Search engines and the public use of reason
- 256 Downloads
How should the policies of search engines and other information intermediaries be ethically evaluated? It is argued that Kant’s principles for the public use of reason are useful starting points for the formulation of criteria for such an evaluation. The suggestion is, furthermore, that a search engine can be seen to provide a testimony to the user concerning what information that is most relevant to her query. This suggestion is used as the basis for the development of a broadly Kantian account of a rational searcher. It is argued that the search engine companies are morally required to publish their information policies and act in accordance with them but given the threat of search engine spam they can have no obligation to publish the details of their algorithms.
Keywordsbias information policy Kant reason search search engines testimony
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
Parts of this paper were presented at the workshop ‹Kant Revisited in Light of New Technology’, held at NTNU, Trondheim, on March 19 and 20, 2007, and at ETHICOMP2007 conference, held in Tokyo, March 27–29, 2007. I have benefited from the discussion and comments from the participants on both occasions. In particular, I am grateful to Charles Ess and Bjørn Myskja for their comments.
- Tara Calishan and Rael Dornfest. Google Hacks. O’Reilly, Sebastopol, CA, 2003.Google Scholar
- Donald Davidson. Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2001.Google Scholar
- Deborah Fallows. Search Engine Users. Internet Searchers are Confident, Satisfied and Trusting – but They are also Unaware and Naïve. PEW/INTERNET Report, p. 1, 2005.Google Scholar
- Richard D. Friedman. Route Analysis of Credibility and Hearsay. The Yale Law Journal, 96(4): 667–742, 1987.Google Scholar
- Alvin I. Goldman. Knowledge in a Social World. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1999.Google Scholar
- Mark Henderson. The Fish with the Most Powerful Jaws in␣History. The Times, 29.11.2006. Retrieved July 16, 2007 from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article653453.ece.
- Jack Hirschleifer. The Blind Leading the Blind: Social Influences, Fads, and Cascades. In Matiano Tommasi and Kathryn Ierulli, editors, The Economics of Human Behavior. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995.Google Scholar
- Immanuel Kant. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis, 1981/1785.Google Scholar
- Immanuel Kant. Political Writings. Edited by Hans Reiss. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1971/1991a.Google Scholar
- Immanuel Kant. What is Orientation in Thinking? In Hans Reiss, editor, Kant Political Writings. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1971/1991b.Google Scholar
- Marcell Machill and Marcus Beiler, editors. Die Macht von Suchmaschinen. Herbert von Halem Verlag, Koln, 2007.Google Scholar
- Paul Marks. Open-Source Search Engine Gangs up on Google. New Scientist, 2007.Google Scholar
- Onora O’Neill. Constructions of Reason. Explorations of Kant’s Practical Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989.Google Scholar
- Wolfgang Schultz, Thorsten Held and Arne Laudien. Suchmaschienen als Gatekeeper in der öffentliche Kommunikation. Vistas, 2005.Google Scholar
- Hans Marius Tonstad. Tidenes kraftigste bitt. Aftenposten, 29.11.2006. Retrieved from July 16, 2007, http://www.aftenposten.no/viten/article1549964.ece
- David A. Vise. The Google Story. Pan Books, Basingstoke and Oxford, 2005.Google Scholar
- Jimbo Wales. Statement on the Wikia Search Project Home Page. Retrieved from July 16, 2007, http://search.wikia.com/wiki/Search_Wikia
- Vinzenz Wyss and Guio Keel. Google as Trojanisches Pferd? Konsequenzen der Internt-Recherche von Journalisten für die journalistische Qualität. In: Die Macht von Suchmaschinen. Edited by Marcell Machill and Marcus Beiler, pp. 143–162. Herbert von Halem Verlag, Koln.Google Scholar
- Ian Witten, Marco Gori and Teresa Numerico. Web Dragons. Inside the Myths of Search Engine Technology. Morgan Kaufman, Amsterdam, 2007.Google Scholar