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.
|Title of host publication||Proc. of the Symposium on Computing and Philosophy, AISB'11 Convention, York, United Kingdom|
|Publisher||The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|