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Physical ComputationA Mechanistic Account$
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Gualtiero Piccinini

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658855.001.0001

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Semantic Accounts

Semantic Accounts

(p.26) 3 Semantic Accounts
Physical Computation

Gualtiero Piccinini

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces semantic accounts of computation, according to which computation requires representation. It argues that while computation is surely compatible with representation, computation does not require representation. Taxonomizing computational systems as a motivation for semantic accounts is discussed. Important questions raised by semantic accounts and how they affect computation individuation are set out. The view that computation is information processing is briefly disambiguated. It is argued that accounts of semantic content presuppose a non-semantic individuation of computations. Therefore, any semantic individuation of computations presupposes a non-semantic individuation of computations. The main arguments in support of semantic accounts are addressed. The syntactic account of computation and its limitations is discussed. In the final section semantic accounts are weighed against the desiderata for an account of computation listed in Chapter 1 of this work.

Keywords:   semantic account, computation, representation, information processing, syntactic account

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