Mapping the foundationalist debate in computer ethics

Ethics and Information Technology 4 (1):1-9 (2002)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The paper provides a critical review of the debate on the foundations of Computer Ethics (CE). Starting from a discussion of Moor’s classic interpretation of the need for CE caused by a policy and conceptual vacuum, five positions in the literature are identified and discussed: the “no resolution approach”, according to which CE can have no foundation; the professional approach, according to which CE is solely a professional ethics; the radical approach, according to which CE deals with absolutely unique issues, in need of a unique approach; the conservative approach, according to which CE is only a particular applied ethics, discussing new species of traditional moral issues; and the innovative approach, according to which theoretical CE can expand the metaethical discourse with a substantially new perspective. In the course of the analysis, it is argued that, although CE issues are not uncontroversially unique, they are sufficiently novel to render inadequate the adoption of standard macroethics, such as Utilitarianism and Deontologism, as the foundation of CE and hence to prompt the search for a robust ethical theory. Information Ethics (IE) is proposed for that theory, as the satisfactory foundation for CE. IE is characterised as a biologically unbiased extension of environmental ethics, based on the concepts of information object/infosphere/entropy rather than life/ecosystem/pain. In light of the discussion provided in this paper, it is suggested that CE is worthy of independent study because it requires its own application-specific knowledge and is capable of supporting a methodological foundation, IE.

Author Profiles


Added to PP

284 (#44,065)

6 months
73 (#35,875)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?