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Luciano Floridi: Information has been the Cinderella of philosophy


info, information, tips, icon, support From Luciano Floridi at New Atlantis:

Information is, in a way, the Cinderella in the history of philosophy. Any philosophy of knowledge, no matter whether ordinary (epistemology) or scientific (philosophy of science) requires an understanding of information — for instance in discussions of sensory perception and knowledge acquisition. There is no ethics without choices, responsibilities, and moral evaluations, all of which need a lot of relevant and reliable information and quite a good management of it. Logic was first a matter of the study of arguments, and then of mathematical proofs, but today it is also if not mainly a question of information extraction, transmission, and dynamics, and some branches of logic are really branches of information theory. Ontology, the study of the nature of being, would be meaningless without informational patterns — real, virtual, necessary, possible, or even impossible. The philosophy of mind needs informational mental states, and the philosophy of language without communication of information is pointless. Any philosophy of the logos is a philosophy of information, and Christian philosophy of religion is inconceivable without the informational concept of revelation. The list could be extended and refined to aesthetics, hermeneutics, philosophy of biology, philosophy of physics, and so forth, but the point is clear. To paraphrase Molière, Western philosophy has been speaking informationally without knowing it for twenty-five centuries. We have always relied on Cinderella working hard in the house of philosophy. It is time to acknowledge her great services, by designing the philosophy of our time to be properly conceptualized for our time. More.

Sure, but these days, Floridi will probably bump into a tenured asshat who claims, to much applause, that information doesn’t really exist or is a physical quantity.

See also: Glimmer: Information is not physical, not like matter or energy


New Scientist on information: More fundamental than matter and energy? Are they growing up over there?

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Physical quantity. haha. That's a good one. Nice find News! Today in reading I came across electronic information. As distinguished from, say, chemical information? Mechanical information? Mung
Luciano Floridi:
We have always relied on Cinderella working hard in the house of philosophy. It is time to acknowledge her great services, by designing the philosophy of our time to be properly conceptualized for our time.
NatSel and RadMut are the official fairies in the worldly state of affairs in Biology. Why? Well, simply because. Even after Cinderella’s fairy dressed the lovely young lady in a splendorous nightgown, turned a pumpkin and a few mice into a royal carriage pulled by powerful horses, the stepsisters didn’t recognized the most beautiful lady in the palace ballroom. But that’s no problem. What really matters is that the prince picked Cinderella among all the ladies in the palace that night. The next day the trusted servants of the prince went out to track down and locate the beautiful lady that had left her glass slippers while running for the door at midnight. The approach taken to accurately determine the true identity of the person the prince wanted to find was very interesting: the feet that could fit most precisely into the tested slippers would determine who is the sought after lady. Naturally the stepsisters tried all kinds of tricks to fit their feet into the glass slippers to no avail. Only Cinderella’s feet easily fit in. But the stepmother figured out a way to get around the problem. They fooled the royal servants that were carrying the glass slippers and persuaded them to throw away the glass slippers and use instead the shoes of her daughters. The prince was confused and baffled but still married both Cinderella's stepsisters, because he was threatened with a lawsuit and suspension of research grants if he didn't do it. That's the real story. What you may have heard at Disney is fake news. :) We humans naturally behave like Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters, hence we have a strong proclivity to ignore the overwhelming preponderance of the complex functional specified information observed in the amazing biological systems these days. Don't we? Dionisio

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