Computer Science and Philosophy

What is intelligence? What does it mean to be conscious? What is a mind and is it something more than the body it is in? These are all questions of Philosophy. They are also of interest to computer scientists. Whilst a philosopher attacks them using rational argument, a computer scientist tries to build them. Can we build an intelligent machine? Could a machine posses consciousness or is it a property of living beings only? Could we create a robot, a mere lump of silicon, metal and plastic, that actually was alive?

Philosophers help the scientists and engineers think more clearly about the problems they are tackling, but at the same time the more the computer scientists build the more the philosophers have to think about. Perhaps most profoundly we now have a completely new paradigm for thinking about and  explaining the world in terms of algorithms. In particular computational modelling gives a new way to do computer-enhanced thought experiments – a completely new way to do philosophy.

Out of it all, one day something astounding might just come into being..

Activity Sheets

The following activities draw out issues on the links between philosophy and computing.

Booklets and magazines to download

The following activities draw out issues on the links between philosophy and computing.

  • Artificial Intelligence: But where is the intelligence?
    • This booklet explores what intelligence is and how we might create machines that are intelligent. It was created for students in Years 5- 7 (aged 9-12). It is based on a series of workshops run with Year 6 students over several years.

cs4fn subject portal

There are lots of fun articles on the cs4fn about computing and philosophy.

External Resources

There are lots more excellent resources on the links between Computing and Philosophy at


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