Ethics and Information Technology (Ethics Inform Tech)

Publisher: Springer Verlag

Journal description

Ethics and Information Technology is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to advancing the dialogue between moral philosophy and the field of information and communication technology (ICT). The journal aims to foster and promote reflection and analysis which is intended to make a constructive contribution to answering the ethical social and political questions associated with the adoption use and development of ICT. Within the scope of the journal are also conceptual analysis and discussion of ethical ICT issues which arise in the context of technology assessment cultural studies public policy analysis and public administration cognitive science social and anthropological studies in technology mass-communication and legal studies. Research that deals with the history of ideas and provides intellectual resources for moral and political reflection on ICT is also welcomed. The general editorial policy is to publish work of high quality regardless of discipline school of thought or philosophical tradition from which it derives.

Current impact factor: 0.56

Impact Factor Rankings

Additional details

5-year impact 0.00
Cited half-life 7.10
Immediacy index 0.04
Eigenfactor 0.00
Article influence 0.00
Website Ethics and Information Technology website
Other titles Ethics and information technology (Online), Ethics & information technology
ISSN 1388-1957
OCLC 42829583
Material type Document, Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publisher details

Springer Verlag

  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
  • Conditions
    • Author's pre-print on pre-print servers such as arXiv.org
    • Author's post-print on author's personal website immediately
    • Author's post-print on any open access repository after 12 months after publication
    • Publisher's version/PDF cannot be used
    • Published source must be acknowledged
    • Must link to publisher version
    • Set phrase to accompany link to published version (see policy)
    • Articles in some journals can be made Open Access on payment of additional charge
  • Classification
    green

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper considers what it is about violent video games that leads one reasonably minded person to declare “That is immoral” while another denies it. Three interpretations of video game content are discussed: reductionist, narrow, and broad. It is argued that a broad interpretation is required for a moral objection to be justified. It is further argued that understanding the meaning of moral utterances—like “x is immoral”—is important to an understanding of why there is a lack of moral consensus when it comes to the content of violent video games. Constructive ecumenical expressivism is presented as a means of explaining what it is that we are doing when we make moral pronouncements and why, when it comes to video game content, differing moral attitudes abound. Constructive ecumenical expressivism is also presented as a means of illuminating what would be required for moral consensus to be achieved.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: This article draws on a study investigating how 11–14 year olds growing up in England understand cyber-bullying as a moral concern. Three prominent moral theories: deontology, utilitarianism and virtue ethics, informed the development of a semi-structured interview schedule which enabled young people, in their own words, to describe their experiences of online and offline bullying. Sixty 11–14 year olds from six schools across England were involved with the research. Themes emerging from the interviews included anonymity; the absence of rules, monitoring and guidance and, the challenges associated with determining the consequences of online actions. The findings demonstrate the advantages of adopting a character-based moral theory to compliment rules and/or consequence based moral theories as the basis for future research into cyber-bullying. The findings evoke some wider implications for future research into cyber-bullying that might equally be applied to investigations into other Internet related moral concerns.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: Can a player be held morally responsible for the choices that she makes within a videogame? Do the moral choices that the player makes reflect in any way on the player’s actual moral sensibilities? Many videogames offer players the options to make numerous choices within the game, including moral choices. But the scope of these choices is quite limited. I attempt to analyze these issues by drawing on philosophical debates about the nature of free will. Many philosophers worry that, if our actions are predetermined, then we cannot be held morally responsible for them. However, Harry Frankfurt’s compatibilist account of free will suggests that an agent can be held morally responsible for actions that she wills, even if the agent is not free to act otherwise. Using Frankfurt’s analysis, I suggest that videogames represent deterministic worlds in which players lack the ability to freely choose what they do, and yet players can be held morally responsible for some of their actions, specifically those actions that the player wants to do. Finally, I offer some speculative comments on how these considerations might impact our understanding of the player’s moral psychology as it relates to the ethics of imagined fictional events.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: Luck (2009) argues that gamers face a dilemma when it comes to performing certain virtual acts. Most gamers regularly commit acts of virtual murder, and take these acts to be morally permissible. They are permissible because unlike real murder, no one is harmed in performing them; their only victims are computer-controlled characters, and such characters are not moral patients. What Luck points out is that this justification equally applies to virtual pedophelia, but gamers intuitively think that such acts are not morally permissible. The result is a dilemma: either gamers must reject the intuition that virtual pedophelic acts are impermissible and so accept partaking in such acts, or they must reject the intuition that virtual murder acts are permissible, and so abstain from many (if not most) extant games. While the prevailing solution to this dilemma has been to try and find a morally relevant feature to distinguish the two cases, I argue that a different route should be pursued. It is neither the case that all acts of virtual murder are morally permissible, nor are all acts of virtual pedophelia impermissible. Our intuitions falter and produce this dilemma because they are not sensitive to the different contexts in which games present virtual acts.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: There has been increasing attention in sociology and internet studies to the topic of ‘digital remains’: the artefacts users of social network services (SNS) and other online services leave behind when they die. But these artefacts also pose philosophical questions regarding what impact, if any, these artefacts have on the ontological and ethical status of the dead. One increasingly pertinent question concerns whether these artefacts should be preserved, and whether deletion counts as a harm to the deceased user and therefore provides pro tanto reasons against deletion. In this paper, I build on previous work invoking a distinction between persons and selves to argue that SNS offer a particularly significant material instantiation of persons. The experiential transparency of the SNS medium allows for genuine co-presence of SNS users, and also assists in allowing persons (but not selves) to persist as ethical patients in our lifeworld after biological death. Using Blustein’s “rescue from insignificance” argument for duties of remembrance, I argue that this persistence function supplies a nontrivial (if defeasible) obligation not to delete these artefacts. Drawing on Luciano Floridi’s account of “constitutive” information, I further argue that the “digital remains” metaphor is surprisingly apt: these artefacts in fact enjoy a claim to moral regard akin to that of corpses.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: Prior research has not found a meaningful relationship between digital piracy and moral development, possibly because students do not recognize digital piracy as a moral issue. Rather than measure moral development as an individual characteristic, this study tests which components of moral development are seen as relevant to digital piracy. If some of the stages of moral development are applicable to music piracy behavior, people are more likely to pirate than to engage in other more morally intense behaviors. Some of the stages of moral development are found to be associated with moral development. Proximity to the victim reduces the acceptability of music piracy.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: I examine the nature of human-robot pet relations that appear to involve genuine affective responses on behalf of humans towards entities, such as robot pets, that, on the face of it, do not seem to be deserving of these responses. Such relations have often been thought to involve a certain degree of sentimentality, the morality of which has in turn been the object of critical attention (Sparrow in Ethics Inf Technol 78:346–359, 2002; Blackford in Ethics Inf Technol 14:41–51, 2012). In this paper, I dispel the claim that sentimentality is involved in this type of relations. My challenge draws on literature in the philosophy of art and in cognitive science that attempts to solve the so called paradox of fictional emotions, i.e., the seemingly paradoxical way in which we respond emotionally to fictional or imaginary characters and events. If sentimentality were not at issue, neither would its immorality. For the sake of argument, however, I assume in the remaining part of the paper that sentimentality is indeed at play and bring to the fore aspects of its badness or viciousness that have not yet been discussed in connection with robot pets. I conclude that not even these aspects of sentimentality are at issue here. Yet, I argue that there are other reasons to be worried about the wide-spread use of ersatz companionship technology that have to do with the potential loss of valuable, self-defining forms of life.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: Scientists and clinicians are starting to translate genomic discoveries from research labs to the clinical setting. In the process, big data genomic technologies are both a risk to individual privacy and a benefit to personalized medicine. There is an opportunity to address the social and ethical demands of various stakeholders and shape the adoption of diagnostic genome technologies. We discuss ethical and practical issues associated with the networking of genomics by comparing how the European Union (EU) and North America understand and practice notions of privacy and consent in research. An overview of international policy suggests the embedding of genomics within digital networks and the Internet creates conditions that challenge the management of privacy and consent in the age of big data. The risks of re-identification, informational harms, and data security vulnerabilities are issues that need to be better addressed in the clinical setting to reconcile the unpredictable pathway of research and practice in the networked information society.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: The paper examines the personalization of information technology from the p.c. onwards to the 3-D printing and mobile technologies in order to show that the current process of technological evolution puts the human personality in the centre of its functionality. This new centre opens the discussion about authenticity and in-authenticity of human Dasein, since the common element of these new technologies is that they employ faciality and personalization in a new condition of ready-to-hand and present-at-hand mode. By applying the Heideggerian modes of being on the process of personalization new forms of digital ethics appear. I suggest that the above take place in the navigation memory of the net, in the creativity of the self through the 3-D printer, and in the localization of the “psyche” in the hard drive disk. The paper defends the possibilities of an ethical, authentic and sheltering personalization, where human beings and information technology responsibly engage.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: The anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) was originally meant to harmonise and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) provisions in existing trade agreements within a wider group of countries. This was commendable in itself, so ACTA’s failure was all the more disappointing. In this article, I wish to contribute to the post-ACTA debate by proposing a specific analysis of the ethical reasons why ACTA failed, and what we can learn from them. I argue that five kinds of objections—namely, secret negotiations, lack of consultation, vagueness of formulation, negotiations outside any international body, and the creation of a new governing body outside already existing forums—had only indirect ethical implications. This takes nothing away from their seriousness but it does make them less compelling, because agreements should be evaluated, ethically, for what they are, rather than for the alleged reasons why they are being proposed. I then argue that ACTA would have caused three ethical problems: an excessive and misplaced kind of responsibility, a radical decrease in freedom of expression, and a severe reduction in information privacy. I conclude by indicating three lessons that can help us in shaping a potential ACTA 2.0. First, we should acknowledge the increasingly vital importance of the framework of implicit expectations, attitudes, and practices that can facilitate and promote morally good decisions and actions. ACTA failed to perceive that it would have undermined the very framework that it was supposed to foster, namely one promoting some of the best and most successful aspects of our information society. Second, we should realise that, in advanced information societies, any regulation affecting how people deal with information is now bound to influence the whole ‘onlife’ habitat within which they live. So enforcing IPR becomes an environmental problem. Third, since legal documents, such as ACTA, emerge from within the infosphere that they affect, we should apply to the process itself, which one day may lead to a post-ACTA treaty, the very framework and ethical values that we would like to see promoted by it.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: In this article I try to show in what sense Emmanuel Levinas’ ‘ethics as first philosophy’ moves our ethical thinking away from what has been called ‘centrist ethics’. Proceeding via depictions of the structure of Levinasian ethics and including references to examples as well as to some empirical research, I try to argue that human beings always already find themselves within an ethical universe, a space of meaning. Critically engaging with the writings of David Gunkel and Lucas Introna, I try to argue that these thinkers, rather than clarifying, distort our ethical understanding of how we stand in relation to artefacts. Drawing a distinction between how pervasive our ethical relationship to other human beings, and living animals, is and how the nature of artefacts is tied to us, I conclude by indicating that the aspiration to give artefacts an ethical face suggests a fantasy to avoid ethical responsibility and generates what I call a ‘compensatory logic’.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: This work focuses on augmented reality glasses and its aim is to analyse the knock-on effects on our everyday world and ourselves yielded by this kind of technology. Augmented reality is going to be the most diffused technology in our everyday life in the near future, especially augmented reality mounted on glasses. This near future is not only possible, but it seems inevitable following the vertiginous development of AR. There are numerous kinds of different prototypes that are going to come out next year (2016). Therefore, a study on how these modifications yield knock-on effects on the constitution of the object and subject is mandatory. This work tackles the topic starting from a phenomenological and post-phenomenological point of view and it analyses the modification yielded by such technology from a perceptual point of view using the analysis of the horizons of the object made by Husserl. We need this analysis because it is not only the hypothetical future that may never come, but it is the likely future very close to us that is putting pressure on us.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the prevalent assumption that when people interact online via proxies—avatars—they encounter each other. Through an exploration of the ontology of users and their avatars we argue that, contrary to the trend within current discussions of interaction online, this cannot be unproblematically assumed. If users could be considered in some sense identical to their avatars, then it would be clear how an encounter with an avatar could ground an encounter with another user. We therefore engage in a systematic investigation of several conceptions of identity, concluding that in none of these senses can users and avatars be identified. We go on to explore how current accounts of identity-as-selfhood online might resolve this problem by appealing to narrativity or authorship, ultimately concluding that as these accounts stand they are unable to provide grounds for the claim that users encounter each other online and so supplementary work is required.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Ethics and Information Technology