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The Internet and Ethical Values CIS798

Discussion about moral frameworks in Cyberspace

Whats discussed?

Ethical issues that surface on Internet. The tensions between radical empowerment of Internet and impulse to tame this technology through laws and other mechanisms. Basic concepts that will enrich our moral assessment of these issues. Concise overview of traditional ethical frameworks that can guide our analysis of moral dilemmas and social problems that arise in cyberspace. Assumptions :

The directive and architectonic role of moral ideals and principles in determining responsible behavior in cyberspace. The capacity of free and responsible human beings to exercise control over forces of technology

What Is Cyberspace?

Cyberspace refers to a wide range of computing and communications devices from standalone computers, to "connected" or networked computing and communications technologies, to the Internet itself. The electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.(Dictionary meaning)

Why the term cyberethics?

Cyberethics is a more accurate label than computer ethics, which might suggest the study of ethical issues limited to computing machines, or to computing professionals. It is more accurate than Internet ethics, which is limited only to ethical issues affecting computer networks.

General Cyberethics Theory and Methodology


Larry Lessig James Moor John Finnis

Larry Lessigs Framework


Four constraints that regulate our behavior in real space: laws, norms, the market and code / architecture Laws rules imposed by the government which are enforced by ex post (after the fact) sanctions

complicated IRS tax code is a set of laws that dictates how much we owe. If we break these laws we are subject to fines / penalties.

Larry Lessigs Framework


Social Norms expressions of the community. Most have well defined sense of normalcy in norms, standards and behavior.

Cigar smokers are not welcome at most functions.

The Market prices set for goods, services or labor.

$2 for coffee and local coffee shop

Architecture physical constraints of our behavior. Self enforcing

A room without windows imposes certain constraints because no one can see outside.

Real Life vs. Cyberspace


Subject to the same four constraints

provide copyright and patent protection, regulate behavior by proscribing certain activities Markets advertisers gravitate towards more popular websites, pricing policies of ISP determine access to Internet Architectural software code such as programs and protocols (constrain and control our activities). Ex. Web sites demanding username/passwords and software deployed to filter spam and certain email, cookie technology enables e-commerce. Norms Internet etiquette and social customs. Spamming and hacking are bad norms.

James Moor

Moors list of core human goods (considered thin) include:


pleasure and absence of pain Autonomy goods that we need to complete our projects (ability, security, knowledge, freedom, opportunity, reason)

John Finnis

Finnis version of human good (considered thick) includes:

Life Knowledge Play (and skillful work) Aesthetic experience Sociability Religion Practical reasonableness (includes autonomy)

Participation in these goods allow us to achieve genuine human flourishing

Both Moor and Finnis Believe


Ultimate good, human flourishing of ourselves and others should be our guidepost of value, serving as a basis for crafting laws, developing social institutions and regulating the Internet. Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)
So whatever

you wish that others would do to you, do also to them

The fundamental responsibility is to respect each of these human goods in each person whose well being we choose to affect.

Blocking Software

Those who write programs or create laws should rely on ethics as their guide. Code writers need to write in such a way that preserves basic moral values such as autonomy and privacy. Many feel technology is just a tool and it is up to us whether this powerful tool is used for good or ill purposes.

Iron Cage or Gateway to Utopia


Jacques Ellul says technique is beyond our control, it has become autonomous and fashioned an omnivorous world which follows its own laws Max weber coined the term iron cage Martin Heidegger saw technology not merely as a tool we can manipulate but as a way of being in world Technology is neutral force, completely dependent on human aims and objectives(utopianism) Taylors assessment :We are not,indeed,locked in.But there is a slope, an incline in things that is


Ethical Values and Digital Frontier

By conscientiously adopt moral point of view as we evaluate technological capabilities and make decisions about ground rules of digital frontier. Ethical reasoning gives us basic principles that serve as yardstick or compass that can assist us in making normative judgments. Kant embraces that we must respect humanity in all our choices and actions Rights based theories discuss core human goods in terms of protection of human rights such as right to life,liberty,pursuit of happiness Utalitarian emphasizes happiness


Two Broad Ethical Frameworks

Teleological rightness or wrongness of an action depends on whether the goal or desired end is achieved (look at the consequences maybe OK to lie). Sometimes called consequentialism Deontological is an action right or wrong. Act out of obligation or duty. Prohibition against harming the innocent.


Teleological Most popular version of consequentialism Developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (British Philosophers) Right course of action is to promote the most general good Utility refers to the net benefits created by an action. The action is good if it produces the greatest net benefits or lowest net cost Primary problem of this theory is that it lacks proper sensitivity to vital ideals of justice and


Contractarianism (Contract Rights)

Deontologic Rights-based Right is an entitlement or a claim to something Looks at moral issues from viewpoint of the human rights that may be at stake
Negative right implies one is free from external interference in ones affairs (state cant tap phones) Positive right implies a requirement that the holder of this right be provided with whatever one needs to pursue legitimate interests (rights to medical care and education)

Problem : Do not provide adequate criteria for resolving practical disputes when rights are in

Pluralism (Moral Duty)


Deontologic Duty-based by Immanuel Kant (1724 -1804) Actions only have moral worth when they are done for the sake of duty

Ex. If everyone would break promises there would be no such thing as a promise.

Consider this when looking at intellectual property Ask the question What if everybody did what you are doing? Respect for other human beings Problem with this model is its rigidity

Ex Situation where telling lie is reasonable and proper course of action.law to tell truth and law to save a life in jeopardy.

Alternate duty-based model proposed by William D.Ross

7 Moral Duties


3. 4.


6. 7.

Keep promises and tell truth (fidelity) Right the wrongs you inflicted (reparation) Distribute goods justly (justice) Improve the lot of others with respect to virtue, intelligence and happiness (beneficence) Improve oneself with respect to virtue, intelligence and happiness (self-improvement) Exhibit gratitude when appropriate (gratitude) Avoid injury to others (noninjury)

New Natural Law


Developed by John Finnis and Germain Grisez Good should be done and evil avoided First Principle of Morality Keep ones choices open to integral human fulfillment,the fulfillment of all persons and communities This principle is too general.

Flaws in Moral Theories


None are without flaws or contradictions 4 frameworks converge on same solutions but suggest different solutions One must decide which framework they will follow and trump the others

Table 1-3: Three Levels in Breys Disclosive Model

Theory Type Operative Questions

Consequenialism/Utilita Which action or policy generates the best overall rianism consequences or the greatest net expectable
utility for all affected parties?

Duty-based Morality

Can the maxim underlying the course of action bieng considered be universalized? Is the principle of fair play being violated?If there appears to be conflicting duties which is the stronger duty? Which action or policy best protects the human and legal rights of the individuals involved? Does the proposed action or policy promote the basic requirements of human flourishing? Does it impede,damage, or destroy any of the basic human goods?

Rights-based Morality New natural Law

Floridis Macroethics

Luciano Floridi finds fault with traditional ethical theories He proposes Information Ethics (IE) 3 major characterstics
Ecological Patient

every thing is informational object

oriented objects with intrinsic value qualify as moral patient He says theory is not substitute for traditional ethics but a supplement


Popularized by Beauchamp and Childress At first glance one principle should be given more weight than others but 4 principles are: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence and justice


Is a necessary condition of moral responsibility Individuals shape their destiny according to their notion of the best sort of life worth living If deprived of their autonomy, someone is not treated with the respect they deserve.


Above all else do no harm


This is a positive duty We should act in such a way that we advance the welfare of other people when we are able to do so We have a duty to help others under following conditions

need is serious or urgent We have knowledge or awareness of situation We have the capability to provide assistance


Similar cases should be treated in similar ways Fair treatment