The Moral Status of Information and Information Technologies: A Relational Theory of Moral Status

The Moral Status of Information and Information Technologies: A Relational Theory of Moral Status

Johnny Hartz Søraker (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-937-3.ch261
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to explore whether information and information technology in certain cases ought to be valued as ends in themselves rather than as mere means to other ends. I will address this problem by proposing a theory of moral status: a theory of who or what has moral status in the sense that we, as moral agents, have an obligation to take their well-being into consideration when making ethical judgments. The proposed relational theory of moral status draws on insights from both classical Western and East Asian philosophy in order to question the exclusion of all nonliving entities in most theories of moral status. The relational properties constitutivity and irreplaceability are singled out as ethically relevant and are suggested as one possible way to ground the moral status of information and information technologies.

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