The construction of Digital Reality: Intellectual Versus Social

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Abstract

The aim of this article is to compare two models of reality construction and their applicability to explain the various effects of the digitalization process. The evolution of the constructivist ideas about reality is reconstructed in the context of the dispute among realists and constructivists, which was one of the most significant events in the epistemology and philosophy of science of the 20th century. The author points out the differences between the intellectual and the social construction of reality, and carries out a comparative analysis of the philosophical theories and concepts describing the aforementioned alternatives. The intellectual construction of reality, which often takes place in theoretical physics at different stages of its development, is also analyzed. Particular consideration is given to the philosophic-scientific contexts generated by the sociology of knowledge, the theory of speech acts, and the actor-network theory. The article also shows a distinction between the construction and the constitution of reality. The constitution of reality within various types of non-theoretical (pre-theoretical, post-theoretical) thinking, fixed using the means and methods of phenomenological philosophy of science, allows identifying and describing the main contexts through which the word “reality” acquires significance and is endowed with meaning in the present-day intellectual and social practices. Special attention is paid to the concepts of “virtual reality” and “digital reality.” The features of the intellectual construction of virtual reality are described. The difference between the intellectual and the social construction of digital reality is substantiated as between two alternative practices, which determine the meaning, and the prospects of digitalization. This distinction may be of particular interest to those who design digital platforms and implement digitalization in various areas of human life and society, especially in as education, legal procedure, management, economics, and business. Today, when partly spontaneous, partly controlled digitalization is taking place in these spheres, the results of this study make it possible not only to understand the logic of the changes taking place but also to apply forecasting and planning methods actively, i.e., constructing the digital reality.

About the authors

Vladimir I. Przhilenskiy

Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL)

Author for correspondence.
Email: vladprnow@mail.ru

Doctor of Philosophy, Professor

9 Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya St., Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation

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