Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Is There a Place for Cyberethics? A Conceptual Look at the Effects of Cybertechnology on Ethics and Communications in Cyberspace

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Is There a Place for Cyberethics? A Conceptual Look at the Effects of Cybertechnology on Ethics and Communications in Cyberspace

Article excerpt


Cyberethics contains includes morality and law in cyberspace. There are two main ideas concerning cyberethics: one suggests that cyberethics can simply be modeled on the same codes of practice as professional ethics for other technologies. The other asserts that unlike most previous technologies, cybertechnology can be shaped and modeled to perform a variety of functions and therefore requires a new paradigm for applied ethics. This paper supports the latter assertion and by examining a series of ethical issues in cyberspace tries to show that these ethical problems can be so complicated that they are impossible to consider and understand from outside of cyberspace.

Keywords: Cyberethics, Telecommunications, Cybertechnology, Computer science, Vacuum policy, Cyber journalism

1. Introduction

By definition, briefly, Ethics is the study of morality and morality, or a moral system, can be defined as a system of rules for guiding human conduct and principles for evaluating those rules (Tavani, 2007). Although, there are many theories, cognitive debates and conceptual arguments about ethics, in real life people are reluctant to use the pure aspects of philosophical ethics theories. There are unlimited ethical problems that people face in their lives that must be categorized for study and resolution. Applied ethics examines practical ethical issues. The sorts of questions addressed by applied ethics are common problems in our lives such as: "Is getting an abortion immoral?", "Is euthanasia immoral?", "Is affirmative action right or wrong?", "Do animals have rights as well?" and "Do individuals have the right of self-determination?"

In our society, professional careers often carry with them additional moral responsibilities that go hand in hand with the additional knowledge and experience the profession imparts. For example, a lay person would not be held responsible for neglecting to provide medical care to save a car crash victim because they do not have the relevant knowledge. By contrast, a fully trained doctor (with the correct equipment) would be capable of making the correct diagnosis and carrying out the needed procedure and we would think it wrong if he/she stood by and failed to help in this situation. One cannot be held accountable for failing to do something that he or she does not have the ability to do. In other words, careers that are considered to require a high level of skill and specialized knowledge also tend to carry a high level of special responsibility.

Most professions have internally enforced codes of practice that members of the profession must follow, to prevent exploitation of the client and preserve the integrity of the profession (Tavani, 2007).

For example, medical doctors and military personnel have strict professional codes of ethics, but these codes of ethics are meaningful only in cases that are related to their abilities and professions. Professional ethics has roots in applied ethics, but there is a border between the two. If a physician does something wrong with or to a patient, his/her offense can be judged under professional laws and codes of ethics but if he/she does something wrong to his/her spouse, the offense is judged using the applied ethics standards that all members of a society are held to, not a code specific to a particular profession.

1.1 Cyberspace and Cyberethics

In public use, it seems Cyber doesn't have a clear definition and it is a combination form meaning "computer," "computer network," or "virtual reality," used in the formation of compound words such as cybertechnology, cyberspace, cyberethics, cyberjournalism, and etc..

Also cyber has been defined as 'a prefix used in a growing number of terms to describe new things that are being made possible by the spread of computers, and cyberspace is a metaphor for describing the non-physical terrain created by computer systems' (Webopedia, 2011). Accordingly,"cyberethics" contains morality and law in cyberspace (Spinello, 2006). …

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