Minds and Machines

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 165–181

Explaining Computation Without Semantics: Keeping it Simple

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11023-010-9199-6

Cite this article as:
Fresco, N. Minds & Machines (2010) 20: 165. doi:10.1007/s11023-010-9199-6

Abstract

This paper deals with the question: how is computation best individuated?
  1. 1.

    The semantic view of computation: computation is best individuated by its semantic properties.

     
  2. 2.

    The causal view of computation: computation is best individuated by its causal properties.

     
  3. 3.

    The functional view of computation: computation is best individuated by its functional properties.

     
Some scientific theories explain the capacities of brains by appealing to computations that they supposedly perform. The reason for that is usually that computation is individuated semantically. I criticize the reasons in support of this view and its presupposition of representation and semantics. Furthermore, I argue that the only justified appeal to a representational individuation of computation might be that it is partly individuated by implicitintrinsic representations.

Keywords

Computation Semantics Representation Intrinsic Cognitive science Cognition Mental states Mechanistic explanation Causal properties 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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