David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 74 (4):501-526 (2007)
This paper offers an account of what it is for a physical system to be a computing mechanism—a system that performs computations. A computing mechanism is a mechanism whose function is to generate output strings from input strings and (possibly) internal states, in accordance with a general rule that applies to all relevant strings and depends on the input strings and (possibly) internal states for its application. This account is motivated by reasons endogenous to the philosophy of computing, namely, doing justice to the practices of computer scientists and computability theorists. It is also an application of recent literature on mechanisms, because it assimilates computational explanation to mechanistic explanation. The account can be used to individuate computing mechanisms and the functions they compute and to taxonomize computing mechanisms based on their computing power.
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Citations of this work BETA
Gualtiero Piccinini & Carl Craver (2011). Integrating Psychology and Neuroscience: Functional Analyses as Mechanism Sketches. Synthese 183 (3):283-311.
Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
Gualtiero Piccinini (2010). The Mind as Neural Software? Understanding Functionalism, Computationalism, and Computational Functionalism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):269-311.
Corey J. Maley (2011). Analog and Digital, Continuous and Discrete. Philosophical Studies 155 (1):117-131.
Gualtiero Piccinini (2009). Computationalism in the Philosophy of Mind. Philosophy Compass 4 (3):515-532.
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