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The ~In~Determinacy of Computation

Curtis-Trudel, Andre E (2022) The ~In~Determinacy of Computation. [Preprint]

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A skeptical worry known as ‘the indeterminacy of computation’ animates much recent philosophical reflection on the computational identity of physical systems. On the one hand, computational explanation seems to require that physical computing systems fall under a single, unique computational description at a time. On the other, if a physical system falls under any computational description, it seems to fall under many simultaneously. Absent some principled reason to take just one of these descriptions in particular as relevant for computational explanation, widespread failure of computational explanation would appear to follow. This paper advances a new solution to the indeterminacy of computation. Very roughly, I argue that the computational identity of a physical system is determinate relative to a contextually specified way of regarding that system computationally --- known as a labelling scheme. When a system simultaneously implements multiple computations, it does so relative to different labelling schemes. But relative to a fixed labelling scheme, a physical system has a unique computational identity. I argue that this relativistic conception of computational identity vindicates computational explanation and comports well with computational practice.

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Item Type: Preprint
Curtis-Trudel, Andre Ecurtistrudel.1@osu.edu0000-0002-2008-6134
Keywords: Computation, computational individuation, implementation, explanation, indeterminacy
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Specific Sciences > Computer Science
Depositing User: Andre E Curtis-Trudel
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2022 04:35
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2022 04:35
Item ID: 20057
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Computation
Specific Sciences > Computer Science
Date: 2022

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