Physical Instantiation and the Propositional Attitudes

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Abstract

The paper addresses a standard line of criticism of the computational theory of mind, based on the claim that the notion of realizing a computational formalism is overly liberal to the point of vacuity. I argue that even for interesting and powerful cases, realization is essentially a matter of approximation and degree, and interpreting a physical device as performing a computation is always 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 defensible account of propositional attitude states in computational terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-235
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Computation
Volume4
Issue number3
Early online date25 Apr 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Computational theory of mind
  • Multiple realizability
  • Consciousness
  • Propositional attitudes

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