This seminar aims to contribute to the scope and agenda of Internet Ethics at a time when it is emerging as a research subject. We aim to identify, articulate and deliberate about the ethical issues present in the technology and for its users.

The Internet is pervasive in public, private and intellectual aspects of modern life. The influence of its instant communication, information and gratification is everywhere, but its ethical implications have not yet been drawn out. Many professional societies have taken serious interest in ethical issues and set up committees, but these are concerned with something closer to professional codes of conduct.

Similarly, most existing ‘Internet Ethics’ resources are little more than policy guidelines designed to limit the liability of corporations or social researchers, and do not take any account of Ethics as intentional reasoning about and articulation of individual and shared values, or their interrelation and their enactment in complex situations. Such existing documents fail to examine or consider the impact of Internet technology upon human moral and social development; a much more nuanced and significant topic.

While the Internet pervades the most intimate and the most public aspects of our lives: from sex to personal finance; from government to global business, we have yet to consider the moral dynamics and implications of the Internet upon the whole human being.

This invitational seminar seeks to remedy these deficiencies in the Internet Ethics conversation, and seeks to sort out, so far as is possible, confusions in ethics, morality, regulation, and social organisation that have held back meaningful discussion and progress in this area.

In particular, this seminar seeks creative, rigorous, interdisciplinary approaches to assessing the implications of the foundation and expansion of the Internet upon the development of the human person. Historical perspectives and insights from disciplines outside social science and public policy (absent in most current considerations of technology ethics) are particularly valued, as are anticipatory conjectures (rather than reactionary analysis), and consciously prescriptive positions (where most current research is only descriptive and documentary). Lateral and synthetic approaches (rather than normative and other analytic stances) are particularly appreciated.

Through this seminar, we aim to contribute to the scope and agenda of Internet Ethics at a time when it is emerging as a research subject. We aim to identify, articulate and deliberate about the ethical issues present in the technology and for its users.

Particular questions to be addressed at the seminar might include:

  • What is ethically distinctive about the Internet in both its form and content?

  • What effects do Internet communications, entertainment and data, for instance, have on social norms, individual decision making and moral development?

  • How might we better design, build and legislate the Internet and its usage as a result of understanding its intrinsic ethical dimensions more fully?

  • What are the implications of ‘value sensitive design’ for the engineering of present and future Internets?

  • Further, do the issues arising from the Internet confirm, challenge or strain currently accepted ethical categories?

We are grateful for sponsorship from Microsoft and the Sobota Foundation.

About the speakers

This page was last modified on 15 March 2017