, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 309–333 | Cite as

Does a rock implement every finite-state automaton?

  • David J. Chalmers


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.


Physical System Strong Constraint Computational Functionalism Open Physical System 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Chalmers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyWashington UniversitySt Louis

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