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Philosophy and Computers - and Computers -

Jul 28, 2018




  • 2013 by The AmericAn PhilosoPhicAl AssociATion issn 2155-9708

    FROM THE EDITORPeter Boltuc

    FROM THE cHaIRDan Kolak

    FROM THE IncOMIng cHaIRThomas M. Powers

    aRTIcLEsJohn Barker

    Truth and Inconsistent ConceptsJaakko Hintikka

    Function Logic and the Theory of ComputabilityKeith W. Miller and David Larson

    Measuring a Distance: Humans, Cyborgs, RobotsJohn Basl

    The Ethics of Creating Artificial Consciousnesschristophe Menant

    Turing Test, Chinese Room Argument, Symbol Grounding Problem: Meanings in Artificial Agents

    Linda sebek

    Assistive Environment: The Why and WhatJuan M. Durn

    A Brief Overview of the Philosophical Study of Computer Simulations

    Philosophy and computers

    newsleTTer | The american Philosophical association

    Volume 13 | Number 1 Fall 2013

    Fall 2013 Volume 13 | Number 1

  • Philosophy and Computers

    Peter Boltuc, eDItor VoluMe 13 | NuMBer 1 | FAll 2013


    From the editorPeter Boltucuniversity of illinoisspringfield

    We are lucky, and for more than one reason. First, we were able to secure an important article, one of the most serious defenses of the inconsistency theory of truth. it is so far the main paper that came out of John Barkers Princeton dissertation that became pretty famous already in the late 1990s. Barkers conclusion (closely related to classic arguments by Chihara and based primarily on the liar paradox) is that the nature of language and the notion of truth, based on the logic of language, is inconsistent. Sounds like Platos later metaphysics in J. Findlays interpretation, doesnt it? then, at the last moment, dan Kolak brought an important article by Jaakko hintikka. While dan introduces hintikkas paper in his note from the chair, let me just add my impression that this is one of hintikkas most important works ever since it highlights the potential for function logic. hence, we have two featured articles in this issue. Just like John Pollocks posthumous article in theory of probability for Ai (artificial intelligence; this newsletter, spring 2010), those are works in which philosophy lays the groundwork for advanced computer science.

    Second, we have a brief but meaningful note from tom Powers, the incoming chair. When i joined this committee ten years ago, it was led by marvin Croy and a group of philosophers, mostly associated with the Computers and Philosophy (CAP) movement. members were very committed to advocating for various uses of computers in philosophy, from Ai to online education. All of us were be glad to meet in person at least twice a year. We had active programming, sometimes two sessions at the same APA convention. then we would meet in the evening and talk philosophy at some pub until wee hours. And yes, the chair would attend the meetings even if his travel fund had been depleted. i have a strong feeling that under toms leadership those times may be coming back, and soon.

    We are also lucky to have a number of great articles directly linked to philosophy and computers in this issue. Keith miller and dave Larson, in their paper that caused great discussion at several conferences, explore the gray area between humans and cyborgs. John Basl, in a paper written in the best tradition of analytical moral theory, explores various ethical aspects of creating machine consciousness.

    it is important to maintain a bridge between philosophers and practitioners. We are pleased to include a thought-provoking paper by Christophe menant, who discusses many

    philosophical issues in the context of Ai. We are also glad to have two outstanding papers created when the authors were still graduate students; both were written for a seminar by Gordana dodig-Crnkovic. Linda Sebek provides a hands-on evaluation of various features of assistive environments while Juan durn discusses philosophical studies of computer simulation. i would like to encourage other educators in the broad, and necessarily somewhat nebulous, area of philosophy and computers to also highlight the best work of their students and younger colleagues.

    From the ChAirdan KolakWilliam paterson university

    i am happy to report that we have, in this issue, a fantastic follow-up (of sortsa more apt phrase might be follow through) to Jaakko hintikkas previous contribution, Logic as a theory of computability (APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers, volume 11, number 1). Although Jaakko says of his latest piece, Function Logic and the theory of Computability, that it is a work in progress, i am more inclined to call it a progress in work.

    had my little book On Hintikka (2011) been written two decades earlier, it would have consisted mainly of accounts of his early work on logichintikkas invention of distributive normal forms for the entire first-order logic, his co-discovery of the tree method, his contributions to the semantics of modal logics, inductive logic, and the theory of semantic formation. instead, i had to devote most of the space to the then-recent past twenty years. to summarize his work in the dozen years since would take an entire new book. (that i am not alone in this assessment is evidenced by the Library of Living Philosophers bringing out a second hintikka volume.) indeed, when John Symons and i, in Questions, Quantifiers and Quantum Physics: Essays on the Philosophy of Jaakko Hintikka (2004), considered the importance of hintikkas work, we said, half tongue in cheek, that its philosophical consequence is not the additive property of the sum of its parts, and used an analogy: hintikkas philosophical legacy will be something like the philosophical powerset of his publications and lines of research.

    Being chair of the APA committee on philosophy and computers for the past three years has been a wonderful learning experience. Although it has become a truism that most interesting things happen at the borders, nowhere is this most clearly evident than at the intersection of philosophy and computers, where things that develop faster perhaps than at any other juncture tend to be consistently,


    page 2 FaLL 2013 | VOLUMe 13 | NUMBeR 1

    refreshingly, often surprisingly, and dangerously deep. Nowhere is this more evident than in this newsletter, which under the insightful and unflappable stewardship of Peter (Piotr) Boltuc has been functioning, often under duress, as a uniquely edifying supply ship of new insights and results. Peter deserves great credit and much thanks. By my lights he and this newsletter are a paradigm of the APA at its best. thank you, Peter, and happy sailing!

    From the iNComiNG ChAirthomas m. Powersuniversity of delaWare

    the official charge of the APA committee on philosophy and computers describes its role as collecting and disseminating information on the use of computers in the profession, including their use in instruction, research, writing, and publication. in practice, the committees activities are much broader than that, and reflect the evolution of philosophical interest in computation and computing machinery. While philosophys most direct connection to computation may have been through logic, equally if not more profound are the ways in which computation has illuminated the nature of mind, intelligence, language, and information. With the prominent and growing role of computers in areas such as domestic security, warfare, communication, scientific research, medicine, politics, and civic life, philosophical interest in computers should have a healthy future. much work remains to be done on computers and autonomy, responsibility, privacy, agency, community, and other topics.

    As the incoming chair of the committee on philosophy and computers, i want to encourage philosophers to make use of the committee to explore these traditional and new philosophical topics. i also invite APA members to suggest new ways in which we as a profession can deepen our understanding of computers and the information technology revolution we are experiencing. Please consider contributing to the newsletter, attending committee panels at the divisional meetings, suggesting panel topics, or nominating yourself or others to become members of this committee.

    ArtiCLeSTruth and Inconsistent ConceptsJohn Barkeruniversity of illinoisspringfield

    Are the semantic paradoxes best regarded as formal puzzles that can be safely delegated to mathematical logicians, or do they hold broader philosophical lessons? in this paper, i want to suggest a philosophical interpretation of the liar paradox which has, i believe, nontrivial philosophical consequences. Like most approaches to the liar, this one has deep roots, having been first suggested by tarski (1935) and later refined by Chihara (1979).1 i offered a further elaboration of the idea in The Inconsistency Theory of Truth (1999), and here i would like to develop these ideas a bit further.

    the term liar paradox refers to the fact that the ordinary disquotational properties of truththe properties that allow semantic ascent and descentare formally inconsistent, at least on the most straightforward way of formally expressing those properties and given standard assumptions about the background logic. the best-known formulation of those disquotational properties is tarskis convention (t):

    (t) A is true if and only if A

    We now consider a sentence such as

    (1) Sentence (1) is not true.

    As long as the schematic letter A in (t) has unlimited scope, we can derive the following instance:

    (2) Sentence (1) is not true is true if and only if sentence (1) is not true.

    then, noting that the sentence quoted in (2) is none other than sentence (1) itself, we derive the consequence

    (3) Sentence (1) is true if and only if sentence (1) is not tru