Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Syntax: Syntax is a collective term for systems that regulate the composition of signs into linear combinations (strings), as opposed to the semantics interpreting these strings. Syntax questions concern the permissibility, in short, the existence of combinations, not the resulting being true or false of the interpreted formulas. See also proof theory, existence, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, linguistics.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
I 326
Syntax/Semantics/Chinese Room/Searle/Chalmers: (Searle 1984)(1): extended argument by Searle:
1. A computer program is syntactic
2. Syntax is not sufficient for semantics
3. Consciousnesses (mind) have semantics
4. Therefore, it is not sufficient to implement a program to maintain a consciousness (mind).
I 327
Chalmers: here it is again about intentionality (understanding), but the argument can be extended to consciousness, since Searle anyway is concerned with phenomenal intentionality.
Solution/Chalmers: it is not a question of isolated programs, but about their implementation, that is, about the program together with an environment, i.e. concrete systems with causal dynamics.
SearleVsVs: could argue that the implementations are again syntactic.
ChalmersVs: but in this sense "syntax" loses the meaning in which it is not sufficient for semantics. Then one could argue:
1. Recipes are syntactic
2. Syntax is not sufficient for crumbling
3. Cakes are crumbly
4. Therefore, following the steps in a recipe is not sufficient to bake a cake.
Solution: we need to distinguish between the recipe and its application as we differentiate between the program and its implementation.
Program/Chalmers: a program implicitly specifies a class of physical systems that can be used as implementations, and these systems are the systems that create such phenomena as consciousness.

1. J. R. Searle, Minds, Brains, and Science, Cambridge 1984

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Cha I
D. Chalmers
The Conscious Mind Oxford New York 1996

Cha II
D. Chalmers
Constructing the World Oxford 2014

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-06-02
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