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Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2008)
  • Gualtiero Piccinini, University of Missouri-St. Louis
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.
  • computer,
  • calculator,
  • digital,
  • analog
Publication Date
Winter February 28, 2008
Citation Information
Gualtiero Piccinini. "Computers" Pacific Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 89 Iss. 1 (2008) p. 32 - 73 ISSN: 1468-0114
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