• Project description


    Towards a systematic epistemology of the Web space

    Background and significance

    The epistemology of the internet as a particular instance of social epistemology has not crystallized yet as a systematic theory in epistemology. Research in this field - still in its infancy - has employed the main notions of general epistemology and focused on the social and ethical dimensions of the use of the internet as a source of acquiring knowledge and information (Frost-Arnold, 2023; Choo, 2016). The declared purposes of the research were to derive criteria and norms on the basis of which, on the one hand, one can improve their information-seeking behaviors and evaluate objectively the extent to which such sources are reliable; on the other hand, regulating bodies can optimize their policies in order to ensure an ethical Web space and limit the distribution of inadequate information (as fake news, pseudo- or non-scientific claims, non-expert argumentation, inadequate education, and so on) with harmful consequences (Heersmink, 2018; Spence, 2009).
    While investigating the Web space epistemologically requires multi- and inter-disciplinary collaboration (
    Ropolyi, 2007; Ess, 2012); focusing exclusively on the social dimension of the epistemology of the internet and on its social practical targets rather than on a firm theoretical foundation of this field will not lead soon to a systematic epistemology of the Web space.

    Goals and outcomes of the project

    The current project aims to contribute to the conceptual and theoretical foundation of a systematic epistemology of the Web space, by which to remain assimilable as social epistemology while reflecting the specificity of the epistemic medium and sources in discussion and the precise relationship of determination between the two fields from particular to general.
    In order to attain this aim, the research will adopt a bottom-up approach (reversed from the usual one in epistemology, from abstract to concrete), combined empirical and theoretical: It will pursue a conceptual-observational-categorical analysis of the Web space, focusing on taxonomies, case-studies, examples, epistemic kinds, and conceptual and epistemic structures present in the websites.
    The main principle is to investigate theoretically the main epistemic unit or product of the Web space, namely the website article or page, in its epistemic, linguistic, informational, structural, and intentional dimensions.
    The research project will consist of multiple research reports touching on the concepts employed and issues investigated, each report drawing further lines of research.


    The methods used in this research will be specific to analytical philosophy, including philosophy of science and philosophy of language methods: discourse analysis, content analysis, thematic analysis, case study, conceptual interpretation, semantic analysis, doubt about sense, analysis of arguments, and theoretical modeling.


    In text references:

    Choo, C. W. (2016). The inquiring organization: How organizations acquire knowledge and seek information. Oxford University Press.
    Ess, C. (2012). At the intersections between internet studies and philosophy: "Who Am I Online?". Philosophy & Technology, 25, 275-284.
    Frost-Arnold, K. (2023). Who Should We be Online?: A Social Epistemology for the Internet. Oxford University Press.
    Heersmink, R. (2018). A Virtue Epistemology of the Internet: Search Engines, Intellectual Virtues and Education. Social Epistemology, 32(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2017.1383530
    Ropolyi, L. (2007). Shaping the Philosophy of the Internet. Philosophy Bridging Civilizations and Cultures. IPhR-BAS. Sofia, 329-334.
    Spence, E.H. (2009). The Epistemology and Ethics of Internet Information. In: D'Atri, A., Sacca, D. (eds) Information Systems: People, Organizations, Institutions, and Technologies. Physica-Verlag HD. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-7908-2148-2_35

  • Research team

    PI: Cătălin Bărboianu, PhD
    SI: Ruby Smith, PhD student
    Assistant: James Ross

  • Published research

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