Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5959bf8d4d-dtbwl Total loading time: 0.248 Render date: 2022-12-07T18:10:50.989Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Article contents


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 May 2013


People increasingly form beliefs based on information gained from automatically filtered internet sources such as search engines. However, the workings of such sources are often opaque, preventing subjects from knowing whether the information provided is biased or incomplete. Users' reliance on internet technologies whose modes of operation are concealed from them raises serious concerns about the justificatory status of the beliefs they end up forming. Yet it is unclear how to address these concerns within standard theories of knowledge and justification. To shed light on the problem, we introduce a novel conceptual framework that clarifies the relations between justified belief, epistemic responsibility, action and the technological resources available to a subject. We argue that justified belief is subject to certain epistemic responsibilities that accompany the subject's particular decision-taking circumstances, and that one typical responsibility is to ascertain, so far as one can, whether the information upon which the judgment will rest is biased or incomplete. What this responsibility comprises is partly determined by the inquiry-enabling technologies available to the subject. We argue that a subject's beliefs that are formed based on internet-filtered information are less justified than they would be if she either knew how filtering worked or relied on additional sources, and that the subject may have the epistemic responsibility to take measures to enhance the justificatory status of such beliefs.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Alston, W. 1998. ‘The Deontological Conception of Epistemic Justification.’ Philosophical Perspectives, 2: 257–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Annis, D. B. 1978. ‘A Contextualist Theory of Epistemic Justification.’ American Philosophical Quarterly, 15(3): 213–19.Google Scholar
Baird, D. 2004. Thing Knowledge: A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Clark, A. and Chalmers, D. 1998. ‘The Extended Mind.’ Analysis, 58(1): 719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clark, A. 2010. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
Coady, D. 2011. ‘An Epistemic Defence of the Blogosphere.’ Journal of Applied Philosophy, 28(3): 277–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colombo, F. and Fortunati, L. (eds). 2011. Broadband Society and Generational Changes. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Conee, E. and Feldman, R. 2004. Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Douglas, H. 2009. Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fantl, J. and McGrath, M. 2009. Knowledge in an Uncertain World. Oxford: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Foley, R. 2005. ‘Justified Belief as Responsible Belief’. In Steup, M. and Sosa, E. (eds), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, pp. 313–26. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Giere, R. N. 2006. ‘The Role of Agency in Distributed Cognitive Systems.’ Philosophy of Science, 73(5): 710–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giere, R. N. 2007. ‘Distributed Cognition without Distributed Knowing.’ Social Epistemology, 21(3): 313–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldberg, S. C. 2007. Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification. Cambridge: CUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldberg, S. C. 2012. ‘Epistemic Extendedness, Testimony, and the Epistemology of Instrument-Based Belief.’ Philosophical Explorations, 15(2): 181–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldman, A. I. 1999. ‘Internalism Exposed.’ Journal of Philosophy, 96(6): 271–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldman, A. I. 2008. ‘The Social Epistemology of Blogging.’ In van den Hoven, J. and Weckert, J. (eds), Information Technology and Moral Philosophy, pp. 111–22. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
Goldman, A. I. 2011. ‘Reliabilism.’ In. Zalta, E. N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 edn): Scholar
Haraway, D. 1991. ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.’ In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, pp. 149–81. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Hardwig, J. 1985. ‘Epistemic Dependence.’ Journal of Philosophy, 82(7): 335–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Humphreys, P. 2004. Extending Ourselves: Computational Science, Empiricism, and Scientific Method. New York: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Humphreys, P. 2009. ‘Network Epistemology.’ Episteme, 6(2): 221–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Introna, L. and Nissenbaum, H. 2000. ‘Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters.’ Information Society, 16(3): 117.Google Scholar
Knorr-Cetina, K. 1999. Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Kornblith, H. 1983. ‘Justified Belief and Epistemically Responsible Action.’ Philosophical Review, 92(1): 3348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
Lehrer, K. 1995. ‘Knowledge and the Trustworthiness of Instruments.’ The Monist, 78(2): 156–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Longino, H. 2002. The Fate of Knowledge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
McCroy, P. 2005. ‘The Time Lords: Measurement and Performance in Sprinting.’ British Journal of Sports Medicine, 39: 785–6.Google Scholar
Origgi, G. 2012. ‘Designing Wisdom through the Web: The Passion of Ranking.’ In Landemore, H. and Elster, J. (eds), Collective Wisdom: Principles and Mechanisms, pp. 3855. Cambridge: CUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pariser, E. 2011. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
Pasquale, F. 2011. ‘Restoring Transparency to Automated Authority.’ Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law, 9: 235–53.Google Scholar
Preston, J. 2010. ‘The Extended Mind, the Concept of Belief, and Epistemic Credit.’ In Menary, R. (ed.), The Extended Mind, pp. 355–69. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Record, I. Forthcoming. ‘Technology and Knowledge.’Google Scholar
Rogers, R. 2004. Information Politics on the Web. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Rothbart, D. 2007. Philosophical Instruments: Minds and Tools at Work. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Simon, J. 2010. ‘The Entanglement of Trust and Knowledge on the Web.’ Ethics and Information Technology, 12(4): 343–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Simpson, T. W. 2012. ‘Evaluating Google as an Epistemic Tool.’ Metaphilosophy, 43(4): 426–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Simson, R. S. 1993. ‘Values, Circumstances, and Epistemic Justification.’ Southern Journal of Philosophy, 31(3): 373–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sosa, E. 2006. ‘Knowledge: Instrumental and Testimonial.’ In Sosa, E. and Lackey, J. (eds), The Epistemology of Testimony, pp. 116–23. New York: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stanley, J. 2005. Knowledge and Practical Interests. Oxford: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Su, X. and Khoshgoftaar, T. M. 2009. ‘A Survey of Collaborative Filtering Techniques.’ Advances in Artificial Intelligence: Scholar
Sunstein, C. 2007. 2.0. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Tollefsen, D. P. 2009. ‘Wikipedia and the Epistemology of Testimony.’ Episteme, 6: 824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, M. 2001. Problems of Knowledge: A Critical Introduction to Epistemology. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
Williams, M. 2008. ‘Responsibility and Reliability.’ Philosophical Papers, 37(1): 126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *