The Difference that Makes a Difference (DTMD 2015)

Conference Stream

Information and values: ethics, spirituality and religion




Load the detailed programme down here.

Ali, S. M. Orientalism and/as Information: The Indifference That Makes a Difference
Carney, M. J. Letting show… Transverbal migrations between theorizing & practice
Chapman, A. D. and Chapman, D. A. The role of information and values in the participatory analysis of social-ecological systems
Jones, D. Embodied cognition and information
Kirkpatrick, G. Information and religious sensibility
Mosko, M. and Paul, D. L. Designing for the Tension of Information and Values: The Garden as an Inquiry System
Ramage, M. and Bissell, C. C. Cyberneticists at war and peace: wrestling with ethical dilemmas of information
Taylor, A. Information quality and truth: consumerism, deception and the postmodern age


David Chapman, 
Magnus Ramage,
Chris Bissell,

Mustafa Ali; Department of Computing and Communications;
Derek Jones; Department of Engineering and Innovation;
Graham Harvey,
Paul-Francois Tremlett, Department of Religious Studies; The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK


This workshop starts from the premise that information and values coexist in a relationship of tension, and that they engage in a dialectical process in certain key areas of human society. Within these areas, information and values co-construct a synthesis which includes but transcends both aspects. This synthesis is particularly expressed in the fields of ethics, spirituality and religion.

Particular inspirations for this workshop include the work by West Churchman on The Systems Approach and its Enemies, which argued for a dialectical relationship between the rationalist ‘hard’ systems approach and perspectives such as morality, politics, religion and aesthetics which are apparently opposed to it. Ethics and religion have also been long-standing interests in various areas of cybernetics, which is the starting point for this exploration of information, and were central concerns in the later work of Norbert Wiener, Heinz von Foerster and Gregory Bateson. In this sense the workshop is continuing an ongoing stream of work.

As well as leading to new insights into ethics, spirituality and religion, this work also acts as a further lens through which to explore the nature of information. The language of information is increasingly used in many different disciplines, and comparing the usage in different fields contributes to a better understanding of information in its own right. The areas of spirituality, ethics and religion are somewhat less examined in the context of information than many other disciplines, and so this workshop will continue the ongoing process of exploring multi-disciplinary aspects of information.

This workshop follows two international workshops held in Milton Keynes, UK, in 2011 and 2013, both entitled The Difference that Makes a Difference. These workshops explored the nature of information in a range of disciplines (including physics, biology, sociology, computing, systems thinking, philosophy, geography and art, among others). Proceedings of both workshops can be found at