, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 391–419 | Cite as

Searle's abstract argument against strong AI

  • Andrew Melnyk


Discussion of Searle's case against strong AI has usually focused upon his Chinese Room thought-experiment. In this paper, however, I expound and then try to refute what I call his abstract argument against strong AI, an argument which turns upon quite general considerations concerning programs, syntax, and semantics, and which seems not to depend on intuitions about the Chinese Room. I claim that this argument fails, since it assumes one particular account of what a program is. I suggest an alternative account which, however, cannot play a role in a Searle-type argument, and argue that Searle gives no good reason for favoring his account, which allows the abstract argument to work, over the alternative, which doesn't. This response to Searle's abstract argument also, incidentally, enables the Robot Reply to the Chinese Room to defend itself against objections Searle makes to it.


Good Reason General Consideration Alternative Account Abstract Argument Chinese Room 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Melnyk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy 438 General Classroom BuildingUniversity of Missouri — ColumbiaColumbiaUSA

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