Anthony Beavers, University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana


Anthony Beavers, University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana

Sage 4101

April 4, 2012 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Abstract: The term "semantics" is generally used in different senses by philosophers and computer scientists. When used by the latter, it appears (to philosophers, at least) that often what is meant is "syntax" under the assumption of what Haugeland called the Formalist Motto: "If you take care of the syntax, the semantics will take care of itself." Philosophers have responded that this usage doesn't really get to what semantics genuinely entails, namely, meaning. In this presentation, I wish to challenge the philosophers by discussing some proto-models in which dynamic associative networks play the role that Haugeland ascribed to strong AI when framing his Formalist Motto above. In this context, I will provide an example of elementary language processing to suggest that it is possible to reduce semantic content to activation patterns in a network that trades, not in representations, but in quantities of information flow across the right kinds of circuits. If I am correct, then it would appear possible that a thermodynamic engine, such as a human brain, may well be able to arrive at what the philosophers mean by "semantics" on the basis of circuitry. To fill out an information-theoretic philosophy of mind, I will then go on to enumerate two main problems standing in the way of such a reduction, the Chinese Room Argument and the Symbol Grounding Problem, to argue that they are not genuine problems at all.


About the Attached Paper: The attached paper is one part of an extended project of which my talk will form another part. It is thus not the paper I will present but background for my presentation and should be read as such.

Information-Theoretic Teleodynamics in Natural and Artificial Systems

Add to calendar