Why everything doesn't realize every computation

Minds and Machines 4 (4):403-20 (1994)
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Abstract

  Some have suggested that there is no fact to the matter as to whether or not a particular physical system relaizes a particular computational description. This suggestion has been taken to imply that computational states are not real, and cannot, for example, provide a foundation for the cognitive sciences. In particular, Putnam has argued that every ordinary open physical system realizes every abstract finite automaton, implying that the fact that a particular computational characterization applies to a physical system does not tell oneanything about the nature of that system. Putnam''s argument is scrutinized, and found inadequate because, among other things, it employs a notion of causation that is too weak. I argue that if one''s view of computation involves embeddedness (inputs and outputs) and full causality, one can avoid the universal realizability results. Therefore, the fact that a particular system realizes a particular automaton is not a vacuous one, and is often explanatory. Furthermore, I claim that computation would not necessarily be an explanatorily vacuous notion even if it were universally realizable

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Author's Profile

Ron Chrisley
University of Sussex

References found in this work

The Rediscovery of the Mind.John R. Searle - 1992 - MIT Press. Edited by Ned Block & Hilary Putnam.
The Rediscovery of the Mind.John Searle - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (1):201-207.
Is the brain a digital computer?John R. Searle - 1990 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 64 (3):21-37.
The owl and the electric encyclopedia.Brian Cantwell Smith - 1991 - Artificial Intelligence 47 (1-3):251-288.

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