The philosophy of computer science is concerned with issues that arise from reflection upon the nature and practice of the discipline of computer science. This book presents an approach to the subject that is centered upon the notion of computational artefact. It provides an analysis of the things of computer science as technical artefacts. Seeing them in this way enables the application of the analytical tools and concepts from the philosophy of technology to the technical artefacts of computer science. With (...) this conceptual framework the author examines some of the central philosophical concerns of computer science including the foundations of semantics, the logical role of specification, the nature of correctness, computational ontology and abstraction, formal methods, computational epistemology and explanation, the methodology of computer science, and the nature of computation. The book will be of value to philosophers and computer scientists. (shrink)
The specification and implementation of computational artefacts occurs throughout the discipline of computer science. Consequently, unpacking its nature should constitute one of the core areas of the philosophy of computer science. This paper presents a conceptual analysis of the central role of specification in the discipline.
Taken at face value, a programming language is defined by a formal grammar. But, clearly, there is more to it. By themselves, the naked strings of the language do not determine when a program is correct relative to some specification. For this, the constructs of the language must be given some semantic content. Moreover, to be employed to generate physical computations, a programming language must have a physical implementation. How are we to conceptualize this complex package? Ontologically, what kind of (...) thing is it? In this paper, we shall argue that an appropriate conceptualization is furnished by the notion of a technical artifact. (shrink)
CO-MODIFIED: Rocks on Vinyl comprises nine 6' x 3' banners displayed like convention signage. They are presented as a series of speculative geomedia landscapes that explore contemporary human entanglements and collaborations with the lithosphere, activities that are transforming the earth's surface and registering in its stratified depths. Animated by an affective, aesthetic appreciation of stone, these works invite reflection and discernment in a historical moment defined as the geologic now.1The stories of earth and humans are written in stone, from tectonic (...) plate movements and the rock record to Neolithic cave paintings and stone circles. These histories are becoming increasingly inextricably intertwined, as... (shrink)
Our businesses, policies, and lifestyles cause unexamined consequences for other people and other living beings, and exact sweeping destruction on the very ecosystems which support all life, including our own. A major factor contributing to this destructive behavior is the anthropocentric character of the dominant Western world view, which conceives of the nonhuman living world as apart from and less important than the human world, and which conceptualizes nonhuman nature—including animals, plants, ecological systems, the land, and the atmosphere—as inert, silent, (...) passive, and valuable only for its worth as a resource for human consumption. This anthropocentric conceptual framework is constructed, transmitted, and reproduced in the realm of discourse, in all of the modes and avenues through which we make and express cultural meaning. We need to make explicit the ways that mainstream Western and American discourse promotes anthropocentrism and masks, denies, or denigrates interdependence, and we need to find ways to reformulate and reframe our discouse if we are to produce the sort of ecological consciousness that will be essential for creating a sustainable future. (shrink)
Culture not only influences human psychology and perceptions of self, others and reality, it also, in certain contexts, influences the quality and degree of consciousness itself. If the brain gives shape to consciousness, then we would expect culture to have a corresponding impact on the functional anatomy and microstructure of the brain. The concept of 'collective representations', as developed by Durkheim, refers to the often crucial components of human life that have meaningful existence only because we agree that they do-- (...) such as customs, money, religion, cosmology, language, games, laws, power structures and artistic genres. We present recent imaging research which illuminates the feedback relationship between these two types of representation-- the collective and the cortical-- and which demonstrates that collective representations can have well-defined cortical representations. (shrink)
The use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in environmental decision-making and the contingent valuation (CV) technique as input into traditional CBA to elicit environmental values in monetary terms has stimulated an extensive debate. Critics have questioned the appropriateness of both the method and the technique. Some alternative suggestions for the elicitation of environmental values are based on a social process of deliberation. However, just like traditional economic theory, these alternative approaches may be questioned on their implicit value judgements regarding the legitimacy (...) of the social-political organisation of the process of value elicitation. Instead of making assumptions a priori, research efforts should be focused on the processes by which actual public attitudes and preferences towards the environment can best be elicited and fed into environmental or other public policy decision-making. In the study presented in this paper, support was found for both the individual WTP based approach and a participatory social deliberation approach to inform the environmental decision-making process, suggesting that a combination of both approaches is most appropriate. (shrink)
The term ‘Ohm's law’ traditionally denotes the formula of Georg Simon Ohm relating voltage, current, and resistance in metallic conductors. But to students of sensory physiology and its history, ‘Ohm's law’ also denotes another relationship: the fundamental principle of auditory perception that Ohm announced in 1843. This aspect of Ohm's science has attracted very little attention, partly because his galvanic researches so thoroughly eclipsed it in success and importance, and partly because Ohm's work in physiological acoustics had so little immediate (...) impact on the science of his time. On announcing his hypothesis in 1843, Ohm found himself drawn into a bitter dispute with the physicist August Seebeck, who successfully discredited the hypothesis and forced Ohm to withdraw from the field. (shrink)
Austin's ?doctrine of the infelicities?, whereby performative utterances are vulnerable to the risk of failure, has been criticized for treating such a possibility as contingent rather than as necessary (and hence revelatory of the essential nature of speech acts). This paper seeks to trace out what is at stake for one who maintains Austin's position. It examines Austin's curious hypothetical history of the development of speech acts, which is found to resemble forms of social?contract theory, and the problem with this (...) hypothetical history is shown to be that it presupposes as original the very properties that it sets out to explain. The argument is then made that Austin's technicalization of the conditions and context of speech acts displaces our attention from the deeper issue that both speech?act and contract theory are versions of a concern with making social action transparent, and both raise the perennial (and insoluble) problem of trust in human affairs. (shrink)
Functional analysis rescued religion from the oblivion to which positiviste would have consigned it, by taking 'society' rather than the individual act as the unit of analysis. The history of functionalism has been a record of increasing concern with such holistic units as societies and social systems. One consequence of this shift away from social action (in the Weberian sense) is that the issue of rationality has become largely redundant. Yet the problem remains: How do we account for 'contributions' to (...) the social system in terms that make sense of the perspectives of social actors? An examination of unit actions as they are understood by social actors suggests that functionalism in fact incorporated many of the tenets held by positivists, and that it makes untenable (and implicit) assumptions concerning the 'objectivity' of the scientific observer. (shrink)
Personal narratives in which medical students and clinicians reflect on their education and practice, or recipients of health care reflect on their journey though the system can provide valuable insights which can usefully be shared. In this paper, a medical student describes the effect of a humanities-based student-selected component on her understanding of anatomy and dissection, and a junior doctor in Iraq learns some painful lessons about medicine and society during a night shift in the casualty department.
We may wonder about the status of logical accounts of the meaning of language. When does a particular proposal count as a theory? How do we judge a theory to be correct? What criteria can we use to decide whether one theory is âbetterâ than another? Implicitly, many accounts attribute a foundational status to set theory, and set-theoretic characterisations of possible worlds in particular. The goal of a semantic theory is then to find a translation of the phenomena of interest (...) into a set-theoretic model. Such theories may be deemed to have âexplanatoryâ or âpredictiveâ power if a mapping can found into expressions of set-theory that have the appropriate behaviour by virtue of the rules of set-theory (for example Montague 1973; Montague1974). This can be contrasted with an approach in which we can help ourselves to ânewâ primitives and ontological categories, and devise logical rules and axioms that capture the appropriate inferential behaviour (as in Turner 1992). In general, this alternative approach can be criticised as being mere âdescriptivismâ, lacking predictive or explanatory power. Here we will seek to defend the axiomatic approach. Any formal account must assume some normative interpretation, but there is a sense in which such theories can provide a more honest characterisation (cf. Dummett 199). In contrast, the set-theoretic approach tends to conflate distinct ontological notions. Mapping a pattern of semantic behaviour into some pre-existing set-theoretic behaviour may lead to certain aspects of that behaviour being overlooked, or ignored (Chierchia & Turner 1988; Bealer 1982). Arguments about the explanatory and predictive power of set-theoretic interpretations can also be questioned (see Benacerraf 1965, for example). We aim to provide alternative notions for evaluating the quality of a formalisation, and the role of formal theory. Ultimately, claims about the methodological and conceptual inadequacies of axiomatic accounts compared to set-theoretic reductions must rely on criteria and assumptions that lie outside the domain of formal semantics as such. (shrink)
Rock Records explores the intricate entanglements between Anthropos and Geos through a wide range of writings about stone, from media theory and ecophilosophy to the role of stones in art and the aesthetics of viewing stones. Authors engage the activity, vitality, and relationality of lithic matter and articulate multiple modalities of 'geo-affection,' as well as forms of geo-mythology, geo-sociality, and occult lithography. As the initial issue in a new digital/intermedial series of SubStance aimed at interweaving creative and critical work, Rock (...) Records also features digital versions of essays with photo-rich content, as well as a virtual exhibition of viewing stones and a series of speculative studies in... (shrink)
The term "viewing stones" is primarily associated with two traditions of stone appreciation: Chinese Gongshi and Japanese suiseki. Today, viewing-stone associations around the world take inspiration from these traditions and are creating new ways of displaying stones. Petraphiles, whether ancient or contemporary, are often drawn to express their appreciation of favored stones in writing.The Petraphiles represented in this virtual exhibition are diverse in their expressions of geo-affection. They are, by turns, both scholarly and poetic. In each entry there is a (...) sense of discovery. Thomas Elias finds his Liaoshan Green Stone talking to him about the vicissitudes of life. Kemin Hu's research on a... (shrink)