Global Information Ethics: The Importance of Being Environmentally Earnest

Global Information Ethics: The Importance of Being Environmentally Earnest

Luciano Floridi (Università degli Studi di Bari, Italy and Oxford University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-142-1.ch015
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The article argues that Information Ethics (IE) can provide a successful approach for coping with the challenges posed by our increasingly globalized reality. After a brief review of some of the most fundamental transformations brought about by the phenomenon of globalization, the article distinguishes between two ways of understanding Global Information Ethics, as an ethics of global communication or as a global-information ethics. It is then argued that cross-cultural, successful interactions among micro and macro agents call for a high level of successful communication, that the latter requires a shared ontology friendly towards the implementation of moral actions, and that this is provided by IE. There follows a brief account of IE and of the ontic trust, the hypothetical pact between all agents and patients presupposed by IE.
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Introduction: From Globalization To Information Ethics

Globalization is a phenomenon too complex even to sketch in this brief introduction.1 So I hope that I shall be forgiven if I am rather casual about many features that would deserve full attention in another context. Here, I wish to highlight just six key transformations characterising the processes of globalization. I shall label them contraction, expansion, porosity, hybridization, synchronization, and correlation. They provide the essential background for making sense of the thesis developed in the rest of the chapter, which is that Information Ethics (IE) can provide a successful approach for coping with the challenges posed by our increasingly globalized reality.


The world has gone through alternating stages of globalization, growing and shrinking, for as long as humanity can remember. Here is a reminder:

In some respects the world economy was more integrated in the late 19th century than it is today. ... Capital markets, too, were well integrated. Only in the past few years, indeed, have international capital flows, relative to the size of the world economy, recovered to the levels of the few decades before the first world war. (The Economist, 1997)

The truth is that, after each “globalization backlash” (think of the end of the Roman or British Empires), the world never really went back to its previous state. Rather, by moving two steps forward and one step back, sometime towards the end of the last century the process of globalization reached a point of no return. Today, revolutions or the collapse of empires can never shrink the world again, short of the complete unravelling of human life as we know it. Globalization is here to stay.

Globalization has become irreversible mainly thanks to radical changes in worldwide transport and communications (Brandt & Henning, 2002). Atoms and bytes have been moving increasingly rapidly, frequently, cheaply, reliably, and widely for the past 50 years or so. This dramatic acceleration has shortened the time required for any interactions: economic exchanges, financial transactions, social relations, information flows, movements of people, and so forth (Hodel, Holderegger & Lüthi, 1998). And this acceleration has meant a more condensed life and a contracted physical space. Ours is a smaller world, in which one may multitask fast enough to give and have the impression of leading parallel lives. We may regain a nineteenth-century sense of distance (space) and duration (time) only if one day we travel to Mars.


Human space in the twenty-first century has not merely shrunk, though. ICTs have also created a new digital environment, which is constantly expanding and becoming progressively more diverse. Again, the origins of this global, transnational common space are old. They are to be found in the invention of recording and communication technologies that range from the alphabet to printing, from photography to television. But it is only in the last few decades that we have witnessed a vast and steady migration of human life to the other side of the screen. When you ask, “Where were you?,” it is now normal and common to receive the answer “Online”. More than 6 million people throughout the world play World of Warcraft, currently the leading subscription-based MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Globalization also means the emergence of this sort of single virtual space, sharable in principle by anyone, any time, anywhere.

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Claus Hohmann
This chapter introduces emotional digitalization as a phenomenon of future information systems. It argues that emotional digitalization is a... Sample PDF
Emotional Digitalization as Technology of the Post-Modern: A Reflexive Examination from the View of The Industry
Chapter 2
Elias A. Hadzilias, Andrea Carugati
This chapter aims at defining a framework for the design of e-government services on cultural heritage. Starting from an analysis of three cases on... Sample PDF
Bridging User Requirements and Cultural Objects: A Process-Oriented Framework for Cultural E-Services
Chapter 3
Samantha Bax, Tanya McGill
The technology acceptance model (TAM) is a popular model for the prediction of information systems acceptance behaviors, defining a causal linkage... Sample PDF
From Beliefs to Success: Utilizing an Expanded TAM to Predict Web Page Development Success
Chapter 4
George E. Heilman, Jorge Brusa
This study assesses the psychometric properties of a Spanish translation of Doll and Torkzadeh’s End- User Computing Satisfaction (EUCS) survey... Sample PDF
Assessing a Spanish Translation of the End-User Computing Satisfaction Instrument
Chapter 5
Ishraga Khattab, Steve Love
Over the last several years, the ubiquitous use of mobile phones by people from different cultures has grown enormously. For example, mobile phones... Sample PDF
Understanding the Impact of Culture on Mobile Phone Usage on Public Places: A Comparison between the UK and Sudan
Chapter 6
Netta Iivari
Users should participate in information technology (IT) artifact development, but it has proven to be challenging. This applies also in the open... Sample PDF
Discourses on User Participation: Findings from Open Source Software Development Context
Chapter 7
Anita Greenhill, Gordon Fletcher
In this article we build upon existing research and commentary from a variety of disciplinary sources, including information systems, organisational... Sample PDF
Exploring "Events" as an Information Systems Research Methodology
Chapter 8
Hannakaisa Isomäki
This chapter describes a study clarifying information systems (IS) designers’ conceptions of human users of IS by drawing on in-depth interviews... Sample PDF
Different Levels of Information Systems Designers' Forms of Thought and Potential for Human-Centered Design
Chapter 9
Barbara Jones, Angelo Failla, Bob Miller
Constant renewal of the self-image and self-knowledge of the organisation becomes part of the day-to-day knowledge-in-use of front-line... Sample PDF
Tacit Knowledge in Rapidly Evolving Organisational Environments
Chapter 10
Anastasia Papazafeiropoulou, Reshma Gandecha
Interpretive flexibility is a term used to describe the diverse perspectives on what a technology is and can or can not do during the process of... Sample PDF
Interpretive Flexibility Along the Innovation Decision Process of the UK NHS Care Records Service (NCRS): Insights from a Local Implementation Case Study
Chapter 11
Sylvie Albert, Rolland LeBrasseur
This article reviews the literature on networks and, more specifically, on the development of community telecommunication networks. It strives to... Sample PDF
Collaboration Challenges in Community Telecommunication Networks
Chapter 12
Mary R. Lind
In this article, wireless technology use is addressed with a focus on the factors that underlie wireless interaction. A de-construction of the... Sample PDF
A De-Construction of Wireless Device Usage
Chapter 13
François-Xavier de Vaujany
The following chapter suggests a critical realistic framework, which aims at modeling sociotechnical change linked to end-users’ IT appropriation... Sample PDF
Modeling Sociotechnical Change in IS with a Quantitative Longitudinal Approach: The PPR Method
Chapter 14
Janet C. Dunlop
Today’s media are vast in both form and influence; however, few cultural studies scholars address the video gaming industry’s role in domestic... Sample PDF
The U.S. Video Game Industry: Analyzing Representation of Gender and Race
Chapter 15
Luciano Floridi
The article argues that Information Ethics (IE) can provide a successful approach for coping with the challenges posed by our increasingly... Sample PDF
Global Information Ethics: The Importance of Being Environmentally Earnest
Chapter 16
Philip Brey
In this chapter, I examine whether information ethics is culture relative. If it is, different approaches to information ethics are required in... Sample PDF
Is Information Ethics Culture-Relative?
Chapter 17
John Weckert
This chapter examines the concept of offence, both its giving and taking, and argues that such an examination can shed some light on global ethical... Sample PDF
Giving and Taking Offence in a Global Context
Chapter 18
Reima Suomi, Ari Serkkola, Markku Mikkonen
In this chapter we focus on the application of a mobile time reservation system for dental care. The specific application allocates cancelled... Sample PDF
GSM-Based SMS Time Reservation System for Dental Care
Chapter 19
Debra Howcroft, Robert McDonald
Both academics and practitioners have invested considerably in the information systems evaluation arena, yet rewards remain elusive. The aim of this... Sample PDF
An Ethnographic Study of IS Investment Appraisal
Chapter 20
Kevin Gallagher, Robert M. Mason
This chapter frames the requirements definition phase of systems design as a problem of knowledge transfer and learning between two communities of... Sample PDF
Reframing Information System Design as Learning Across Communities of Practice
Chapter 21
Tanya Bondarouk, Maarten van Riemsdijk
In this chapter, we conceptualize the implementation process associated with SAP_HR as an experiential learning one (Kolb, 1984), and analyze... Sample PDF
Successes and Failures of SAP Implementation: A Learning Perspective
Chapter 22
Pietro Murano, Patrik O’Brian Holt
Experimental work on anthropomorphic feedback in user interfaces has shown inconsistent results and researchers offer differing opinions as to the... Sample PDF
Anthropomorphic Feedback in User Interfaces: The Effect of Personality Traits, Context and Grice's Maxims on Effectiveness and Preferences
Chapter 23
Richard Diamond
This study explores decision premises that were used to manage and stabilise a complex technochange programme in a financial institution. Decision... Sample PDF
Several Simple Shared Stable Decision Premises for Technochange
Chapter 24
Alison Adam, Paul Spedding
This chapter considers the question of how we may trust automatically generated program code. The code walkthroughs and inspections of software... Sample PDF
Trusting Computers Through Trusting Humans: Software Verification in a Safety-Critical Information System
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