Symbol grounding in computational systems: A paradox of intentions

Minds and Machines 19 (4):529-541 (2009)
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Abstract

The paper presents a paradoxical feature of computational systems that suggests that computationalism cannot explain symbol grounding. If the mind is a digital computer, as computationalism claims, then it can be computing either over meaningful symbols or over meaningless symbols. If it is computing over meaningful symbols its functioning presupposes the existence of meaningful symbols in the system, i.e. it implies semantic nativism. If the mind is computing over meaningless symbols, no intentional cognitive processes are available prior to symbol grounding. In this case, no symbol grounding could take place since any grounding presupposes intentional cognitive processes. So, whether computing in the mind is over meaningless or over meaningful symbols, computationalism implies semantic nativism.

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Vincent C. Müller
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Citations of this work

Which symbol grounding problem should we try to solve?Vincent C. Müller - 2015 - Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 27 (1):73-78.

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References found in this work

Minds, brains, and programs.John Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Reason, truth, and history.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong.Jerry A. Fodor - 1998 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Reason, Truth and History.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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