Minds and Machines

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 191–212

The Externalist Foundations of a Truly Total Turing Test



The paper begins by examining the original Turing Test (2T) and Searle’s antithetical Chinese Room Argument, which is intended to refute the 2T in particular, as well as any formal or abstract procedural theory of the mind in general. In the ensuing dispute between Searle and his own critics, I argue that Searle’s ‘internalist’ strategy is unable to deflect Dennett’s combined robotic-systems reply and the allied Total Turing Test (3T). Many would hold that the 3T marks the culmination of the dialectic and, in principle, constitutes a fully adequate empirical standard for judging that an artifact is intelligent on a par with human beings. However, the paper carries the debate forward by arguing that the sociolinguistic factors highlighted in externalist views in the philosophy of language indicate the need for a fundamental shift in perspective in a Truly Total Turing Test (4T). It’s not enough to focus on Dennett’s individual robot viewed as a system; instead, we need to focus on an ongoing systemof such artifacts. Hence a 4T should evaluate the general category of cognitive organization under investigation, rather than the performance of single specimens. From this comprehensive standpoint, the question is not whether an individual instance could simulate intelligent behavior within the context of a pre-existing sociolinguistic culture developed by the human cognitive type. Instead the key issue is whether the artificial cognitive type itself is capable of producing a comparable sociolinguistic medium.


Artificial intelligence Chinese room argument Computational theory of mind Mental content Semantic externalism Turing tests 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation, School of InformaticsUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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