Ethics on the web: Applying moral decision-making to the new media [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 36 (1-2):93 - 103 (2002)
Abstract
This paper examines the advent of the Web as a critical media tool in the promotion and sale of goods to consumers and the ethical questions it raises that are issues of public policy. We examine four traditional ethical rationales that guide organizational decision-making – utilitarianism, distributive justice, moral rights of man and relativism, further characterized as "ends-based", "equity-based", "rules-based" and "comparison-based" rationales – and we apply them to four moral dilemmas attributed to the proliferation of dot.com companies as they relate to consumer welfare. We find that ethical rationale in the New Media is largely non-existent, and where it exists, it is primarily reactive and driven by utilitarian or relativistic reasoning. We attribute this condition to the newness of the industry and to its economic context, representing, as it does, many characteristics embodied in the concept of the "perfect market." We offer some remedies to improve ethical conduct by e-business.
Keywords e-business ethics  e-commerce ethics  ethics in decision-making  internet ethical code  internet privacy statements
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