The very idea of computer self-knowledge and self-deception

Minds and Machines 7 (4):515-529 (1997)
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Abstract

  Do computers have beliefs? I argue that anyone who answers in the affirmative holds a view that is incompatible with what I shall call the commonsense approach to the propositional attitudes. My claims shall be two. First,the commonsense view places important constraints on what can be acknowledged as a case of having a belief. Second, computers – at least those for which having a belief would be conceived as having a sentence in a belief box – fail to satisfy some of these constraints. This second claim can best be brought out in the context of an examination of the idea of computer self-knowledge and self-deception, but the conclusion is perfectly general: the idea that computers are believers, like the idea that computers could have self-knowledge or be self-deceived, is incompatible with the commonsense view. The significance of the argument lies in the choice it forces on us: whether to revise our notion of belief so as to accommodate the claim that computers are believers, or to give up on that claim so as to preserve our pretheoretic notion of the attitudes. We cannot have it both ways

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Author's Profile

Sanford Goldberg
Northwestern University

References found in this work

Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Clarendon Press. pp. 207-224.
Minds and Machines.Hilary Putnam - 1960 - In Sidney Hook (ed.), Dimensions of Minds. New York, USA: New York University Press. pp. 138-164.
On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 47:5-20.
On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 286-298.
Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Humanities Press.

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