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Summary The philosophy of information is the branch of philosophy devoted to the thematic study of information in all its forms, and to the application of informational methods to new and traditional philosophical problems. The philosophy of information is not limited to any particular doctrine or methodology; rather, it is unified by its central focus on information as it plays out in both theory and practice. Examples of topics addressed by the philosophy of information include, among others: the nature of information; the modalities of information processing; the relations between information, knowledge, and meaning; the informational nature of mental life; the informational interpretation of reality; the value of information; the role of information in society and human interactions; and the politics of information.
Key works Though the Philosophy of Information as discipline is fairly new, works that can be labelled as belonging to one or more of the related sub-disciplines can be found at least since the Sixties. In particular for the relation with knowledge and logic: Bar-Hillel & Carnap 1953 and Dretske 1981. For a comprehensive approach of the current debates see Adriaans & van Benthem 2008 and Floridi 2011.
Introductions Adriaans 2012; Introduction in Adriaans & van Benthem 2008 and Floridi 2011; Floridi 2010; Floridi 2002.
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  1. Fred Adams & João Antonio de Moraes (forthcoming). Is There a Philosophy of Information? Topoi:1-11.
    In 2002, Luciano Floridi published a paper called What is the Philosophy of Information?, where he argues for a new paradigm in philosophical research. To what extent should his proposal be accepted? Is the Philosophy of Information actually a new paradigm, in the Kuhninan sense, in Philosophy? Or is it only a new branch of Epistemology? In our discussion we will argue in defense of Floridi’s proposal. We believe that Philosophy of Information has the types of features had by other (...)
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Conceptions of Information
  1. Pieter Adriaans (2010). A Critical Analysis of Floridi’s Theory of Semantic Information. Knowledge, Technology and Policy 23 (1-2):41-56.
    n various publications over the past years, Floridi has developed a theory of semantic information as well-formed, meaningful, and truthful data. This theory is more or less orthogonal to the standard entropy-based notions of information known from physics, information theory, and computer science that all define the amount of information in a certain system as a scalar value without any direct semantic implication. In this context the question rises what the exact relation between these various conceptions of information is and (...)
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  2. Patrick Allo (2014). Relevant Information and Relevant Questions: Comment on Floridi's “Understanding Epistemic Relevance”. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 24 (1):71-83.
    Floridi’s chapter on relevant information bridges the analysis of “being informed” with the analysis of knowledge as “relevant information that is accounted for” by analysing subjective or epistemic relevance in terms of the questions that an agent might ask in certain circumstances. In this paper, I scrutinise this analysis, identify a number of problems with it, and finally propose an improvement. By way of epilogue, I offer some more general remarks on the relation between (bounded) rationality, the need to ask (...)
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  3. Patrick Allo (2011). The Logic of 'Being Informed' Revisited and Revised. Philosophical Studies 153 (3):417-434.
    The logic of ‘being informed’ gives a formal analysis of a cognitive state that does not coincide with either belief, or knowledge. To Floridi, who first proposed the formal analysis, the latter is supported by the fact that unlike knowledge or belief, being informed is a factive, but not a reflective state. This paper takes a closer look at the formal analysis itself, provides a pure and an applied semantics for the logic of being informed, and tries to find out (...)
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  4. Patrick Allo (2010). Putting Information First: Luciano Floridi and the Philosophy of Information. Metaphilosophy 41 (3):247-254.
    Abstract: The core aim of this special issue is to present the philosophy of information as a way of doing philosophy, to focus on the contributions of Luciano Floridi to that area, and most important, to stimulate the debate on the most distinctive and controversial views he has defended in that context. This introduction contains a description of the philosophy of information, a discussion of two common misconceptions about the scope and the ambition of the philosophy of information, and a (...)
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  5. Patrick Allo (2009). Reasoning About Data and Information. Synthese 167 (2):231-249.
    Cognitive states as well as cognitive commodities play central though distinct roles in our epistemological theories. By being attentive to how a difference in their roles affects our way of referring to them, we can undoubtedly accrue our understanding of the structure and functioning of our main epistemological theories. In this paper we propose an analysis of the dichotomy between states and commodities in terms of the method of abstraction, and more specifically by means of infomorphisms between different ways to (...)
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  6. Patrick Allo (2008). Formalising the 'No Information Without Data-Representation' Principle. In P. Brey, A. Briggle & K. Waelbers (eds.), Current Issues in Computing and Philosophy. IOS Press.
    One of the basic principles of the general definition of information is its rejection of dataless information, which is reflected in its endorsement of an ontological neutrality. In general, this principles states that “there can be no information without physical implementation” (Floridi (2005)). Though this is standardly considered a commonsensical assumption, many questions arise with regard to its generalised application. In this paper a combined logic for data and information is elaborated, and specifically used to investigate the consequences of restricted (...)
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  7. Yehoshua Bar-Hillel & Rudolf Carnap (1953). Semantic Information. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 4 (14):147-157.
  8. Anthony F. Beavers (2011). Historicizing Floridi. Etica and Politica / Ethics and Politics (2):255-275.
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  9. Manuel E. Bremer (2003). Do Logical Truths Carry Information? Minds and Machines 13 (4):567-575.
    The paper deals with the question whether logical truth carry information. On the one hand it seems that we gain new information by drawing inferences or arriving at some theorems. On the other hand the formal accounts of information and information content which are most widely known today say that logical truth carry no information at all. The latter is shown by considering these accounts. Then several ways to deal with the dilemma are distinguished, especially syntactic and ontological solutions. A (...)
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  10. Manuel Bremer & Daniel Cohnitz (2004). Information and Information Flow. Ontos Verlag.
    This book is conceived as an introductory text into the theory of syntactic and semantic information, and information flow.
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  11. Gustavo Cevolani (2011). Strongly Semantic Information and Verisimilitude. Etica and Politica / Ethics and Politics (2):159-179.
    In The Philosophy of Information, Luciano Floridi presents a theory of “strongly semantic information”, based on the idea that “information encapsulates truth” (the so-called “veridicality thesis”). Starting with Popper, philosophers of science have developed different explications of the notion of verisimilitude or truthlikeness, construed as a combination of truth and information. Thus, the theory of strongly semantic information and the theory of verisimilitude are intimately tied. Yet, with few exceptions, this link has virtually pass unnoticed. In this paper, we briefly (...)
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  12. Jonathan Cohen & Aaron Meskin (2006). An Objective Counterfactual Theory of Information. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):333 – 352.
    We offer a novel theory of information that differs from traditional accounts in two respects: (i) it explains information in terms of counterfactuals rather than conditional probabilities, and (ii) it does not make essential reference to doxastic states of subjects, and consequently allows for the sort of objective, reductive explanations of various notions in epistemology and philosophy of mind that many have wanted from an account of information.
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  13. John Collier, Information.
    Information is commonly understood as knowledge or facts acquired or derived from, e.g., study, instruction or observation (Macmillan Contemporary Dictionary, 1979). On this notion, information is presumed to be both meaningful and veridical, and to have some appropriate connection to its object; it is concerned with representations and symbols in the most general sense MacKay 1969 ). Information might be misleading, but it can never be false. Deliberately misleading data is misinformation. The scientific notion of information abstracts from the representational (...)
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  14. Simon D'Alfonso (2011). On Quantifying Semantic Information. Information 2 (1):61-101.
    The purpose of this paper is to look at some existing methods of semantic information quantification and suggest some alternatives. It begins with an outline of Bar-Hillel and Carnap’s theory of semantic information before going on to look at Floridi’s theory of strongly semantic information. The latter then serves to initiate an in-depth investigation into the idea of utilising the notion of truthlikeness to quantify semantic information. Firstly, a couple of approaches to measure truthlikeness are drawn from the literature and (...)
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  15. Hilmi Demir (2008). Counterfactuals Vs. Conditional Probabilities: A Critical Analysis of the Counterfactual Theory of Information. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):45 – 60.
    Cohen and Meskin 2006 recently offered a counterfactual theory of information to replace the standard probabilistic theory of information. They claim that the counterfactual theory fares better than the standard account on three grounds: first, it provides a better framework for explaining information flow properties; second, it requires a less expensive ontology; and third, because it does not refer to doxastic states of the information-receiving organism, it provides an objective basis. In this paper, I show that none of these is (...)
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  16. Gordana Dodig Crnkovic & Mark Burgin (eds.) (forthcoming). INFORMATION AND COMPUTATION. World Scientific.
    The book focuses on relations between information and computation. Information is a basic structure of the world, while computation is a process of the dynamic change of information. In order for anything to exist for an individual, the individual must get information on it, either by means of perception or by re-organization of the existing information into new patterns and networks in the brain. With the advent of World Wide Web and a prospect of semantic web, the ways of information (...)
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  17. Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic (2003). Shifting the Paradigm of Philosophy of Science: Philosophy of Information and a New Renaissance. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 13 (4):521-536.
    Computing is changing the traditional field of Philosophy of Science in a very profound way. First as a methodological tool, computing makes possible ``experimental Philosophy'' which is able to provide practical tests for different philosophical ideas. At the same time the ideal object of investigation of the Philosophy of Science is changing. For a long period of time the ideal science was Physics (e.g., Popper, Carnap, Kuhn, and Chalmers). Now the focus is shifting to the field of Computing/Informatics. There are (...)
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  18. Fred Dretske (1981/1999). Knowledge and the Flow of Information. MIT Press.
    This book presents an attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form (experience) for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning (or belief content) (...)
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  19. A. Duwell (2003). Quantum Information Does Not Exist. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 34 (3):479-499.
    Some physicists seem to believe that quantum information theory requires a new concept of information (Jozsa, 1998, Quantum information and its properties. In: Hoi-Kwong Lo, S. Popescu, T. Spiller (Eds.), Introduction to Quantum Computation and Information, World Scientific, Singapore, (pp. 49-75); Deutsch & Hayden, 1999, Information flow in entangled quantum subsystems, preprint quant-ph/9906007). I will argue that no new concept is necessary. Shannon's concept of information is sufficient for quantum information theory. Properties that are cited to contrast quantum information and (...)
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  20. Armond Duwell (2008). Quantum Information Does Exist. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 39 (1):195-216.
  21. James H. Fetzer (2004). Information: Does It Have to Be True? [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 14 (2):223-229.
    Luciano Floridi (2003) offers a theory of information as a strongly semantic notion, according to which information encapsulates truth, thereby making truth a necessary condition for a sentence to qualify as information. While Floridi provides an impressive development of this position, the aspects of his approach of greatest philosophical significance are its foundations rather than its formalization. He rejects the conception of information as meaningful data, which entails at least three theses – that information can be false; that tautologies are (...)
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  22. Luciano Floridi (2011). Semantic Information and the Correctness Theory of Truth. Erkenntnis 74 (2):147-175.
    Semantic information is usually supposed to satisfy the veridicality thesis: p qualifies as semantic information only if p is true. However, what it means for semantic information to be true is often left implicit, with correspondentist interpretations representing the most popular, default option. The article develops an alternative approach, namely a correctness theory of truth (CTT) for semantic information. This is meant as a contribution not only to the philosophy of information but also to the philosophical debate on the nature (...)
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  23. Luciano Floridi (2011). The Philosophy of Information. Oxford University Press.
    This book lays down, for the first time, the conceptual foundations for this new area of research. It does so systematically, by pursuing three goals.
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  24. Luciano Floridi (2010). The Philosophy of Information: Ten Years Later. Metaphilosophy 41 (3):402-419.
    Abstract: This article provides replies to, and comments on, the contributions to the special issue on the philosophy of information. It seeks to highlight con-vergences and points of potential agreement, while offering clarifications and further details. It also answers some criticisms and replies to some objections articulated in the special issue.
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  25. Luciano Floridi (2010). The Philosophy of Information as a Conceptual Framework. Knowledge, Technology and Policy 23 (1):1-31.
    The article contains the replies to the collection of contributions discussing my research on the philosophy of information.
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  26. Luciano Floridi, Semantic Conceptions of Information. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    “I love information upon all subjects that come in my way, and especially upon those that are most important.” Thus boldly declares Euphranor, one of the defenders of Christian faith in Berkley's Alciphron (Dialogue 1, Section 5, Paragraph 6/10, see Berkeley [1732]). Evidently, information has been an object of philosophical desire for some time, well before the computer revolution, Internet or the dot.com pandemonium (see for example Dunn [2001] and Adams [2003]). Yet what does Euphranor love, exactly? What is information (...)
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  27. Luciano Floridi, LIS as Applied Philosophy of Information: A Reappraisal.
    Library information science (LIS) should develop its foundation in terms of a philosophy of information (PI). This seems a rather harmless suggestion. Where else could information science look for its conceptual foundations if not in PI? However, accepting this proposal means moving away from one of the few solid alternatives currently available in the field, namely, providing LIS with a foundation in terms of social epistemology (SE). This is no trivial move, so some reasonable reluctance is to be expected. To (...)
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  28. Luciano Floridi (2004). Outline of a Theory of Strongly Semantic Information. Minds and Machines 14 (2):197-221.
    This paper outlines a quantitative theory of strongly semantic information (TSSI) based on truth-values rather than probability distributions. The main hypothesis supported in the paper is that the classic quantitative theory of weakly semantic information (TWSI), based on probability distributions, assumes that truth-values supervene on factual semantic information, yet this principle is too weak and generates a well-known semantic paradox, whereas TSSI, according to which factual semantic information encapsulates truth, can avoid the paradox and is more in line with the (...)
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  29. Luciano Floridi (2004). Open Problems in the Philosophy of Information. Metaphilosophy 35 (4):554-582.
    The philosophy of information (PI) is a new area of research with its own field of investigation and methodology. This article, based on the Herbert A. Simon Lecture of Computing and Philosophy I gave at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001, analyses the eighteen principal open problems in PI. Section 1 introduces the analysis by outlining Herbert Simon's approach to PI. Section 2 discusses some methodological considerations about what counts as a good philosophical problem. The discussion centers on Hilbert's famous analysis (...)
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  30. Luciano Floridi (2003). Two Approaches to the Philosophy of Information. Minds and Machines 13 (4):459-469.
  31. Luciano Floridi (ed.) (2002). Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Information and Computing. Blackwell.
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  32. Luciano Floridi (2002). On Defining Library and Information Science as Applied Philosophy of Information. Social Epistemology 16 (1):37 – 49.
    This paper analyses the relations between philosophy of information (PI), library and information science (LIS) and social epistemology (SE). In the first section, it is argued that there is a natural relation between philosophy and LIS but that SE cannot provide a satisfactory foundation for LIS. SE should rather be seen as sharing with LIS a common ground, represented by the study of information, to be investigated by a new discipline, PI. In the second section, the nature of PI is (...)
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  33. Luciano Floridi (2002). What is the Philosophy of Information? In James Moor & Terrell Ward Bynum (eds.), Cyberphilosophy: The Intersection of Philosophy and Computing. Blackwell Pub.. 123-145.
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  34. Luciano Floridi (1999). Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction. Routledge.
    This accessible book explores the development, history and future of Information and Communication Technology using examples from philosophy. Luciano Floridi offers both an introduction to these technologies and a philosophical analysis of the problems they pose. The book examines a wide range of areas of technology, including the digital revolution, the Web and Internet, Artificial Intelligence and CD-ROMS. We see how the relationship between philosophy and computing provokes many crucial philosophical questions. Ultimately, Philosophy and Computing outlines what the future philosophy (...)
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  35. Nir Fresco & Marty J. Wolf (2014). The Instructional Information Processing Account of Digital Computation. Synthese 191 (7):1469-1492.
    What is nontrivial digital computation? It is the processing of discrete data through discrete state transitions in accordance with finite instructional information. The motivation for our account is that many previous attempts to answer this question are inadequate, and also that this account accords with the common intuition that digital computation is a type of information processing. We use the notion of reachability in a graph to defend this characterization in memory-based systems and underscore the importance of instructional information for (...)
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  36. Aldo Frigerio, Alessandro Giordani & Luca Mari (2013). On Representing Information: A Characterization of the Analog/Digital Distinction. Dialectica 67 (4):455-483.
    The common account of the analog vs digital distinction is based on features of physical systems, being related to the usage of continuous vs discrete supports respectively. It is proposed here to alternatively characterize the concepts of analog and digital as related to coding systems, of which a formal definition is given, by suggesting that the distinction refers to the strategy adopted to define the coding function: extensional in digital systems, isomorphic intensional in analog systems. This thesis is supported by (...)
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  37. Amos Golan (2014). Information Dynamics. Minds and Machines 24 (1):19-36.
    Though we have access to a wealth of information, the main issue is always how to process the available information. How to make sense of all we observe and know. Just like the English alphabet: we know there are 26 letters but unless we put these letters together in a meaningful way, they convey no information. There are infinitely many ways of putting these letters together. Only a small number of those make sense. Only some of those convey exactly what (...)
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  38. Stevan Harnad (2011). Lunch Uncertain [Review Of: Floridi, Luciano (2011) The Philosophy of Information (Oxford)]. [REVIEW] Times Literary Supplement 5664 (22-23).
    The usual way to try to ground knowing according to contemporary theory of knowledge is: We know something if (1) it’s true, (2) we believe it, and (3) we believe it for the “right” reasons. Floridi proposes a better way. His grounding is based partly on probability theory, and partly on a question/answer network of verbal and behavioural interactions evolving in time. This is rather like modeling the data-exchange between a data-seeker who needs to know which button to press on (...)
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  39. Ken Herold (2004). Introduction to The Philosophy of Information. Library Trends 52 (3):373-376.
  40. Jaakko Hintikka (1984). Some Varieties of Information. Information Processing and Management 20 (1-2):175-181.
    Several different kinds of measures of information are distinguished from each other. The differences between them show that our pretheoretical concept of information is multiply ambiguous. Attempts to think of the scientific enterprise in terms of information maximization lead to several legitimately different rules of scientific decision-making, depending on which kind of information one is interested in. The contrast between high information and high probability postulated by some philosophers is spurious for the same reason. It is even possible to define (...)
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  41. Wesley H. Holliday, Tomohiro Hoshi & Thomas F. Icard Iii (2013). Information Dynamics and Uniform Substitution. Synthese 190 (1):31-55.
    The picture of information acquisition as the elimination of possibilities has proven fruitful in many domains, serving as a foundation for formal models in philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and economics. While the picture appears simple, its formalization in dynamic epistemic logic reveals subtleties: given a valid principle of information dynamics in the language of dynamic epistemic logic, substituting complex epistemic sentences for its atomic sentences may result in an invalid principle. In this article, we explore such failures of uniform substitution. (...)
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  42. Phyllis Illari (2012). The Philosophy of Information - a Simple Introduction. Society for the Philosophy of Information.
    This book serves as the main reference for an undergraduate course on Philosophy of Information. The book is written to be accessible to the typical undergraduate student of Philosophy and does not require propaedeutic courses in Logic, Epistemology or Ethics. Each chapter includes a rich collection of references for the student interested in furthering her understanding of the topics reviewed in the book. -/- The book covers all the main topics of the Philosophy of Information and it should be considered (...)
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  43. David J. Israel & John Perry (1990). What is Information? In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.
  44. Douglas Kellner, Review of Albert Borgmann, Holding Onto Reality. The Nature of Information at the Turn Of. [REVIEW]
    Albert Borgmann's new book Holding onto Reality. The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium (1999) continues the interrogation of the epochal significance of new information technology he began in Crossing the Postmodern Divide (1992). For Borgmann, the postmodern divide involves, among other things, a shift from involvement with "focal" things and practices (i.e. activities such as eating, gardening, running, and the like), to immersion in media fantasies, or the thrills of cyberspace and virtual reality. Borgmann continues his (...)
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  45. David Kirsh (1992). When is Information Explicitly Represented? The Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science:340-365.
    Computation is a process of making explicit, information that was implicit. In computing 5 as the solution to ∛125, for example, we move from a description that is not explicitly about 5 to one that is. We are drawing out numerical consequences to the description ∛125. We are extracting information implicit in the problem statement. Can we precisely state the difference between information thati s implicit in a state, structure or process and information that is explicit?
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  46. David Koepsell & Barry Smith (2014). Beyond Paper. The Monist 7 (2):222–235.
    The authors outline the way in which documents as social objects have evolved from their earliest forms to the electronic documents of the present day. They note that while certain features have remained consistent, processes regarding document authentication are seriously complicated by the easy reproducibility of digital entities. The authors argue that electronic documents also raise significant questions concerning the theory of ‘documentality’ advanced by Maurizio Ferraris, especially given the fact that interactive documents seem to blur the distinctions between the (...)
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  47. Bruce Raymond Long (forthcoming). Information is Intrinsically Semantic but Alethically Neutral. Synthese:1-21.
    In this paper I argue that, according to a particular physicalist conception of information, information is both alethically neutral or non-alethic, and is intrinsically semantic. The conception of information presented is physicalist and reductionist, and is contrary to most current pluralist and non-reductionist philosophical opinion about the nature of information. The ontology assumed for this conception of information is based upon physicalist non-eliminative ontic structural realism. However, the argument of primary interest is that information so construed is intrinsically semantic on (...)
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  48. Aaron Meskin & Jonathan Cohen (2008). Counterfactuals, Probabilities, and Information: Response to Critics. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):635 – 642.
    In earlier work we proposed an account of information grounded in counterfactual conditionals rather than probabilities, and argued that it might serve philosophical needs that more familiar probabilistic alternatives do not. Demir [2008] and Scarantino [2008] criticize the counterfactual approach by contending that its alleged advantages are illusory and that it fails to secure attractive desiderata. In this paper we defend the counterfactual account from these criticisms, and suggest that it remains a useful account of information.
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  49. David Milne, Catherine Legg, Medelyan Olena & Witten Ian (2009). Mining Meaning From Wikipedia. International Journal of Human-Computer Interactions 67 (9):716-754.
    Wikipedia is a goldmine of information; not just for its many readers, but also for the growing community of researchers who recognize it as a resource of exceptional scale and utility. It represents a vast investment of manual effort and judgment: a huge, constantly evolving tapestry of concepts and relations that is being applied to a host of tasks. This article provides a comprehensive description of this work. It focuses on research that extracts and makes use of the concepts, relations, (...)
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