Philosophy of computing and information technology

Philip A.E. Brey, Johnny Soraker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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393 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Philosophy has been described as having taken a “computational turn,” referring to the ways in which computers and information technology throw new light upon traditional philosophical issues, provide new tools and concepts for philosophical reasoning, and pose theoretical and practical questions that cannot readily be approached within traditional philosophical frameworks. As such, computer technology is arguably the technology that has had the most profound impact on philosophy. Philosophers have studied computer technology and its philosophical implications extensively. Philosophers have discovered computers and information technology (IT) as research topics, and a wealth of research is taking place on philosophical issues in relation to these technologies. The research agenda is broad and diverse. Issues that are studied include the nature of computational systems, the ontological status of virtual worlds, the limitations of artificial intelligence, philosophical aspects of data modeling, the political regulation of cyberspace, the epistemology of Internet information, ethical aspects of information privacy and security, and many more. Philosophy has been described as having taken a ‘computational turn’, referring to the ways in which computers and information technology throw new light upon traditional philosophical issues, provide new tools and concepts for philosophical reasoning, and pose theoretical and practical questions that cannot readily be approached within traditional philosophical frameworks. As such, computer technology is arguably the technology that has had the most profound impact on philosophy. Philosophers have studied computer technology and its philosophical implications extensively, and this chapter gives an overview of the field. We start with definitions and historical overviews of the field and its various subfields. We then consider studies of the fundamental nature and basic principles of computing and computational systems, before moving on to philosophy of computer science, which investigates the nature, scope and methods of computer science. Under this heading, we will also address such topics as data modeling, ontology in computer science, programming languages, software engineering as an engineering discipline, management of information systems, the use of computers for simulation, and human-computer interaction. Subsequently, we will address the issue in computing that has received the most attention from philosophers, artificial intelligence (AI). The purpose of this section is to give an overview of the philosophical issues raised by the notion of creating intelligent machines. We consider philosophical critiques of different approaches within AI and pay special attention to philosophical studies of applications of AI. We then turn to a section on philosophical issues pertaining to new media and the Internet, including the convergence between media and digital computers. The theoretical and ethical issues raised by this relatively recent phenomenon are diverse. We will focus on philosophical theories of the ‘information society’, epistemological and ontological issues in relation to Internet information and virtuality, the philosophical study of social life online and cyberpolitics, and issues raised by the disappearing borders between body and artifact in cyborgs and virtual selves. The final section in this chapter is devoted to the many ethical questions raised by computers and information technology, as studied in computer ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy of technology and engineering sciences
EditorsA. Meijers
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier
Pages1341-1408
Number of pages67
ISBN (Print)978-044-451-667-1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameHandbook of the philosophy of science
PublisherElsevier
NumberIX
Volume9

Keywords

  • METIS-259821
  • IR-94146

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    Brey, P. A. E., & Soraker, J. (2009). Philosophy of computing and information technology. In A. Meijers (Ed.), Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences (pp. 1341-1408). (Handbook of the philosophy of science; Vol. 9, No. IX). Amsterdam: Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-51667-1.50051-3