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Views on Computationalism: Clark vs. Searle

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Views on Computationalism: Clark vs. Searle

Computationalism: the view that computation, an abstract notion of materialism lacking semantics and real-world interaction, offers an explanatory basis for human comprehension. The main purpose of this paper is to discuss and compare different views regarding computationalism, and the arguments associated with these views. The two main arguments I feel are the strongest are proposed by Andy Clark, in “Mindware: Meat Machines”, and John Searle in “Minds, Brains, and Programs.”
Andy Clark strongly argues for the theory that computers have the potential for being intelligent beings in his work “Mindware: Meat Machines.” The support Clark uses to defend his claims states the similar comparison of humans and machines using an array of symbols to perform functions. The main argument of his work can be interpreted as follows: p1. The brain is constructed like a computer, since both contain parts which enable them to function. p2. The brain, like a computer, uses symbols to make calculations and perform functions. p3. The brain contains mindware similarly as a computer contains software.
c. Therefore, computers are capable of being intelligent beings.

I find, however, that Clark’s conclusion is false, and that the following considerations provide a convincing argument for the premises leading to this conclusion, starting with premise one: “the brain is constructed like a computer, since both contain parts which enable them to function.” This statement is plausible, yet questionable. Yes, the mind contains tissue, veins, and nerves etc. which enable it to function, the same way that a computer contains wires, chips, and gigabytes etc. which it needs to function. However, can it be possible to compare the two when humans devised these parts and the computer itself so that it can function? If both “machines”, as Clark believes, were constructed by the same being this comparison might be more credible. Clark might argue that humans were made just as computers were made so therefore it could be appropriate to categorize them together. I feel that this response would fail because it is uncertain where exactly humans were made and how, unless one relies on faith, whereas computers are constructed by humans in warehouses or factories.
My second argument against Clark’s claims applies to premise two: “the brain, like a computer, uses symbols to make calculations and perform functions.” Before I state what I find is wrong with this claim, I should explain the example Clark uses to support this premise, which is from the work of Jerry Fodor:
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