Multiple Realization and the Computational Mind

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Abstract

The paper examines some central issues concerning the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) and the notion of instantiating a computational formalism in the physical world. I address a standard line of criticism of CTM, based on the claim that the notion of instantiating a computational formalism is overly liberal to the point of vacuity, and conclude that Searle’s view that computation is not an intrinsic property of physical systems is ultimately correct. I argue that for interesting and powerful cases, realization is only ever a matter of approximation and degree, and interpreting a physical device as performing a computation is relative to our purposes and potential epistemic gains. However, while this may fatally undermine a computational explanation of conscious experience, I contend that, contra Putnam and Searle, it does not rule out the possibility of a scientifically justified account of propositional attitude states in computational terms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProc. of the Symposium on Computing and Philosophy, AISB'11 Convention, York, United Kingdom
PublisherThe Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour
Pages37-42
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-1-908187-03-1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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