PhiloWeb 2011

PhiloWeb 2011: The Second International Symposium on the Web and Philosophy

Co-located at
Philosophy and Theory of AI Conference (PT-AI),
October 5th 2011, Salonika, Greece.

Greek version (many thanks to Alexandra Arapinis!): link

Photo credits

The advent of the Web is one of the defining technological events of the twentieth-first century, yet its impact on the fundamental questions of philosophy has not yet been widely explored, much less systematized. The Web, as today implemented on the foundations of the Internet, is broadly construed as an information space, the space of all items of interest identified by URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers, such as “”). Originally conceived as an hypertext system of linked documents, today the Web is rapidly evolving as a universal platform for data and computation, as URIs are used to identify everything from data on the Semantic Web and mobile code.

While the first Web and Philosophy Symposium at the Sorbonne explored the question of whether or not the Web and philosophy had any interaction, in this symposium we would like to focus on questions relating to the relationship between the Web and philosophical concepts of artificial intelligence and cognitive science. In particular, questions relating to the possible transformation of traditional philosophical concepts of language, logic, information, intelligence, cognition, and even embodiment by the Web are especially pertinent. While for the last few decades a turn towards embodiment, sometimes even thought to be limited to the skin of the human body, has dominated the philosophy of the mind’s relationship with AI, with the advent of the Web questions of how our intelligence interacts with technology have now moved back to the forefront. Given human-scale problem solving on the Web as exemplified by Google or the vision of the Semantic Web, it seems that the question of replicating human intelligence in terms of AI may be know viewed as out-dated, and that a new vision of AI should be built that focuses on how technically-mediated human intelligence can be “amplified” over the Web, a vision very much in line with the original “Collective IQ” vision by Engelbart that was traditionally put forward as a competitor to the traditional AI visions of Minsky, McCarthy, and others.

Questions that may be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the impact of the Web on philosophy?
  • Does the Web and Human-Computer Interaction genuinely impact cognition?
  • What does the ubiquitous Web do to our notion of intelligence?
  • Does Web-mediated collective intelligence challenge the traditional hypothesis of AI?
  • What is human computation and how does this interact with the philosophy of computer science?
  • Does the Web change logic in any way?
  • What impact does Web have on the philosophy of language?
  • Can human cognition genuinely be extended by the Web?
  • What are the historical and philosophical roots of the philosophy of the Web?
  • Does the communication and ubiquity accessibility of the Web alter our notion of embodiment?
  • What does collective knowledge such as Wikipedia mean for notions of common knowledge?
  • What is the relationship of the singularity hypothesis to philosophy?
  • Do philosophers of the Web have a special responsibility?



10:00-10:15 Introduction (Alexandre Monnin): “What is at stake with the philosophy of the Web? Denaturalizing ontology.”

Foundations of the Philosophy of the Web:

10:15-10:45 Michalis Vafopoulos “Initial thoughts about existence in the Web”
10:45-11:15 Aurélien Bénel “Underlying philosophies of Web technologies and usage”
11:15-11:45 Henry S Thompson “Links have semantics, URIs don’t”

11:45-12:15 Coffee Break

Logic on the Web:

12:15-12:45 Petros Stefaneas and Ioannis Vandoulakis “Web as a tool for proving”
12:45-1:15 Harold Boley “RuleML/Grailog: The Rule Metalogic Visualized with Generalized Graphs”.
1:15-1:45 Raffaela Giovagnoli “Autonomy, Scorekeeping and the Net”

1:45-15:00 Lunch

The Web and Intelligence:

15:00-15:30 Harry Halpin and Jacob Blumenthal “A Critique of Pure AI: Comparing the Social Foundations of Artificial Intelligence and the Web”
15:30-16:00 Reuben Binns “Social Knowledge and the Web”
16:00-16:30 Selmer Bringsjord and Naveen Sundar Govindarajulu “Given the Web, What is Intelligence, Really?”

16:30-17:00 Colin T.A. Schmidt “Is There any Logical Entity Tying Web and Philosophy Together?”


Harry Halpin, Alexandre Monnin

Program Committee:

  • Alexandra Arapinis (Paris 1/IHPST)
  • Bruno Bachimont (UTC/INA)
  • Fabien Gandon (INRIA)
  • Harry Halpin (W3C/MIT)
  • Yuk Hui (Goldsmiths)
  • Miltiadis Lytras (AUEB)
  • Alexandre Monnin (Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne/IRI/CNAM)
  • Paul Smart
  • Bernard Stiegler (IRI)
  • Henry Thompson (Edinburgh)
  • Michael Wheeler (Stirling)

Alexandre Monnin's Web and Philosophy scientific events website