Ethical subjectification and search engines: ethics reconsidered


  • Tobias Blanke



This article will explore the relation of search engines to the freedom they invoke in human subjects. Away from questions about the social impact of search engines and their ethical use, it shall investigate the influence of search engines on ethical subjectifications. The article will criticise the common critique that search engines should only deliver neutral and objective results to their users, where ‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ are defined as anti-subjective. On the contrary, it will argue that search engines are designed to deliver subjective results. A possible ethical critique starts therefore where they fail to do so. Due to reasons immanent to the technology, search engines are never subjective enough in their relevance decisions. Their results collide at the same time with what their users expect them to deliver. The article will show that, far from being a disadvantage, this disagreement between the users’ expectations and the search engines results is what triggers an ethical subjectification.




How to Cite

Blanke, Tobias. 2005. “Ethical Subjectification and Search Engines: Ethics Reconsidered”. The International Review of Information Ethics 3 (June). Edmonton, Canada:33-38.