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The Monist

Volume 82, Issue 1, January 1999

Philosophy of Computer Science

Timothy R. Colburn
Pages 3-19

Software, Abstraction, and Ontology

This paper analyzes both philosophical and practical assumptions underlying claims for the dual nature of software, including software as a machine made of text, and software as a concrete abstraction. A related view of computer science as a branch of pure mathematics is analyzed through a comparative examination of the nature of abstraction in mathematics and computer science. The relationship between the concrete and the abstract in computer programs is then described by exploring a taxonomy of approaches borrowed from philosophy of mind.