In the future, I'm planning to pursue a PhD in computer science. Alongside making technical contributions to the field of computer science (artificial intelligence in particular), I'd like to give my philosophical take (or two) on where the field of artificial intelligence is headed.

My question is: If I get a PhD in computer science, would I need to get a PhD in philosophy in order to contribute to philosophical outlets that discuss computer science topics? More broadly, if I write a good enough paper, could I contribute to philosophical outlets in general or would me not having a PhD in philosophy be a barrier?

I was reading this answer and this part stuck out to me (a comment on the first answer):

I'm having a really hard time identifying a career path that requires two formal PhD's, unless one discipline is in the humanities and the other is in a STEM field, and one decided to start with the non-STEM field.

I'm starting with the STEM field here, so I'm not sure if in my case it makes sense to pursue multiple PhDs.


2 Answers 2


You don't need even one doctorate to contribute to any field. Publications accept or reject papers based on the papers not the "qualifications" of the authors.

Just write your papers and submit them. Of course you might also work to develop some collaborative relationships with philosophers who can also give you advice on things.

And at any large (and some small) universities, you can just wander over to the philosophy department, find their coffee lounge, and start up a conversation.

Doing actual research in philosophy, however, probably requires a somewhat different skill set than in CS, but you can develop that.

And don't confuse Opinion with Philosophy. In any field, you need a basis for what you write for it to be publishable.

  • 2
    I like Buffy's answer. (I don't get the -1). I would also add something to the answer about looking at the career of Thomas Kuhn who completed his PhD in physics, but switched research areas to be a philosopher of science. Jan 19, 2021 at 21:03
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    Great answer. The first sentence says the most important thing.
    – Dan Romik
    Jan 19, 2021 at 23:08
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    @MorganRodgers, I certainly agree with your intent, and the same is true in every field. But these can be learned (and practiced) outside a formal educational setting.
    – Buffy
    Jan 20, 2021 at 12:21
  • @Buffy and Richard Erickson: so what you're saying is that if I'm good enough, I can publish wherever I want? I like that. I am heeding what Morgan Rodgers said, but I was always a person who liked to learn outside a formal educational setting. Jan 20, 2021 at 16:26
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    Yes, but what you can publish is up to editors and reviewers. They are looking for quality and innovation. Knowledge is required to do quality stuff, but not any particular degree.
    – Buffy
    Jan 20, 2021 at 16:29

You don't need two PhDs. But you need to learn and build your research experience in the fields that you are interested in to be able to make good research contributions.

If your papers are good, people will not ask to see your diploma. However, if you want to become a professor and teach philosophy in a philosophy department, having a diploma would likely be required.

I think you would be interested by a field called "cognitive science" that is at the intersection of philosophy, AI, psychology, neurosciences and linguistics. In that field, researchers tend to have an interdisciplinary background combining at least two of the above disciplines. For example, I did my PhD in "Cognitive Computer Science" at UQAM in Canada, and although our main focus was Computer Science, I took courses in neuroscience as part of it, as well as we had some courses given by some philosophy professors, and I could have taken some linguistic course as well. In my project, I combined psychology theories with AI to build some system. If you choose such program or do some interdisciplinary projects, you can certainly learn and contribute in a few fields.

For your PhD that you are planning, you could choose an interdisciplinary topic such as something related to cognitive science, and find a supervisor in CS and a co-supervisor that is more involved in philosophy or other topics that you like. Then, you could build some expertise in both domains.

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