, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 275-299

Problems for a Philosophy of Software Engineering

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Abstract

On the basis of an earlier contribution to the philosophy of computer science by Amnon Eden, this essay discusses to what extent Eden’s ‘paradigms’ of computer science can be transferred or applied to software engineering. This discussion implies an analysis of how software engineering and computer science are related to each other. The essay concludes that software engineering can neither be fully subsumed by computer science, nor vice versa. Consequently, also the philosophies of computer science and software engineering—though related to each other—are not identical branches of a general philosophy of science. This also implies that not all of Eden’s earlier arguments can be directly mapped from the domain of computer science into the domain of software science. After the discussion of this main topic, the essay also points to some further problems and open issues for future studies in the philosophy of software science and engineering.

This essay is written in commemoration of the 100th birthdays of Konrad Zuse and Lothar Collatz (both *1910) during the year 2010. Zuse contributed to the science of computing coming from the domain of engineering, Collatz from the domain of mathematics.