What can Philosophy say, in principle, about Computers?


Tito Marques Palmeiro http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8467-2880


Computers are the unexpected outcome of mathematical investigations from the first half of the 20th century. From mathematics to physics, and even to biology, there are many scientific disciplines in charge of their development nowadays; however, the same cannot be said about philosophy. My purpose is to understand whether philosophy would have something relevant to say about computers, even though it does not play any relevant role in this new endeavor. I consider that in order to answer this question, philosophical inquiry must discuss, in the first place, the work of Alan Turing. He created the concept of computer in a 1936-1937 paper, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem”, and he also reflected upon the extreme implications of this concept on later texts, as in a 1947 lecture on the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), where he expressed some interesting possibilities for understanding how computers and philosophy relate to each other. I intend to show therewith that his work offers some important insights for answering the decisive philosophical question on this subject: What can philosophy say, in principle, about computers?


Os computadores são o resultado inesperado de investigações matemáticas da primeira metade do século XX. Da matemática à física, e mesmo à biologia, há muitas disciplinas científicas encarregadas de seu desenvolvimento hoje em dia; no entanto, o mesmo não pode ser dito sobre a filosofia. Meu objetivo é entender se a filosofia teria algo relevante a dizer sobre os computadores, ainda que não tenha papel relevante nessa nova empreitada. Considero que, para responder a essa pergunta, a investigação filosófica deve discutir, em primeiro lugar, a obra de Alan Turing. Ele criou o conceito de computador em um artigo de 1936-1937, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem”, e também refletiu sobre as implicações extremas desse conceito em textos posteriores, como em uma palestra de 1947 sobre o Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), onde expressou algumas possibilidades interessantes para entender como os computadores e a filosofia se relacionam. Pretendo mostrar com isso que sua obra oferece alguns insights importantes para responder à questão filosófica decisiva sobre esse assunto: O que a filosofia pode dizer, em princípio, sobre os computadores?



Como Citar
PALMEIRO, Tito Marques. What can Philosophy say, in principle, about Computers?. O que nos faz pensar, [S.l.], v. 29, n. 49, p. 5-16, jan. 2022. ISSN 0104-6675. Disponível em: <http://oquenosfazpensar.fil.puc-rio.br/index.php/oqnfp/article/view/792>. Acesso em: 01 apr. 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.32334/oqnfp.2021n49a792.


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