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Piccinini, Gualtiero
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According to some philosophers, there is no fact of the matter whether something is either a computer, or some other computing mechanism, or something that performs no computations at all. On the contrary, I argue that there is a fact of the matter whether something is a calculator or a computer: a computer is a calculator of large capacity, and a calculator is a mechanism whose function is to perform one out of several possible computations on inputs of nontrivial size at once. This paper is devoted to a detailed defense of these theses, including a specification of the relevant notion of “large capacity” and an explication of the notion of computer.