Computation in Physical Systems: a Normative Mapping Account

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The relationship between abstract formal procedures and the activities of actual physical systems has proved to be surprisingly subtle and controversial, and there are a number of competing accounts of when a physical system can be properly said to implement a mathematical formalism and hence perform a computation. I defend an account wherein computational descriptions of physical systems are high-level normative interpretations motivated by our pragmatic concerns. Furthermore, the criteria of utility and success vary according to our diverse purposes and pragmatic goals. Hence there is no independent or uniform fact to the matter, and I advance the ‘anti-realist’ conclusion that computational descriptions of physical systems are not founded upon deep ontological distinctions, but rather upon interest-relative human conventions. Hence physical computation is a ‘conventional’ rather than a ‘natural’ kind.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn the Cognitive, Ethical, and Scientific Dimensions of Artificial Intelligence - Themes from IACAP 2016
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Chapter2
Pages24-47
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-01800-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-01799-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Association for Computing and Philosophy – Annual Meeting 2016 - University of Ferrera, Ferrera, Italy
Duration: 14 Jun 201617 Jun 2016
http://www.iacap.org/conferences/iacap-2016/

Publication series

NamePhilosophical Studies Series
PublisherSpringer
Volume134
ISSN (Print)0921-8599

Conference

ConferenceInternational Association for Computing and Philosophy – Annual Meeting 2016
Abbreviated titleIACAP 2016
CountryItaly
CityFerrera
Period14/06/1617/06/16
Internet address

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