ComputersPacific Philosophical Quarterly (2008)
I offer an explication of the notion of computer, grounded in
the practices of computability theorists and computer scientists. I begin by
explaining what distinguishes computers from calculators. Then, I offer a
systematic taxonomy of kinds of computer, including hard-wired versus
programmable, general-purpose versus special-purpose, analog versus
digital, and serial versus parallel, giving explicit criteria for each kind.
My account is mechanistic: which class a system belongs in, and which
functions are computable by which system, depends on the system’s
mechanistic properties. Finally, I briefly illustrate how my account sheds
light on some issues in the history and philosophy of computing as well
as the philosophy of mind.
Publication DateWinter February 28, 2008
Citation InformationGualtiero Piccinini. "Computers" Pacific Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 89 Iss. 1 (2008) p. 32 - 73 ISSN: 1468-0114
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gualtiero-piccinini/1/