Why we view the brain as a computer

Synthese 153 (3):393-416 (2006)
Abstract
The view that the brain is a sort of computer has functioned as a theoretical guideline both in cognitive science and, more recently, in neuroscience. But since we can view every physical system as a computer, it has been less than clear what this view amounts to. By considering in some detail a seminal study in computational neuroscience, I first suggest that neuroscientists invoke the computational outlook to explain regularities that are formulated in terms of the information content of electrical signals. I then indicate why computational theories have explanatory force with respect to these regularities:in a nutshell, they underscore correspondence relations between formal/mathematical properties of the electrical signals and formal/mathematical properties of the represented objects. I finally link my proposal to the philosophical thesis that content plays an essential role in computational taxonomy
Keywords POSTERIOR PARIETAL NEURONS   COMPUTATION   INDIVIDUALISM   PSYCHOLOGY   CONNECTIONISM   REDUCTIONISM   EXTERNALISM   NETWORK   SCIENCE   VISION
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Gualtiero Piccinini (2008). Computers. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.

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