Computation, implementation, cognition

Oron Shagrir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Putnam (Representations and reality. MIT Press, Cambridge, 1988) and Searle (The rediscovery of the mind. MIT Press, Cambridge, 1992) famously argue that almost every physical system implements every finite computation. This universal implementation claim, if correct, puts at the risk of triviality certain functional and computational views of the mind. Several authors have offered theories of implementation that allegedly avoid the pitfalls of universal implementation.Myaim in this paper is to suggest that these theories are still consistent with a weaker result, which is the nomological possibility of systems that simultaneously implement different complex automata. Elsewhere I (Shagrir in J Cogn Sci, 2012) argue that this simultaneous implementation result challenges a computational sufficiency thesis (articulated by Chalmers in J Cogn Sci, 2012). My focus here is on theories of implementation. After presenting the basic simultaneous implementation construction, I argue that these theories do not avoid the simultaneous implementation result. The conclusion is that the idea that the implementation of the right kind of automaton suffices for a possession of a mind is dubious.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalMinds and Machines
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Computational structure
  • Grouping
  • Inputs and outputs
  • Mind
  • Simultaneous implementation
  • Universal implementation


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