Synthese 191 (6):1277-1307 (2014)

Michael Rescorla
University of California, Los Angeles
I articulate and defend a new theory of what it is for a physical system to implement an abstract computational model. According to my descriptivist theory, a physical system implements a computational model just in case the model accurately describes the system. Specifically, the system must reliably transit between computational states in accord with mechanical instructions encoded by the model. I contrast my theory with an influential approach to computational implementation espoused by Chalmers, Putnam, and others. I deploy my theory to illuminate the relation between computation and representation. I also rebut arguments, propounded by Putnam and Searle, that computational implementation is trivial
Keywords Physical computation  Physical realization  Computational implementation  Representation  Triviality arguments
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0324-y
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Journal of Cognitive Science 12 (4):323-357.
Explanation and Invariance in the Special Sciences.James Woodward - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2):197-254.

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Citations of this work BETA

Computation in Physical Systems.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Language of Thought Hypothesis.Murat Aydede - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Swapping Constraint.Henry Schiller - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (3):605-622.

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