[OPE] Philosophical development of graduate students today

From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Thu Aug 27 2009 - 05:13:52 EDT

This is slightly at an angle to the list topic but I am addressing list
members as a selection of presumably philosophically aware
academics, in the hope of useful feedback.

I am concerned that a significant fraction of PhD students are
reading and studying only within a rather narrow corpus. Talking to some
of our doctoral students, I observe that some have not really
appreciated that they are studying for a degree that is still called a
doctor of philosophy.

Advances in computer science have often depended upon either borrowings
from other disciplines, or upon problems posed by other disciplines. One
thinks of Turing's original work arising out of mathematics and logic,
the development of neural nets, simulated annealing, genetic algorithms,
agent based systems. None of these would have been possible if the
computer scientists pioneering in this work had lacked a broad
scientific and philosophical training. Today, research continues to be
informed by borrowings from physics and biochemistry among other areas.

We want our doctoral students to have an a conceptual lexicon drawn from
multiple areas of science and philosophy. With such a lexicon, they are
in a much better position to come up with novel solutions to the
problems they will encounter.

I would like to undertake an anonymous survey of PhD students to
investigate the extent of their reading outside of their specialist
subject area. This could initially be done in Glasgow CS, but I would be
interested in the possibility of broadening it accross departments. This
survey can serve two functions.

   1. It will provide information about our students reading that
      we would not otherwise obtain.
   2. It may also serve as an exhortation to students who are to
      narrowly focused, to broaden their horizons.

Below I give an outline of such a survey questionaire. I would like
feedback on whether the subject matter mentioned is appropriate or
sufficient. It is inevitably the case that when one academic drafts such
a survey, the corpus to which they refer will be partial and incomplete.
Suggestions from colleagues as to additions or deletions would thus be

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Received on Thu Aug 27 05:24:36 2009

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