The Philosophical Computer

Exploratory Essays in Philosophical Computer Modeling

Philosophical modeling is as old as philosophy itself; examples range from Plato's Cave and the Divided Line to Rawls's original position. What is new are the astounding computational resources now available for philosophical modeling. Although the computer cannot offer a substitute for philosophical research, it can offer an important new environment for philosophical research.

The authors present a series of exploratory examples of computer modeling, using a range of computational techniques to illuminate a variety of questions in philosophy and philosophical logic. Topics include self-reference and paradox in fuzzy logics, varieties of epistemic chaos, fractal images of formal systems, and cellular automata models in game theory. Examples in the last category include models for the evolution of generosity, possible causes and cures for discrimination, and the formal undecidability of patterns of social and biological interaction.

The cross-platform CD-ROM provided with the book contains a variety of working examples, in color and often operating dynamically, embedded in a text that parallels that of the book. Source code of all major programs is included to facilitate further research.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Introduction
  3. 1. Chaos, Fractals, and the Semantics of Paradox
  4. 2. Notes on Epistemic Dynamics
  5. 3. Fractal Images of Formal Systems
  6. 4. The Evolution of Generosity in a Hobbesian Model
  7. 5. Real-Valued Game Theory: Real Life, Cooperative Chaos, and Discrimination
  8. 6. Computation and Undecidability in the Spatialized Prisoners Dilemma
  9. Appendix A: Competitive Strategies Adequate for a Minsky Register Machine
  10. Appendix B: An Algebraic Treatment for Competitive Strategies
  11. Afterword
  12. Notes
  13. Index