A Preface to the Philosophy of Legal Information
Forthcoming (Fall 2017), 20 SMU Sci & Tech. L. Rev.
59 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 19, 2017
This essay introduces the philosophy of legal information (PLI), which is a response to the radical changes brought about in philosophy by the information revolution. It reviews in some detail the work of Luciano Floridi, who is an influential advocate for an information turn in philosophy that he calls the philosophy of information (PI). Floridi proposes that philosophers investigate the conceptual nature of information as it currently exists across multiple disciplines. He shows how a focus on the informational nature of traditional philosophical questions can be transformative for philosophy and for human self-understanding. The philosophy of legal information (PLI) proposed here views laws as a body of information that is stored, manipulated, and analyzed through multiple methods, including the computational methodologies. PLI offers resources for evaluating the ethical and political implications of legal informatics (also known as “legal information systems”).
This essay introduces PLI. Parts I and II describe Floridi’s philosophy of information. First, Part I introduces the transformation in the concept of information that occurred in the twentieth century through the work of Alan Turning and Claude Shannon. Part II describes Floridi’s approaches to traditional questions in epistemology, ontology, and ethics. Part III applies PI to the analysis of legal positivism. It suggests that PLI is a viable project that has potential for transforming the understanding law in the information age.
Keywords: Jurisprudence, Philosophy of Information, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of law
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