Journal Article

Chinese Rooms and Program Portability

Mark D. Sprevak

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 58, issue 4, pages 755-776
Published in print December 2007 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online November 2007 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axm035
Chinese Rooms and Program Portability

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I argue in this article that there is a mistake in Searle's Chinese room argument that has not received sufficient attention. The mistake stems from Searle's use of the Church–Turing thesis. Searle assumes that the Church–Turing thesis licences the assumption that the Chinese room can run any program. I argue that it does not, and that this assumption is false. A number of possible objections are considered and rejected. My conclusion is that it is consistent with Searle's argument to hold onto the claim that understanding consists in the running of a program. 1

Searle's Argument

1.1

The Church–Turing thesis

2

Criticism of Searle's Argument

3

Objections and Replies

3.1

The virtual brain machine objection

3.2

The brain-based objection

3.3

The syntax/physics objection

3.4

The abstraction objection

3.5

The ‘same conclusion’ objection

3.6

The ‘unnecessary baggage’ objection

3.7

The Chinese gym objection

3.8

The syntax/semantics objection

3.9

Turing's definition of algorithm

3.9.1

Consequences

3.9.2

Criticism of the defence

4

Conclusion

Journal Article.  9036 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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