The Philosophy and Ethics of Information
“You will get a better understanding of the conceptual issues we are dealing with, but also the ability to shape and understand problems at the conceptual level, and the ability to devise solutions and policies — an ability that will be helpful whatever the next steps you take in your life.”
In this course, philosophy will be interpreted as the conceptual design of cogent and relevant answers to open questions of a foundational nature. In the case of the philosophy and ethics of information (PEI), the questions concern the conceptual nature and basic principles of information, including its dynamics, utilisation, and sciences, and the elaboration and application of an information-theoretical approach to classic and new philosophical problems.
The course has three goals. It explains what PEI is, its problems, approaches, and methods. Secondly, it introduces some key concepts and phenomena related to information. Finally, it seeks to answer some crucial theoretical questions of great philosophical significance prompted by the development of the information society. No prior knowledge of philosophy, ethics or logic is presupposed, but some preparatory readings are recommended (see reading list).
At the end of this course students will:
- have obtained a critical understanding of the basic problems, concepts and methodology of the philosophy and ethics of information;
- know how to analyse the conceptual nature of fundamental information-theoretic phenomena;
- be able to formulate research questions that are amenable to philosophical analysis and use relevant conceptual tools to design cogent answers to them;
- understand how new ethical challenges arise from the development of digital environments and unprecedented forms of agency and what approaches may be fruitful in order to deal with them; and
- be familiar with important work on the philosophy and ethics of information authored by distinguished researchers in the field.