19th-century philosophical foundations of information policy

new InGSoc logoPrincipal Investigator programme of related research on the 19th-century philosophical foundations of information policy (1 day per week for 3 years).

InGSoc breaks down into three discrete, manageable and viable projects: the population census project, the epunditry project and the social philosophy project. Each of these meets a fresh challenge and will fill a significant gap in current knowledge. Each has its own set of research questions and problems, although they all engage with the same basic intellectual agenda—helping to move information policy into its next phase.

The social philosophy project, to be conducted by the Principal Investigator, will examine the theoretical foundations of information and communications policy. Building upon previous published work on the normative theory of the information society and associated topics, it will dig even deeper into the moral basis of information-media policy. It will ask what the discipline of social philosophy—not accessible modern thinkers, but voices from as far back as the early nineteenth century—can offer to the discussion of salient information issues facing post-industrial democracies. Research questions include, but will not be confined to, the following. How can the concept of the ‘right to know’, as in freedom of information (FOI), be best established? What does the work of Idealist thinkers, such as T. H. Green or Edward Caird, imply for such a question, or the ideas of Utilitarians like J. S. Mill or Jeremy Bentham? What does the work of F. D. Maurice and other Christian socialists offer to the discussion of information policy challenges, such as national library policy, the organisation of intellectual property, digital divides and distributive justice, or internet regulation and governance? While all these questions have been extensively studied in other ways, InGSoc hopes to bring to the debate a whole new array of perspectives rooted deeply in the normative resources of the past.