Pragmatic Actions or Ethics Needed?


  • Thomas Hausmanninger



Do we need global ethics for the net? Is it even possible to put these into the form of a universal agreement, embodying the necessary rules and principles in an all-encompassing code of conduct? Or will any such endeavors simply shatter on the differences of cultures? Ought they be labeled as sort of attempted imperialism, more subtle perhaps in comparison with other forms of cultural imperialism—but nevertheless an attempt of such? If so, then ethical concepts need to be restricted to territorially or ethnically specific realms. In that case, the quest for Net-Ethics could perhaps be substituted by pragmatic actions: instruments of control that are simply technical and formal, devoid of moral input and moral convictions. Such a viewpoint has been offered lately in the form of a concept by the Bertelsmann Foundation, which combines rating and filtering instruments with a social lattice-work of net-supervision and transnational combinations of institutions of control. That concept indeed has its charm. It has its problems too; problems that can be made obvious from an ethical viewpoint and which counter the notion, that it is possible to supplant moral instances with pragmatic action. The text therefore reconstructs the concept in question, criticizes it and attempts to sketch an ethical approach to the problem that respects diversity and plurality.




How to Cite

Hausmanninger, Thomas. 2004. “Pragmatic Actions or Ethics Needed?”. The International Review of Information Ethics 1 (June). Edmonton, Canada:1-10.