Trouble with computation: a refutation of digital ontology
Bishop, Mark (J. M.). 2015. Trouble with computation: a refutation of digital ontology. In: M. Soskova and B. Cooper, eds. The Incomputable. Springer. [Book Section] (Forthcoming)No full text available
Abstract or Description
One of the questions that have defined and simultaneously divided philosophy is the question of the absolute nature of reality. Whether we have the right to ask the very question; whether we can know reality or merely be content with the epistemic conditions that make its experience possible. One response to this question, currently enjoying something of a renaissance, can be found in so called ‘digital philosophy’ - the view that : nature is ultimately discrete, it can be modelled digitally, its evolution is the computable output of an elegant algorithmic process, and its laws are deterministic. However if digital philosophy presents an accurate description of the universe, then it follows that the ultimate nature of all phenomena exhibited in and by the universe must at their root both be digital and be explicable in digital terms; clearly, under this view the final explanation of consciousness must also be digital. Digital ontology so defined, thus has resonance with those versed in science and science fiction who periodically reignite the hope that a computer system will one day be conscious purely in virtue of its execution of an appropriate program. In this paper I highlight a contrasting argument which reveals a trouble with computation whereby computational explanations of mind, and digital ontology, lead inexorably to panpsychism.