Satan Stultified

The Monist 52 (1):145-158 (1968)
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The application of Gödel’s theorem to the problem of minds and machines is difficult. Paul Benacerraf makes the entirely valid ‘Duhemian’ point that the argument is not, and cannot be, a purely mathematical one, but needs some philosophical premisses to be able to yield any philosophical conclusions. Moreover, the philosophical premisses are of very different kinds. Some are concerned with what is essential to being a machine—these are typically intricate, but definite, easily formalised by the mathematician, but unintelligible to the layman: others attempt to capture what is essential to being a mind, a person or a self—these are typically intuitive, but vague; resistant to exact definition by the logician, but, none the less, widely used and well understood. Gödel’s theorem itself, like many other truths, can be taken either way: it can be taken as a formal proof sequence yielding certain syntactical results about a certain class of formal systems, but it can also be taken as giving us a certain type or style of argument, which we can understand, and, once having got the hang of it, adapt and apply in innumerable different circumstances. In my dispute with the mechanist, I take Gödel’s argument both ways: I first take it as an argument which the mechanist, even according to his own mechanist principles, must accept as scoring some point against his favourite machine; and then I hope that the mechanist, as a man, will see that he can do better and that this sort of argument will always apply against any form of mechanism he espouses.



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Citations of this work

Lucas Against Mechanism II.David Lewis - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):373-376.
Lucas against mechanism II.David Lewis - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (June):373-6.
Mechanism: A rejoinder.John R. Lucas - 1970 - Philosophy 45 (April):149-51.

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