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Computational externalism: The semantic picture of implementation.

Boccardi, Emilano (2008) Computational externalism: The semantic picture of implementation. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The property of being the realization of a computational structure has been argued to be observer-relative. After contrasting the problematic individuation of states in computational systems with the unproblematic individuation of states in dynamical systems, a general diagnosis of the problem is put forward. It is argued that the unwanted proliferation of models for the relation of implementation cannot be blocked unless the labelling scheme is restricted to semantically evaluated items. The instantiation of mathematical dynamical systems, by contrast, is showed to be immune to analogous skeptical arguments due to the virtuous role of measurements in grounding the relevant abstractions. Naturalized semantic properties are proposed to serve as a surrogate for measurements in grounding the relevant abstractions from the physical to the computational level of description, thus making implementations objective. It is argued that a view of implementation that abandons the pervasive internalist view in favor of a view of implementation according to which inputs and outputs are individuated by their broad semantic properties allows us to accept the validity of observer-relativity arguments while preserving the satisfaction of the desiderata of a theory of implementation, as well as the explanatory power of computational- ism as a theory of the mind. The general idea is that of incorporating teleological theories of intentionality within the foundational heart of the notion of computation. An important corollary is that computational properties must be understood as broadly instantiated by relational properties of the implementing system and of its environment. The proposed understanding of implementation is then tested against a number of recalcitrant problems of computationalism. It is argued to be immune to standard objections.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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