Ethics and Information Technology 10 (4) (2008)
|Abstract||Trust can be understood as a precondition for a well-functioning society or as a way to handle complexities of living in a risk society, but also as a fundamental aspect of human morality. Interactions on the Internet pose some new challenges to issues of trust, especially connected to disembodiedness. Mistrust may be an important obstacle to Internet use, which is problematic as the Internet becomes a significant arena for political, social and commercial activities necessary for full participation in a liberal democracy. The Categorical Imperative lifts up trust as a fundamental component of human ethical virtues – first of all, because deception and coercion, the antitheses of trust, cannot be universalized. Mistrust is, according to Kant, a natural component of human nature, as we are social beings dependent on recognition by others but also prone to deceiving others. Only in true friendships can this tendency be overcome and give room for unconditional trust. Still we can argue that Kant must hold that trustworthy behaviour as well as trust in others is obligatory, as expressions of respect for humanity. The Kantian approach integrates political and ethical aspects of trust, showing that protecting the external activities of citizens is required in order to act morally. This means that security measures, combined with specific regulations are important preconditions for building online trust, providing an environment enabling people to act morally and for trust-based relationships.|
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