Minds and Machines 3 (3):283-312 (1993)

Authors
Carol Cleland
University of Colorado, Boulder
Abstract
  The Church-Turing thesis makes a bold claim about the theoretical limits to computation. It is based upon independent analyses of the general notion of an effective procedure proposed by Alan Turing and Alonzo Church in the 1930''s. As originally construed, the thesis applied only to the number theoretic functions; it amounted to the claim that there were no number theoretic functions which couldn''t be computed by a Turing machine but could be computed by means of some other kind of effective procedure. Since that time, however, other interpretations of the thesis have appeared in the literature. In this paper I identify three domains of application which have been claimed for the thesis: (1) the number theoretic functions; (2) all functions; (3) mental and/or physical phenomena. Subsequently, I provide an analysis of our intuitive concept of a procedure which, unlike Turing''s, is based upon ordinary, everyday procedures such as recipes, directions and methods; I call them mundane procedures. I argue that mundane procedures can be said to be effective in the same sense in which Turing machine procedures can be said to be effective. I also argue that mundane procedures differ from Turing machine procedures in a fundamental way, viz., the former, but not the latter, generate causal processes. I apply my analysis to all three of the above mentioned interpretations of the Church-Turing thesis, arguing that the thesis is (i) clearly false under interpretation (3), (ii) false in at least some possible worlds (perhaps even in the actual world) under interpretation (2), and (iii) very much open to question under interpretation (1)
Keywords Causality  Church's Thesis  Procedure  Science  Turing Machines
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DOI 10.1007/BF00976283
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References found in this work BETA

Minds, Brains, and Programs.John R. Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
The Emperor’s New Mind.Roger Penrose - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
Computing Machinery and Intelligence.Alan M. Turing - 1950 - Mind 59 (October):433-60.
A Theory of Human Action.Alvin I. Goldman - 1970 - Princeton University Press.
The Direction of Time.Hans Reichenbach - 1956 - Dover Publications.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Physical Church–Turing Thesis: Modest or Bold?Gualtiero Piccinini - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):733-769.
A Connectionist Theory of Phenomenal Experience.Jonathan Opie & Gerard O'Brien - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):127-148.
Semiotic Systems, Computers, and the Mind: How Cognition Could Be Computing.William J. Rapaport - 2012 - International Journal of Signs and Semiotic Systems 2 (1):32-71.
The Tractable Cognition Thesis.Iris Van Rooij - 2008 - Cognitive Science 32 (6):939-984.

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