Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Rescuing Computationalism with Platonism

In my last post I discussed some issues with identifying objectively which computations a physical system could legitimately be interpreted as instantiating. Computationalism is usually taken to be the view that all it takes to create a conscious mind is to implement the right computation, so the idea that we can't tell objectively when a computation is implemented implies either that there is no objective fact of the matter regarding when minds exist, that all minds exist (everywhere) or that no minds exist. None of these conclusions is particularly appealing!

I find the arguments discussed on the last post to be somewhat persuasive. Indeed, I had had similar concerns before becoming aware of these. What's more, I think the problem may be worse than even Putnam, Searle and Bishop have suggested.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Putnam, Searle and Bishop: The Failure of Physicalist Computationalism

I wanted to come out of blog dormancy to write up my thoughts on what I feel is a very important argument against computationalism. The argument advances the view that there is no objective fact of the matter about which computations a physical system is computing, and if this is the case it would certainly seem to problematise computationalism (the view that what it is to be a conscious mind is just to perform the right kind of computation).

In this post I will explain the argument and some of the common responses to it. I'll reserve my own response (which is quite different from that of most computationalists) for a future post.