The question of which physical systems compute is of pressing foundational import for the cognitive sciences in light of repeated claims that intelligence, cognition, or even consciousness reduce to, or supervene on, computational properties. Traditional philosophical approaches to this question have begun from the mathematical theory of computation, seeking a formal relationship between its abstract models, such as Turing machines, and physical systems. In contrast, Gualtiero Piccinini's Physical Computation develops a sustained answer grounded in the practices of computer science, in particular the details of computer hardware and architecture. The thoroughness with which Piccinini presents his view and the insight it brings to longstanding debates establish it as a gold standard against which future theories of concrete computation will be assayed.

Physical Computation comprises sixteen chapters, which divide thematically into three main topics: Chapters 1 through 4 establish the success conditions for an adequate...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.