An analysis of the criteria for evaluating adequate theories of computation

Minds and Machines 18 (3):379-401 (2008)
Nir Fresco
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
This paper deals with the question: What are the criteria that an adequate theory of computation has to meet? 1. Smith's answer: it has to meet the empirical criterion (i.e. doing justice to computational practice), the conceptual criterion (i.e. explaining all the underlying concepts) and the cognitive criterion (i.e. providing solid grounds for computationalism). 2. Piccinini's answer: it has to meet the objectivity criterion (i.e. identifying computation as a matter of fact), the explanation criterion (i.e. explaining the computer's behaviour), the right things compute criterion, the miscomputation criterion (i.e. accounting for malfunctions), the taxonomy criterion (i.e. distinguishing between different classes of computers) and the empirical criterion. 3. Von Neumann's answer: it has to meet the precision and reliability of computers criterion, the single error criterion (i.e. addressing the impacts of errors) and the distinction between analogue and digital computers criterion. 4. “Everything” computes answer: it has to meet the implementation theory criterion by properly explaining the notion of implementation. According to computationalists, minds are computational. Before we can judge the plausibility of any particular computationalist theory, we need to understand what notion of computation this theory employs. Although there are extant accounts of computation, any of which may, in principle, serve as a basis for computationalism, it isn’t clear that they’re all equivalent or even adequate as accounts of computation proper. By examining plausible alternatives to Smith’s adequacy criteria, our goal here is to resist his claim that no adequate account of computation proper is possible.
Keywords Cognition  Computation  Computationalism  Computers  Implementation  Practice  Subject  Matter  Theory  Turing machines
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11023-008-9111-9
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 37,193
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
Computing Mechanisms.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (4):501-526.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Concrete Digital Computation: What Does It Take for a Physical System to Compute? [REVIEW]Nir Fresco - 2011 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 20 (4):513-537.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Confirmation and Prediction.G. H. Merrill - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (1):98-117.
The FPL Model and Practical Inference.B. C. Postow - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (1):165-170.
The Criterion or Criteria of Change.Xiaoqiang Han - 2009 - Metaphysica 10 (2):149-156.
Adequate Formalization.Michael Baumgartner & Timm Lampert - 2008 - Synthese 164 (1):93-115.
Cerebral Death.Eike-Henner W. Kluge - 1984 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 5 (2).
Quines Ontologiekriterium.Peter Hinst - 1983 - Erkenntnis 19 (1-3):193 - 215.
On the Definition of a Criterion of Immunogenicity.Thomas Pradeu & Edgardo D. Carosella - 2006 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (47):17858--17861.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
56 ( #119,556 of 2,309,030 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #292,157 of 2,309,030 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature