Computation in Cognitive Science Conference

Tomorrow I’m leaving for two weeks in the UK.  Among other things, I’ll be at a conference on Computation in Cognitive Science at King’s College, Cambridge. 

My paper for the conference (co-authored with Andrea Scarantino) is entitled “Computation vs. Information Processing: How They Are Different and Why It Matters.”  It has just been posted on the conference program webpage, together with the other interesting-looking papers to be discussed there (including one by Ken Aizawa and one by Dan Weiskopf, who are Brains contributors).  Needless to say, any comments would be appreciated.


  1. Gualtiero, I see our views converged a little – I mean mostly the notion of generic computation in your paper. Anyway, it’s a pity I won’t have time for visiting Cambridge but all the papers look very interesting. I’m planning a book on a similar subject so I will enjoy reading them 🙂

  2. I’m actually in London but i have to regret that i email the conference organiser too late, and now this very, very interesting conference is completely full.

    Regarding Professor Piccinini and his typological definition of computation, becuase i’m not a philosopehr of computation, i can’t find any inquiry to make and for me it’s a sound characterization the six thesis presented.

    One question i have in mind for Professor Bechtel is, how we can chracterize with precision what is a mechanism depending on his four criteria (phenomenal aspect, componential aspect, causal aspect…) because given the exemplar case he put (e.g. circadyan rythms) there are two explanatary divergent positions:one that says that the endogenous pacemaker of mammals is due to oscillation in the sinchronous firing of populations of neurons, and the other view that there are clock genes, genes that express its products differently across time.
    My point is that the mechanistic level of explanation is subject to redefiniton according to new empirical discoveries, so the mechanistic explanation aided with computer simulations or whatever tool at hand can be seen as something like an abstraction or conceptual creation of the researcher, and not something “there” to be found given the phenomenon under study (the pattern of adaption to changing cycles). In line with Craver’s proposal in the philosophy of neuroscience (i bought yesterday his book in a famous bookstore at Oxford)perhaps is good for philosophers of science to be interested in neuroscience and extend the way neurosceintist do their work to other areas of inquiry, but they really use mechanisms or they try to find nomological deductive laws becasue science is generalization and universalization. The mechanistic view is too much pooperian: we will never find the truth but we can insted say what is false.

    To Profesor Aizawa just say that i like too much his computational pruralism position. One think to add to the history and use of the concept of computation is when in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s the neruoscientific community (Sejnowski, Hinton, Dayan, Poggio, Marr…)
    upgrade the concept of computation inherited from the mathematical theory (Turing and Von Neuman) to be use in biologically realistic models of neural networks.

    and finally to the rest of speakers say that they have very interesting papers.
    Dr. Sprevak (the organiser, I like very much his constructive critique of Searle’s chineese room argument and the idea that no all computations are effective procedures) and about Eliasmith i like his very fine look at the brain above all.

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