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A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition

Chalmers, David

Description

Computation is central to the foundations of modern cognitive science, but its role is controversial. Questions about computation abound: What is it for a physical system to implement a computation? Is computation sufficient for thought? What is the role of computation in a theory of cognition? What is the relation between different sorts of computational theory, such as connectionism and symbolic computation? In this paper I develop a systematic framework that addresses all of these questions....[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorChalmers, David
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-10T22:51:30Z
dc.identifier.issn2158-9216
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/59071
dc.description.abstractComputation is central to the foundations of modern cognitive science, but its role is controversial. Questions about computation abound: What is it for a physical system to implement a computation? Is computation sufficient for thought? What is the role of computation in a theory of cognition? What is the relation between different sorts of computational theory, such as connectionism and symbolic computation? In this paper I develop a systematic framework that addresses all of these questions. Justifying the role of computation requires analysis of implementation, the nexus between abstract computations and concrete physical systems. I give such an analysis, based on the idea that a system implements a computation if the causal structure of the system mirrors the formal structure of the computation. This account can be used to justify the central commitments of artificial intelligence and computational cognitive science: the thesis of computational sufficiency, which holds that the right kind of computational structure suffices for the possession of a mind, and the thesis of computational explanation, which holds that computation provides a general framework for the explanation of cognitive processes. The theses are consequences of the facts that (a) computation can specify general patterns of causal organization, and (b) mentality is an organizational invariant, rooted in such patterns. Along the way I answer various challenges to the computationalist position, such as those put forward by Searle. I close by advocating a kind of minimal computationalism, compatible with a very wide variety of empirical approaches to the mind. This allows computation to serve as a true foundation for cognitive science.
dc.publisherSeoul National University
dc.sourceJournal of Cognitive Science
dc.titleA Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume12
dc.date.issued2011
local.identifier.absfor220399 - Philosophy not elsewhere classified
local.identifier.ariespublicationu4326120xPUB472
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationChalmers, David, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.issue4
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage323
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage433
local.identifier.doi10.17791/jcs.2011.12.4.325
local.identifier.absseo970122 - Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
dc.date.updated2020-12-20T07:30:38Z
local.identifier.thomsonID000217935600001
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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