David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Foundations of Science 13 (1) (2008)
We argue from the Church-Turing thesis (Kleene Mathematical logic . New York: Wiley 1967) that a program can be considered as equivalent to a formal language similar to predicate calculus where predicates can be taken as functions. We can relate such a calculus to Wittgenstein’s first major work, the Tractatus , and use the Tractatus and its theses as a model of the formal classical definition of a computer program. However, Wittgenstein found flaws in his initial great work and he explored these flaws in a new thesis described in his second great work; the Philosophical Investigations . The question we address is “can computer science make the same leap?” We are proposing, because of the flaws identified by Wittgenstein, that computers will never have the possibility of natural communication with people unless they become active participants of human society. The essential difference between formal models used in computing and human communication is that formal models are based upon rational sets whereas people are not so restricted. We introduce irrational sets as a concept that requires the use of an abductive inference system. However, formal models are still considered central to our means of using hypotheses through deduction to make predictions about the world. These formal models are required to continually be updated in response to peoples’ changes in their way of seeing the world. We propose that one mechanism used to keep track of these changes is the Peircian abductive loop.
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