From the Ethical Use of the Media to a 'useful' Media Ethics


  • Felix Weil



Without knowing the rules of the game in a specific area qualified ethical decisions within are simply not possible. Therefore, a fundamental understanding of the phenomenon 'media' is a prerequisite for the ‘usablity’ of any media ethics. This understanding of the very basis of media is introduced by the notion of space: media is the space where the presentation of something is possible – formally that space fulfils the criteria of a Hilbert space; more common is this concept in the notion of cyberspace e.g.. As presentations (in a real as well as in a Hilbert space) do not exist separated from each other but are (more or less) connected, are linked, thus acting in the media can be understood as moving in the space of communication, following the links. This understanding leads to fundamentally new ethical categories: media ethic is the challenge of ethically designing the communicative space. The appropriate ethical approach for this task can be found in Wittgenstein's notion of 'use'. That overcomes the 'blind' application of ethical norms to categorical distinctive descriptions, which is very common through the term 'applied ethics' though it can be easily proved as aporetic. The investigation in what the ethical 'ought' basically could mean shows that there is no normative meaning without a descriptive context: 'to ought' always means 'to ought' in a certain situation, be it more common or more specific. Ethically right then means: one can decide on the basis of good reasons to do the right in this or that situation. And ethics finally is the quest to categorize, structure and systemize these right decisions by the means of creating a comprehensive theory. These are the limits and the dignity of ethics as a scientific scholarship and media ethics in particular.




How to Cite

Weil, Felix. 2004. “From the Ethical Use of the Media to a ’useful’ Media Ethics”. The International Review of Information Ethics 1 (June). Edmonton, Canada:1-8.