Semantics and the computational paradigm in computational psychology

Synthese 79 (April):119-41 (1989)
Abstract
  There is a prevalent notion among cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind that computers are merely formal symbol manipulators, performing the actions they do solely on the basis of the syntactic properties of the symbols they manipulate. This view of computers has allowed some philosophers to divorce semantics from computational explanations. Semantic content, then, becomes something one adds to computational explanations to get psychological explanations. Other philosophers, such as Stephen Stich, have taken a stronger view, advocating doing away with semantics entirely. This paper argues that a correct account of computation requires us to attribute content to computational processes in order to explain which functions are being computed. This entails that computational psychology must countenance mental representations. Since anti-semantic positions are incompatible with computational psychology thus construed, they ought to be rejected. Lastly, I argue that in an important sense, computers are not formal symbol manipulators
Keywords Computer  Mental States  Metaphysics  Psychology  Semantics  Symbol
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,392
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Michael Devitt (1981). Designation. Columbia University Press.
Fred Dretske (1985). Machines and the Mental. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 59 (1):23-33.

View all 19 references

Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

21 ( #82,827 of 1,102,926 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #183,068 of 1,102,926 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.