TY - JOUR

T1 - Long-arm functional individuation of computation

AU - Fresco, Nir

N1 - Funding Information:
Several people contributed to this paper through useful discussions and/or helpful comments on earlier versions. They include Dimitri Coelho Mollo, Oron Shagrir, Marty J. Wolf, Peter Schulte, Marc Artiga, Philippos A. Papagiannopoulos, Marcin Miłkowski, Eva Jablonka, Jonathan Najenson, Gil Lipkin-Shahak, Adam Singer and Itay Navon. I thank them, several anonymous referees and anyone else whom I may have inadvertently omitted. This research was partly supported by the Israel Science Foundation Grant 386/20.
Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

PY - 2021/12/1

Y1 - 2021/12/1

N2 - A single physical process may often be described equally well as computing several different mathematical functions—none of which is explanatorily privileged. How, then, should the computational identity of a physical system be determined? Some computational mechanists hold that computation is individuated only by either narrow physical or functional properties. Even if some individuative role is attributed to environmental factors, it is rather limited. The computational semanticist holds that computation is individuated, at least in part, by semantic properties. She claims that the mechanistic account lacks the resources to individuate the computations performed by some systems, thereby leaving interesting cases of computational indeterminacy unaddressed. This article examines some of these views, and claims that more cases of computational indeterminacy can be addressed, if the system-environment interaction plays a greater role in individuating computations. A new, long-arm functional strategy for individuating computation is advanced.

AB - A single physical process may often be described equally well as computing several different mathematical functions—none of which is explanatorily privileged. How, then, should the computational identity of a physical system be determined? Some computational mechanists hold that computation is individuated only by either narrow physical or functional properties. Even if some individuative role is attributed to environmental factors, it is rather limited. The computational semanticist holds that computation is individuated, at least in part, by semantic properties. She claims that the mechanistic account lacks the resources to individuate the computations performed by some systems, thereby leaving interesting cases of computational indeterminacy unaddressed. This article examines some of these views, and claims that more cases of computational indeterminacy can be addressed, if the system-environment interaction plays a greater role in individuating computations. A new, long-arm functional strategy for individuating computation is advanced.

KW - Cognitive science

KW - Computation

KW - Computational explanation

KW - Indeterminacy

KW - Individuation

KW - Mathematical function

KW - Mechanism

KW - Semantics

KW - Teleological function

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85118377308&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11229-021-03407-x

DO - 10.1007/s11229-021-03407-x

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85118377308

SN - 0039-7857

VL - 199

SP - 13993

EP - 14016

JO - Synthese

JF - Synthese

IS - 5-6

ER -