David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 1 (2):207 – 215 (1988)
John Searle has argued that one can imagine embodying a machine running any computer program without understanding the symbols, and hence that purely computational processes do not yield understanding. The disagreement this argument has generated stems, I hold, from ambiguity in talk of 'understanding'. The concept is analysed as a relation between subjects and symbols having two components: a formal and an intentional. The central question, then becomes whether a machine could possess the intentional component with or without the formal component. I argue that the intentional state of a symbol's being meaningful to a subject is a functionally definable relation between the symbol and certain past and present states of the subject, and that a machine could bear this relation to a symbol. I sketch a machine which could be said to possess, in primitive form, the intentional component of understanding. Even if the machine, in lacking consciousness, lacks full understanding, it contributes to a theory of understanding and constitutes a counterexample to the Chinese Room argument.
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References found in this work BETA
Daniel C. Dennett (1978). Brainstorms. MIT Press.
Michael Polanyi (1958). Personal Knowledge. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Natika Newton (1989). Error in Action and Belief. Philosophia 19 (4):363-401.
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