Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 37–47 | Cite as

Design for a common world: On ethical agency and cognitive justice

Article

Abstract

The paper discusses two answers to the question, How to address the harmful effects of technology? The first response proposes a complete separation of science from culture, religion, and ethics. The second response finds harm in the logic and method of science itself. The paper deploys a feminist technoscience approach to overcome these accounts of neutral or deterministic technological agency. In this technoscience perspective, agency is not an attribute of autonomous human users alone but enacted and performed in socio-material configurations of people and technology and their ‘intra-actions’. This understanding of agency is proposed as an alternative that opens up for the reconfiguration of design and use for more ethical effects, such as the cultivation of cognitive justice, the equal treatment and representation of different ways of knowing the world. The implication of this approach is that design becomes an adaptive and ongoing intra-active process in which more desirable configurations of people and technology become possible.

Keywords

Cognitive justice Design Diversity of knowledge Ethical agency Feminist technoscience Intra-action Neutral technology Web directories 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aanestad, M. (2003). The camera as an actor: Design-in use of telemedicine infrastructure in surgery. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 12(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adam, A. (2003). Feminist ethics for computer ethics. In C. Mörtberg, P. Elovaara, & A. Lundgren (Eds.), How do we make a difference: Information technology, transnational democracy, and gender (pp. 137–149). Luleå: University of Technology Luleå.Google Scholar
  3. Ballantyne, P. (2002). Collecting and propagating local development content: Synthesis and conclusions. Retrieved February 2008, from http://www.ftpiicd/files/research/reports/report7.pdf.
  4. Barad, K. (1999). Agential realism: Feminist interventions in understanding scientific practices. In M. Baglioli (Ed.), The science studies reader (pp. 1–11). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs, 28(3), 801–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barad, K. (2007) . Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Barney, D. (2004). The network society. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  8. BBC. (2007). Warning of data ticking timebomb. Retrieved July 3, 2007, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6265976.stm.
  9. Bowker, G. C., & Star, S. L. (1999). Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brand. S. (1994). How buildings learn. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  11. Christie, M. (2004). Words, ontologies and aboriginal databases. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://www.cdu.edu.au/centres/ik/pdf/WordsOntologiesAbDB.pdf.
  12. Code. L. (2006). Ecological thinking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dams. (2000). World commission on. Dams and development: A new framework for decision-making. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  14. Elam, M., & Bertilsson, M. (2003). Consuming, engaging and confronting science: The emerging dimensions of scientific citizenship. European Journal of Social Theory, 6(2), 233–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feenberg, A. (1999). Questioning technology. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Feenberg, A. (2002). Transforming technology: A critical theory revisited. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haraway, D. (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©_Meets_Oncomouse™. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Haraway, D. (2003). The companion species manifesto: Dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.Google Scholar
  20. Heeks, R. (2002). Failure, success and improvisation of information systems projects in developing countries. Manchester: Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.Google Scholar
  21. Kraak, A. (1999). Western science, power and the marginalization of indigenous modes of knowledge production (Interpretative minutes of the discussion held on ‘Debates about Knowledge: Developing Countries Perspectives’ co-hosted by CHET and CSD). Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://www.chet.org.za/publications/Debates%20about%20Knowledge%20-%20Report.doc.
  22. Kwasnik, B. H. (1999). The role of classification in knowledge representation and discovery. Library Trends, 48(1), 22–48.Google Scholar
  23. Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry, 30, 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. MacDonell, P., Tagami, R., et al. (2003). Brian deer classification system. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://www.slais.ubc.ca/courses/libr517/02–03-wt2/projects/deer/index.htm.
  25. Nanda, M. (2003a). Prophets facing backwards: Postmodern critiques of science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Nanda, M. (2003b). Postmodernism, science and religious fundamentalism. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=40.
  27. Nanda, M. (2006). How modern are we? Cultural contradictions of India’s Modernity. Economic and Political Weekly, 491–496.Google Scholar
  28. Olson, H. A. (2001). The power to name: Representation in library catalogs. Signs, 26(3), 639–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Oudshoorn, N., Rommes, E., et al. (2004). Configuring the user as everybody: Gender and design cultures in information and communication technologies. Science, Technology & Human Values, 29(1), 30–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pannekoek, F. (2001). Cyber imperialism and the marginalization of Canada’s indigenous peoples. In J.-P. Baillargeon (Ed.), The handing down of culture, smaller societies and globalization. Toronto: Grubstreet Books.Google Scholar
  31. Pinch, T., & Bijker, W. (1987). The social construction of facts and artifacts. In W. Bijker, T. Hughes, & T. Pinch (Eds.), The social construction of technological systems. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Rajagopal, B. (2001). The violence of development. The Washington Post, Washington. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://mit.edu/phrj/publications/010808_washington_post.html.
  33. Renteln, A. D. (1988). Relativism and the search for human rights. American Anthropologist, 90(1), 56–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rolland, K. H. (2006). Achieving knowledge across borders: Facilitating practices of triangulation, obliterating “digital Junkyards”. Ethics and Information Technology, 8, 143–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rundle, M., & Conley, C. (2007). Ethical implications of emerging technologies: A survey. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  36. Shirky, C. (2006). Ontology is overrated: Categories, links, and tags. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html.
  37. Shiva, V. (1993). Monocultures of the mind: Perspectives on biodiversity and biotechnology. Dehra Dun: Natraj.Google Scholar
  38. Stahl, B. C. (2002). Can a computer adhere to the categorical imperative? A contemplation of the limits of transcendental ethics in IT. In I. Smit & G. E. Lasker (Eds.), Cognitive, emotive and ethical aspects of decision making and human action (pp. 13–18). Baden-Baden.Google Scholar
  39. Stahl, B. C. (2003). The moral and business value of information technology: What to do in case of a conflict? In N. Shun (Ed.), Creating business value with information technology: Challenges and solutions (pp. 187–202). Hershey: Idea-Group.Google Scholar
  40. Suchman, L. (2007). Human-machine reconfigurations: Plans and situated actions (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. UNDP. (2001). Human Development Report 2001: Making new technologies work for human development. New York: UNDP.Google Scholar
  42. van der Velden, M. (2005). Programming for cognitive justice: Towards an ethical framework for democratic code. Interacting with Computers, 17, 105–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. van der Velden, M. (2006). A license to know: Regulatory tactics of a global network. In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, et al. (Eds.), Cultural attitudes towards technology and communication 2006 (pp. 555–563). Murdoch: Murdoch University.Google Scholar
  44. van der Velden, M. (2007). Invisibility and the ethics of digitalization: Designing so as not to hurt others. In S. Hongladarom & C. Ess (Eds.), Information technology ethics: Cultural perspectives (pp. 81–93). London: Idea Group Reference.Google Scholar
  45. van der velden, M. (2008a) What's love got to do with IT? On Ethics and accountability in telling technology stories. In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, et al. (Eds.), Cultural attitudes towards technology and communication 2008 (pp. 27-39). Murdoch: Murdoch University. Available at http://www.globalagenda.org/file/12.
  46. van der Velden, M. (2008b). Organising development knowledge: Towards situated classification work on the Web. Webology, 5(3), Article 60. Available at: http://www.webology.ir/2008/v5n3/a60.html.
  47. Verran, H. (2005). Personal communication per email, November 21, 2005.Google Scholar
  48. Verran, H., Christie, M., et al. (2007). Designing digital tools with Aboriginal Australians. Digital Creativity, 18(3), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Visvanathan, S. (1988). On the annals of the laboratory state. In A. Nandi (Ed.), Science, hegemony, and violence: A requiem for modernity. Tokyo: United Nations University.Google Scholar
  50. Visvanathan, S. (2000). Environmental values, policy, and conflict in India, 2000 (Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs). Retrieved 20 June 2008, from http://www.cceia.org/resources/articles_papers_reports/709.html/_res/id=sa_File1/709_visvanathan.pdf.
  51. Visvanathan, S. (2002). The future of science studies. Futures, 34, 91–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Visvanathan, S. (2003). Progress and violence. In A. Lightman, D. Sarewitz, & C. Desser (Eds.), Living with the genie: Essays on technology and the quest for human mastery (pp. 157–180). Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
  53. Visvanathan, S. (2006). Alternative science. Theory, Culture & Society, 23(2–3), 164–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Visvanathan, S. (2007). Knowledge, justice and democracy. In M. Leach, I. Scoones, & B. Wynne (Eds.), Science and citizens (pp. 83–94). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  55. Walton, M., & Vukovic, V. (2003). Cultures, literacy, and the Web: Dimensions of information “Scent”. Interactions, 10(2), 64–71. (Special Issue: HCI in the Developing World).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wilk, R. (1995). Learning to be local in Belize: Global systems of common difference. In D. Miller (Ed.), Worlds apart: Modernity through the prism of the local (pp. 110–135). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Wilk, R. (2004). Miss Universe, the Olmec and the Valley of Oaxaca. Journal of Social Archeology, 4(1), 81–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wilks, A. (2002). Development through the looking glass: The knowledge bank in cyberspace. Information Development, 18(1), 41–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Winner, L. (1993). Upon opening the black box and finding it empty: Social constructivism and the philosophy of technology. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 18(3), 362–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BergenBergenNorway

Personalised recommendations