Maintaining the reversibility of foldings: Making the ethics (politics) of information technology visible [Book Review]

Abstract

This paper will address the question of the morality of technology. I believe this is an important question for our contemporary society in which technology, especially information technology, is increasingly becoming the default mode of social ordering. I want to suggest that the conventional manner of conceptualising the morality of technology is inadequate – even dangerous. The conventional view of technology is that technology represents technical means to achieve social ends. Thus, the moral problem of technology, from this perspective, is the way in which the given technical means are applied to particular (good or bad) social ends. In opposition to this I want to suggest that the assumed separation, of this approach, between technical means and social ends are inappropriate. It only serves to hide the most important political and ethical dimensions of technology. I want to suggest that the morality of technology is much more embedded and implicit than such a view would suggest. In order to critique this approach I will draw on phenomenology and the more recent work of Bruno Latour. With these intellectual resources in mind I will propose disclosive ethics as a way to make the morality of technology visible. I will give a brief account of this approach and show how it might guide our␣understanding of the ethics and politics of technology by considering two examples of contemporary information technology: search engines and plagiarism detection systems.

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2009-01-28

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Lucas Introna
Lancaster University