Information and design: book symposium on Luciano Floridi’s The Logic of Information

Publication Date15 Jan 2020
AuthorTim Gorichanaz,Jonathan Furner,Lai Ma,David Bawden,Lyn Robinson,Dominic Dixon,Ken Herold,Sille Obelitz Søe,Betsy Van der Veer Martens,Luciano Floridi
subjectMatterLibrary & information science,Records management & preservation,Document management,Classification & cataloguing,Information behaviour & retrieval,Collection building & management,Scholarly communications/publishing,Information & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Information and design: book
symposium on Luciano Floridis
The Logic of Information
Tim Gorichanaz
College of Computing & Informatics,
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Jonathan Furner
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies,
University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
Lai Ma
School of Information and Communication Studies,
University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
David Bawden, Lyn Robinson and Dominic Dixon
Centre for Information Science, City, University of London, London, UK
Ken Herold
Swirbul Library, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA
Sille Obelitz Søe
Royal School of Library and Information Science,
Kobenhavns Universitet Det Humanistiske Fakultet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Betsy Van der Veer Martens
School of Library & Information Studies,
University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, and
Luciano Floridi
Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford, UK and
The Alan Turing Institute, London, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to rev iew and discuss Luciano Flor idis 2019 book The Logic of
Information: A Theory of Philosophy as Concep tual Design, the lates t instalment in his philo sophy
of information (PI) te tralogy, particularl y with respect to its imp lications for libra ry and information
studies (LIS).
Design/methodology/approach Nine scholars with researc h interests in philosop hy and LIS read
and responded to the book , raising critical and he uristic questions in th e spirit of scholarly di alogue.
Floridi responded to t hese questions.
Findings Floridis PI, including this latest publication, is of interest to LIS scholars, and much insight can
be gained by exploring this connection. It seems also that LIS has the potential to contribute to PIs further
development in some respects.
Journal of Documentation
Vol. 76 No. 2, 2020
pp. 586-616
Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JD-10-2019-0200
Received 7 October 2019
Revised 15 October 2019
Accepted 15 October 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
© Tim Gorichanaz, JonathanFurner, Lai Ma, David Bawden,Lyn Robinson, Dominic Dixon,Ken Herold,
Sille Obelitz Søe, Betsy Van der Veer Martens and Luciano Floridi. Published by Emerald Publishing
Limited. This articleis published under the Creative CommonsAttribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone
may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial &
non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full
terms of this licence may be seen at
Research limitations/implications Floridis PI work is technical philosophy for which many LIS
scholars do not have the training or patience to engage with, yet doing so is rewarding. This suggests a role
for translational work between philosophy and LIS.
Originality/value The book symposium format, not yet seen in LIS, provides forum for sustained,
multifaceted and generative dialogue around ideas.
Keywords Design, Philosophy
Paper type Research paper
Editors introduction (David Bawden)
The Journal of Documentation has always placed a strong emphasis on theories, concepts
and philosophies related to documents and recorded knowledge. It is in my view
unquestionable that the most important such development in recent years has been Luciano
FloridisPhilosophy of Information, and its potential applicability to questions of library and
information science, and of documentation. This has been debated for over 15 years, and the
publication of Floridis latest monograph, The Logic of Information, contributes to those
debates, with much relevance for the information disciplines.
Having a book symposiumto discuss this new work developed from a panel session
Curators of the Infosphere? Whats the good of PI for LIS (and vice versa)?”–at the
iConference in Sheffield in 2018, following Floridis keynote talk, and all of the participants
in those discussions have contributed here. The idea for this book symposium is due to Tim
Gorichanaz; and as editor of the Journal of Documentation, I am grateful to him, to those
who have provided commentaries on The Logic of Information, and to Luciano Floridi for
his response.
Introduction (Tim Gorichanaz)
The question of whether library and information studies (LIS) needs a grounding
philosophy crops up perennially. (Of course, this is already a philosophical question.)
Related is the question of what sort of philosophy ought to do the job.
Over the past two decades or so, we have borne witness to the emergence of a new
philosophical system thatresponds to the exigenciesof the digital revolution,Luciano Floridis
philosophy of information (PI). In designing this philosophical system, Professor Floridi has
written hundreds of articles which are coalescing in a four-book series (i.e. a tetralogy)
presenting the foundations of PI, what Floridi calls his Principia Philosophiae Informationis
hearkening back to Newtons era-defining Principia Mathematica.
Given the co-occurrence of informationin the names of both LIS and PI, it may be
unsurprising that there has been much discussion in the LIS literature of whether and how
PI is relevant to LIS, and specifically whether it might be a suitable grounding philosophy
for LIS. And indeed, just as Floridi locates the seed of PI in the insights of Alan Turing and
others in the first part of the twentieth century, LIS (specifically the Ipart) was emerging
at the same time. To be sure, PI connects to a line of past philosophers, reaching back to
Plato, just as LIS has roots in bibliography and librarianship. But both PI and todays LIS
were shaped by a great realization of the twentieth century: the technological leaps that are
possible through codification. And so arises the question of what these two fields might
have to say to each other.
To continue and bring forward these discussions, we convened this book symposium
on The Logic of Information (Floridi, 2019). Nine scholars, the authors of this paper,
each first independently read the book and wrote response essays. Each author was
instructed to raise a question and/or probe some aspect of the book, linking it to their own
work or the broader interests of LIS. Then, Professor Floridi was invited to read our
comments and respond. This project resulted in the present document, a compendium of
short essays.

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