Philosophical engineering: Toward a Philosophy of the Web

Halpin Harry
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2014.1038
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The Web is commonly considered the most significant computational phenomenon to date. However, the Web itself has received scant attention from philosophy, being best regarded as a mere engineering artifact. Furthermore, the efforts to evolve the Web into the Semantic Web are viewed with suspicion by most philosophers as a return to Cartesian artificial intelligence. I argue that these widely held viewpoints are incorrect, and that the Web succeeds because of its design principles that distinguish it from both previous hypertext systems and knowledge representation systems in classical AI. Furthermore, the Web embodies the logical conclusion of Clark's Extended Mind thesis since it allows multiple individuals to access and manipulate the same representation, so offering the ultimate in cognitive scaffolding. This undermines the notion of individual intelligence at the heart of Cartesian artificial intelligence and presents a challenge to the role of representations as given in the recent wave of neo-Heideggerian focus on embodiment. Taking the Web seriously moves the primary focus of philosophy away from the role, or lack thereof, of internal representations to external representations. The Web is then properly understood as the creation and evolution of external representations in a universal information space. Berners-Lee calls this “philosophical engineering,” and it has surprising connections to neo-Fregeanism, antirealism, and other long-standing philosophical debates.

Pour citer cet article :

Halpin Harry (2014/1). Philosophical engineering: Toward a Philosophy of the Web. In Monnin Alexandre & Declerck Gunnar (Eds), Philosophy of the Web and Knowledge Engineering, Intellectica, 61, (pp.41-58), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2014.1038.