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Some Recommended Philosophy Readings

for future students of


Computer Science and Philosophy
General Philosophy (all Philosophy students)
The first year General Philosophy course covers topics particularly associated with Descartes and Hume, who
also feature strongly in the second year History of Philosophy course. The most useful editions are:
Ren Descartes
David Hume

Meditations on First Philosophy, with selections from the Objections and Replies
(translated by John Cottingham, Cambridge, 1996)
Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (ed. Peter Millican, Oxford Worlds
Classics, OUP i.e. Oxford University Press 2007)

The Introduction to this Hume edition gives a general overview of the development of philosophy over the
relevant period, written with first year Oxford students in mind.

Turing on Computability and Intelligence (Computer Science/Philosophy)


In the final term of the first year, those taking Computer Science/Philosophy study an additional text which
contributes to the General Philosophy examination paper, namely:
Alan Turing and Charles Petzold

The Annotated Turing (John Wiley, 2008)

You might find it interesting to read this now, but dont worry at all if you find it difficult and have to stop, since
youll be much better placed to appreciate it later. The examination requirement a minimum of one question
is easily covered in the final term. In the meantime, you could usefully read books such as:
Andrew Hodges
Ernest Nagel and James Newman
Jack Copeland
Douglas Hofstadter

Turing (Phoenix, 1997) very short, but clear and informative


Gdels Proof a classic exposition, readable and not too formal
Artificial Intelligence: A Philosophical Introduction (Blackwell, 1993)
Gdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Penguin, 1980)

Copelands book is an excellent and well-balanced introductory treatment of the Philosophy of Artificial
Intelligence. Hofstaders is a well-known and very stimulating exploration of the power and beauty of recursion.
For many more books that could be put here, see the links at the bottom of http://www.philocomp.net/links.

Logic (all Philosophy students)


The introductory logic course is now taught using Volker Halbachs Logic Manual, published by Oxford
University Press (2010). See also http://philosophy.hertford.ox.ac.uk/logic.htm. A useful book for background
reading, which used to be the set text, is:
Wilfrid Hodges

Logic (Penguin, 2001)

Background Reading
Perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for studying Philosophy is to spend time thinking for yourself about
philosophical problems in the company of books such as:
Stephen Law
Simon Blackburn
Laurence Goldstein
Bertrand Russell
Edward Craig

The Philosophy Gym (Headline, 2004)


Think (OUP, 2001)
The Philosopher's Habitat (Routledge, 1990)
The Problems of Philosophy (OUP, 2001)
Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, (OUP, 2002)

Also look for books by Julian Baggini and Nigel Warburton, who have produced several good introductions.
The ideal philosophical preparation for Oxford is reading material that is clear and rigorous, but that also really
grabs you, and helps you feel the interest and significance of the sorts of problems that Philosophy presents.
Peter Millican, March 2011

First Year
Students will spend roughly half of their time studying each discipline, and will be examined in both at
the end of the year. The two halves are constituted as follows:
Computing

Functional Programming, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Imperative Programming


1 and 2, Discrete Mathematics, Probability

Philosophy

General Philosophy, Introduction to Logic, Elements of Deductive Logic, Alan Turing


on Computability and Intelligence

Second Year
The workload is again divided roughly in half, but only the Computer Science half gets examined at the
end of the year (these are the Computer Science Part A examinations):
Computing

Models of Computation
3 options chosen by the student 1

Philosophy

2 Philosophy papers, chosen by the student, to be examined at the end of the Third Year

Third Year
Here students can choose whether to focus more on Computer Science or on Philosophy (with a
75%-25% split in either direction), or to continue to spend half their time on each:
Computing

2, 4, or 6 options chosen by the student 2

Philosophy

3, 2, or 1 papers (respectively), chosen by the student (note that a Philosophy paper is


double the weight of a Computer Science option)

At the end of the third year, students are examined on the Computer Science options done during the
year (the Computer Science Part B examinations), and all of the Philosophy papers taken so far.3
Assuming they pass, they have now qualified for the B.A. in Computer Science and Philosophy.

Fourth Year (optional)


Students can leave with a B.A. degree after the third year, but may choose to stay on one more year for
a Masters degree: the MCompPhil in Computer Science and Philosophy. The fourth year is even more
flexible than the third, enabling students to concentrate, if they wish, on just one of the disciplines.
Students select any three units, where a unit is either a Computing project, two advanced courses in
Computing,4 a Philosophy thesis, or a Philosophy paper (together with an extended essay).
1

Likely second-year options include Advanced Data Structures and Algorithms, Compilers, Concurrency, Concurrent
Programming, Formal Program Design, Object Oriented Programming, and Principles of Programming Languages.
2

Up to two of these options can be taken from the second-year list. Likely third-year options include Computational
Complexity, Computer Security, Computers in Society, Databases, Intelligent Systems I, Intelligent Systems II, Lambda
Calculus and Types, Logic of Multi-Agent Information Flow.
3

There is a very wide choice of Philosophy papers, the only significant constraint being that over the second and third years
combined, at least two of them must be from the following list: Formal Logic, History of Philosophy from Descartes to
Kant, Knowledge and Reality, Philosophy of Logic and Language, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Mind, and
either Philosophy of Science or Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Psychology and Neuroscience. Virtually all of the
many other Philosophy papers offered at Oxford will be made available to students of Computer Science and Philosophy.
4

Likely fourth-year options include Automata, Logic and Games, Categories, Proofs and Processes, Computational
Linguistics, Computer Aided Formal Verification, Game Semantics, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Model Checking,
Program Analysis, Randomised Algorithms, and Theory of Data and Knowledge Bases.