Skip to main content

Formal operations and simulated thought

Buy Article:

$47.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

For reasons internal to the concepts of thought and causality, a series of representations must be semantics-driven if that series is to add up to a single, unified thought. Where semantics is not operative, there is at most a series of disjoint representations that add up to nothing true or false, and therefore do not constitute a thought at all. There is necessarily a gulf between simulating thought, on the one hand, and actually thinking, on the other. It doesn't matter how perfect the simulation is; nor does it matter how reliable the causal mechanism involved is. Where semantics is inert, there is no thought. In connection with this, this paper also argues that a popular doctrine—the so-called ‘computational theory of mind' (CTM)—is based on a confusion. CTM is the view that thought-processes consist in ‘computations', where a computation is defined as a ‘form-driven' operation on symbols. The expression ‘form-driven operation' is ambiguous, and may refer either to syntax-driven operations or to morphology-driven operations. Syntax-driven operations presuppose the existence of operations that are driven by semantic and extra-semantic knowledge. So CTM is false if the terms ‘computation' and ‘form-driven operation' are taken to refer to syntax-driven operations. So if CTM is to work, those expressions must be taken to refer to morphology-driven operations. But, as previously stated, an operation must be semantics-driven if it is to qualify as a thought. Thus CTM fails on every disambiguation of the expressions ‘formal operation' and ‘computation'.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of California, 5631 South Hall, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-3090, USA

Publication date: 2006-06-01

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more