creators_name: MacLennan, Bruce J.
type: journalp
datestamp: 1999-06-14
lastmod: 2011-03-11 08:53:52
metadata_visibility: show
title: Words Lie in our Way
ispublished: pub
subjects: comp-sci-neural-nets
subjects: phil-mind
full_text_status: public
keywords: computationalism, computation, analogue computation, analog computation, continuous computation, formality, digital computation, calculus, interpretation, Searle, Chinese room, symbol grounding, analogy, discrete versus continuous, formal system, dynamical system, continuous process, realization, implementation, program, universal computation, universal Turing machine, syntax, semantics, representation, systematicity, intentionality, synthetic ethology, Harnad, total Turing test
abstract: The central claim of computationalism is generally taken to be that the brain is a computer, and that any computer implementing the appropriate program would ipso facto have a mind. In this paper I argue for the following propositions: (1) The central claim of computationalism is not about computers, a concept too imprecise for a scientific claim of this sort, but is about physical calculi (instantiated discrete formal systems). (2) In matters of formality, interpretability, and so forth, analog computation and digital computation are not essentially different, and so arguments such as Searle's hold or not as well for one as for the other. (3) Whether or not a biological system (such as the brain) is computational is a scientific matter of fact. (4) A substantive scientific question for cognitive science is whether cognition is better modeled by discrete representations or by continuous representations. (5) Cognitive science and AI need a theoretical construct that is the continuous analog of a calculus. The discussion of these propositions will illuminate several terminology traps, in which it's all too easy to become ensnared.
date: 1994-11
date_type: published
publication: Minds and Machines
volume: 4
number: 4
pagerange: 421-437
refereed: TRUE
citation: MacLennan, Bruce J. (1994) Words Lie in our Way. [Journal (Paginated)]
document_url: http://cogprints.org/383/1/WLIOW.ps
document_url: http://cogprints.org/383/4/WLIOW.ps