Does a rock implement every finite-state automaton?
Hilary Putnam has argued that computational functionalism cannot serve as a foundation for the study of the mind, as every ordinary open physical system implements every finite-state automaton. I argue that Putnam's argument fails, but that it points out the need for a better understanding of the bridge between the theory of computation and the theory of physical systems: the relation of implementation. It also raises questions about the class of automata that can serve as a basis for understanding the mind. I develop an account of implementation, linked to an appropriate class of automata, such that the requirement that a system implement a given automaton places a very strong constraint on the system. This clears the way for computation to play a central role in the analysis of mind.
KeywordsPhysical System Strong Constraint Computational Functionalism Open Physical System
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Block, N.: 1981, ‘Psychologism and Behaviorism’, Philosophical Review 90, 5–43.Google Scholar
- Chalmers, D. J.: 1994a, ‘On Implementing a Computation’, Mind and Machines 4.Google Scholar
- Chalmers, D. J.: 1994b, ‘A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition’, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Technical Report 94-03, Washington University.Google Scholar
- Hopcroft, J. E., and Ullman, J. D.: 1979, Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D.: 1973, ‘Causation’, Journal of Philosophy 70, 556–67.Google Scholar
- Maudlin, T.: 1989, ‘Computation and Consciousness’, Journal of Philosophy 86, 407–32.Google Scholar
- Putnam, H.: 1988, Representation and Reality, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
- Searle, J. R.: 1980, ‘Minds, Brains and Programs’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 417–57.Google Scholar
- Searle, J. R.: 1990, ‘Is the Brain a Digital Computer?’, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 64, 21–37.Google Scholar