Turing machines and causal mechanisms in cognitive science
A body of recent literature has proposed that explanation in neurosciences, including cognitive neuroscience, is mechanistic. It has also been argued that the mechanistic model could be extended to cover explanations in computer sciences and cognitive sciences. Mechanistic explanation as standardly conceived is a form of causal explanation, and it requires that the explanatory mechanisms are concrete, implemented mechanisms. However, ‘computing mechanisms’ can mean two things. On the one hand, it can refer to concrete — causal — computing mechanisms, such as brains (ex hypothesi) or man‐made computers, etc. On the other hand, it can also refer to abstract computing mechanisms such as abstract Turing machines. Therefore, the notion of computation can be used in cognitive science in at least two ways. Since there are computational explanations, in which Turing machines are considered as abstract mechanisms, the current formulation of mechanistic explanation does not cover those explanations.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.