Monday, December 05, 2005

Info679: Lecture 2--Information Ethics in History and Philosophy: The Past as Prologue

Lecture 2: Information Ethics in History and Philosophy-- The Past as Prologue

In this lecture I invite you to consider the historical and philosophical foundations of information ethics. In a previous lecture I covered some of the historical background. For much more, you may want to consult a good basic book such as The Control Revolution by James R. Beniger. For the philosophical background, you may want to consult the Encyclopedia of Philosophy noted below. Here I will present an outline of ideas and concepts for us to use throughout this term.

From the Hagerty Library Site:

"Welcome to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, or REP Online - your dynamic online resource for researching, teaching and studying in the philosophy arena and related disciplines.
·More than 2000 articles, from Aristotle to Nominalism and from Personal Identity to Zeno of Elea" Start with terms such as ethics, morals/morality, deontology, utilitarianism, analytic philosophy, I. Kant, norms/normative, duty, justice, John Rawls (theory of justice), applied ethics, social ethics, social responsibility.

Of particular interest may be resources in both the history of philosophy of information and the history and philosophy of technology. For most of our work, we'll focus on the practical dimensions of philosophy as it bears on information ethics. From Spinello and Tavani, read J. Moor, "Just consequentialism and computing." Here I'll address the background needed to understand this article.

Moor seeks a unifying theory of ethics to apply to information, computing, and technology in current reflection and for decision and policy making. He calls his unifying theory "just consequentialism."

Moor--Consequentialism Constrained by Justice
Here Moor combines the two major traditions of ethical reflection-- utilitarianism and deontology.

Moor--The Good as the Enemy of the Just
Look for the conflict between the Good and the Just. How is this illustrate in controversies today? Take, for example, the tensions between those who produce music and those who download it.

Moor--Computing in Uncharted Waters
In this part of the discussion, Moor talkes about how ever new technologies present more and more challenges to our ethical analysis and our decision-making. See if you can find out who talks about ethics as "tentative ethics."

Also by James Moor-- What is Computer Ethics? 1985
Note this early article. The first mention of Information Ethics in articles came in 1988 ande 1989.

Also see Gert, Common Morality and Computing (in Spinello and Tavani)
Of importance here is an important distinction between morality and ethics.
We'll use morality to mean the ideas and practices that shape the everyday behavior
of ordinary people even when they are not reflecting on their actions. Ethics even
applied ethics, will be used to refer to intellectual reflection on morality, individual behavior,
practices and their justfications, and public policy. Note that Capurro and many others use this distinction.

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