Are Computational Transitions Sensitive to Semantics?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):703-721 (2012)
The formal conception of computation (FCC) holds that computational processes are not sensitive to semantic properties. FCC is popular, but it faces well-known difficulties. Accordingly, authors such as Block and Peacocke pursue a ?semantically-laden? alternative, according to which computation can be sensitive to semantics. I argue that computation is insensitive to semantics within a wide range of computational systems, including any system with ?derived? rather than ?original? intentionality. FCC yields the correct verdict for these systems. I conclude that there is only one promising strategy for semantically-laden theorists: identify special computational systems that help generate their own semantic properties, and then show that computation within those systems is semantically-laden. Unfortunately, the few existing discussions that pursue this strategy are problematic
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2011.615333
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Michael Rescorla (2014). The Causal Relevance of Content to Computation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):173-208.

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