The ethics of information transparency
- 1.9k Downloads
The paper investigates the ethics of information transparency (henceforth transparency). It argues that transparency is not an ethical principle in itself but a pro-ethical condition for enabling or impairing other ethical practices or principles. A new definition of transparency is offered in order to take into account the dynamics of information production and the differences between data and information. It is then argued that the proposed definition provides a better understanding of what sort of information should be disclosed and what sort of information should be used in order to implement and make effective the ethical practices and principles to which an organisation is committed. The concepts of “heterogeneous organisation” and “autonomous computational artefact” are further defined in order to clarify the ethical implications of the technology used in implementing information transparency. It is argued that explicit ethical designs, which describe how ethical principles are embedded into the practice of software design, would represent valuable information that could be disclosed by organisations in order to support their ethical standing.
KeywordsInformation transparency Semantic information Computer ethics Software design
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
One of us, Turilli, wishes to thank the Director of the Centre for Ethics and Economics and Business for his kind invitation to present a previous version of this paper at the conference ICT, transparency and social responsibility, 7–9 October, 2007 Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon, Portugal. Turilli also wishes to thank all the conference participants, particularly Deborah Johnson, Jeroen van den Hoven and Antonino Vaccaro for their useful feedback. Special thanks are extended to the Oxford e-Science Research Centre for their financial and scientific support. We both express our gratitude to members of the IEG, University of Oxford, and of the GPI, University of Hertfordshire, for their critique of earlier versions of this work. We remain the only persons responsible for any of its shortcomings.
- Ahrens, M. (2006). Computer and computer peripheral fires with a discussion of batteries. Quincy, MA: NFPA.Google Scholar
- Clarke, T. (2007). International corporate governance: A comparative approach. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Coffee, J. C. (2006). Gatekeepers: The professions and corporate governance. Clarendon lectures in management studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- DiPiazza, S. A., & Eccles, R. G. (2002). Building public trust: The future of corporate reporting. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Floridi, L. (2007). In defence of the veridical nature of semantic information. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 3(1), 31–41.Google Scholar
- Floridi, L. (2008). Data. In W. A. Darity (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social sciences. Detroit: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Friedman, B., Kahn, P. H., & Borning, A. (2002). Value sensitive design: Theory and methods (UW CSE Technical Report 02-12-01). Department of Computer Science and Engineering: Seattle, University of Washington.Google Scholar
- Gaskell, G., Bauer, M. W., & Science Museum (Great Britain) (Eds.). (2001). Biotechnology, 1996–2000: The years of controversy. London: Science Museum.Google Scholar
- Magretta, J. (1997). Growth through global sustainability. Harvard Business Review, 75(1), 78–88.Google Scholar
- Sanders, J., & Turilli, M. (2007). Dynamics of control. In TASE 2007 (pp. 440–449).Google Scholar
- Sequoiah-Grayson, S. (2007). Information gain from inference. In LogKCA-07, international workshop on logic and philosophy of knowledge, rationality, and action (pp. 351–368). Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain: The University of Basque Country Press.Google Scholar
- Turilli, M. (2007). Ethical protocols design. Ethics and Information Technology, 8, 253–262.Google Scholar
- Turilli, M. (2008). Ethics and the practice of software design. In P. Brey, A. Briggle, & K. Waelbers (Eds.), Current issues in computing and philosophy. Amsterdam: IOS.Google Scholar
- Vaccaro, A., & Madsen, P. (2006). Firm information transparency: Ethical questions in the information age. In Social informatics: An information society for all? In remembrance of Rob Kling (pp. 145–156). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Warwick, S. (2001). Is copyright ethical? An examination of the theories, laws and practices regarding the private the private ownership of intellectual work in the United States. In R. A. Spinello & H. T. Tavani (Eds.), Readings in cyberethics (pp.␣263–279). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.Google Scholar
- Winkler, B. (2000). Which kind of transparency? On the need for clarity in monetary policy-making. Frankfurt: European Central Bank.Google Scholar