Date of Award

Spring 1979

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of this dissertation is to present to the reader both an explanation and an evaluation of the claims of some prominent figures working in the field of artificial intelligence who assert that a digital computer will soon completely simulate the activities of the human mind. This in effect is to claim that such a machine will be possessed of rationality. It will be able to solve problems in games and in the sciences, to recognize patterns in the surrounds, ,to effect language translation. In short it is claimed the machine will be able to do what man qua rational can do. But this claim fails to take into account an essential distinction between two different sorts of rationality. There is on the one hand instrumental rationality. This is the kind involved in the calculation of values of complex functions on the basis of the values which have been assigned to their simple constituents. On the other hand there is constitutive rationality. This is the sort of activity which grapples with a raw problem, finds suitable phrasing to express it in terms which the computer can manage, and thus makes it amenable to solution by the possessor of instrumental rationality. In other words a man with a talent for this sort of thing singles out the relevant variables, determines their relationships to one another, and assigns the appropriate values to the selected variables. This task is accomplished by .man so that the computer can be of use to him. program itself. The computer does not By examining the actual operations of the computer this I dissertation shows that if the computer exhibits any rationality or intelligence at all it is instrumental rationality, the ability to do exceedingly well what it is told to do. Thus, whatever successes have been achieved in the areas of game-playing, theorem-proving, pattern-recognition, and language translation by the men working in artificial intelligence are attributable not only to the computer's superior memory and calculative capabilities, but also to the programs devised by the programmers exercising constitutive rationality...



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