Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 223–231 | Cite as

Digital Nominalism. Notes on the Ethics of Information Society in View of the Ontology of the Digital

  • Tere Vadén


The commodification of code demands two preconditions: a belief if the existence of code and a system of ownership for the code. An examination of these preconditions is helpful for resisting the further widening of digital divides. The ontological belief in the relatively independent existence of code is dependent on our understanding of what the “digital” is. Here it is claimed that the digital is not a natural kind, but a concept that is relative to our practices of interpretation. An interpretative system that sees code as something that can or should always be owned implies an increase of social control and threatens vital processes of knowledge creation that are necessary for an open and egalitarian information society. The ontological belief in “digital code” thus provides the backdrop for an ethical view of the information society. Consequently, if we see digital code as an interpretative notion (in the nominalist way), the ethical questions appear in a different light.


digitalness digital divide disorganisations free software ICT information society intellectual property knowledge creation ontology 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of mathematics, statistics and philosophyUniversity of TampereFinland

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