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Does the Solar System Compute the Laws of Motion?

Cambbell, Douglas Ian and Yang, Yi (2019) Does the Solar System Compute the Laws of Motion? [Preprint]


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The counterfactual account of physical computation is simple and, for the most part, very attractive. However, it is usually thought to trivialize the notion of physical computation insofar as it implies ‘limited pancomputationalism’, this being the doctrine that every deterministic physical system computes some function. Should we bite the bullet and accept limited pancomputationalism, or reject the counterfactual account as untenable? Jack Copeland would have us do neither of the above. He attempts to thread a path between the two horns of the dilemma by buttressing the counterfactual account with extra conditions intended to block certain classes of deterministic physical systems from qualifying as physical computers. His theory is called the ‘algorithm execution account’. Here we show that the algorithm execution account entails limited pancomputationalism, despite Copeland’s argument to the contrary. We suggest, partly on this basis, that the counterfactual account should be accepted as it stands, pancomputationalist warts and all.

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Item Type: Preprint
Cambbell, Douglas Ianhuiamoa@gmail.com0000-0002-9202-1241
Keywords: Counterfactual Account, Algorithm Execution Account, Physical Computation, Pancomputationalism, Cellular Automata
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Depositing User: Dr Douglas Ian Campbell
Date Deposited: 31 May 2019 14:00
Last Modified: 31 May 2019 14:00
Item ID: 16069
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s11229-019-02275-w
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Date: 2019

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