Turing-, human- and physical computability: An unasked question

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In recent years it has been convincingly argued that the Church-Turing thesis concerns the bounds of human computability: The thesis was presented and justified as formally delineating the class of functions that can be computed by a human carrying out an algorithm. Thus the Thesis needs to be distinguished from the so-called Physical Church-Turing thesis (or Thesis M), according to which all physically computable functions are Turing computable. The latter is often claimed to be false, or, if true, contingently so. On all accounts, though, thesis M is not easy to give counterexamples to, but it is never asked why-how come that a thesis that transfers a notion from the strictly human domain to the general physical domain just happens to be so difficult to falsify (or even to be true). In this paper I articulate this question and consider several tentative answers to it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-355
Number of pages7
JournalMinds and Machines
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Church-Turing thesis
  • Computability
  • Physical computability
  • Thesis M
  • Turing


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