Discourse ethics for computer ethics: a heuristic for engaged dialogical reflection

TitleDiscourse ethics for computer ethics: a heuristic for engaged dialogical reflection
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsRehg, W
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Volume17
Issue1
Pagination27-39
Date Published2015-03-09
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number13881957
Keywords1200:Social , 2600:Management , 5240:Software , 9130:Experimental/theoretical , analysis , COMMUNICATION , computer , ethics , HEURISTIC , Morality , PHILOSOPHY , studies
AbstractAttempts to employ discourse ethics for assessing communication and information technologies have tended to focus on managerial and policy-oriented contexts. These initiatives presuppose institutional resources for organizing sophisticated consultation processes that elicit stakeholder input. Drawing on Jürgen Habermas's discourse ethics, this paper supplements those initiatives by developing a more widely usable framework for moral inquiry and reflection on problematic cyberpractices. Given the highly idealized character of discourse ethics, a usable framework must answer two questions: (1) How should those who lack organizational power (e.g., concerned citizens, students) conduct their moral inquiry under non-ideal conditions of discourse? (2) How ought they to understand the moral force of the judgments they reach under such conditions? In response, I develop the heuristic implications of Habermas's principle of universalization. To render that principle usable for non-ideal discourse, I propose a modification that yields a scalar measure of "dialogically robust" judgments that are responsive to the actual state of discussion. To illustrate the use of these principles, I sketch two case studies, which examine the moral acceptability of violent video gaming and government cyber-surveillance.
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DOI10.1007/s10676-014-9359-0

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