The paper provides a critical review of the debate on the foundations of Computer Ethics (CE). Starting from a discussion of Moor’s classic interpretation of the need for CE caused by a policy and conceptual vacuum, five positions in the literature are identified and discussed: the “no resolution approach”, according to which CE can have no foundation; the professional approach, according to which CE is solely a professional ethics; the radical approach, according to which CE deals with absolutely unique issues, in need of a unique approach; the conservative approach, according to which CE is only a particular applied ethics, discussing new species of traditional moral issues; and the innovative approach, according to which theoretical CE can expand the metaethical discourse with a substantially new perspective. In the course of the analysis, it is argued that, although CE issues are not uncontroversially unique, they are sufficiently novel to render inadequate the adoption of standard macroethics, such as Utilitarianism and Deontologism, as the foundation of CE and hence to prompt the search for a robust ethical theory. Information Ethics (IE) is proposed for that theory, as the satisfactory foundation for CE. IE is characterised as a biologically unbiased extension of environmental ethics, based on the concepts of information object/infosphere/entropy rather than life/ecosystem/pain. In light of the discussion provided in this paper, it is suggested that CE is worthy of independent study because it requires its own application-specific knowledge and is capable of supporting a methodological foundation, IE.
Keywords computer ethics  information and communication technology  information ethics  macroethics  metaethics  microethics  policy vacuum  uniqueness debate
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1015209807065
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The Case of the Killer Robot.Richard G. Epstein - 1994 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 24 (4):12-32.

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On the Intrinsic Value of Information Objects and the Infosphere.Luciano Floridi - 2002 - Ethics and Information Technology 4 (4):287–304.
Information Ethics, its Nature and Scope.Luciano Floridi - 2006 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 36 (3):21–36.
Towards an Ontological Foundation of Information Ethics.Rafael Capurro - 2006 - Ethics and Information Technology 8 (4):175-186.

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