Computing for Philosophers

It is arguable that the digital computer is the most important development for Philosophy since the Scientific Revolution of the Early Modern period, providing A New Paradigm of Explanation. But it is undeniable that the computer opens many new possibilities and opportunities for philosophers, ranging from (a) ways to organise information and to make their traditional methods more efficient; (b) novel insights on various philosophical issues; (c) meta-studies about artificial intelligence, computing, information and related topics; and (d) providing an experimental testbed of previously undreamt-of power and flexibility.

(a) Assisting with Traditional Philosophical Methods

Under this heading come such things as the use of Bibliographic Databases and other Electronic Resources, Searching and Analysing Texts, Presenting Philosophical Texts in Hyperspace, Linguistic Analysis, and Logic and Proof Systems.

(b) Computational Insights on Philosophical Issues

There are a number of problems on the interface between Philosophy and Computing, which are independently of both philosophical and computational interest, but which can be usefully illuminated from both sides. See in particular the page on Philosophical Issues in Robot Design, which mentions Free Will and Self-Consciousness, Language, Classification, and Speech Acts, Representation of Cognitive States, Referring Expressions, Causation and Conditionals, and Robot Ethics.

(c) Meta-Studies of Computing and Information Science

This heading covers a vast and increasing range of philosophical studies, including Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Artificial Life, Philosophy of Computation, Philosophy of Information, History and Philosophy of Science, and Computer Ethics.

(d) Computer Models of Relevant Phenomena

The potential value of computer models to philosophers is immense, effectively providing an automated assistant for thought experiments. Philosophically interesting phenomena that can be modelled with computer assistance include Biological and Evolutionary Systems, Thinking and Rationality, and Social and Economic Systems.

Aaron Sloman

Aaron Sloman

Pioneer of "The Computer Revolution in Philosophy"