Reflective Responsibility and the Management of Information Systems

Reflective Responsibility and the Management of Information Systems

Bernd Carsten Stahl (De Montford University, UK)
Copyright: © 2004 |Pages: 64
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-172-8.ch006


Before we start analysing the details of how reflective responsibility impacts on the use of information technology, we should briefly recapitulate what the purpose of the entire enterprise was and where we stand right now. Responsibility has been identified as a central term that is used in the public discussions about normative problems. It has been demonstrated that the core of responsibility is a social process of ascription. An overview of the literature on responsibility, however, has shown that the term is highly complex, consists of a large number of conditions, dimensions, and aspects, which in many cases are contradictory. In order to render the term useful, we have tried to identify common features that can be found in most if not all responsibility ascriptions and that help give meaning to its use. The three shared characteristics that were found are openness, affinity to action, and consequentialism. In a subsequent step it was asked what would happen if responsibility ascriptions were analysed with regard to these three characteristics. The result was a notion of responsibility that was called “reflective responsibility,” which was then further investigated with the aim of determining what the consequences of this reflective use of the term was. It was shown that reflective responsibility has theoretical and practical consequences that relate back to some of the ethical theories on which responsibility ascriptions might be based. Reflective responsibility requires the classical virtue of prudence as well as a modern reliance on institutional settings. It can be instantiated by following the ideas of other theories of practical philosophy such as discourse ethics or the stakeholder approach.

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