Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 121–130 | Cite as

The role of pragmatic arguments in computer ethics

  • Johnny Hartz Søraker


The purpose of this paper is to stress the importance of pragmatic arguments if we are to reach overlapping consensuses across cultural and disciplinary borders. An analytical distinction is made between, on the one hand, arguments based on socio-political or philosophical presuppositions, and on the other hand, pragmatic arguments. The latter are (as far as possible) detached from culture-specific or disciplinary presuppositions. I will mainly focus on the issue of regulation and surveillance on the Internet, and put forward a selection of pragmatic arguments for why widespread regulation and surveillance ought to be avoided. These arguments are intended to reach the same conclusion as arguments that are based on socio-political and philosophical presuppositions, with the aim of creating overlapping consensuses.


cross-cultural e-commerce innovation Internet technology layers principle overlapping consensus pragmatic arguments regulations surveillance 


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I would like to express my gratitude to Kristian Skagen Ekeli, Charles Ess and Luciano Floridi for their invaluable feedback, in addition to all participants at the ``Bridging Cultures'' workshop at NTNU, June 2005.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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