Minds and Machines

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 203-220

First online:

The Scope of Turing's Analysis of Effective Procedures

  • Jeremy SeligmanAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, The University of Auckland, Private Bag

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Turing's (1936) analysis of effective symbolic procedures is a model of conceptual clarity that plays an essential role in the philosophy of mathematics. Yet appeal is often made to the effectiveness of human procedures in other areas of philosophy. This paper addresses the question of whether Turing's analysis can be applied to a broader class of effective human procedures. We use Sieg's (1994) presentation of Turing's Thesis to argue against Cleland's (1995) objections to Turing machines and we evaluate her proposal to understand the effectiveness of procedures in terms of their reliability and precision. A number of conditions for effectiveness are identified and these are used to provide a general argument against the possibility of a Leibnizian decision procedure.

decision problem effective procedure epistemic procedure philosophy of computation Turing machine