Big Data: A New Empiricism and its Epistemic and Socio-Political Consequences

Gernot Rieder, Judith Simon

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The paper investigates the rise of Big Data in contemporary society. It examines the most prominent epistemological claims made by Big Data proponents, calls attention to the potential socio-political consequences of blind data trust, and proposes a possible way forward. The paper’s main focus is on the interplay between an emerging new empiricism and an increasingly opaque algorithmic environment that challenges democratic demands for transparency and accountability. It concludes that a responsible culture of quantification requires epistemic vigilance as well as a greater awareness of the potential dangers and pitfalls of an ever more data-driven society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBerechenbarkeit der Welt? : Philosophie und Wissenschaft im Zeitalter von Big Data
EditorsWolfgang Pietsch, Jörg Wernecke, Maximilian Ott
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print) 978-3-658-12152-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-658-12153-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Big Data
  • epistemology
  • trust
  • algorithmic regulation
  • opacity
  • transparency
  • accountability


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