Philosophical Explorations 23 (3):251-266 (2020)

Luke Kersten
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
This paper takes up a recent challenge to mechanistic approaches to computational implementation, the view that computational implementation is best explicated within a mechanistic framework. The challenge, what has been labelled “the abstraction problem”, claims that one of MAC’s central pillars – medium independence – is deeply confused when applied to the question of computational implementation. The concern is that while it makes sense to say that computational processes are abstract (i.e. medium-independent), it makes considerably less sense to say that they are also concrete processes of a mechanism. After outlining the problem and its effect on MAC, I examine a recent response from Kuokkanen and Rusanen [2018. “Making Too Many Enemies: Hutto and Myin’s Attack on Computationalism.” Philosophical Explorations 21 (2): 282–294. doi:10.1080/13869795.2018.1477980]. I argue that Kuokkanen and Rusanen’s response comes up short insofar as it makes problematic trade-offs among various desiderata we have for a theory of implementation. This leads to a general dilemma for MAC: either give up being an objective theory of implementation or concede the abstraction problem and so reintroduce triviality concerns. In response, I argue that conceiving of computations as abstracta rather than illata provides a way to avoid the proposed dilemma and articulate a notion of medium independence that addresses the abstraction problem.
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2020.1799664
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Vision.David Marr - 1982 - W. H. Freeman.

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