Two Dogmas of Computationalism

Oron Shagrir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper challenges two orthodox theses: (a) that computational processes must be algorithmic; and (b) that all computed functions must be Turing-computable. Section 2 advances the claim that the works in computability theory, including Turing's analysis of the effective computable functions, do not substantiate the two theses. It is then shown (Section 3) that we can describe a system that computes a number-theoretic function which is not Turing-computable. The argument against the first thesis proceeds in two stages. It is first shown (Section 4) that whether a process is algorithmic depends on the way we describe the process. It is then argued (Section 5) that systems compute even if their processes are not described as algorithmic. The paper concludes with a suggestion for a semantic approach to computation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)321-344
Number of pages24
JournalMinds and Machines
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Algorithm
  • Analog and digital
  • Attractor neural nets
  • Computability
  • Recursive function
  • Step-satisfaction
  • Turing-machine


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