Does computation require representation? To what extent should representation figure within computational models? Can representational properties causally influence computation? How central an explanatory role should semantics occupy within computational psychology? Is the mind a “syntax-driven” machine? Can computational models help elucidate the nature of representation? Can they help us reduce the intentional to the non-intentional? What semantic frameworks are most useful for computer science and Artificial Intelligence? Can we build an artificial computing machine that thinks? How might the construction of such a machine illuminate the mind, including our capacity to represent? Is mental activity best modeled through “classical” computation, through “connectionist” computation, or through some other framework?
|Key works||The seminal article Turing 1936 introduces the Turing machine, thereby laying the foundation for all subsequent research on computation within computer science, recursion theory, Artificial Intelligence, cognitive psychology, and philosophy. Putnam 1967 introduced philosophers to the thesis that Turing-style computation provides illuminating models of mental activity. Fodor 1975 developed Putnam’s suggestion, combining it with the traditional picture of the mind as a representational organ. Fodor’s subsequent writings, including Fodor 1981 and many other articles and books, investigate the relation between mental computation and mental representation. Stich 1983 combines a computational approach to the mind with eliminativism regarding intentionality. Dennett 1987 advocates a broadly instrumentalist approach to intentionality. Searle 1980 is a widely discussed critique of the computational approach, centered on the relation between syntax and semantics. Putnam 1975 introduces the Twin Earth thought experiment, which crucially informs much of the subsequent literature on computation and representation. Burge 1982 applies the Twin Earth thought experiment to mental representation (whereas Putnam initially applied it only to linguistic representation).|
|Introductions||The first three chapters of Rogers 1987 present the foundations of computation theory, with an emphasis on the Turing machine. Fodor 1981 offers a good (albeit opinionated) introduction to issues surrounding computation and mental representation. Horst 2005 and Pitt 2008 offer helpful surveys of the contemporary literature.|
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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