Why Isn't My Pocket Calculator a Thinking Thing

Hauser, L. (1993) Why Isn't My Pocket Calculator a Thinking Thing. [Journal (Paginated)]

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My pocket calculator (Cal) has certain arithmetical abilities: it seems Cal calculates. That calculating is thinking seems equally untendentious. Yet these two claims together provide premises for a seemingly valid syllogism whose conclusion -- Cal thinks -- most would deny. I consider several ways to avoid this conclusion, and find them mostly wanting. Either we ourselves can't be said to think or calculate if our calculation-like performances are judged by the standards proposed to rule out Cal; or the standards -- e.g., autonomy and self-consciousness -- make it impossible to verify whether anything or anyone (save myself) meets them. While appeals to the intentionality of thought or the unity of minds provide more credible lines of resistance, available accounts of intentionality and mental unity are insufficiently clear and warranted to provide very substantial arguments against Cal's title to be called a thinking thing. Indeed, considerations favoring granting that title are more formidable than generally appreciated.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:242
Deposited By: Hauser, Larry
Deposited On:24 Feb 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:53


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