The broad conception of computation

American Behavioral Scientist 40 (6):690-716 (1997)
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A myth has arisen concerning Turing's paper of 1936, namely that Turing set forth a fundamental principle concerning the limits of what can be computed by machine - a myth that has passed into cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, to wide and pernicious effect. This supposed principle, sometimes incorrectly termed the 'Church-Turing thesis', is the claim that the class of functions that can be computed by machines is identical to the class of functions that can be computed by Turing machines. In point of fact Turing himself nowhere endorses, nor even states, this claim (nor does Church). I describe a number of notional machines, both analogue and digital, that can compute more than a universal Turing machine. These machines are exemplars of the class of _nonclassical_ computing machines. Nothing known at present rules out the possibility that machines in this class will one day be built, nor that the brain itself is such a machine. These theoretical considerations undercut a number of foundational arguments that are commonly rehearsed in cognitive science, and gesture towards a new class of cognitive models



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Jack Copeland
University of Canterbury

Citations of this work

What is a Computer? A Survey.William J. Rapaport - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (3):385-426.
Accelerating Turing machines.B. Jack Copeland - 2002 - Minds and Machines 12 (2):281-300.
Hypercomputation and the Physical Church‐Turing Thesis.Paolo Cotogno - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):181-223.
Super turing-machines.B. Jack Copeland - 1998 - Complexity 4 (1):30-32.

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