Virtual symposium on virtual mind

Minds and Machines 2 (3):217-238 (1992)
  Copy   BIBTEX


When certain formal symbol systems (e.g., computer programs) are implemented as dynamic physical symbol systems (e.g., when they are run on a computer) their activity can be interpreted at higher levels (e.g., binary code can be interpreted as LISP, LISP code can be interpreted as English, and English can be interpreted as a meaningful conversation). These higher levels of interpretability are called "virtual" systems. If such a virtual system is interpretable as if it had a mind, is such a "virtual mind" real? This is the question addressed in this "virtual" symposium, originally conducted electronically among four cognitive scientists: Donald Perlis, a computer scientist, argues that according to the computationalist thesis, virtual minds are real and hence Searle's Chinese Room Argument fails, because if Searle memorized and executed a program that could pass the Turing Test in Chinese he would have a second, virtual, Chinese-understanding mind of which he was unaware (as in multiple personality). Stevan Harnad, a psychologist, argues that Searle's Argument is valid, virtual minds are just hermeneutic overinterpretations, and symbols must be grounded in the real world of objects, not just the virtual world of interpretations. Computer scientist Patrick Hayes argues that Searle's Argument fails, but because Searle does not really implement the program: A real implementation must not be homuncular but mindless and mechanical, like a computer. Only then can it give rise to a mind at the virtual level. Philosopher Ned Block suggests that there is no reason a mindful implementation would not be a real one



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,125

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

305 (#52,181)

6 months
6 (#159,710)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Stevan Harnad
Université du Québec à Montréal

Citations of this work

The informational nature of personal identity.Luciano Floridi - 2011 - Minds and Machines 21 (4):549-566.
The chinese room argument.David Cole - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Turing test: 50 years later.Ayse Pinar Saygin, Ilyas Cicekli & Varol Akman - 2000 - Minds and Machines 10 (4):463-518.
Why and how we are not zombies.Stevan Harnad - 1994 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 1 (2):164-67.
Minds, machines and Turing: The indistinguishability of indistinguishables.Stevan Harnad - 2000 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 9 (4):425-445.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Minds, brains, and programs.John Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mind, Language and Reality.[author unknown] - 1975 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 39 (2):361-362.
The symbol grounding problem.Stevan Harnad - 1990 - Physica D 42:335-346.
Mind, Language and Reality.Hilary Putnam - 1975/2003 - Critica 12 (36):93-96.

View all 13 references / Add more references