Minds and Machines

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 179-202

First online:

Descartes Among the Robots

Computer Science and the Inner/Outer Distinction
  • Graham WhiteAffiliated withSchool of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London Email author 

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We consider the symbol grounding problem, and apply to it philosophical arguments against Cartesianism developed by Sellars and McDowell: the problematic issue is the dichotomy between inside and outside which the definition of a physical symbol system presupposes. Surprisingly, one can question this dichotomy and still do symbolic computation: a detailed examination of the hardware and software of serial ports shows this.


Physical symbol system Grounding problem Inner/outer Cartesianism