David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
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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References found in this work BETA
Jerry A. Fodor (1998). Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Oxford University Press.
Jerry A. Fodor (1975). The Language of Thought. Harvard University Press.
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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.
David Michael Kaplan (2011). Explanation and Description in Computational Neuroscience. Synthese 183 (3):339-373.
Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
Gualtiero Piccinini & Sonya Bahar (2013). Neural Computation and the Computational Theory of Cognition. Cognitive Science 37 (3):453-488.
M. Chirimuuta (2014). Minimal Models and Canonical Neural Computations: The Distinctness of Computational Explanation in Neuroscience. Synthese 191 (2):127-153.
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