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History of digital ethics

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Abstract

Digital ethics, also known as computer ethics or information ethics, is now a lively field that draws a lot of attention, but how did it come about and what were the developments that lead to its existence? What are the traditions, the concerns, the technological and social developments that pushed digital eth-ics? How did ethical issues change with digitalisation of human life? How did the traditional discipline of philosophy respond? The article provides an overview, proposing historical epochs: ‘pre-modernity’ prior to digital computation over data, via the ‘modernity’ of digital data processing to our present ‘post-modernity’ when not only the data is digital, but our lives themselves are largely digital. In each section, the situation in technology and society is sketched, and then the developments in digital ethics are explained. Finally, a brief outlook is provid-ed.
History of digital ethics




        


         
       

        


 
    

         

1. Introduction





           
   

             

Müller, Vincent C. (forthcoming),
‘History of digital ethics’, in Carissa
Véliz (ed.), Oxford Handbook of
Digital Ethics (Oxford: Oxford
University Press).
 

   

     



          
            
  
           

          
           






    








           
       


    
            


 



        
         


  
 


2. Pre-Modernity: Talking and Writing
2.1. Technology & Society

          
           

   
     
           
 
        
        

          

          


  


       

 


            
           


2.2. Ethics
           


       

            





           
         

 
  
 



       





 

             
 
  
             
   



              

3. Modernity: Digital ethics in IT
3.1. Technology & Society
              


     
    


    
          

     


           

          
 
   

           

       


  

 
3.2. Ethics
 
            

       



   
         






            
        



 

   
         



           



          

  
            
 

           
          




           


             
             
       
          


           

        
  
           

 

 
 
           


           
          


       
             

 
            






              
             

    

          

         


          

          

4. Post-Modernity
4.1. Technology & Society
   



   
 



           
      
 
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
           


           



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
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
    
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          
    
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   
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    
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           

      
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




 
      
            
 


 



4.2. Ethics
 

 

          

           

             
  


 
 
          
             
   



         



     




 
           
          






        

           
             

        
      


 

          
       

          
         
  

             

           

        
             
          
           
 


 

         
             
    



 
       
           


         
      
             




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

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
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   
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          
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
             

       
 
            



   
             
          
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  
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 


            
        

           


         
    




   

  
           
   

 
          
  
 

          
    







           


             






5. Conclusion, questions

          

          
 
           
 
      
           

 
           
     
       

 


            

         
       

        


          







            
     

     

 



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Acknowledgements
 
           

 
References
        


  



           


        


          

         
        
      




      


        

         
        



     

          

    
    


       

      
     

 





     






       

      
  

         

           
         

       

         

      

         
         
  





 







   
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 
         



          

         

  
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
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

        

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        
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          
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        
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