PHI13 UC Davis The Chinese Room


(1) Turing presents his test for thinking as a sufficiency test for thinking. Explain what this means and how he defends the test’s adequacy as such. Is Turing’s defense of the test’s adequacy compelling? Or is there an objection to the test powerful enough to undermine it?

(2) Turing considers and responds to several arguments from disability, each of which purports to show that machines cannot think. Which one of those arguments from disability (that he directly responds to) do you think is the strongest? Why is it the strongest? Does Turing’s response successfully refute that argument?

(3) Explain Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment, the conclusion he draws on its basis, and why the thought experiment is supposed to establish that conclusion. What is the most powerful objection to Searle’s position you can think of and what do you think Searle’s likely response would be?

(4) If you accept Searle’s thought experiment and the conclusion he draws from it, would that show that the Turing Test is a bad test for thinking? Why or why not? (Be sure to explain any key parts of the two views that you need to make your case.)

(5) Dennett’s view can be thought of as a replacement for the Turing test. What are some of the key similarities and differences between “the Dennett test” and the Turing test? Which do you think is the better test for intelligence/thinking and why?