Synthese 195 (1):465-481 (2018)

Luciano Floridi
Oxford University
Three classic distinctions specify that truths can be necessary versus contingent,analytic versus synthetic, and a priori versus a posteriori. The philosopher reading this article knows very well both how useful and ordinary such distinctions are in our conceptual work and that they have been subject to many and detailed debates, especially the last two. In the following pages, I do not wish to discuss how far they may be tenable. I shall assume that, if they are reasonable and non problematic in some ordinary cases, then they can be used in order to understand what kind of knowledge the maker’s knowledge is. By this I mean the sort of knowledge that Alice enjoys when she holds the information that Bob’s coffee is sweetened because she just put two spoons of sugar in it herself. The maker’s knowledge tradition is quite important but it is not mainstream in modern and analytic epistemology and lacks grounding in terms of exactly what sort of knowledge one is talking about. My suggestion is that this grounding can be provided by a minimalist approach, based on an information-theoretical analysis. In the article, I argue that we need to decouple a fourth distinction, namely informative versus uninformative, from the previous three and, in particular, from its implicit association with analytic versus synthetic and a priori versus a posteriori; such a decoupling facilitates, and is facilitated by, moving from a monoagent to a multiagent approach: the distinctions qualify a proposition, a message, or some information not just in themselves but relationally, with respect to an informational agent; the decoupling and the multiagent approach enable a re-mapping of currently available positions in epistemology on these four dichotomies; within such a re-mapping, two positions, capturing the nature of a witness’ knowledge and of a maker’s knowledge, can best be described as contingent, synthetic, a posteriori, and uninformative and as contingent, synthetic, weakly a priori, and uninformative respectively. In the conclusion, I indicate why the analysis of the maker’s knowledge has important consequences in all those cases in which the poietic intervention on a system determines the truth of the model of that system.
Keywords Ab anteriori   Analytic   A posterior   A priori  Epistemology  Information theory   Maker’s knowledge  Philosophy of information   Synthetic  Witness’ knowledge
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1232-8
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References found in this work BETA

The Philosophy of Information.Luciano Floridi - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Dynamic Epistemic Logic.Hans van Ditmarsch, Wiebe van der Hoek & Barteld Kooi - 2016 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Method of Levels of Abstraction.Luciano Floridi - 2008 - Minds and Machines 18 (3):303–329.

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Citations of this work BETA

What the Near Future of Artificial Intelligence Could Be.Luciano Floridi - 2019 - Philosophy and Technology 32 (1):1-15.
A Plea for Non-Naturalism as Constructionism.Luciano Floridi - 2017 - Minds and Machines 27 (2):269-285.
Syntactical Informational Structural Realism.Majid Beni - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (4):623-643.
Whewell’s Hylomorphism as a Metaphorical Explanation for How Mind and World Merge.Ragnar Van Der Merwe - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:DOI: 10.1007/s10838-021-09595-x.

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