Robert Stufflebeam
University of New Orleans
Turing's analysis of the concept of computation is indisputably the foundation of computationalism, which is, in turn, the foundation of cognitive science. What is disputed is whether computationalism is explanatorily bankrupt. For Turing, all computers are digital computers and something becomes a computer just in case its 'behavior' is interpreted as implementing, executing, or satisfying some function 'f'. As 'computer' names a nonnatural kind, almost everyone agrees that a computational interpretation of this sort is necessary for something to be a computer. But because everything in the universe satisfies at least one function, it is the sufficiency of such interpretations that is the problem. If, as anticomputationalists are fond of pointing out, computationalists are wedded to the view that a computational interpretation is sufficient for something to be a computer, then everything becomes a digital computer. This not only renders computer-talk vacuous, it strips computationalism of any empirical or explanatory import. My aim is to defend computationalism against charges that it is explanatorily bankrupt. I reexamine several fundamental questions about computers. One effect of this computation-related soul-searching will be a framework within which 'Is the brain a computer?' will be meaningful. Another effect will be a fracture in the supposed link between computationalism and symbolic-digital processing.
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Contemporary Philosophy
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 9781634350518
DOI 10.5840/wcp20-paideia199819357
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