Philosophy of Science 74 (4):501-526 (2007)

Authors
Gualtiero Piccinini
University of Missouri, St. Louis
Abstract
This paper offers an account of what it is for a physical system to be a computing mechanism—a system that performs computations. A computing mechanism is a mechanism whose function is to generate output strings from input strings and (possibly) internal states, in accordance with a general rule that applies to all relevant strings and depends on the input strings and (possibly) internal states for its application. This account is motivated by reasons endogenous to the philosophy of computing, namely, doing justice to the practices of computer scientists and computability theorists. It is also an application of recent literature on mechanisms, because it assimilates computational explanation to mechanistic explanation. The account can be used to individuate computing mechanisms and the functions they compute and to taxonomize computing mechanisms based on their computing power.
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DOI 10.1086/522851
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References found in this work BETA

The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
Minds, Brains, and Programs.John R. Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.

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Citations of this work BETA

Individuation Without Representation.Joe Dewhurst - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):103-116.

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