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Information Literacy : Epistemology

Information literacy combines a repertoire of abilities, practices, and dispositions focused on finding, using, and analyzing data to answer questions, develop questions, create new knowledge, and ethically participate in an information based community.

What is Epistemology?

Epistemology is the “theory of knowledge and understanding, especially  with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.” (Oxford English Dictionary) (For more definitions and sources on Epistemology click here) It is one of the major branches of Western philosophy. Information literacy, with its emphasis on developing critical thinking skills, is based on the foundation of epistemology, which philosophers have been debating for hundreds of years. How do we know what we know? What is the difference between fact and opinion? What is “fake news” and what is truth? What happens when people cannot agree on what the “facts” are? These are some of the questions Epistemology deals with. 

Articles on Epistemology and Critical Thinking

Journals on Epistemology

Research Questions on Epistemology and Information Literacy

       Research Questions on Epistemology


  1. What is the relation of Epistemology to Information Literacy?

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge and understanding, especially  with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion. Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

Epistemology is the philosophical basis of how we know what we know or think we know. Information literacy is a set of applied skills for negotiating the huge amount of information in the modern world, but the ultimate test of whether information is true or false is an Epistemological question. 

  1. Why is Epistemology important?

The importance of Epistemology cannot be overstated since it underlies what people think, what they believe and how they apply new information. It informs political, social, religious and ethical decision making. It explains how people can have entirely different understandings of events and facts and may not even be able to agree on “facts”. 

  1. How can I start to research Epistemology?

Fordham libraries have many books and databases of articles on Epistemology and Information Literacy. You can start with our OneSearch service on the Library homepage. OneSearch will search all of our library books, internet resources and a selection of articles from databases. You can search our Philosophy databases for articles specifically on the topic. You can also search our catalog for print and electronic books on Epistemology. 

  1. Can I get more help?

Of course! We have a 24/7 chat service where you can always get immediate assistance.  You can also email a librarian to set up a consultation for one on one help with more complex questions. 

Video Documentaries

Books on Epistemology and Critical Thinking

Links to Databases

Reference & Instruction Department

Reference & Instruction Department
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