On the Anti-Mechanist Arguments Based on Gödel’s Theorem


Gödel’s theorem
Lucas’s argument
Penrose’s argument
artificial intelligence
natural number


DOI: http://doi.org/10.26333/sts.xxxiv1.02

The alleged proof of the non-mechanical, or non-computational, character of the human mind based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem is revisited. Its history is reviewed. The proof, also known as the Lucas argument and the Penrose argument, is refuted. It is claimed, following Gödel himself and other leading logicians, that antimechanism is not implied by Gödel’s theorems alone. The present paper sets out this refutation in its strongest form, demonstrating general theorems implying the inconsistency of Lucas’s arithmetic and the semantic inadequacy of Penrose’s arithmetic. On the other hand, the limitations to our capacity for mechanizing or programming the mind are also indicated, together with two other corollaries of Gödel’s theorems: that we cannot prove that we are consistent (Gödel’s Unknowability Thesis), and that we cannot fully describe our notion of a natural number.



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