David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73 (2008)
I offer an explication of the notion of computer, grounded in the practices of computability theorists and computer scientists. I begin by explaining what distinguishes computers from calculators. Then, I offer a systematic taxonomy of kinds of computer, including hard-wired versus programmable, general-purpose versus special-purpose, analog versus digital, and serial versus parallel, giving explicit criteria for each kind. My account is mechanistic: which class a system belongs in, and which functions are computable by which system, depends on the system's mechanistic properties. Finally, I briefly illustrate how my account sheds light on some issues in the history and philosophy of computing as well as the philosophy of mind.
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References found in this work BETA
Carl F. Craver (2007). Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
William C. Wimsatt (2007). Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality. Harvard University Press.
Jerry A. Fodor (1975). The Language of Thought. Harvard University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Gualtiero Piccinini & Carl Craver (2011). Integrating Psychology and Neuroscience: Functional Analyses as Mechanism Sketches. Synthese 183 (3):283-311.
Gualtiero Piccinini & Sonya Bahar (2013). Neural Computation and the Computational Theory of Cognition. Cognitive Science 37 (3):453-488.
Nir Fresco (2012). The Explanatory Role of Computation in Cognitive Science. Minds and Machines 22 (4):353-380.
Eric Hochstein (forthcoming). One Mechanism, Many Models: A Distributed Theory of Mechanistic Explanation. Synthese:1-21.
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