Erkenntnis 82 (6):1211-1231 (2017)

Lorenzo Baravalle
Universidade Federal do ABC
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 logical form of the two models of computation traditionally adopted in digital physics, namely, cellular automata and Turing machines. These models are computationally equivalent, but we show that they support different ontological commitments about the fundamental properties of the universe. In fact, cellular automata are compatible with a rather traditional form of physicalism, whereas Turing machines support a dualistic ontology, which could be understood as a realism about the laws of nature or, alternatively, as a kind of panpsychism.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-016-9866-y
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References found in this work BETA

From a Logical Point of View.W. V. O. Quine - 1953 - Harvard University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA

Cellular Automata.Francesco Berto & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Causation in a Virtual World: a Mechanistic Approach.Billy Wheeler - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (1):1-26.

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