Do we have moral duties towards information objects?
In this paper, a critique will be developed and an alternative proposed to Luciano Floridi’s approach to Information Ethics (IE). IE is a macroethical theory that is to both serve as a foundation for computer ethics and to guide our overall moral attitude towards the world. The central claims of IE are that everything that exists can be described as an information object, and that all information objects, qua information objects, have intrinsic value and are therefore deserving of moral respect. In my critique of IE, I will argue that Floridi has presented no convincing arguments that everything that exists has some minimal amount of intrinsic value. I will argue, however, that his theory could be salvaged in large part if it were modified from a value-based into a respect-based theory, according to which many (but not all) inanimate things in the world deserve moral respect, not because of intrinsic value, but because of their (potential) extrinsic, instrumental or emotional value for persons.
Keywordsinformation ethics intrinsic value respect informational realism Object-Oriented Programming bioethics environmental ethics artifacts anthropocentrism
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