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Group Epistemology, (H)ac(k)tivism, and Unconventional Warfare

Lecture by Dr Peter Ludlow (Northwestern University, IL, USA)
organized by the Dept of Theoretical Philosophy

The past few years have shown the growth of alternative forms of activism, often incorporating social media and often deploying
nonlinear organizational strategies grounded in network theory and dynamic theories of communication and confrontation.

To some extent or another, these strategies have appeared in protest movements ranging from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street and are also found in hacktivist movements ranging from the “Operations” by Anonymous to the leaking of classified documents by Wikileaks.

On the flip side, government agencies and other centers of power have been deploying new dynamic methods in response to these new forms of activism. In my talk I discuss some of the core documents of these movements (ranging from Julian Assange's writings on leaking to US Army's Special Operations Field Manual on Unconventional Warfare) and then examine the philosophical questions that arise concerning the methods themselves – how they are grounded, how they work, and whether in the long run they are effective.


Peter Ludlow (PhD Columbia U, 1985) taught at the state University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan, and the University of Toronto before joining Northwestern University.

He has done much interdisciplinary work on the interface of linguistics and philosophy—in particular on the philosophical foundations of Noam Chomsky's theory of generative linguistics and on the foundations of the theory of meaning in linguistic semantics. He has worked on the application of analytic philosophy of language to topics in epistemology, metaphysics, and logic, among other areas.

Ludlow has also established a research program outside of philosophy and linguistics. Here, his research areas include conceptual issues in cyberspace, particularly questions about cyber-rights and the emergence of laws and governance structures in and for virtual communities. He also writes under the name Urizenus Sklar. has described Ludlow as one of the 10 most influential video game players of all time, in part due to his role in showing how video game companies can be challenged as part of the gameplay. In recent years Ludlow has written non-academic essays on hacktivist culture and related phenomena such as Wikileaks.

(Source: Wikipedia)

When & where?

Date: June 5th 2012
Time: 15.15 h – 17 h
Place: Faculty of Philosophy, Room Alpha

Last modified:30 May 2016 12.02 p.m.