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2.2f. Externalism and Computation (Externalism and Computation on PhilPapers)

See also:
Andler, Daniel (1995). Can we knock off the shackles of syntax? Philosophical Issues 6:265-270.   (Google | More links)
Aydede, Murat (2000). Computation and intentional psychology. Dialogue 39 (2):365-379.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: The relation between computational and intentional psychology has always been a vexing issue. The worry is that if mental processes are computational, then these processes, which are defined over symbols, are sensitive solely to the non-semantic properties of symbols. If so, perhaps psychology could dispense with adverting in its laws to intentional/semantic properties of symbols. Stich, as is well-known, has made a great deal out of this tension and argued for a purely "syntactic" psychology by driving a wedge between a semantic individuation of symbol tokens and their narrow functional individuation. If the latter can be carried out, he claimed, we do not need semantic typing. I argue that since a narrow functional individuation cannot type-identify symbol tokens across organisms, a semantic account of typing must be the only option given that interpersonal physical individuation of tokens is not to be taken seriously
Bontly, Thomas D. (1998). Individualism and the nature of syntactic states. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (4):557-574.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: It is widely assumed that the explanatory states of scientific psychology are type-individuated by their semantic or intentional properties. First, I argue that this assumption is implausible for theories like David Marr's [1982] that seek to provide computational or syntactic explanations of psychological processes. Second, I examine the implications of this conclusion for the debate over psychological individualism. While most philosophers suppose that syntactic states supervene on the intrinsic physical states of information-processing systems, I contend they may not. Syntatic descriptions must be adequately constrained, and the most plausible such constraints appeal to a system's teleological function or design and hence to its history. As a result, physical twins may not realize the same syntactic states
Butler, Keith (1998). Content, computation, and individuation. Synthese 114 (2):277-92.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The role of content in computational accounts of cognition is a matter of some controversy. An early prominent view held that the explanatory relevance of content consists in its supervenience on the the formal properties of computational states (see, e.g., Fodor 1980). For reasons that derive from the familiar Twin Earth thought experiments, it is usually thought that if content is to supervene on formal properties, it must be narrow; that is, it must not be the sort of content that determines reference and truth-conditions. An interesting alternative to this view has recently been proposed by Egan (1995). According to Egan, the explanatory role of content is such that contents must in general be broad to be explanatorily relevant. But Egan’s view involves a non-realist interpretation of content assignments. I will argue here that this non-realism about contents is undermotivated. A realist variation on her view of the explanatory role of content, however, would survive this criticism. This realist variation, I suggest, shares with the views of other commentators on Marr’s theory (e.g., Burge 1986; Shapiro 1993; forthcoming) certain commitments concerning the supervenience base of visual contents and processes. I will argue, however, that these commitments beg important questions regarding the individuation of cognitive states and processes. I conclude, contrary to Burge and Shapiro, that Marr’s theory does not favor anti-individualism.
Egan, Frances (1995). Computation and content. Philosophical Review 104 (2):181-203.   (Cited by 20 | Google | More links)
Egan, Frances (1999). In defence of narrow mindedness. Mind and Language 14 (2):177-94.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Horowitz, Amir (2007). Computation, external factors, and cognitive explanations. Philosophical Psychology 20 (1):65-80.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Computational properties, it is standardly assumed, are to be sharply distinguished from semantic properties. Specifically, while it is standardly assumed that the semantic properties of a cognitive system are externally or non-individualistically individuated, computational properties are supposed to be individualistic and internal. Yet some philosophers (e.g., Tyler Burge) argue that content impacts computation, and further, that environmental factors impact computation. Oron Shagrir has recently argued for these theses in a novel way, and gave them novel interpretations. In this paper I present a conception of computation in cognitive science that takes Shagrir's conception as its starting point, but further develops it in various directions and strengthens it. I argue that the explanatory role of computational properties emerges from the idea that syntactical properties and the relevant external factors presented by cognitive systems compose wide computational properties. I also elaborate upon the notion of content that is in play, and argue that it is contents of the kind that are ascribed by transparent interpretations of content ascriptions that impact computation. This fact enables the thesis that external factors impact computation to rebuff the challenge which concerns the claim that psychology must be individualistic
Jacobson-Horowitz, Hilla (2004). Syntax, semantics, and intentional aspects. Philosophical Papers 33 (1):67-95.   (Google | More links)
Kazez, J. R. (1994). Computationalism and the causal role of content. Philosophical Studies 75 (3):231-60.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Kobes, Bernard W. (1990). Individualism and artificial intelligence. Philosophical Perspectives 4:429-56.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Miscevic, Nenad (1996). Computation, content, and cause. Philosophical Studies 82 (2):241-63.   (Google)
Miščević, Nenad (1996). Computation, content and cause. Philosophical Studies 82 (2):241-263.   (Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1999). Computation as involving content: A response to Egan. Mind and Language 14 (2):195-202.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Peacocke, Christopher (1995). Content, computation, and externalism. Philosophical Issues 6:227-264.   (Cited by 24 | Google | More links)
Schneider, Susan (2005). Direct reference, psychological explanation, and Frege cases. Mind and Language 20 (4):423-447.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this essay I defend a theory of psychological explanation that is based on the joint commitment to direct reference and computationalism. I offer a new solution to the problem of Frege Cases. Frege Cases involve agents who are unaware that certain expressions corefer (e.g. that 'Cicero' and 'Tully' corefer), where such knowledge is relevant to the success of their behavior, leading to cases in which the agents fail to behave as the intentional laws predict. It is generally agreed that Frege Cases are a major problem, if not the major problem, that this sort of theory faces. In this essay, I hope to show that the theory can surmount the Frege Cases
Seager, William E. (1992). Thought and syntax. Philosophy of Science Association 1992:481-491.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Shagrir, Oron (2001). Content, computation and externalism. Mind 110 (438):369-400.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The paper presents an extended argument for the claim that mental content impacts the computational individuation of a cognitive system (section 2). The argument starts with the observation that a cognitive system may simultaneously implement a variety of different syntactic structures, but that the computational identity of a cognitive system is given by only one of these implemented syntactic structures. It is then asked what are the features that determine which of implemented syntactic structures is the computational structure of the system, and it is contended that these features are certain aspects of mental content. The argument helps (section 3) to reassess the thesis known as computational externalism, namely, the thesis that computational theories of cognition make essential reference to features in the individual's environment. It is suggested that the familiar arguments for computational externalism?which rest on thought experiments and on exegesis of Marr's theories of vision?are unconvincing, but that they can be improved. A reconstruction of the visex/audex thought experiment is offered in section 3.1. An outline of a novel interpretation of Marr's theories of vision is presented in section 3.2. The corrected arguments support the claim that computational theories of cognition are intentional. Computational externalism is still pending, however, upon the thesis that psychological content is extrinsic