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Chapter 06 - answers


Further questions for chapter 06 - suggested answers

Q. Explain what Fodor sees as the basic problem brains face in representing semantic properties of the world.

A.  According to Fodor, brains, as physical systems, are only sensitive to the formal or structural properties of mental representations. They also process the semantic properties of mental representations, but it’s not entirely clear how this can be picked up from their structural properties. This is why cognitive science has looked to computers. Computers too are faced with the challenge of representing semantic properties from only structural properties.

Q. Explain why Searle's Chinese room presents a challenge to the Turing test for intelligence?

A.  Searle aims to show how something can pass the Turing test without actually possessing intelligence. The Chinese room appears to do precisely this.

Q. Explain why Searle would reject the idea that cognition is a form of information processing.

A.  Searle presents the Chinese room as a criticism of the physical symbol systems hypothesis, which is central to many information-processing models. Searle thinks these models can only mimic human cognition. Many information-processing models have indeed been able to simulate complex activities, Searle thinks, but they have not been able to replicate the type of understanding human beings possess. Like the Chinese room, Searle thinks information processing models can possess the right inputs and the right outputs but still lack understanding.

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