On the Relation of Computing to the World

  • William J. RapaportEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 128)


I survey a common theme that pervades the philosophy of computer science (and philosophy more generally): the relation of computing to the world. Are algorithms merely certain procedures entirely characterizable in an “indigenous,” “internal,’ “intrinsic,” “local,” “narrow,” “syntactic” (more generally: “intra-system”), purely-Turing-machine language? Or must algorithms interact with the real world, having a purpose that is expressible only in a language with an “external,” “extrinsic,” “global,” “wide,” “inherited” (more generally: “extra” or “inter-“system) semantics?


Philosophy of computer science Algorithms Teleology Computability Turing machines Syntactic semantics Hypercomputation Program verification Computer models 



I am grateful to Robin K. Hill and to Stuart C. Shapiro for discussion and comments on earlier drafts.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Philosophy, Department of Linguistics, and Center for Cognitive ScienceUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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