PH100 Lecture Notes

Haugeland says syntax → truth but will not get you

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Unformatted text preview: Haugeland says: syntax → truth, but will not get you everything that means “making sense” ex) What is the capital of Illinois? Chicago. (Meaningful, but false) September 13, 2012: Computers, minds, and the Chinese Room argument REVIEW OF SEPTEMBER 11 “Semantic Engines” J. Haugeland Important distinction! • The properties of the formal system vs. the way we interpret those properties • interpretation: a specification of what the tokens of a formal system mean • semantics: what tokens mean, stand for or represent • syntax: formal and structural properties of the system • the syntax is the study of the grammar of the tokens of a formal system (e.g., What are the tokens? What moves are legal?) • the semantics is the study of the meaning of the token How do those two lives come together? According to the computational approach, “if you take care of the syntax, the semantics will take care of itself ” (206) • Formal logic: truth preservation is guaranteed by simply attending to the formal properties symbols ◦ ex) algebra ▪ rules of algebra are truth-preserving ▪ if the theorems are assume to be true, and if the rules of algebra are truth-preserving, then any application of a rule on a theorem will give rise to another theorem which is also true • impressive result: what seemed to be a characteristic feature of human minds – can be assumed of computers as well ◦ revisiting the computational approach: minds are computer of a certain sort ◦ but minds are not only good at following rules or solving problems; they are also capable of acting in a way that consistently makes sense • So, if minds are computers, then it must be shown that there are some automatic formal systems that can be interpreted in a way that they consistently make sense In addition to being truth-preserving, the formal system must be: a. Rational: i.e., it must be capable of (i) easily generating obvious, logical, and commonsensical consequences, and (ii) eliminating inconsistencies b. capable of reliably interact with the world c. cooperative in communication d. “Knowledgeable” of certain assumptions of language and discourse Haugeland: “Interpreting an automatic formal system is finding a way of construing its outputs such that they consistently […] many other considerations are important as well” (209). Summary • The computations approach to the mind holds that intelligent beings are computers • That is, intelligent beings are automatic formal systems that can be interpreted in a way they consistently make sense; • If “making sense” was equivalent to “being truth-preserving” then the computational approach would have been vindicated; • But the two terms are not equivalent Two objections to the computational approach 1. Objection 1: Hollow Shell Strategy: Minds (or intelligent beings) are not semantic engines....
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Haugeland says syntax → truth but will not get you...

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