Is computer science a "science" in the same way as the natural sciences? Sometimes I think it more closely resembles math, in that the kind of reasoning it is engaged in is in some sense a priori.

Parts of computer science are like other sciences, parts are certainly like mathematics, and parts are also like engineering. Some people have argued that it is a natural science, others that it is an "artificial" science, still others that it is not a science but a branch of engineering, and so on. The answer to your question of whether computer science is a science depends, of course, on what is meant by "science" as well as what is meant by "computer science". What some people call "computer science" others call " computing science", "computer engineering ", "informatics", etc., each seeming to emphasize a different aspect of the discipline. And the question of what constitutes science (as opposed to, say, arts or humanities, on the one hand; "pseudoscience", on the other hand; and mathematics, on another hand) is a major topic in the philosophy of science. For some readings, by computer scientists as well as philosophers, on this question, take a look at some webpages I created on...

What is the truth maker for logic? In other words, why should I take logical truths (e.g., material implication) as true?

A few points need clarification before I can begin to answer your question. First, logic is not concerned with truth in the way that, say, the sciences are. Logic is concerned with relationships among sentences that have truth value, not with the actual truth values of the (atomic) sentences. The only apparent exception to this might be those sentences that "must" be true (tautologies) and those that "must" be false (contradictions). But tautologies and contradictions are not atomic sentences; they are "molecular" sentences, and what makes them tautologous or contradictory are the relationships among their atomic constituents. So, for instance, "(p & ¬p)" is a contradiction because—no matter what the actual truth value of p—the truth value of "(p & ¬p)" must be false (because of the truth tables for conjunction (&) and negation (¬)). Logic isn't concerned with p's actual truth value. Second, material implication (→) is not a "logical truth" nor is it even a sentence. It's a...

Are first principles or the axioms of logic (such as identity, non-contradiction) provable? If not, then isn't just an intuitive assumption that they are true? Is it possible for example, to prove that a 4-sided triangle or a married bachelor cannot exist? Or must we stop at the point where we say "No, it is a contradiction" and end there with only the assumption that contradictions are the "end point" of our needing to support their non-existence or impossibility?

To prove a proposition is to derive it syntactically (that is, by "symbol manipulation" that is independent of the proposition's meaning). A "good" (or syntactically valid) derivation is one that begins with "first principles" (axioms) and derives other propositions from them (and from other validly derived propositions) by rules of infererence. Ideally, the rules of inference should be "truth preserving": If you start with true axioms, then all of the propositions derived from them by the rules should also be true. So, can you prove the axioms? If so, how? The uninteresting answer is, yes, you can prove them (in a technical, but trivial, sense) just by stating them, because they don't need to be derived by any rules from anything "more basic". So, how do you know that they are true? Well, truth and proof are two different things. Proof has to do with syntax, or valid derivation. Truth has to do with semantics, or meaning. Ideally, truth and proof should match up: A formal system ...

Red seems exciting but blue seems calming. That is not the only thing that could be said about those colors. But is the reason those colors have the effects that they have because of something about the color themselves or because of the culture we are in?

As with many other questions about color, you might find the discussion of emotional responses to colors in Hardin's classic book to be of interest: Hardin, C.L. (1993), Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow, expanded edition (Indianapolis: Hackett)

Who are some modern philosophers that argue for either dualism or the idea that mind is a nonphysical substance?

Here's another contemporary philosopher you might want to look into: Galen Strawson-- "I take physicalism to be the view that every real, concrete phenomenon in the universe is physical. …[O]ne thing is absolutely clear. You're…not a real physicalist, if you deny the existence of the phenomenon whose existence is more certain than the existence of anything else: experience, 'consciousness', conscious experience, 'phenomenology', experiential 'what-it's-likeness', feeling, sensation, explicit conscious thought as we have it and know it at almost every waking moment. … [E]xperiential phenomena 'just are' physical, so that there is a lot more to neurons than physics and neurophysiology record…." (Strawson, Galen (2006), Realistic Monism , in A. Freeman (ed.), Consciousness and Its Place in Nature (Exeter: Imprint Academic))

Is it psychologically possible to believe a proposition in the absence of understanding the proposition? If not, do many of us continue to harbor beliefs "as tho" they are understood. While admitting that total understanding is, probably, not attainable, it appears to me that our mutually formed groups that purport to make and implement serious decisions stands as a possible threat to concerted action. I have classified these thoughts as somewhat metaphysical since, if totally psychological, the answer might be in the domain of science. Thank you for this site. Jerry D. H.

A valuable paper on this topic, written by a psychologist, but with many discussions of Descartes's and Spinoza's views on these issues, is: Gilbert, Daniel T. (1991), "How Mental Systems Believe", American Psychologist 46(2) (February): 107-119 (online at Briefly, Gilbert argues that (his interpretation of) Spinoza's view that believing is part of understanding and that one must believe a proposition before one can reject it is psychologically more valid than (his interpretation of) Descartes's view that believing or disbelieving a proposition must psychologically and logically come after understanding it.

Is it considered possible to be consciously aware of an object or thought without experiencing feelings, or is "feelings" just another word for conscious awareness?. If this question can't be dismissed, which philosophers have explored it?

In addition to the previous replies, you might have in mind the notion of a "philosophical zombie": A person(?) indistinguishable in its appearance and behavior from a human but who has no "qualia" or "conscious (qualitative) experiences". Again, there's been lots written on this, but you might find the opposing views of Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers to be a good place to start. For Chalmers, who thinks that there can be such zombies (at least in theory), take a look at: Chalmers, David J. (1996), The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (New York: Oxford University Press). For Dennett (who thinks that there aren't any such things, or possibly that there are, namely, us!), take a look at: Dennett, Daniel C. (1991), Consciousness Explained (Boston: Little, Brown). (Other citations can be found under the heading "Philosophical Zombies" in my bibliography on computational theories of consciousness

What is conciousness? what causes it? is it an external processs or an internal process? (sorry this is a weighty question, and I know there are no concrete answers, but are there any interesting theories out there?) What are your thoughts? Is conciousness a part of the environment as well as a "bodily" process? where does the trigger start? I find this subject matter very confusing, Thanks so much for your help!

Both philosophers and scientists (and, among scientists, both neuroscientists and cognitive scientists (and, among cognitive scientists, both computationally-oriented ones working in AI as well as non-computationally-oriented ones)) have been studying consciousness for many years recently. One main issue is your question of what it is. One way of phrasing that issue, due to the philosopher Ned Block, is as a distinction between "access" consciousness and "phenomenal" consciousness: The former, very roughly, is the kind of consciousness that is involved in information processing (and that, perhaps, can only be studied "externally" from a "third-person", objective, scientific perspective). The latter, again very roughly, is "experience", or "what it is like" to process information (and that, perhaps, can only be studied "internally" from a "first-person", subjective perspective). Figuring out exactly what "access" consciousness is has been called the "easy" problem of consciousness, because cognitive...

I am starting research for a term paper in a metaphysics class and have chosen the topic "Do Fictional Characters Exist?" I read Peter Van Inwagen's "Creatures of Fiction" as well as a couple journal articles that seem to be in disagreement with him on the question. Does anyone here have any other recommendations for good articles on the topic of fictional realism (either for or against)? Thanks for your help.

Here are a few of my favorites: Scholes, Robert (1968), Elements of Fiction (New York: Oxford University Press). [a very short book, really just a long article] Lewis, David (1978), "Truth in Fiction,'' American Philosophical Quarterly 15: 37-46. Castañeda, Hector-Neri (1979), "Fiction and Reality: Their Fundamental Connections; An Essay on the Ontology of Total Experience,'' Poetics 8: 31-62. Parsons, Terence (1975), "A Meinongian Analysis of Fictional Objects,'' Grazer Philosophische Studien 1: 73-86. plus, of course,

As a student of law with a vivid interest in logic (in a broad sense), I find myself intrigued by the possibility of combining these two subjects. From what I so far have found, the implementation of the latter field of thought to legal discipline is mostly only done with regard to informal logic, with fairly simple overviews of the rules of inference etc.; the scope is mostly one aimed to serve the practical law-man in, say, procedural contexts. The ones that serve the academic community, seem not to be quite technical. Yet, the legal system seems highly infested with what logic is concerned. The relation between propositions of facts and norms, the norms being constructed with the help of sentential connectives, say, material conditionals or bi-conditionals to name just a few. Yet other phenomena could be named: judgments and other propositional attitudes, the normative "it is the case that", whose descriptive accuracy depends on what legal institution one is in(e.g. penal-law demands higher...

I would hope that my colleagues might be able to answer your question better than I can with respect to the law and logic in philosophy , but I can try to give you some pointers to the literature on the law and logic in artificial intelligence . The first pointer is not so far removed from philosophy. My former colleague in the School of Law at the University at Buffalo, L. Thorne McCarty, applied deontic logic to legal issues, often citing the work of the philosopher Hector-Neri Castañeda. See, e.g., McCarty, L. Thorne (1983), "Permissions and Obligations", Proceedings of the 8th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-83; Karlsruhe, W. Germany) (Los Altos, CA: Morgan Kaufmann): 287-294. There is also a journal, Artificial Intelligence and Law , which occasionally has papers that you might find relevant.