miscomputation. My primary goal in this paper is to clarify both what miscomputation is and how to adequately explain it. Miscomputation is a special kind of malfunction: a system miscomputes when it computes in a way that it shouldn’t. To explain miscomputation, you must provide accounts of (...)
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  • Computational Mechanisms and Models of Computation.Marcin Miłkowski - 2014 - Philosophia Scientae 18:215-228.
    In most accounts of realization of computational processes by physical mechanisms, it is presupposed that there is one-to-one correspondence between the causally active states of the physical process and the states of the computation. Yet such proposals either stipulate that only one model of computation is implemented, or they do not reflect upon the variety of models that could be implemented physically. In this paper, I claim that mechanistic accounts of computation should allow for a broad variation of models of (...)
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  • Cellular Automata.Francesco Berto & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Cellular automata (henceforth: CA) are discrete, abstract computational systems that have proved useful both as general models of complexity and as more specific representations of non-linear dynamics in a variety of scientific fields. Firstly, CA are (typically) spatially and temporally discrete: they are composed of a finite or denumerable set of homogeneous, simple units, the atoms or cells. At each time unit, the cells instantiate one of a finite set of states. They evolve in parallel at discrete time steps, following (...)
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  • Behavioural Explanation in the Realm of Non-Mental Computing Agents.Bernardo Aguilera - 2015 - Minds and Machines 25 (1):37-56.
    Recently, many philosophers have been inclined to ascribe mentality to animals on the main grounds that they possess certain complex computational abilities. In this paper I contend that this view is misleading, since it wrongly assumes that those computational abilities demand a psychological explanation. On the contrary, they can be just characterised from a computational level of explanation, which picks up a domain of computation and information processing that is common to many computing systems but is autonomous from the domain (...)
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