The Logic of Information: A Theory of Philosophy as Conceptual Design

Luciano Floridi:

Luciano Floridi elucidated and popularized the ideas of Infosphere, Philosophy of information, The Ethics of Information and Fourth Revolution. The present book has a more ambitious program then the previous ones: a proposed new foundation for philosophy. With Descartes and Kant, epistemology became central replacing the old Aristotelian metaphysics. With Frege’s and Wittgenstein’s linguistic turn, logic, in the form of a theory of meaning, became central as Dummett and Davidson suggested. With Williamson, metaphysics was again central. Floridi suggests abandoning any representationalist view in order to develop a philosophy of information as conceptual design. Is this a real revolution or just proposing old ideas in a new form? Actually, Rorty had already attacked the centrality of the “representational view” of philosophy in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. The new terminology, “conceptual design”, seems simply a development of Dummett’s view that: “the philosopher’s own resource is the analysis of concepts we already possess” (p. 18). Therefore, besides the analogy with the principle of design in architecture (analysed in chapter 10 and applied to system engineering on  pp. 298 ff.), Floridi’s view of philosophy as conceptual design seems to place philosophy on traditional grounds as the “art of identifying and clarifying open questions and of devising, refining, proposing and evaluating explanatory answers”. Philosophy is a set of open questions: questions open to informed and rational disagreement, in contrast with questions that — like empirical and logico-mathematical questions — may have definite answers based on observations and calculations. At first sight, then, we haven’t a great revolution, but ideas framed in an original way, with subtle remarks on Plato’s negative influence on philosophy on the one hand and big data analysis on the other.