Skip to main content

Other bodies, other minds: A machine incarnation of an old philosophical problem

Abstract

Any attempt to explain the mind by building machines with minds must confront the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But what is “everything” a body with a mind can do? Turing's original “pen-pal” version of the Turing Test (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls instead for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • AlockJ. E. (1987), ‘Parapsychology: Science of the Anomalous or Search for the Soul?’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10, pp. 553–643.

    Google Scholar 

  • ArmstrongD. M. (1981), The Nature of Mind, NY: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ChurchlandP. A. (1988), Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ChurchlandP. A. (1990), ‘Could a Machine Think?’, Scientific American 262, pp. 32–37.

    Google Scholar 

  • CarletonL. (1984), ‘Programs, Language Understanding and Searle’, Synthese 59, pp. 219–230.

    Google Scholar 

  • DavisM. (1958), Computability and Unsolvability, Manchester: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • DavisM. (1965), The Undecidable, New York, NY: Raven.

    Google Scholar 

  • DennettD. C. (1988), ‘Precis of: The Intentional Stance’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11, pp. 495–546.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dennett, D. C. (1982), ‘The Myth of the Computer: An Exchange’, New York Review of Books XXIX (11), p. 56.

    Google Scholar 

  • DietrichE. (1990), ‘Computationalism’, Social Epistemology 4, pp. 135–154.

    Google Scholar 

  • DyerM. (1990), ‘Intentionality and Computationalism: Minds Machines, Searle, and Harnad’, Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 2(4), pp. 303–319.

    Google Scholar 

  • FodorJ. A. (1980), ‘Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy in Cognitive Psychology’, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 3, pp. 63–109.

    Google Scholar 

  • FodorJ. A. (1985), ‘Précis of “The Modularity of Mind”’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, pp. 1–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1982), ‘Consciousness: An afterthought’, Cognition and Brain Theory 5, pp. 29–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1984), ‘Verifying Machines' Minds’, Contemporary Psychology 29, pp. 389–391.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1987) ‘Category Induction and Representation’, in S.Harnad, ed., Categorical Perception: The Groundwork of Cognition, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1989a), ‘Minds, Machines and Searle’, Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artifical Intelligence 1, pp. 5–25.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harnad, S. (1989b), ‘Editorial Commentary on Libet (1985)’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12, p. 183.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1990a), ‘The Symbol Grounding Problem’, Physica D 42, pp. 335–346.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1990b), ‘Commentary on Dietrich's (1990) “Computationalism”’, Social Epistemology 4, pp. 167–172.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarnadS. (1990c), ‘Lost in the Hermeneutic Hall of Mirrors’, Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 2(4), pp. 321–327.

    Google Scholar 

  • HarveyR. J. (1985), ‘On the Nature of Programs, Simulations and Organisms’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, pp. 741–2.

    Google Scholar 

  • HaugelandJ. (1985), Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea, Cambridge, MA: MIT/Bradford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • HumphreyN. (1984), Consciousness Regained: Chapters in the Development of Mind, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • KleeneS. C. (1969), Formalized Recursive Functionals and Formalized Realizability, Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • LibetB. (1985), ‘Unconscious Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious Will in Voluntary Action’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, pp. 529–566.

    Google Scholar 

  • LucasJ. (1961), ‘Minds, Machines and Gödel’, Philosophy 36, pp. 112–117.

    Google Scholar 

  • MacQueenN. D. (1989), ‘Not a Trivial Consequence’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13, pp. 163–4.

    Google Scholar 

  • McDermottD. (1982), ‘Minds, Brains, Programs and Persons’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5, pp. 339–341.

    Google Scholar 

  • MinskyM. (1961), ‘Steps Towards Artificial Intelligence’, Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 49, pp. 8–30.

    Google Scholar 

  • NagelT. (1974), ‘What Is It Like to Be a Bat?’, Philosophical Review 83, pp. 435–451.

    Google Scholar 

  • NagelT. (1986), The View from Nowhere, New York NY: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • NewellA. (1980), ‘Physical Symbol Systems’, Cognitive Science 4, pp. 135–83.

    Google Scholar 

  • PenroseR. (1990), ‘Precis of: The Emperor's New Mind’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13, pp. 643–706.

    Google Scholar 

  • PopperK. R. and EcclesJ. C. (1977), The Self and Its Brain, Heidelberg, FRG: Springer, 1977.

    Google Scholar 

  • PylyshynZ. W. (1984), Computation and Cognition, Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • ReyG. (1986), ‘What's Really Going on in Searle's “Chinese Room”?’, Philosophical Studies 50, pp. 169–185.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1980a), ‘Minds, Brains and Programs’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, pp. 417–424.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1980b), ‘Intrinsic Intentionality’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, pp. 450–457.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1982a), ‘The Chinese Room Revisited’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5, pp. 345–348.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1982b), ‘The Myth of the Computer: An Exchange’, New York Review of Books XXIX(11), pp. 56–57.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1985a), ‘Pattern, Symbols and Understanding’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8, pp. 742–743.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1985b), Minds, Brains and Science, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Searle, J. R. (1989), ‘The Causal Powers of the Brain’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13, p. 164.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1990a), ‘Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program?’, Scientific American 262, pp. 26–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • SearleJ. R. (1990b), ‘Consciousness, Explanatory Inversion and Cognitive Science’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13, pp. 585–642.

    Google Scholar 

  • SlezakP. (1982), ‘Gödel's Theorem and the Mind’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33, pp. 41–52.

    Google Scholar 

  • TerraceH. (1979), Nim. New York, NY: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • TuringA. M. (1964), ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’, in A.Anderson, ed., Minds and Machines, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • WilenskyR. (1980), ‘Computers, Cognition and Philosophy’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, pp. 449–450.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Harnad, S. Other bodies, other minds: A machine incarnation of an old philosophical problem. Minds and Machines 1, 43–54 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00360578

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00360578

Keywords

  • Artificial intelligence
  • causality
  • cognition
  • computation
  • explanation
  • mind/body problem
  • other-minds problem
  • robotics
  • Searle
  • symbol grounding
  • Turing Test