Floridi is best known for his work on two areas of philosophical research: the philosophy of information and information ethics.
Between 2008 and 2013, he held the Research Chair in philosophy of information and the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics at the University of Hertfordshire. He was the founder and director of the IEG, an interdepartmental research group on the philosophy of information at the University of Oxford, and of the GPI the research Group in Philosophy of Information at the University of Hertfordshire. He was the founder and director of the SWIF, the Italian e-journal of philosophy (1995–2008).
His works have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Floridi was born in Rome in 1964, and studied at Rome University La Sapienza (Laurea, first class with distinction, 1988), where he was originally educated as a historian of philosophy. He soon became interested in analytic philosophy and wrote his tesi di laurea (MA dissertation) in philosophy of logic, on Michael Dummett's anti-realism. He obtained his Master of Philosophy (1989) and PhD degree (1990) from the University of Warwick, working in epistemology and philosophy of logic with Susan Haack (who was his PhD supervisor) and Michael Dummett. Floridi's early student years are partly recounted in the non-fiction book The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, where he was "Luciano". During his graduate and postdoctoral years, he covered the standard topics in analytic philosophy in search of a new methodology. He sought to approach contemporary problems from a heuristically powerful and intellectually enriching perspective when dealing with lively philosophical issues. During his graduate studies, he began to distance himself from classical analytic philosophy. In his view, the analytic movement had lost its way. For this reason, he worked on pragmatism (especially Peirce) and foundationalist issues in epistemology and philosophy of logic.
He was a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Warwick in 1990-1. He joined the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Oxford in 1990 and the OUCL (Oxford's Department of Computer Science) in 1999. He was Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy at Wolfson College, Oxford University (1990-4), Frances Yates Fellow in the History of Ideas at the Warburg Institute, University of London (1994–95) and Research Fellow in Philosophy at Wolfson College, Oxford University (1994-2001). During these years in Oxford, he held lectureships in different Colleges. Between 1994 and 1996, he also held a post-doctoral research scholarship at the Department of Philosophy, University of Turin. Between 2001 and 2006, he was Markle Foundation Senior Research Fellow in Information Policy at the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Oxford University. Between 2002 and 2008, he was Associate Professor of Logic at the Università degli Studi di Bari. In 2006, he became Fellow by Special Election of St Cross College, Oxford University, where he played for the squash team. In 2008, he was appointed full professor of philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, to hold the newly established research chair in philosophy of information and, since 2009, the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics.
In his first book, Scepticism and the Foundation of Epistemology, Floridi was already looking for a concept of subject-independent knowledge close to what he now identifies as semantic information. During his postdoctoral studies, as a Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University, he began to embrace a more Neo-Kantian philosophy, which led him to spend one academic year in Marburg, where he focused on Ernst Cassirer's version of Neo-Kantianism. He began working exclusively on what is now known as the philosophy of information during his years as Research Fellow, still at Wolfson College.
According to Floridi, it is necessary to develop a constructionist philosophy, where design, modelling and implementation replace analysis and dissection. Shifting from one set of tasks to the other, philosophy could then stop retreating into the increasingly small corner of its self-sustaining investigations and hence reacquire a wider view about what really matters. Slowly, Floridi has come to characterise his constructionist philosophy as an innovative field, now known as the philosophy of information, the new area of research that has emerged from the computational/informational turn.
Floridi approaches the philosophy of information from the perspectives of logic and epistemology (theoretical), and computer science, IT and Humanities Computing (theoretical).
For example, in the Preface of Philosophy and Computing, published in 1999, he wrote that the book was meant for philosophy students who need IT literacy to use computers efficiently or indispensable background knowledge for the critical understanding of our digital age. The latter provides a basis for the would-be branch of philosophy, the philosophy of information. PI, or PCI (Philosophy of Computing and Information), became his major research interest.
Floridi's perspective is that there is a need for a broader concept of information, which includes computation, but not only computation. This new framework provides a theoretical framework within which to make sense of various lines of research that have emerged since the fifties. The second advantage is PI’s perspective on the development of philosophy through time. In his view, PI gives us a much wider and more profound perspective on what philosophy might have actually been doing throughout the centuries.
Currently, Floridi is working on two areas of research: computer ethics (see the entry information ethics) and the concept of information. Key to this area of work is the claim that ICT (Information and Communications Technology) is radically re-engineering or re-ontologizing the infosphere.Augmented Intelligence — A Guide to IT for Philosophers. (in Italian) Rome: Armando, 1996.
Scepticism and the Foundation of Epistemology - A Study in the Metalogical Fallacies. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1996.
Internet - An Epistemological Essay. (in Italian and in French) Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1997.
Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction. London/New York: Routledge, 1999.
Sextus Empiricus, The Recovery and Transmission of Pyrrhonism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information. (editor) Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.
Philosophy of Computing and Information: 5 Questions. (editor) Automatic Press / VIP, 2008.
Information. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. A volume for the Very Short Introduction series.
The Cambridge Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics. (editor) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
The Philosophy of Information. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
"The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
A full collection is available on the website of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
The Fourth Revolution, a TED presentation, April 4, 2011.
Relevant Information, the SIRLS/Thomson Scientific ISI Samuel Lazarow Memorial lecture, University of Arizona, USA, February 8, 2007.
A Look into the Future of ICT North American Computing and Philosophy Conference, August 10–12, 2006, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA.
Where are we in the philosophy of information?, June 21, 2006, University of Bergen, Norway.
The Logic of Information, presentation, discussion, Télé-université (Université du Québec), 11 May 2005, Montréal, Canada.
From Augmented Intelligence to Augmented Responsibility, North American Computing and Philosophy Conference, January 24, 2002, Oregon State University, USA.
Artificial Evil and the Foundation of Computer Ethics, presentation, discussion, CEPE2000 Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry, July 14–16, 2000, Dartmouth College, USA.
Interview for SuchThatCast - Philosophers' Podcast (August 27, 2012)
Fellow by Special Election of St Cross College, University of Oxford
Ethics and Information Technology, Springer, published a special issue in two numbers dedicated to his work. See also his Information Ethics: A Reappraisal, with replies to the articles published in the special issue.
First philosopher to be awarded the Gauss Professorhip by the Göttingen Academy of Sciences.
Winner of the American Philosophical Association's Barwise Prize
The APA's Newsletter dedicates two issues to his work. See also his Replies.
Elected Fellow of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour (SSAISB).
Appointed UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics.
Appointed Editor-in-chief of Springer's new journal
Metaphilosophy, Blackwell-Wiley, published a special issue dedicated to his work. See also his The Philosophy of Information - Ten Years Later, with replies to the articles published in the special issue.
University of Hertfordshire, Vice Chancellor Award 2010: "Highly commended for research supporting engagement with business, the profession and partner organisations".
Elected Fellow of the Center for Information Policy Research, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Knowledge, Technology and Policy, Springer, published a special issue dedicated to his work.
Laurea honoris causa in Philosophy, University of Suceava, Romania, for "foundational research on the philosophy of information".
AISB/IACAP World Congress (in Honor of Alan Turing, 1912-1954), dedicates its "Author Meets Critics Session" to Luciano Floridi's "The Philosophy of Information".
Winner of the International Association for Computing And Philosophy - IACAP's Covey Award for "outstanding research in computing and philosophy".
Philosophy of Technology and Engineering, Springer, published a collection of essays dedicated to "Luciano Floridi's Philosophy of Technology - Critical Reflections".
Winner of the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology - INSEIT's Weizenbaum Award for "significant contribution to the field of information and computer ethics, through his or her research, service, and vision."
Elected member of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences
Minds and Machines, Springer, is preparing a special issue dedicated to his work, entitled Philosophy in the Age of Information: A Symposium on Luciano Floridi's The Philosophy of Information (Oxford, 2011)
Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, Taylor & Francis, is preparing a special issue dedicated to his work, entitled Inforgs and the Infosphere: Themes from Luciano Floridi's Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence.