What Is Philosophy of Information?

Philosophy of Information (PI) is “the new philosophical field concerned with (a) the critical investigation of the conceptual nature and basic principles of information, including its dynamics, utilisation and sciences; and (b) the elaboration and application of information-theoretic and computational methodologies to philosophical problems.” (Floridi, 2011, p. 46).

PI is a phenomenology like philosophy of language and epistemology are phenomenologies, and is not metatheoretical like philosophy of physics or philosophy of social sciences, interested in problems arising from the organized systems of knowledge. “PI, like philosophy of mathematics, is phenomenologically biased. It is primarily concerned with the whole domain of first- order phenomena represented by the world of information, computation and the information society, although it addresses its problems by starting from the vantage point represented by the methodologies and theories offered by ICS, and can be seen to incline towards a metatheoretical approach in so far as it is methodologically critical towards its own sources” (Floridi, 2011, p. 46).

PI privileges information over computation in the same way that epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge, not just perception. To summarize Floridi, PI isn’t an attempt to create a single “theory of everything” with respect to information, rather an integrated family of theories. It is concerned with the information life cycle, including the following phases: occurring (discovering, designing, authoring, etc.), processing and managing (collecting, validating, modifying, organising, indexing, classifying, filtering, updating, sorting, storing, networking, distributing, accessing, retrieving, transmitting etc.) and using (monitoring, modelling, analysing, explaining, planning, forecasting, decision-making, instructing, educating, learning, etc.). (Floridi, 2011, p. 47).

As a Philosopher of Information in the information science domain, I am interested in the complex philosophical, conceptual and cultural underpinnings of information. Philosophers of information must understand the diverse epistemologies and ontologies of other domains and cultures, as well as the sociological foundations of knowledge creation and information flows among a variety of sociotechnical systems. Being a philosopher of information allows me to work at a meta level in areas as diverse as philosophy, social media, intercultural communication, geography & GIS, and information sciences.