The Philosophy of Information Policies

Given the unprecedented novelties that the dawn of hyperhistory is causing, it is not surprising that many of our fundamental philosophical views, so entrenched in history and above all so modern (in the sense of this word explained in the Manifesto), may need to be upgraded, if not entirely replaced. Perhaps not yet in academia, think tanks, research centres, or R&D offices, but clearly in the streets and online, there is an atmosphere of confused expectancy, of exciting, sometimes naïve, bottom-up changes in our views about (i) the world, (ii) about ourselves, (iii) about our interactions with the world and (iv) among ourselves.

These four focus points are not the result of research programmes, nor of the impact of successful grant applications. Much more realistically and powerfully, but also more confusedly and tentatively, the changes in our Weltanschauung are the result of our daily adjustments, intellectually and behaviourally, to a reality that is fluidly changing in front of our eyes and under our feet, exponentially and relentlessly. In the Manifesto, I described this state in terms of “building the raft while swimming”, hacking Neurath's famous analogy. We are finding our new balance by shaping and adapting to hyperhistorical conditions that have not yet sedimented into a mature age, and in which novelties are no longer disruptive but finally stable patterns of “more of approximately the same” (think, for example, of the car or the book industry, and the stability they have provided).

It is for this reason that the following terminology is only tentative and probably inadequate for capturing the intellectual novelty that we are facing. Our very conceptual vocabulary and our ways of making sense of the world (our semanticising processes and practices) need to be reconsidered and redesigned in order to provide us with a better grasp of our hyperhistorical age, and hence a better chance to shape it in the best way and deal with its challenges successfully. With this proviso in mind, it seems clear that a new philosophy of history, which tries to makes sense of our age as the end of history and the beginning of hyperhistory, invites the development of (see the fours points above) (i) a new philosophy of nature, (ii) a new philosophical anthropology, (iii) a synthetic e-nvironmentalism as a bridge between us and the world, and (iv) a new philosophy of politics among us.

In other contexts, I have argued that such an invitation amounts to a request for a new philosophy of information that can work at 360 degrees on our hyperhistorical condition (Floridi 2011). I have sought to develop a philosophy of nature in terms of a philosophy of the infosphere (Floridi 2003), and a philosophical anthropology in terms of a fourth revolution in our self-understanding—after the Copernican, the Darwinian, and Freudian ones—that re-interprets humans as informational organisms living and interacting with other informational agents in the infosphere (Floridi 2008, 2010). Finally, I have suggested that an expansion of environmental ethics to all environments—including those that are artificial, digital or synthetic— should be based on an information ethics for the whole infosphere (Floridi forthcoming). What I have not done is to outline a philosophy of politics consistent with such initial steps. The following remarks represent the beginning of this new effort.

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