Erkenntnis 80 (5):1031-1053 (2015)

Authors
Nir Fresco
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Abstract
The question ‘What is computation?’ might seem a trivial one to many, but this is far from being in consensus in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and even in physics. The lack of consensus leads to some interesting, yet contentious, claims, such as that cognition or even the universe is computational. Some have argued, though, that computation is a subjective phenomenon: whether or not a physical system is computational, and if so, which computation it performs, is entirely a matter of an observer choosing to view it as such. According to one view, which we dub bold anti-realist pancomputationalism, every physical object computes every computer program. According to another, more modest view, some computational systems can be ascribed multiple computational descriptions. We argue that the first view is misguided, and that the second view need not entail observer-relativity of computation. At least to a large extent, computation is an objective phenomenon. Construed as a form of information processing, we argue that information-processing considerations determine what type of computation takes place in physical systems
Keywords Computation  Information  Instructional Information  Objectivity  Observer Relativity  Searle  Putnam
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-014-9696-8
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References found in this work BETA

The Philosophy of Information.Luciano Floridi - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the N Tscheidungsproblem.Alan Turing - 1936 - Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society 42 (1):230-265.
The Philosophy of Information.Luciano Floridi - 2010 - The Philosophers' Magazine 50:42-43.

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Citations of this work BETA

Computing Mechanisms Without Proper Functions.Joe Dewhurst - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (3):569-588.
Mechanistic Computational Individuation Without Biting the Bullet.Nir Fresco & Marcin Miłkowski - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz005.
How to Explain Miscomputation.Chris Tucker - 2018 - Philosophers' Imprint 18:1-17.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

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Notions of Information: Remarks on Fresco’s Paper.Graham White - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (1):61-65.
What Might Dynamical Intentionality Be, If Not Computation?Ronald L. Chrisley - 1998 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (5):634-635.
Transcending Turing Computability.B. J. Maclennan - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (1):3-22.

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