Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)


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A view of information that concords with the discussion of understanding that is discussed below is a constructionist account of information. That is, information can be picked out from the flow of existence and considered as content about something else if doing so will be useful in some way.

Here Floridi , p. The concept of meaning forms part of Ackoff's epistemic pyramid in being partially constitutive of information. Since Ackoff, meaning has been invoked in many definitions of information, including those by Bates , , Floridi and Yu , discussed above. Bates does not address the meaning of meaning, and Yu specifically brackets it out of his discussion. Floridi, however, does address meaning in some detail.


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Floridi considers a number of accounts of meaning in philosophy and notes that they have been limited by their focus on language i. In general, primitive accounts of meaning assume direct correspondence between a symbol and its referent, the fallacy of which has been exposed by more modern accounts, most famously in Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations , first published in Floridi, Another account was developed by philosopher-turned-information-scientist Wilson , which will be discussed below in the section on understanding because Wilson explicitly ties his discussion to understanding.

Floridi intends for his account of meaning to overcome these limitations through its basis in information, rather than language. Floridi views meaning as coordinating action toward goals. In this sense, the meaning of something is the way it affords and constrains actions, and it is therefore inextricable from its context. Notably, Johnson's account specifically allows for meaning to manifest as a difference in human experience not necessarily outwardly observable action ; as described by Johnson, meaning is the way in which patterns of neural activity and their relations ' evoke feeling-thinking responses in us ' Johnson , p.

In this sense, meaning is also clearly implicit in Tkach's definition of information described above. Floridi's account of meaning also seems compatible with other accounts developed within information studies, such as that of Neuman , who defines meaning as a system's response to a signal, and Thornley and Gibb , who emphasize the processual and contextual contingency of meaning. As mentioned above, it has been assumed that the main purpose of information studies is to help people acquire knowledge Egan and Shera, ; Fallis, As such, knowledge has been a much-discussed epistemic aim in information studies.

Furner contends that information studies has no standard conception of knowledge, which is supported by Rowley's survey of introductory textbooks. Synthesizing the literature, Furner identifies two rival views: knowledge as true information i. Many scholars draw a link between information and knowledge, sometimes also including data Floridi, ; Rowley, ; Zins, Bosancic , for instance, conceptualizes information 'sap' explicitly to connect data and knowledge. Floridi sees knowledge as multiple units of information that are embedded in a coherent explanatory network.

In a similar move, Bates defines knowledge as ' information given meaning and integrated with other contents of understanding ' Bates, , p. Yu's view of knowledge differs here: Yu sees knowledge as a species of meaning which, combined with data, forms information that is derived from some socially acceptable knowledge-generating means e. For Yu, knowledge is analytically isolated from its expression; knowledge e. Separate from discussions linking knowledge to other epistemic concepts, knowledge has been researched in itself, generally conceptualized in terms of its explicitness or implicitness or tacitness Rowley, The concept of tacit knowledge originated with Polanyi , , who observed that people may do things in ways and for reasons that are unknown to them, and that what is unknown may not be articulable.

In other words, ' we can know more than we can tell ' Polanyi, , p.

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Particularly in the field of knowledge management, tacit knowledge has been heavily researched Tsoukas, However, both Day and Tsoukas argue that theoretical development regarding tacit knowledge has stalled because many researchers assume that tacit knowledge is in principle propositional but is simply latent in its symbolic representation. On the contrary, Day and Tsoukas argue that at least some tacit knowledge is in principle ineffable and is inseparable from the skilled actions it underlies; Day builds his argument based on the expressionist philosophy of Deleuze, while Tsoukas references Polanyi's seminal works which themselves drew on the onto-epistemology of Heidegger.

Cook and Brown likewise find knowledge and action to be inextricable: ' knowing is the epistemological dimension of action ' Cook and Brown, , p. This perspective is consistent with the tenet in practice theory that situated action is a way of knowing, which is becoming widely adopted in the study of information behaviour or practices Lloyd, ; Olsson and Lloyd, ; Savolainen, These different conceptualizations of knowledge—as pure meaning Yu, , as a coherent web of information Bates, , , as information that is accounted for in a network of questions and answers Floridi, , and as skilled action Lloyd, ; Polanyi, , —demonstrate that information studies takes a broader view of knowledge than does contemporary Anglophone epistemology Rowley, Rowley finds that, in information studies, knowledge is also sometimes seen as a mix of epistemic content, capability, experience, skills and values.

In epistemology, on the other hand, knowledge is taken only as an intellectual good as in Yu, and is generally defined as a belief that is both true and justified Steup, , pointing only to the conceptualization of knowledge as epistemic content; in information science, on the other hand, knowledge is sometimes seen as a mix of epistemic content, capability, experience, skills and values Rowley, It is worth noting, however, that some epistemologists have identified other types of knowledge: For instance, Worth argues for narrative knowledge what x is like , which is compatible with Bruner's argument that story is a mode of human reasoning, complementary to logic.

Additionally, van Manen draws from hermeneutic phenomenology in proposing pathic knowledge , as emotional or primordial knowledge as opposed to gnostic knowledge , which is cognitive or processual knowledge ; this seems to be the same dimension of knowledge that pedagogical philosopher James Taylor calls poetic knowledge a holistic, from-the-inside experience of reality. It may be the case that narrative knowledge, pathic knowledge and poetic knowledge are different names for the same thing: van Manen , for instance, asserts that narratives afford pathic knowledge and that pathic knowledge refers to a holistic, from-the-inside experience of reality.

Coterminous or not, these concepts point to a dimension of human knowing that has apparently been overlooked in contemporary Anglophone epistemology but which may nonetheless have a place in information science, as Rowley's analysis suggests. All this suggests some lack of clarity and paradigmatic differences regarding what knowledge is and what counts as knowledge. This seems to point to the importance of allowing what counts as knowledge to emerge in the particular context under study rather than have it be imposed a priori which may result in overlooking or misapprehending knowledge.

This becomes an important benefit of taking an understanding-based approach to studying information, which will be described below. Understanding was originally a dedicated level of Ackoff's epistemic pyramid, which Ackoff described as dealing with causal relations. Though Ackoff's model in general has been much-discussed, the concept of understanding elicited virtually no comment in information studies.

An exception is the work of Bellinger, Castro and Mills , who suggest that understanding should not be its own level, but rather that understanding supports the transition from each stage to the next. This tension reflects two ways in which understanding has been explored in philosophy: as ontic understanding and as ontological understanding.

The distinction of the ontic from the ontological comes from the work of Heidegger For Heidegger, ontic characteristics are those describing the particular manifestation of a being, while ontological characteristics are those describing its existence; ontics gives an account of being s , while ontology gives an account of being. For example, ontic characteristics of human beings include gender, hairstyle and eye colour; ontological characteristics of human being include being-toward-death, mood and understanding Heidegger, These terms have not been used as differentiators in the philosophical discourse on understanding, but they provide a useful framework for organizing the literature.

Ontically, understanding can refer to objectual understanding understanding x , propositional understanding that x and interrogative understanding how x , though these categories are debated Baumberger et al. Ontologically, understanding refers to the human capacity for understanding Baumberger et al.

It seems that Ackoff was describing ontic understanding, while Bellinger et al. It is ontological understanding that has historically seen the most attention in both philosophy and information science. For Dilthey, understanding refers to a process that employs all a person's capacities and is different from pure intellectual knowing. This concept was developed further in hermeneutic phenomenology by Heidegger , for whom understanding is a contextualized, perceptive and intentional mode of being-in-the-world that entails pursuing projects and engaging with possibility.

For Heidegger, ontological understanding is the basis of ontic understanding. This conceptualization of understanding underlies contemporary hermeneutic phenomenology, whose propriety for information science has been espoused by many scholars, including John Budd, Rafael Capurro and Joacim Hansson Kelly, Additionally, hermeneutics has been influential in human— computer interaction Dourish, ; Winograd and Flores, In information science, the hermeneutic perspective seeks to provide an ontological—epistemological account of information processes by interrogating their foundations Kelly, Though hermeneutics has long been a minority in information science, it seems to be gaining traction Vamanu, , as evidenced by, for instance, the Heideggerian model of information behaviour proposed by Tkach As a final note, ontological understanding seems to be the only sort of understanding considered by Floridi in the philosophy of information, and only in the observation that ' it seems that knowing requires understanding, or at least that the two are mutually related ' Floridi, , p.

However, in light of contemporary discussions on understanding, it seems reasonable to ascribe the label of ontic understanding to the network of question-and-answer accounting that makes a piece of information count as knowledge in Floridi's framework. Ontic understanding has seen comparatively less interest in philosophy over the past several centuries, but this may be a historical accident Kvanvig, Moravscik argues that understanding was an important connotation of the Greek word episteme , but that word has generally been rendered in English only as knowledge.

As such, Anglophone epistemologists have ignored ontic understanding until the late 20th century Kvanvig, One area of philosophy in which ontic understanding has been explored for a longer period throughout the 20th century is in the philosophy of language Baumberger et al. For example, Wilson presented a doctoral dissertation focusing on ontic understanding in linguistic communication. The main innovation of Wilson's approach was in recognizing all meaning as context-dependent, contingent and action-based rather than 'stored' in words.

This work was later articulated for utility in information retrieval as the concept of situational relevance Wilson, Wilson's , work was extended by O'Connor, Kearns, and Anderson in grounding a philosophy for information retrieval of non-text documents, but even this extension was limited by its basis in the philosophy of language. For instance, O'Connor et al. Here O'Connor et al. This overlooks the reality that every day millions of people listen, dance and cry to music in a language they do not speak, even music with no words at all Goodman, ; Jackson, More recently, ontic understanding has become a compelling subject in epistemology Baumberger et al.

This is because ontic understanding is seen as epistemically more valuable than knowledge and because the traditional factors defining knowledge truth, justification and belief are less problematic when considered as factors defining ontic understanding Baumberger et al. However, the precise nature of ontic understanding is hotly debated among epistemologists just as is, for that matter, knowledge , as reviewed by Baumberger et al.

Regarding the value of ontic understanding, both Kvanvig and Williamson argue that knowledge is less valuable than traditionally assumed, and Kvanvig proposes that ontic understanding is an epistemic aim of greater value. For Kvanvig, ontic understanding is uniquely valuable for two reasons. Second, understanding is immune to epistemic luck i.


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  6. Stephen Grimm argues that this effort is innately satisfying and goes beyond the mere acquisition of truth as for knowledge. Grimm suggests that ontic understanding is valuable because it entails a structural model that mirrors the world, and when we have such a model we feel more deeply engaged with the world. In this way, according to Grimm, the concept of ontic understanding accommodates both subjective understanding e. Thus, even if an ontic understanding is not objectively true, it can be satisfying because of the innate human desire to make sense of the world Kvanvig, In this sense, ontic understanding always involves a cognitive achievement, while the same cannot be said of getting knowledge Pritchard, , Zagzebski describes this achievement in terms of transparency, which also makes ontic understanding more valuable than knowledge: ' It may be possible to know without knowing one knows but it is impossible to understand without understanding one understands ' Zagzebski, , p.

    Philosophers of understanding generally refer to this achievement as grasping Baumberger et al.


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    Grasping involves being able to identify how the various elements described by a model are supposed to depend upon, and relate to, one another Grimm, ; Pritchard, ; Kelp, To qualify as ontic understanding, the result of this grasping should be a coherent set of relationships Baumberger et al. One outcome of a person's having ontically understood may be their ability to apply generalizations to specific cases Grimm, Contemporary Anglophone epistemologists are generally concerned only with intellectual reasoning, and this has admittedly coloured their discussion of understanding Grimm, ; Kvanvig, However, there have been some broader conceptualizations of understanding in epistemology.

    Catherine Elgin argues for a holistic view of ontic understanding:. Further, Elgin argues that epistemologists should consider pictorial art, as art often challenges assumptions and furthers inquiry in other fields. Elgin suggests that, while art may not always contribute to knowledge, it is epistemically valuable in that it contributes to ontic understanding.

    Epistemology

    Briesen takes this further. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Philosophy Philosophical Traditions. Philosophical Studies Series Free Preview. Buy eBook. Buy Hardcover. Buy Softcover.

    Memory as a Generative Epistemic Source

    FAQ Policy. About this book With one exception, all of the papers in this volume were originally presented at a conference held in April, , at The Ohio State University. The latter book is a sustained defense of a priori justification, strongly criticizing empiricists and pragmatists who dismiss it such as W. Quine and Richard Rorty. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Laurence BonJour. Retrieved January 28, Outline of epistemology Alethiology Faith and rationality Formal epistemology Meta-epistemology Philosophy of perception Philosophy of science Social epistemology.

    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)
    Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series) Justification and Knowledge: New Studies in Epistemology (Philosophical Studies Series)

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