Because mere calculating isn't thinking: Comments on Hauser's Why Isn't My Pocket Calculator a Thinking Thing?

Minds and Machines 3 (1):11-20 (1993)
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This report consists of three papers: “Why Isn’t My Pocket Calculator a Thinking Thing?”, by Larry Hauser; “Because Mere Calculating Isn’t Thinking” (comments on Hauser’s paper), by William J. Rapaport; and “The Sense of ‘Thinking’,” Hauser’s reply. They were originally presented at the Colloquium on Philosophy of Mind at the American Philosophical Association Central Division meeting in Chicago, 27 April 1991. Hauser argues that his pocket calculator (Cal) has certain arithmetical abilities: it seems Cal calculates. That calculating is thinking seems equally untendentious. Yet these two claims together provide premises for a seemingly valid syllogism whose conclusion—Cal thinks—most would deny. He considers several ways to avoid this conclusion, and finds them mostly wanting. Either we ourselves can’t be said to think or calculate if our calculation-like performances are judged by the standards proposed to rule out Cal; or the standards—e.g., autonomy and self-consciousness—make it impossible to verify whether anything or anyone (save oneself) meets them. While appeals to the intentionality of thought or the unity of minds provide more credible lines of resistance, available accounts of intentionality and mental unity are insufficiently clear and warranted to provide very substantial arguments against Cal’s title to be called a thinking thing. Indeed, considerations favoring granting that title are more formidable than generally appreciated. Rapaport’s comments suggest that on a strong view of thinking, mere calculating is not thinking (and pocket calculators don’t think), but on a weak, but unexciting, sense of thinking, pocket calculators do think. He closes with some observations on the implications of this conclusion.
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