Information ethics: on the philosophical foundation of computer ethics

In John Weckert (ed.), Computer Ethics. Routledge. pp. 63–82 (2007)
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Abstract

The essential difficulty about Computer Ethics’ (CE) philosophical status is a methodological problem: standard ethical theories cannot easily be adapted to deal with CE-problems, which appear to strain their conceptual resources, and CE requires a conceptual foundation as an ethical theory. Information Ethics (IE), the philosophical foundational counterpart of CE, can be seen as a particular case of ‘environmental’ ethics or ethics of the infosphere. What is good for an information entity and the infosphere in general? This is the ethical question asked by IE. The answer is provided by a minimalist theory of deserts: IE argues that there is something more elementary and fundamental than life and pain, namely being, understood as information, and entropy, and that any information entity is to be recognised as the centre of a minimal moral claim, which deserves recognition and should help to regulate the implementation of any information process involving it. IE can provide a valuable perspective from which to approach, with insight and adequate discernment, not only moral problems in CE, but also the whole range of conceptual and moral phenomena that form the ethical discourse.

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Luciano Floridi
Yale University

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