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The Indeterminacy of Computation

Fresco, Nir and Copeland, B. Jack and Wolf, Marty J. (2021) The Indeterminacy of Computation. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Do the dynamics of a physical system determine what function the system computes? Except in special cases, the answer is no: it is often indeterminate what function a given physical system computes. Accordingly, care should be taken when the question ‘What does a particular neural system do?’ is answered by hypothesising that the system computes a particular function. The phenomenon of the indeterminacy of computation has important implications for the development of computational explanations of biological systems. Additionally, the phenomenon lends some support to the idea that a single neural structure may perform multiple cognitive functions, each subserved by a different computation. We provide an overarching conceptual framework in order to further the philosophical debate on the nature of computational indeterminacy and computational explanation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fresco, Nirnfresco@bgu.ac.i0000-0002-7182-9727
Copeland, B. Jackjack.copeland@canterbury.ac.nz
Wolf, Marty J.mwolf@bemidjistate.edu
Keywords: Computation; Indeterminacy; Underdetermination; Cognitive Science; Dual functions; Boolean gates; Computational explanation; Mathematical function
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Depositing User: Nir Fresco
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2021 22:47
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2021 22:47
Item ID: 19412
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Date: August 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19412

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