Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 155–162 | Cite as

Black and white transparency: contradictions of a moral metaphor

Original Paper

Abstract

Transparency has evolved from an individual, dangerous power in Plato to a desirable, collective property in the contemporary world. This paper intends to give a brief account of this long and somehow surprising path and extract some interesting consequences for economic and political activities, as well as for information technologies. Six literary masterpieces are used to highlight the contradictions and dangers entailed by the abuse of the fascinating metaphor of transparency. In the end, what is usually intended when demanding transparency from a corporation, a firm or a state is more (or more accessible) information about it, i.e., understandable and abundant black and white data. This means reporting, picturing, producing material, becoming apparent, which is precisely the contrary of being transparent. We don’t want to look through, but to look directly at. The question, then, is not transparency, but opacity: what do we need and want to see, and how is this going to be produced?

Keywords

Corporate social responsibility Ethics Information Transparency Visibility 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de FilosofíaUniversidad de OviedoOviedoSpain

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