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Floridi's Philosophy of Information and Information Ethics: Current Perspectives, Future Directions

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Abstract

In order to evaluate Floridi's philosophy of information (PI) and correlative information ethics (IE) as potential frameworks for a global information and computing ethics (ICE), I review a range of important criticisms, defenses, and extensions of PI and IE, along with Floridi's responses to these, as gathered together in a recent special issue of Ethics and Information Technology. A revised and expanded version of PI and IE emerges here, one that brings to the foreground PI's status as a philosophical naturalism—one with both current application and important potential in the specific domains of privacy and information law. Further, the pluralism already articulated by Floridi in his PI is now more explicitly coupled with an ethical pluralism in IE that will be enhanced through IE's further incorporation of discourse ethics. In this form, PI and IE emerge as still more robust frameworks for a global ICE; in this form, however, they also profoundly challenge modern Western assumptions regarding reality, the self, and our ethical obligations.
The Information Society, 25: 159–168, 2009
Copyright c
Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0197-2243 print / 1087-6537 online
DOI: 10.1080/01972240902848708
Floridi’s Philosophy of Information and Information
Ethics: Current Perspectives, Future Directions
Charles Ess
Department of Philosophy and Religion, Drury University, Springfield, Missouri, USA
In order to evaluate Floridi’s philosophy of information (PI) and
correlative information ethics (IE) as potential frameworks for a
global information and computing ethics (ICE), I review a range of
important criticisms, defenses, and extensions of PI and IE, along
with Floridi’s responses to these, as gathered together in a recent
special issue of Ethics and Information Technology. A revised and
expanded version of PI and IE emerges here, one that brings to the
foreground PI’s status as a philosophical naturalism—one with both
current application and important potential in the specific domains
of privacy and information law. Further, the pluralism already
articulated by Floridi in his PI is now more explicitly coupled
with an ethical pluralism in IE that will be enhanced through IE’s
further incorporation of discourse ethics. In this form, PI and IE
emerge as still more robust frameworks for a global ICE; in this
form, however, they also profoundly challenge modern Western
assumptions regarding reality, the self, and our ethical obligations.
Keywords Buddhism, Confucian thought, distributed responsibility,
ecological ethics, feminist ethics, information and com-
puter ethics (ICE), Kant, moral status, ontology, philo-
sophical naturalism, Plato, privacy, Spinoza
What we are discovering is that we need an augmented
ethics for a theory of augmented moral agency. (Luciano
Floridi, 2008, p. 198)
... remain faithful to the earth. . . . To sin against the earth
is now the most dreadful thing. (Nietzsche, Thus Spoke
Zarathustra, [1891] 1954, p. 125)
INTRODUCTION
Luciano Floridi’s philosophy of information (PI) and cor-
relative information ethics (IE) are widely recognized as
Received 19 March 2007; accepted 11 November 2008.
Address correspondence to Charles Ess, Department of Philoso-
phy and Religion, Drury University, 900 N. Benton Ave., Springfield,
MO 65802, USA. E-mail: cmess@drury.edu
among the most significant developments in the larger field
of information and computing ethics (ICE). Indeed, subse-
quent history may judge that his PI and IE stand among a
handful of prominent developments of the first six decades
of Western ICE (if we begin with Norbert Wiener, 1948).
At the same time, Floridi’s PI and IE may well take a place
as one of the most significant developments in an emerg-
ing global ICE for at least two reasons. One, as his PI
and IE take up a naturalistic philosophy, this work thereby
provides a comprehensive philosophical framework that
conjoins significant elements of both traditional Western
philosophy (e.g., as represented by Plato and Spinoza) and
important Eastern traditions (represented here in terms of
Confucian and Buddhist thought). Two, alongside nat-
uralistic philosophy as a bridge or shared commonality
between these often radically diverse traditions, PI and
IE further take up an ethical pluralism—one that seeks
to conjoin shared norms, values, and practices alongside
the irreducible differences between ethical traditions and
norms that define and demarcate diverse cultures. Such
pluralism, simply, is essential for a global ICE that hopes
to delineate shared ethical norms, values, and practices as
required for meeting the ethical challenges of ICTs that
now interconnect 1.401 billion people around the world—
while simultaneously preserving and fostering individual
and cultural identity and diversity.
At the same time, of course, PI and IE have evoked a
range of important criticisms—criticisms that, if success-
ful, were sufficiently powerful to undermine PI and IE as
promising frameworks for a global ICE. But PI and IE
have simultaneously inspired criticisms intended as ways
of expanding and making PI and IE more robust. Any ef-
fort to take up PI and IE in the service of such a global ICE
must, therefore, come to grips with both sorts of critiques.
To my knowledge, the most recent systematic and
extensive dialogue between Floridi and his critics has ap-
peared in a special issue of Ethics and Information Tech-
nology (2008). In the following, I draw from this special
issue with a view toward developing a reasonably co-
herent overview of PI and IE vis-`
a-vis some of its most
159
160 C. ESS
important criticisms and defenses as raised by 10 of the
most thoughtful and significant figures in contemporary
ICE. By attending to these, and, in turn, to Floridi’s re-
sponses, we should gain a fair understanding of PI and IE
in their (more or less) current form, i.e., as expanded, re-
vised, and still open to important critiques. This overview
and understanding will then serve as the basis for revis-
iting the question of how far PI and IE may succeed as
much-needed frameworks for a global ICE.
I begin with PI as an ontology, taking up, in the first
section, PI’s emphasis on relationship between entities
as a key component, followed by a review of Floridi’s
notion of distributed morality as a primary ethical inten-
tion and consequence of this emphasis on relationship. I
then highlight both critiques and defenses of distributed
morality, concluding with an important example of what
distributed morality means in praxis and with regard to ar-
tificial agents as key components of “the web of relation-
ships” we increasingly inhabit via networked information
and communication technologies (ICTs). In the second
section, I bring to the foreground how PI is to be charac-
terized as a philosophical naturalism, one that resonates
with a wide range of such naturalisms in both western
and eastern traditions. Again, I take up the ethical conse-
quences and difficulties of this naturalism, beginning with
its intended affirmation of the intrinsic goodness of all
entities. We will see that this affirmation issues in a series
of important criticisms, clustering around the moral status
that PI thus attributes not only to artificial agents, but to
all entities. Again, I hope that through discussion of both
these critiques and Floridi’s responses a more robust and
refined understanding of PI and IE will emerge.
In the third section, I turn more directly to two specif-
ically ethical dimensions of IE—namely, Floridi’s treat-
ment of privacy and the closely related matter of what
counts as personal data. Here, I also take up a central
meta-ethical critique of IE as guilty of ethical relativism.
As in the previous sections, I conclude with what I think
emerges from critiques and responses, as an expanded and
more robust account of how IE may fulfill its original in-
tentions, by providing us with examples from praxis of
how we may define privacy and personal data in the info-
sphere. At the same time, this section highlights three im-
portant directions for future expansion and development
of IE and PI, including their incorporation of explicitly
pluralistic approaches.
The fourth section returns us to our starting point in on-
tology. There, I briefly take up the difficult debate between
Floridi’s PI as a philosophical naturalism and the Heideg-
garian components of Rafael Capurro’s intercultural in-
formation ethics. This final, perhaps irresoluble, debate
likewise points to future directions for further reflection.
By way of conclusion, I review what we now see as
a PI and IE, whose core components have been clari-
fied through this array of criticisms, and as strengthened
through a number of important extensions and potential
developments. This revised and expanded version of PI
and IE, especially as they now more extensively incorpo-
rate an ethical pluralism, is clearly well suited to serve as a
(but, importantly, not the only) framework for an emerging
global ICE. At the same time, this version unmistakably
points us toward a new, post-Cartesian conception of the
self and ethical imperatives that will dramatically chal-
lenge modern Western conceptions.
PHILOSOPHY OF INFORMATION AS A
RELATIONAL ONTOLOGY
As is well known, Floridi’s Philosophy of Information is
first of all an ontology—one that takes “information” as
the primary ontological category and constituent. In this
way, “to be is to be an informational entity” (Floridi, 2008,
p. 199). Perhaps it goes without saying that for philoso-
phers (at least of the classical sort), our most founda-
tional work lies precisely in our primary account of what
is real. Floridi’s PI is thus a radical overturning of not
one, but several prevailing ontologies—beginning with
a modern Western materialism and androcentrism. Even
more contemporary ontologies—whether those of Hei-
degger or of feminist and environmentalist accounts of
reality as inextricably interwoven—do not go far enough,
as far as Floridi is concerned. To be sure, his ontology res-
onates with feminist and environmentalist views in critical
ways, as well as with Buddhist and Confucian views. But
Floridi’s PI is more radical than at least its closest Western
cousins, as it starts with the (argued) claim that everything
is fundamentally information.
Such a radical turn is inspired by an equally radical
insight regarding information and communication tech-
nologies (ICTs) and their increasingly central role in our
lives. That is, Floridi’s PI is motivated from the outset by
the observation that other metaphysical frameworks are
ill-suited to take on and help resolve the multiple ethical
issues and challenges evoked in the emergence of ICTs.
His PI seeks to offset these deficits—in effect, by starting
all over metaphysically and redefining our understanding
of reality first of all in terms of information. Only such
an informational ontology can sufficiently counter thereby
the otherwise inherent tendency, in prevailing ontologies,
to minimize or dismiss “information” as an ontologically
subordinate and thus as an ethically insignificant compo-
nent of our world and our philosophical reflections there-
upon.
At the same time, as Alison Adam (2008) and Soraj
Hongladarom (2008) point out, this ontology resonates
with feminist and environmental views (Adam) as well
as with the views of Spinoza and Kant (Hongladarom) in
a number of key ways. As a first point of focus: For all
PI AND IE: CURRENT VIEWS, FUTURE DIRECTIONS 161
their crucial differences, these approaches share a view
of reality as consisting of not simply constituent “atoms”
or fundamental elements; in addition, reality is centrally
defined in terms of the relationships between diverse el-
ements. In this way, as Floridi himself emphasizes, his
ontology draws on the emphasis on the interconnection
between all things familiar from recent environmental and
feminist philosophies—and, importantly, from such non-
Western views as Buddhism and Confucian thought.
The ethical consequences of this ontological empha-
sis on relationship are immediate and crucial. To be-
gin with, this relational ontology represents a founda-
tional shift from modern Western emphases on the (hu-
man) moral agent as primarily a “psychic atom”—i.e.,
the individual who, as a moral autonomy, is primarily if
not exclusively responsible for his or her actions—to the
recognition that “moral actions are the result of complex
interactions among distributed systems integrated on a
scale larger than the single human being” (Floridi, 2008,
p. 198). Whether in the terms of our interactions with one
another via distributed networks or, in Floridi’s example,
within the processes of globalization as such, we are in
need of developing notions of distributed responsibility in
an ethics of distributed morality (Floridi, 2008)—i.e., no-
tions better suited to our realities as informational agents
and patients, who are inextricably interwoven with one
another via computer and other networks. For her part,
Alison Adam (2008) points out how this core insight of
PI and IE can be reinforced with insights drawn from
actor-network theory, as well as Daniel Dennett’s account
of “as if” intentionality (1994) and Lorenzo Magnani’s
description of “moral mediators” (2007).
By the same token, Frances Grodzinsky, Keith Miller,
and Marty J. Wolf (2008) seek to refine Floridi’s account
of distributed responsibility by taking up the example of
an artificial agent capable of learning* and intentionality*
(the asterisks signify that the learning and intentionality
of such artificial agents may not be perfectly identical
with those of human beings). In doing so, Grodzinsky,
Miller, and Wolf seek to highlight the point that a notion
of distributed responsibility, while extending ethical ac-
countability (as Floridi will emphasize) to artificial agents
in the ways Floridi intends, should not thereby be under-
stood to reduce, much less eliminate, the moral respon-
sibility of designers for the behaviors of the agents they
devise. For his part, Floridi points out that in fact, he has
never attributed moral responsibility, but only moral ac-
countability to artificial agents—a distinction familiar to
parents, to follow Floridi’s example, whom we may hold
responsible to some degree or another for their children’s
behavior, but not accountable for a child’s given action
(Floridi, 2008, p. 195).
Similar remarks may be made regarding a related cri-
tique, articulated by Deborah Johnson and Keith Miller
(2008). Briefly, Johnson and Miller argue that our ac-
knowledgment of artificial agents as moral agents will
inevitably result in the reduction or elimination of human
responsibility for the design, implementation, use, and im-
pacts of such agents. It is helpful here to remember that
Floridi’s ontology informs his IE. As Alison Adam has
helpfully pointed out, “de-centring the human may not in-
volve over-centring non-living things” (2008, p. 150, cited
in Floridi, 2008, p. 198). Analogously, I would suggest,
Floridi’s point—as just made clear by Grodzinsky et al.—
is that extending ethical accountability to artificial agents
does not necessarily result in eliminating ethical responsi-
bility on the part of their human designers. Whether or not
Johnson and Miller will be satisfied by Floridi’s specific
responses to their critiques, however, remains very much to
be seen.
In any event, taken together, Adam, Grodzinsky et al,
Johnson and Miller, and Floridi’s responses thus provide
us with a fairly fine-grained account of what distributed
morality means with regard to artificial agents as a key
class of informational entities within the larger webs of
engagements and interactions via ICTs that increasingly
define our lives.
PI AS A PHILOSOPHICAL NATURALISM
A second, ethically pregnant characteristic of PI as an
information ontology is its stance as a philosophical nat-
uralism, one that takes reality qua information as intrin-
sically valuable. On the one hand, this results in a philo-
sophical framework that overcomes a modernist empha-
sis on the distinction between things and value.Sucha
modernist emphasis can be seen especially in Descartes’s
metaphysics, as it locates value and worth primarily in the
rational self as a thinking thing, in stark contrast with a
“material” order whose value depends entirely upon such
thinking selves. More broadly, this hierarchical view is
often linked with the larger patriarchal views prevailing in
Descartes’s day. So, for example, on the basis of this dual-
ism, Descartes establishes what has become the modernist
thematic regarding science and technology—namely, that
our separation from and superiority over nature allows
us to exploit our new knowledge and powers over nature
and thereby become “masters and possessors of nature”
(Discourse, VI, 119). One need not be a feminist to no-
tice that, until recently at least, the masters have usually
been males; their mastery has been exercised over a nature
that is almost without exception imaged as feminine (e.g.,
“mother nature”). In this way, the “natural” inferiority and
subordination of matter in Descartes’s thought thus reflect
and inscribe a patriarchal worldview into the foundations
of nature itself. In my view, it is one of the very great
strengths of PI that, as its resonances with environmental
and feminists ethics makes clear, it roundly rejects this
162 C. ESS
particular expression of hierarchy that has otherwise too
deeply shaped Western philosophical traditions.
This is, to be sure, a radical move—one more radical
than even feminist or environmental ethics, as these each
insist that the circle of valuable beings extends beyond
human males and, indeed, the human species altogether.
Not surprisingly, PI’s endorsement of the basic goodness
of reality issues in a second set of important critiques.
Broadly, these critiques argue that PI thus results in the
ethical equivalent of Hegel’s night in which all cows are
black—i.e., a value homogeneity that does not allow us
to meaningfully distinguish between the value of, say, an
information device such as PDA or information agent such
as a web-crawler, and that of a full-fledged human being.
Philip Brey makes this point in a particularly striking way:
IE is committed to an untenable egalitarianism in the
valuation of information objects. ... From the point of view
of IE, a work of Shakespeare is as valuable as a piece of pulp
fiction, and a human being as valuable as a vat of toxic waste.
(2008, p. 112)
For Brey, this means that PI thereby cannot provide
us an essential ethical component, namely, a framework
and/or procedure that allows us to distinguish between
the intrinsic worth of two very different informational
items—a distinction that is crucial in making many kinds
of ethical choices. Floridi’s response to this critique argues
that Brey has missed a crucial distinction in turn. As Floridi
puts it, PI’s endorsement of the goodness of being is a
metaphysical position, one that endorses the claim that “all
entities are at least minimally and overridably valuable in
themselves” (2008, p. 194). But this means in turn that,
from any number of possible levels of abstraction (LoA),
we are perfectly capable of differentiating between and
establishing the relative value of, to use Floridi’s example,
a human life on the one hand and a spider’s life on the
other. To be sure, how we determine which LoA to take
up in making such differentiations is itself a matter for
critical evaluation; we will return to this point shortly.
Here, it suffices to observe that the contrast Floridi draws
between PI as a metaphysical view and how entities may
be evaluated from the standpoint of a given LoA means
that PI does not fall into the ethical night in which all
informational entities putatively enjoy the same value and
status from every possible LoA (Floridi, 2008, p. 190f).
PRIVACY, PERSONAL DATA—AND ETHICAL
RELATIVISM
Before turning to two specific critiques of Floridi’s IE in-
volving specific applications of IE to the matters of privacy
and personal data, it will help if we first examine a cri-
tique raised against IE at the meta-ethical level—namely,
the charge of ethical relativism. Doing so will further fore-
ground Floridi’s recent thinking with regard to two crucial
components of Floridi’s IE—namely, flourishing and en-
tropy as IE’s defining ethical norms. At the same time,
this will help make explicit the role of ethical pluralism in
IE, not only as part of Floridi’s counter to the charge of
relativism, but as a central component of PI and IE more
broadly—a component, to recall, that is essential to their
promise as frameworks for a global ICE.
Ethical Relativism in the Infosphere?
As we have just seen, our evaluation of the relative worth or
value of diverse entities in the infosphere depends entirely
on the level of abstraction that we take up to make such
an evaluation. But, for a number of critics, this opens
IE up to the charge of ethical relativism. Most simply, it
would seem that our choice of any one LoA over another
is more or less arbitrary: Nothing, it appears, in PI or
IE requires or endorses our use of any given LoA rather
than another. If this were true, IE would be scuttled from
the outset—in particular because such relativism would
directly undermine IE’s claims to establish a universally
legitimate ethical framework.
Of course, by itself, this does not take us far enough:
We need, in addition, greater clarity as to how it is that our
choice of a given LoA is not, as Floridi puts so nicely in
his reply to Stahl, “just a matter of whimsical preference,
personal taste, or subjective inclination of the moment”
(2008, p. 190). As far as I can gather, Floridi means to
move here to an ethical pluralism, one that would endorse
a wide but not unlimited number of LoAs—each one of
which is defined by a specified goal, namely: What is the
goal of the analysis that a given LoA makes possible? In
Floridi’s example,
Thus, when observing a building, which LoA one should
adopt—architectural, emotional, financial, historical, legal,
and so forth—depends on the goal of the analysis. There is
no “right” LoA independently of the purpose for which it is
adopted. (Floridi, 2008, p. 190)
For Floridi, Plato, Spinoza, Heidegger, and Buddhism
each represent “equally abstract LoAs”—in my terms, IE
thereby makes available a plurality of frameworks that
will work especially well in relation to a particular culture,
ethical tradition, etc.
Well and good—but what further comes into play here,
as those familiar with Floridi’s PI and IE know, is the
larger appeal to flourishing as the final norm and telos
defining our actions. Such flourishing of reality as an in-
fosphere, as far as I can tell, is Floridi’s counterpart to
Aldo Leopold’s land ethic: “A thing is right when it tends
to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic
community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” (1966,
p. 262). And, as Terry Bynum has pointed out, Floridi’s fo-
cus on flourishing works in parallel with Norbert Wiener’s
PI AND IE: CURRENT VIEWS, FUTURE DIRECTIONS 163
taking up flourishing as the overarching goal and value of
computer ethics as part of the larger human ethical impulse
as such. For Wiener, “flourishing” includes advancing and
defending human values (life, health, freedom, knowl-
edge, happiness), and fulfilling “the great principles of
justice” drawn from Western philosophical and religious
traditions. Bynum further sees agreement on these central
values in the work of such computer ethics pioneers as
Deborah Johnson, Philip Brey, James Moor, and Helen
Nissenbaum. As I have argued earlier, this convergence
between Floridi and Wiener, as well as among these other
leading figures, is crucial not only as it identifies the eth-
ical norm toward which all actions should aim, but also
because it thereby stands as an example of ethical plural-
ism (in fact, pluralism in the form of a pros hen or focal
pluralism), as these divergent approaches nonetheless take
up human flourishing etc. as their shared focal points (Ess,
2006). This pluralistic dimension of Floridi’s IE directly
correlates with the pluralism of PI as a philosophical on-
tology; we will return to these dimensions of IE and PI by
way of conclusion.
Here, however, it is helpful to notice that Floridi elabo-
rates on his notion of flourishing in an important way in his
reply to Brey. Vis-`
a-vis Brey’s critiques of Floridi’s basic
ontological/ethical claim regarding the intrinsic goodness
of all entities, Floridi concludes one line of response this
way: “We should not fear to respect the world too much.
Rather, as Augustine nicely put it, dilige, at quod vis fac
(love/respect and do what you wish)” (2008, p. 193).
As Floridi points out here in the accompanying
footnote:
Note that Augustine uses the Latin “diligere,” not
“amare,” a term that precisely refers to love as careful re-
spect. As well, this is in keeping with the emphasis in IE
highlighted in this issue by Hongladarom—that IE’s in-
formational ontocentrism is a naturalistic philosophy that
closely resonates with Spinoza, Plato, Confucius, and Bud-
dhist thought (among others) in its affirmation of the intrinsic
moral worth of the cosmos as such. (2008, p. 193)
Floridi is also quick to point out that being in the com-
pany of such thinkers does not make one right. But for our
purposes here, the primary point is that “flourishing” for
Floridi as a final telos of our actions is grounded in the
foundational insistence on the goodness of being, and is
the aim not only of Augustine’s famous dictum that tells us
that a primary posture of love as careful respect; thereby,
his notion of flourishing intersects with similar ethical
emphases across a range of world traditions. Again, such
company does not mean anyone is correct. But it does
point in a last way (for now) to what in my mind is an
essential strength of IE—again, its pluralistic structure, in
this case, with regard to its primary ethical orientation and
injunction.
As is equally well known, for Floridi, the opposite of
such flourishing is what he has called “entropy”—a term
that he acknowledges has caused him no little trouble.
The difficulty is that any number of his readers have taken
“entropy” in IE to mean the concept familiar from ther-
modynamics or Shannon’s “equivalent measure.” Against
this common misconception, Floridi clarifies:
Entropy in IE is not meant to refer to the thermodynamic
concept nor to Shannon’s equivalent measure at all. It is a
metaphysical term and means Non-Being, or Nothingness.
Metaphysical entropy is increased when Being, interpreted
informationally, is annihilated or degraded. (2008, p. 200)
While this helps at least to avoid misinterpretation in
order to know what either flourishing or entropy means in
finer detail is to ask, how do these norms apply in praxis?
Such a question, of course, points us toward the possible
applications of IE as a crucial test of its potential as a
genuinely useful ethical framework.
IE and Privacy
Herman Tavani generally seeks to defend Floridi’s PI and
IE—but precisely through the sort of critical philosophical
analysis that begins by unveiling apparent shortcomings or
weaknesses, with the intention of correcting these in order
to make the sorts of modifications seen to be necessary
to render a solid philosophical framework and approach
even more robust (2008). He does so by taking up privacy
as both a central issue in ICE more generally and as one
of the topics Floridi has addressed most extensively as a
primary area of application for IE. For his part, Floridi
has already identified four significant problems regard-
ing information privacy (2006)—and Tavani raises two
further difficulties. One, he argues that Floridi’s account
of information privacy fails to make a needed distinction
between informational privacy and psychological privacy.
Two, IE on Tavani’s account likewise fails to recognize
an important distinction between descriptive and norma-
tive dimensions of information privacy. On the other hand,
Tavani seeks to bolster Floridi’s account by bringing on
board his own “personality theory” of privacy.
In his reply to Tavani, Floridi agrees that the distinctions
Tavani calls attention to are indeed important ones and
must be taken on board. IE can do so, he argues—in partic-
ular, by taking up in turn Tavani’s extension of IE through
his own “restricted access/limited control theory of pri-
vacy” or RALC. At the same time, Floridi emphasizes:
The fact that an informational ontology may help us
to understand an individual as constituted by her informa-
tion is meant to contribute and be complementary to other
approaches to e.g. physical or mental/psychological pri-
vacy. . . . I see IE not as providing the only right theory, but
a minimalist, common framework that can support dialogue.
(Floridi, 2008, p. 199)
164 C. ESS
To be sure, the further development of IE via RALC is
work yet to be done. Nonetheless, it would seem that IE,
as now revised in light of Tavani’s distinctions and sug-
gestions, and in a version that explicitly intends to stand
as simply one theory among others, thereby emerges as
capable of giving us a still more robust account of infor-
mation privacy. Such an account is valuable both for its
own sake, and as it thereby counters critiques that charge
that IE and thereby PI are of limited value because they
ostensibly fall short of application in praxis.
IE and Information Law
As Dan Burk points out, a further crucial test of any infor-
mation ethics is how far it may serve as a framework for
analyzing and resolving legal disputes regarding informa-
tion. Happily, Burk sees that a number of cases in the areas
of privacy and intellectual property rights would, at least
with “relatively small adjustment,” serve as further exam-
ples of IE’s successful application to real-world examples
in praxis (2008, p. 146). At the same time, however, Burk
argues that IE does not so far provide the sort of clear and
complete ethical framework he takes as requisite for IE’s
complete success in this direction. He supports his claim
by way of a recent case regarding the status of player
performance statistics as intellectual property (2008).
Part of Floridi’s response consists of arguing that what
Burk sees as a deficit is really a virtue. That is, while a
clear and complete framework may seem to be a desider-
atum, Floridi points out that such completeness and lack
of ambiguity work only in very limited cases. As I would
put it: Ethicists and philosophers familiar with Socrates’
and Aristotle’s emphasis on phronesis will remember that
a central difficulty of making ethical decisions in the ev-
eryday world is just that the epistemological messiness
and multiple ambiguities of any given situation precisely
defy direct application of a limited set of principles in
thoroughly univocal ways. On the contrary, the great dif-
ficulties for ethicists in particular and human beings more
broadly arise as we are confronted with contexts defined
by a sometimes staggering range of relevant and fine-
grained details, coupled with a sometimes equally stag-
gering range of potentially relevant norms and principles,
open to an often very wide range of interpretations and
applications to the particulars of that given context.
It is also important to note here: The wide range of inter-
pretations and applications reflects not simply the intrinsic
ambiguity attaching to general principles. In addition, our
human freedom comes into play here in one of its most im-
portant forms, precisely because the lack of pure univocity
and thereby the impossibility of a purely determinative de-
duction from an unequivocal general principle to a given
particular means that we are free—and/or condemned—to
interpret and apply what general principles and norms we
may take to be relevant to the specific contexts we find
ourselves in. It is in these contexts that phronesis or prac-
tical judgment (what Kant later calls reflective judgment)
must come into play. In fact, as complex and ambigu-
ous as these core elements of our ethical lives may be,
they become only more so, and on staggering new scales,
as ICTs and their networks interweave our ethical lives
with one another in a once unimaginable web of interre-
lationships. As in other domains of our lives so affected
by ICTs, the crucial importance of “traditional” concerns
(e.g., critical thinking about quality and reliability of on-
line sources) is dramatically amplified, not somehow made
simpler and easier by new technologies. In this case, “dis-
tributed morality” includes the recognition that the range
of important contextual details and potentially relevant
norms constituting an ethical challenge is now expanded
in incredible, potentially overwhelming new ways. But
this means: Phronesis and thus our attention to its devel-
opment in praxis are even more important than ever before.
For his part, Floridi points out that in everyday life, “the
fuzziness and slippery nature of the boundary between
what counts in or out bubbles up everywhere, and it re-
minds us of our epistemic limits, if not of the ontic vague-
ness of reality” (2008, p. 202). In both ways, then, what
Burk sees as the as-yet-to-be-fulfilled requirement of IE—
namely, the construction of a complete and unambiguous
ethical framework—is for Floridi a virtue: IE, as what
Floridi has characterized as “a minimalist, common frame-
work,” makes the epistemological and ethical room neces-
sary for the sorts of interpretation and judgment essential
to the ethical decision making of free human beings.
At the same time, however, Floridi acknowledges
Burk’s suggestion that more development of IE in the
form of additional guidelines that might bring greater co-
herence to law regarding data representations is in order.
He provides an example of one such guideline for deter-
mining when data count or fail to count as personal data
(2008, p. 203).
As with Tavani’s critiques and Floridi’s responses, so
here again we see an important revision and extension of
Floridi’s IE, now vis-`
a-vis information law. Again, inso-
far as IE—perhaps with some modification—may fit at
least some important instances of contemporary informa-
tion law, and, even better, insofar as IE may be further
developed through the addition of guidelines that extend
its capacity to serve as a useful ethical framework for such
law, we likewise have a strong example of the relevance
of IE to real-world praxis, and the promise of even greater
relevance through further development.
IE and Discourse Ethics
As we have seen earlier, IE is sometimes charged with
falling prey to ethical relativism. This critique arises
PI AND IE: CURRENT VIEWS, FUTURE DIRECTIONS 165
primarily in association with the central notion of levels of
abstraction (LoAs). Our analysis—specifically, our ethi-
cal evaluation—of entities and situations in the infosphere
depend entirely on which LoA we take up; however, the
choice of LoA appears—to some, at least—to be a choice
entirely determined by whim, accident, or personal pref-
erence (to paraphrase Floridi).
Bernd Carsten Stahl sharpens this critique by way of a
comparison with the discourse ethics (DE) most famously
associated with J¨
urgen Habermas. Stahl argues that DE,
as an ethics grounded on the procedures defined to estab-
lish the ideal speech situation, is thereby better able than
Floridi’s IE to offer us the ethical guidance we require
in praxis. In addition, Stahl argues that DE more clearly
avoids the charge of ethical relativism (2008). For his part,
Floridi argues that Stahl’s critique rests on some mistaken
understandings of IE and specifically how LoAs function.
Beyond this, however, Floridi further acknowledges that
Stahl’s suggestions for strengthening IE by way of further
comparison with and development through DE might be
very fruitful indeed (2008, p. 191).
From my perspective, it is important to recall here that
DE aims at the outset to function as a pluralistic form of
ethics; indeed, Stahl explicitly seeks to exploit this plu-
ralism in his own appropriation of DE as he develops
an ICE intended to preserve the irreducible differences—
including different ethical norms and traditions—that de-
fine national cultures (2004). Very briefly, the require-
ments set forth in DE to construct the ideal speech situa-
tion establish a space for free debate and dialogue regard-
ing fundamental norms. As different communities under-
take these dialogues, they may well come to the requisite
consensus—but on diverse interpretations or understand-
ings of norms otherwise shared between communities. The
pluralism of DE thus preserves the differences defining
the distinctive ethical traditions of diverse national cul-
tures, while simultaneously making possible a shared ICE
grounded on DE as a procedural ethics likewise shared
among these diverse groups.
Where pluralism is a central component of DE, one
particular outcome of IE’s further engagement with DE
might well be an additional set of arguments and proce-
dures that would enhance IE as a pluralistic ethics. Such
enhancements would provide still greater clarity regarding
how IE—including its use of LoAs—works to establish a
plurality of legitimate views, but not, as critics sometimes
charge, an ethical relativism. And, as I will elaborate more
fully by way of conclusion, such pluralism in IE would
thus mesh with the pluralism in PI that Floridi has already
articulated. Such a development would not only bring to
the foreground still more clearly the requisite coherence
between PI as an ontology and IE as an ethics; it thereby
would strengthen PI and IE as frameworks for a pluralistic
global ICE.
ONTOLOGY REDUX
Perhaps Floridi’s clearest differences are with Rafael
Capurro—primarily as Capurro includes among his start-
ing points a Heideggerian view. On this basis, one of
Capurro’s most important concerns with Floridi’s “infor-
mational turn” is that its non-androcentric insistence on
the intrinsic (if easily overridable) value of all entities will
inevitably lead to a potentially disastrous undermining of
our emphases on the value and responsibility of human
beings as key moral agents (2008). Of course, Floridi dis-
agrees, as Grodzinsky et al. recognize and as Floridi points
out in his reply to Johnson and Miller.
Readers who carefully review both Capurro’s exten-
sive criticisms and Floridi’s reply may see the way toward
some sort of resolution or compromise position that would
bridge these otherwise seemingly incompatible views. Af-
ter all, both Capurro and Floridi agree that information
ethics must now include as one of its central tasks the de-
velopment of an intercultural computer ethics (Capurro’s
term)—what I have called “ethics for the rest of us,” i.e.,
everyone who interacts with an ICT, whether in the form
of a “traditional” laptop or an Internet-capable mobile
device (Floridi, 2008, p. 201). Further, both philosophers
clearly share deep commitments to what I think of as some
of the best of Western norms and traditions, alongside
equally deep commitments to the critical ethical impor-
tance of pluralism in a world increasingly interwoven by
ICTs. But “parts is parts”—and ontologies are ontologies.
Whether or not the deep ontological divide between an
intercultural information ethics resting in part on Heideg-
gerian foundations, and an information ethics resting on
a more radical, non-androcentric philosophy of informa-
tion, can be bridged in some way remains very much an
open question—and a question whose responses will carry
with them enormously different consequences.
CONCLUDING REMARKS
Keeping this deep divide between Floridi and Capurro
fully in mind, I believe it nonetheless fair to say, from
the larger perspective constructed through this article,
that Floridi’s IE and PI, especially as clarified through
his responses to important critiques and as extended in
several ways (especially via Hongladarom, Tavani, Burk,
and Stahl)—and as now complemented by at least three
areas for further development (i.e., in informational pri-
vacy, guidelines for application to information law, and
appropriation of a procedural DE)—stand as a still more
robust and promising framework for a global ICE. This is
not simply because Floridi has managed to defend PI and
IE against important critiques, and to expand and thereby
strengthen PI and IE through the thoughtful criticisms
and suggestions of others. In addition, these critiques and
166 C. ESS
suggestions have helped bring to the foreground the im-
portance of pluralism in conjunction with his key norm
of flourishing, and point toward a still stronger from of
pluralism for IE as it may take up DE and its empha-
sis on procedural approaches designed to establish such
pluralism from the outset.
In doing so, Floridi extends the pluralistic character of
his philosophy as already articulated with regard to PI.
That is, in parallel with what he notes here regarding IE
as one minimalist framework among others, Floridi has
previously described PI as a “lite” form of information
ontology:
First, instead of trying to achieve an impossible “view
from nowhere,’, the theory seeks to avoid assuming some
merely “local” conception of what Western philosophical tra-
ditions dictate as “normality”—whether this is understood as
post-18th century or not—in favour of a more neutral ontol-
ogy of entities modelled informationally. By referring to such
a “lite” ontological grounding of informational privacy, the
theory allows the adaptation of the former to various concep-
tions of the latter, working as a potential cross-cultural plat-
form. This can help to uncover different conceptions and im-
plementations of informational privacy around the world in
a more neutral language, without committing the researcher
to a culturally-laden position. (2006, p. 113)
And so, as I have argued previously, PI is indeed an im-
portant example of the pluralistic approach that I believe
is essential to the development of a global ICE that seeks
to conjoin shared norms and practices (as necessary for
our life and work together in an world increasingly inter-
connected via ICTs) alongside the irreducible differences
that define our distinctive individual and cultural identi-
ties. That is, pluralism allows precisely for the possibility
of interpreting or applying a shared norm—as we saw in
the example of flourishing—in diverse ways in diverse
cultures, i.e., in ways the reflect and preserve precisely the
distinctive traditions and values that define a given culture
(cf. Ess, 2006).
Even better, what now appears to me to be still greater
clarity regarding pluralism within IE proper, along with
the promise of rendering IE even more robustly pluralistic
via DE, reinforces and expands on the pluralism of PI in
helpful ways, and renders PI and IE together a still more
suitable framework for a global ICE.
Yes, But . . .
In my view, one of the most important insights to emerge
in the special issue of Ethics and Information Technology
comes in Floridi’s reply to Hongladarom. Here, Floridi
acknowledges Hongladarom’s account of the resonances
between PI/IE and Spinoza—and, as Hongladarom fur-
ther spells out, with still older conceptions of ethics,
ranging from Aristotle through Confucian and Buddhist
traditions. Indeed, Floridi continues here to extend the
web:
Plato, of course, is another great defender of the intrinsic
“goodness of Being,” and in Genesis we are told that the
Biblical God not only creates the universe but also rejoices
again and again at the sight of its intrinsic goodness. (2008,
p. 203)
Most importantly, Floridi continues,
I am happy to concede that perhaps it takes a spiritualistic
form of naturalism to find the approach [of IE] attractive. Any
materialistic view of the world, like Hume’s, will struggle
with the possibility that Being might be morally pregnant
and overflowing with Goodness. (2008, p. 201)
If ontology in general is indeed foundational, as it pro-
vides our most basic frameworks for how we think (and,
as a feminist, a Confucian, as well as a post-Cartesian
philosopher alive to contemporary discussions of embod-
iment would add, feel) about what is real and valuable, I
think that here Floridi has put his finger on a still more fun-
damental issue within our ontological debates. That is, key
to the general debate over androcentric, human-centered,
biocentric, and/or informational ontologies and ethics is
just our sensibility regarding the intrinsic goodness of re-
ality as such. For better and for worse, Descartes defined
the metaphysics of the modern West by way of a secular
but radicalized form of Augustinian dualism and contemp-
tus mundi—contempt for the (material) world, including
body. Three centuries of such metaphysics—especially as
it echoes and reinforces similar dualisms prevalent among
many Western religious traditions—will not be easy to
dismiss or overcome.
This is all the more difficult because it means engag-
ing not only our minds in rethinking our fundamental
thoughts about reality, ethics, etc., especially as focused
on ICTs and a global ICE. In addition, and to elaborate
on Floridi’s happy concession, all of this further means
that we must learn to understand—and, however much
it will make many readers shudder, feel—our world, be-
ginning with our own bodies, in new (but also very old)
ways. Indeed, in this direction, as the backgrounds of eco-
logical and feminist ethics should suggest, Floridi stands
among a growing array of philosophers enjoining us to
move beyond the Cartesian mind–body split and all that
it implies in modernity. So, for example, building on
phenomenology, Barbara Becker has coined the neolo-
gism “BodySubject” (LeibSubjekt) to highlight that our
bodies and senses of self and personal identity are inextri-
cably interwoven (2002; cf. Barney, 2004). More recently,
Susan Stuart provides an excellent overview of how phe-
nomenology, reinforced and expanded by a range of dis-
coveries in neurophysiology, points to a post-Cartesian
understanding of the person as “there is an inseparabil-
ity of mind and world, and it is embodied practice rather
PI AND IE: CURRENT VIEWS, FUTURE DIRECTIONS 167
than cognitive deliberation that marks the agent’s engage-
ment with its world” (2008, p. 256). In these ways, more-
over, contemporary Western conceptions move closer to
both pre-modern Western and non-Western conceptions.
So Plato offers the cybernetes, the pilot whose knowledge
and judgments about how to navigate in difficult seas as a
primary metaphor for phronesis and its central role in our
ethical lives (Republic, I, 332e–c, and VI, 489c). This pilot
feels [διαισ θ ´ανετ αι] the difference between the impos-
sibilities and possibilities in his art and attempts the one
and lets the others go; and then, too, if he does happen to
trip, he is equal to correcting his error” (Republic, 360e–
361a). As anyone who has sailed a ship knows, this feeling
one’s way through the often conflicting pushes and pulls
of current, wind, momentum and balance is done through
and with the body—not against it. Similarly, Confucian
thought includes an understanding of the human being as
xin, “heart-and-mind.” As Ames and Rosemont elaborate,
for such human beings, there are no thoughts without emo-
tion, and no emotions without cognition (1998, p. 56). All
of this is to say that Floridi’s move towards a sense of
self that goes beyond a purely Cartesian emphasis on the
self qua disembodied mind appears to me to be part of a
larger shift in these directions marked out in recent West-
ern philosophy, beginning with the development of both
ecological and feminist approaches that stress intercon-
nectedness over atomistic difference. This shift represents
a recovery and perhaps revision of pre-modern concep-
tions. And it is a shift whose trajectory, finally, is precisely
toward a conception of self that may be more easily shared
(though of course, pluralistically) among the larger globe
(Ess, 2004; Ess & Thorseth, 2009). To be sure, none of
this says that Floridi is right. It does say, however, that
his move beyond the Cartesian mind–body split cannot be
dismissed as somehow idiosyncratic. On the contrary, and
more importantly, it is a move that takes us in the direc-
tions I believe are essential for establishing a genuinely
global ICE.
For some (perhaps many), this will simply be too
demanding. It will smack of an inappropriate—if not
dangerous—reintroduction of the religious and the spiri-
tual, after three centuries of absolutely essential Enlight-
enment efforts to ban these from the public and academic
spheres as irrationalisms that can only lead to the sorts
of ferocious internecine warfare affiliated with religion in
previous centuries.
But if Floridi, along with multiple feminist, envi-
ronmental, and globally-oriented philosophers such as
Hongladarom who help bring into play Confucian and
Buddhist perspectives, are right—then a key component
of an emerging global ICE is precisely a radical recon-
figuration of not only how we think, but also feel, about
reality at its most foundational levels.
This radical reconfiguration not only implicates an
equally fundamental reconfiguration of our sense of self
and reason and their connections with the emotive and
the body; these re-conceptions are further accompanied
by new ethical imperatives. We can recall here that
Hongladarom (2007) has argued that the Buddhist prac-
tice of ego reduction, alongside cultivation of the virtue
of compassion, may strongly contribute to resolving prob-
lems of privacy, insofar as these practices and virtues un-
dermine our primary motivations for wanting to invade the
privacy of others in the first place. To my ear, this does not
sound much different from Augustine’s injunction, which
we may paraphrase as: Begin from a posture of respect-
ful care, and do what you will. For both Hongladarom
and Floridi, then, their naturalistic philosophies require us
not only to feel differently about the world; they further
require us to practice approaching that world, in all its ex-
pressions and constellations, through a posture of compas-
sion and careful respect. Or, in Nietzsche’s phrase, contra
Descartes’ thematic mastery and possession of nature, we
are now enjoined to remain faithful to the earth.
I could not agree more. Again, in this way,
Hongladarom and Floridi bring us closer to a global ICE
that points toward shared norms—but ones expressed in
diverse ways in diverse traditions, i.e., as respectful care or
as compassion. While this serves as yet another example
of a pluralistic structure in an emerging global ICE, their
shared call to a sort of virtue ethics that has us attend to
our feelings and requires us to cultivate compassion will
again deeply challenge those modern Western ethicists
who take a more purely conceptual approach, one rest-
ing, I suspect, on Cartesian dualisms that both Floridi and
Hongladarom explicitly reject. Certainly, as Floridi points
out, those deeply wedded to materialism simply won’t get
it. More’s the pity. But Nietzsche would be pleased.
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... A Figura 14 apresenta a distribuição dos estudantes por faixa de renda familiar, segundo tipo de curso. Os estudantes de Medicina são os de mais alta renda, seguidos pelos de Direito, o que é consistente com achados da literatura, em particular de Beltrão & Mandarino(2014). ...
... No entanto, a literatura internacional consultada assume o ProInfo, de 1997, como primeira política de uso de TICs na educação. Ver Valdivia(2014) eMorales (2015).Sunkel (2006) situa o Brasil entre os países com programas iniciados na segunda metade da década de 90, mas faz uma ressalva observando que a informática educativa já existia há muitos anos no país e resgatando o projeto EDUCOM e o programa Proninfe, ambos implementados na década de 1980. 8 "La creación de la red escolar buscaba instalar gradualmente una infraestructura que permitiese a alumnos y profesores conectarse mediante proyectos, intercambiar experiencias educativas y reducir el aislamiento de muchas escuelas." ...
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Esse livro é o resultado de muitos anos de pesquisas e colaborações. O último de uma série de projetos financiados pelo International Development Research Centre (IDRC) e desenvolvidos pelo Centro de Tecnologia e Sociedade da FGV, foi pensado em rede e costurado por muitas mãos. Ao olhar para os processos de digitalização, a série à qual esse livro pertence tentou entender desdobramentos e impactos de novas tecnologias na produção cultural em diferentes setores. Aqui apresentamos a última análise da série, trazendo debates e vozes do ecossistema de acesso à materiais educacionais no Brasil. A ideia de se olhar para o ecossistema e tentar entender seus atores e relações de poder nos ajudou a entrar em contato com a realidade multifacetada da produção, disseminação e acesso ao conhecimento científico no país. O Brasil vem passando por diversas mudanças, tanto nas políticas públicas de educação, quanto no fomento à pesquisa e inovação, o que tem incrementado a complexidade de algumas dinâmicas apresentadas neste livro. Outras, todavia, permanecem como um desafio para a sociedade civil, pesquisadores e formuladores de políticas públicas, como a defasada Lei de Direitos Autorais de 1998, cujos esforços acumulados em mais de uma década para sua reforma encontram-se dissipados. A relevância dos questionamentos apresentados aqui soma-se aos esforços da garantia de acesso (à cultura, ao conhecimento, à medicamentos), de liberdade de expressão e autonomia universitária. Reunimos diversos especialistas e atores do ecossistema que oferecem um importante panorama sobre pesquisa, legislação e políticas públicas.
... These concerns include the following: that the nature of privacy is being overcomplicated; that the human subject with its subjective view of the world is being lost in a focus on objective impersonal information; and that, since all informational entities have a moral value, it becomes difficult to deal with conflicting interests with respect to privacy. We suggest, following Floridi (2008Floridi ( , 2013 and Ess (2009), that the last point is easily dealt with; although it is true that all informational entities have a moral value, it is not an equal one, and choices and priorities can be established. The second point appears to be a misunderstanding due to an oversimplified view of Floridi's position, specifically the use of levels of abstraction; there is ample scope for consideration of the subjective personal viewpoint in this model. ...
... Tavani (2008a) suggests that it could incorporate other insights, such as Nissenbaum's "privacy as contextual integrity." This is a strong argument for Floridi's model, since it appears highly hospitable to, rather than competitive with, contextuallyspecific privacy models and concepts; see Ess (2009) for an early argument along these lines. Furthermore, the basic concepts within Floridi's model may be used to develop formal contextual models for digital privacy, using concepts of information accessibility, information gap, information flow, and ontological friction; see, for example, Primiero (2016). ...
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This conceptual article argues for the value of an approach to privacy in the digital information environment informed by Luciano Floridi's philosophy of information and information ethics. This approach involves achieving informational privacy, through the features of anonymity and obscurity, through an optimal balance of ontological frictions. This approach may be used to modify models for information behavior and for information literacy, giving them a fuller and more effective coverage of privacy issues in the infosphere. For information behavior, the Information Seeking and Communication Model and the Information Grounds conception are most appropriate for this purpose. For information literacy, the metaliteracy model, using a modification a privacy literacy framework, is most suitable.
... 295). Στόχος του είναι µέσα από την κριτική προσέγγιση των διαθέσιµων θεωρητικών µοντέλων να προτείνει ένα νέο µοντέλο, τόσο θεωρητικό όσο και εφαρµοσµένο, για τη δηµοσιογραφική ηθική µέσα στις συνθήκες της παγκοσµιοποίησης (Seid, 2002), της σύγκλισης των Μέσων (Jenkins, 2006) και της ψηφιακής εποχής (Ess, 2009). ...
... Υπάρχουν όµως και προσεγγίσεις που αντλούν από το υπόδειγµα (paradigm) των Πολιτισµικών Σπουδών, όπως π.χ. οι στρουκτουραλιστικές και µεταστρουκτοραλιστικες, µεταφεµινιστικές και κοινωνικές κονστρουξιονιστικές που εστιάζουν στην πολιτισµική και φιλοσοφική διάσταση του θέµατος της ηθικής και αναζητούν τις ιστορικές, πολιτισµικές και πολιτικοκοινωνικές συνθήκες γύρω από το θέµα (π.χ.Ess, 2009; Consalvo & Ess, 2011.Η κεντρική συζήτηση του Ward σχετίζεται µε την πιθανότητα και δυνατότητα ανάπτυξης µιας παγκόσµιας ατζέντας για τη δηµοσιογραφική ηθική, την οποία και αναπτύσσει, αφού έχει προβεί σε µια σχετική ιστορική αναδροµή (πέντε στάδια εξέλιξης της δηµοσιογραφικής ηθικής) και σε µια κριτική συζήτηση των προσεγγίσεων της Κριτικής Θεωρίας. Η θέση του, ότι µπορεί να υπάρχει µια παγκόσµια ατζέντα δηµοσιογραφικής ηθικής, προϋποθέτει την ύπαρξη µιας κοσµοπολιτικής δηµοσιογραφικής προσέγγισης: Θεωρεί ότι µε την εδραίωση πια των διαδικτυακών Μέσων όλοι οι άνθρωποι -και βέβαια οι δηµοσιογράφοι-έρχονται και αποκτούν πολλές και διαφορετικές πολιτισµικές προσλαµβάνουσες. ...
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This student book discusses issues of journalism ethics within a broader concept of how we understand, negotiate and embody ethics in western culture. The work of Charles Ess on ethics and digital culture as well as the work of Michel Foucault on governmentally have been influential in how the terms and debates discussed in this book are conceptualised.
... IS research has a long history of examining and ensuring the ethical use of computers and curating this knowledge (Chatterjee et al., 2009;Kallman, 1992;Stahl, 2008). Various frameworks, principles, and guidelines have been established to support researchers and practitioners in the ethical use of computers (Ess, 2009;Harrington, 1996;King, 1996;Sojer et al., 2014). Nonetheless, Stahl noted in 2008 that there were only a small number of IS papers dealing with ethics. ...
Article
The ethical dimensions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) constitute a salient topic in information systems (IS) research and beyond. There is an increasing number of journal and conference articles on how AI should be designed and used. For this, IS research offers and curates knowledge not only on the ethical dimensions of information technologies, but also on their acceptance and impact. However, the current discourse on the ethical dimensions of AI is highly unstructured and seeks clarity. As conventional systematic literature research has been criticized for lacking in performance, we applied an adapted discourse approach to identify the most relevant articles within the debate. As the fundamental manuscripts within the discourse were not obvious, we used a weighted citation-based technique to identify fundamental manuscripts and their relationships within the field of AI ethics across disciplines. Starting from an initial sample of 175 papers, we extracted and further analyzed 12 fundamental manuscripts and their citations. Although we found many similarities between traditionally curated ethical principles and the identified ethical dimensions of AI, no IS paper could be classified as fundamental to the discourse. Therefore, we derived our own ethical dimensions on AI and provided guidance for future IS research.
... Research on the ethics of information systems also contributes to the understanding of ethical challenges in the intersections of technology, human beings, business, and society (Ess, 2009). Research in this area contemplates the ethics of information technology (Calzarossa, De Lotto, & Rogerson, 2009;Doss & Loui, 1995), computer ethics (Peterson, 2002), professional ethics (Haines & Leonard, 2007), piracy and file sharing (Hansen & Walden, 2013), corporate domain ethics (H. ...
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Chapter
This chapter extends current discussions about excellence and proposes a look beyond the dominant line of e-resources research where transition cycles in information management, knowledge management, competences management, and performance management are the multi-contextual value creators for individuals and organizations. This is done by an extensive review of European policies (single information market, agenda for culture) in two steps: first, excellence triggers are analyzed, discussing digital agenda and consumer culture. Next, an integrated model of e-resources excellence management is presented. It locates the argument for the importance of convergence in excellence diversity where e-resources values are uniquely and contextually interpreted, requiring understanding, and assesses customer consumption processes as an experiential, social, and cultural phenomenon. A variety of informational behaviors, skills, and activities is the measure of the complexity of personal values possibilities and of excellence framework development, maturity, and sustainability.
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