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The Narrational Case Against Church's Thesis1

Selmer Bringsjord
Dept. of Philosophy, Psychology & Cognitive Science
Department of Computer Science
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy NY 12180 USA
selmer@rpi.edu $\bullet$ http://www.rpi.edu/$\sim$brings

In a recent and widely affirmed paper in this journal, Elliot Mendelson [27]2 challenges what he rightly calls the ``standard conception" (230) of Church's Thesis (CT) -- the conception being that CT is unprovable. Unfortunately, as I demonstrate herein, once Mendelson's target, and his attack upon it, are rigorously analyzed with help from uncomputability theory, his challenge evaporates, and the cogent rationale for the standard conception of CT is revealed. This analysis will in turn constitute a foundation for overthrowing CT on the basis of our rather remarkable ability to assimilate and assess narrative. After the foundation is in place, I press forward in the hope, indeed, of refuting CT. I end by considering some other attacks on CT (some of which, as we shall see, Mendelson himself tried to derail over forty years ago), and the relation between these attacks and my own.



 

Selmer Bringsjord
1998-06-13