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Putnam's Diagonal Argument and the Impossibility of a Universal Learning Machine

Sterkenburg, Tom F. (2018) Putnam's Diagonal Argument and the Impossibility of a Universal Learning Machine. Erkenntnis.

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Abstract

Putnam construed the aim of Carnap's program of inductive logic as the specification of a "universal learning machine," and presented a diagonal proof against the very possibility of such a thing. Yet the ideas of Solomonoff and Levin lead to a mathematical foundation of precisely those aspects of Carnap’s program that Putnam took issue with, and in particular, resurrect the notion of a universal mechanical rule for induction.

In this paper, I take up the question whether the Solomonoff–Levin proposal is successful in this respect. I expose the general strategy to evade Putnam's argument, leading to a broader discussion of the outer limits of mechanized induction. I argue that this strategy ultimately still succumbs to diagonalization, reinforcing Putnam’s impossibility claim.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sterkenburg, Tom F.tom.sterkenburg@lmu.de0000-0002-4860-727X
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Computation/Information
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Depositing User: Mr Tom Sterkenburg
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 17:22
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2018 17:22
Item ID: 15137
Journal or Publication Title: Erkenntnis
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-018-9975-x
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Computation/Information
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Date: 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15137

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