Reasoning About Deceit: 1. The Computational Perspective

[The following is Part I in a two-part guest post by Will Bridewell and Alistair M. C. Isaac. — JS] We live in an age of post-truth rhetoric, fake news, and misinformation; consequently, questions of how to accurately identify deceptive communication and to appropriately respond to it have become increasingly …

2. Psychological and Computational Models of Sentence Processing

Last time, I argued that there are substantive open questions about whether the theoretical constructs of formal linguistics play any role in the psychological processes underlying language use. Let’s now address those questions. When people talk about “the psychological reality of syntax”, there are (at least) two importantly different types …

CFP Special Issue of Minds and Machines on Computation and Representation in Cognitive Neuroscience

GUEST EDITOR Gualtiero Piccinini, University of Missouri – St. Louis INTRODUCTION Cognitive neuroscientists routinely explain cognition in terms of neural computations over neural representations. Yet some critics argue that cognitive neuroscience does not need the notions of neural computation and representations or, worse, that these notions are untenable. Whether or …

The Unexplained Intellect: The Importance of Computability

Theoretical Computer Science has a broader import than its name suggests.  To appreciate it, remember what Turing proved: that a certain hypothetical machine would be able to compute every recursively definable function in a finite amount of time.  If we supplement that theorem with a plausible assumption about physics then …

The Unexplained Intellect: Computation and The Explanation of Intelligence

A lot of philosophers think that consciousness is what makes the mind/body problem interesting, perhaps because they think that consciousness is the only part of that problem that remains wholly philosophical.  Other aspects of the mind are taken to be explicable by scientific means, even if explanatorily adequate theories of …

The Importance of Miscomputation

Anyone familiar with the philosophical literature on representation is familiar with the notion of misrepresentation. The standard view is that any robust notion of representation must make it possible to have misrepresentation. If something cannot misrepresent, it does not represent at all. At least not in the most interesting and …

There Are Many Kinds of Computing Systems

One of the ways that the philosophical literature on computation is traditionally impoverished is that it tends to focus on just one or two paradigmatic examples, such as Turing machines or traditional digital computers. Perhaps because of this, some philosophers have produced accounts of physical computation from which it follows …

Does Computation Require Representation?

Most of the philosophers who discuss computation are interested in computation because they are interested in the computational theory of cognition. Cognitive systems are typically assumed to represent things, and computation is supposed to help explain how they represent. So many philosophers conclude that computation is the manipulation of representations. …

Is Computation Abstract or Concrete?

John Schwenkler kindly asked me to blog about my new book, Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account. I am grateful for the invitation. The original motivation for the research that led to the book was to make progress on the vexed question of whether cognition involves computation. That seems to require …

SpaceTimeMind

You may (or may not) have noticed that Pete Mandik and Richard Brown (me) have started a podcast, called SpaceTimeMind, where we talk about tax law updates for 2014, uh, I mean, er, we talk about space and time and mind! The first episode is up now (and has been …

PhD position, ‘Computationally realistic architectures for a Bayesian brain’

PhD position ‘Computationally realistic architectures for a Bayesian brain’ Faculty of Social Sciences Vacancy number: 24.21.13 Closing date: 14 July 2013 This PhD project aims to advance our understanding of the computational foundations of probabilistic inference and learning in the brain. According to current theory, even only approximately computing probabilistic …

Frances Egan on Vimeo: "How to think about mental content"

Brains people interested in representational and computational theories of mind will be interested in this talk by Frances Egan, which is coming out soon in Philosophical Studies. If you post questions or comments in the next week or so, Frances will try to respond to them. 

Neural Computation and the Computational Theory of Cognition

This paper (co-authored with theoretical and experimental neuroscientist Sonya Bahar) is what I’ve been aiming at during all these years.  This is why I made this big fuss over developing an adequate non-semantic account of computation. I think the paper is finally ready to submit, but I’d love to get some …

Information Processing, Computation, and Medium Independence

In response to a previous thread, Jonathan Livengood asked some very good questions about, roughly, what should count as information processing and computation in physical systems.  Perhaps it will help to take a step back. In my early work on computation, I argued that, roughly, only physical processes that take strings of digits …

SEP Article on Computation in Physical Systems

My Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Computation in Physical Systems has just been published.  As some of you know, it discusses three main topics:  (i) what it takes for a physical system to implement a computation, (ii) whether every physical system implements computations, and (iii) which functions are physically computable. The …

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