tony asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 8 years ago

How can i counter argue this argument?

My subject is philosophy and we had a discussion class today which spoke about the mind. This argument was put forth by a philosopher named John Searle. The discussion is involving what qualifies one person to have a thought... here is the argument

1. Let S be any program whatsoever.

2. The program, S, can be specified as a set of purely formal rules, R, for

mapping inputs to outputs.

3. Someone could, in principle, perform the functions of the computer—

producing output by manually applying the rules R to inputs.

4. Such a person would not thereby understand Chinese.

5. But if the person applying R would not understand Chinese thereby, the

computer running S could not understand Chinese thereby either.

6. Thus, no computer understands Chinese in virtue of running program S.

7. But, S was any program whatsoever.

8. So, no computer can be made to understand Chinese by running any

program whatsoever.

9. As it goes for understanding Chinese, so it goes for any other sort of


10. In short, running the right software is not sufficient for thought.

So what are some idea's that i could attempt to go on to counter this argument? Any broad ideas or anything would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The whole thing is an overcomplicated statement of the obvious fact that a computer can neither think nor understand.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 8 years ago

    This is pretty mind-blowing lol, but I'll give it a shot:

    -no one's thought has the "right" software. Everything is relative, and nobody knows the answers, so all thought is corrupted?

    -we could learn the language? meaning even though we don't understand chinese at that moment, we could learn it

    -the human mind is more complex than any machine


    • Login to reply the answers
  • 8 years ago

    I cannot think of a counter-argument - the ones I`ve come up with basically further, or/ and prove your point.

    Source(s): Phil.
    • Login to reply the answers
  • 8 years ago
    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.