Ethical issues of online communication research

Abstract

The paper addresses severalethical issues in online communication researchin light of digital ontology as well as theepistemological questions raised by theblurring boundary between fact and theory inthis field. The concept of ontology is used ina Heideggerian sense as related to the humancapacity of world construction on the basis ofthe givenness of our being-in-the-world.Ethical dilemmas of Internet research thusarise from the tension between bodily existenceand the proper object of research, i.e., onlineexistence. The following issues are beingconsidered: online identity, online language,online consent and confidentiality. We alsoargue that research ethics in the US followsthe utilitarian tradition, while Europeanresearchers are deontologically oriented. Aguideline of best practice in online researchethics is proposed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. AoIR (Association of Internet Researchers). AoIR Ethics Working Committee. A Preliminary Report, 2001 (available at http://aoir.org/reports/ethics.html).

  2. AoIR (Association of Internet Researchers). Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research: Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working Committee (draft three), 2002 (available at http://www.cddc.vt.edu/aoir/ethics/public/draftthree.html).

  3. G. Berkeley. The Principles of Human Knowledge. Philosophical Writings. Macmillan, London, 1965.

    Google Scholar 

  4. R. Capurro. Beiträge zu einer digitalen Ontologie (Engl. transl. in preparation), 2001 (available at http://www.capurro.de/digont.htm).

  5. R. Capurro. Hermeneutics and the Phenomenon of Information. In D. Mitcham, editor, Metaphysics, Epistemology and Technology. Research in Philosophy and Technology, Vol. 19, pp. 79–85. Amsterdam, 2000 (available at http://www.capurro.de/ny86.htm).

  6. R. Capurro. Ich bin ein Weltbürger aus Sinope. Vernetzung als Lebenskunst. In P. Bittner and J. Woinowski, editors, Mensch - Informatisierung - Gesellschaft, pp. 1–19. Lit Verlag, Münster, 1999a (available at http://www.capurro.de/fiff.htm).

    Google Scholar 

  7. R. Capurro. Beyond the Digital, 1999b (available at http://www.capurro.de/viper.htm).

  8. R. Capurro. Die Welt - ein Traum, 1999c (available at http://www.capurro.de/luzern.html).

  9. R. Capurro. Leben im Informationszeitalter. Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1995.

    Google Scholar 

  10. R. Capurro. Hermeneutik der Fachinformation. Alber Verlag, Freiburg and München, 1986.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Council of Europe. Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with Regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine: Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine. Oviedo, 4.IV.1997. European Treaty Series - Nr. 164, 1997.

  12. M. Eldred. Draft Casting of a Digital Ontology, 2001 (available at http://www.webcom.com/artefact/dgtlon_e.html).

  13. L. Floridi. Information Ethics: On the Philosophical Foundation of Computer Ethics, 2000 (available at http://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/∼floridi/ie.htm).

  14. M. Froomkin. The Metaphor is the Key: Cryptography, the Clipper Chip, and the Constitution, 1995 (available at http://www.swiss.ai.mit.edu/6095/articles/froomkin-metaphor/text.html).

  15. M. Heidegger. Sein und Zeit, 13th edn. Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, 1976 (Engl. transl. Being and Time, J. Macquarrie, E. Robinson, Oxford, 1987).

    Google Scholar 

  16. M. Heidegger. Platon: Sophistes. Klostermann Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 1992.

    Google Scholar 

  17. I. Kant. Kritik der Urteilskraft. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 1974.

    Google Scholar 

  18. T.S. Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970.

    Google Scholar 

  19. R. Kurzweil. The Age of Spiritual Machines. Penguin, New York, 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  20. L. Manovich. The Language of New Media. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  21. H. Moravec. Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1988.

    Google Scholar 

  22. John Durham Peters. Speaking into the Air. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1999.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Capurro, R., Pingel, C. Ethical issues of online communication research. Ethics and Information Technology 4, 189–194 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021372527024

Download citation

  • confidentiality
  • consent
  • digital ontology
  • epistemology
  • ethics
  • ethics of care
  • Heidegger
  • identity
  • language
  • online communication research