How to Pass a Turing Test

Syntactic Semantics, Natural-Language Understanding, and First-Person Cognition
  • William J. Rapaport
Part of the Studies in Cognitive Systems book series (COGS, volume 30)


I advocate a theory of “syntactic semantics” as a way of understanding how computers can think (and how the Chinese-Room-Argument objection to the Turing Test can be overcome): (1) Semantics, considered as the study of relationsbetweensymbols and meanings, can be turned into syntax — a study of relationsamongsymbols (including meanings) — and hence syntax (i.e., symbol manipulation) can suffice for the semantical enterprise (contra Searle). (2) Semantics, considered as the process of understanding one domain (by modeling it) in terms of another, can be viewed recursively: The base case of semantic understanding — understanding a domain in terms of itself — is “syntactic understanding.” (3) An internal (or “narrow”), first-person point of view makes an external (or “wide”), third-person point of view otiose for purposes of understanding cognition.

Key words

Chinese-Room Argument first-person point of view internalism methodological solipsism problem of other minds representative realism rules and representations semantic network semantics SNePS syntax Turing Test 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Rapaport
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Philosophy, and Center for Cognitive ScienceState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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