Explaining computation without semantics: Keeping it simple [Book Review]

Minds and Machines 20 (2):165-181 (2010)
This paper deals with the question: how is computation best individuated? 1. The semantic view of computation: computation is best individuated by its semantic properties. 2. The causal view of computation: computation is best individuated by its causal properties. 3. The functional view of computation: computation is best individuated by its functional properties. Some scientific theories explain the capacities of brains by appealing to computations that they supposedly perform. The reason for that is usually that computation is individuated semantically. I criticize the reasons in support of this view and its presupposition of representation and semantics. Furthermore, I argue that the only justified appeal to a representational individuation of computation might be that it is partly individuated by implicit intrinsic representations.
Keywords Computation  Semantics  Representation  Cognitive science  Cognition  Mental states  Mechanistic explanation  Causal properties
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DOI 10.1007/s11023-010-9199-6
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