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Topic Ethics in the Information Society
Participants | Zoraida Mendiwelso | German Bula | Keith Pheby | Roberto Zarama |
Critics | Pete Barnsley | David Best | Alfonso Reyes | Clas-Otto Wene |

Meeting 1 Notes

Meeting 2 Notes

Meeting 3 NotesOutcome Resolve

Co-ordinator = Keith Pheby

Date: 9 July Time: 18:10 to 19:25 Facilitators: Delia & Hector


  • How could language emerge without some essential values? We can propose as two central values dignity and viability for humans and society. These two values are involved in the ethical principle of respecting the other as a legitimate other in their coexistence.
  • We need to focus on systemic viability if we want to develop a new vocabulary and particularly if we want to step out from traditional theories.
  • We can have different models of happiness but we have to have a minimum set of shared values so the prescriptive way to understand ethics comes from a social agreement. I am thinking in values like equal dignity. In this case we can have ethics as a prescriptive way of a social agreement and at the same time enabling different meanings of their models of happiness.
  • It seems that we need a new language to language ethics but I think that the traditional text is not the appropriate way to articulate this kind of language. So the question could be how to develop a new language for ethics, which is not a language, transmitted through text?
  • Instead of claiming for a minimum set of social agreements as a requisite for an ethics, I think that we may start by accepting our basic emotions that we all share as human beings. Maturana's definition of 'love' (and his biology of love) supports what was previously stated as the ethical principle of respecting the other as a legitimate other in the coexistence.
  • Notice that we do not need to develop a new vocabulary for ethics as such because the word "vocabulary" in itself is trapping us in the traditional (i.e., textual) way of expressing ethics. We need develop a non-textual way to communicate and to articulate an enactive ethics. This new way, of course, can be visualised with the help of new ICT.
  • Love appears as fundamental in order to create the possibilities of socialization and perhaps ICTs could be used in order for people to "apply" love in what they do.


  • You have being talking about the need to develop a new language for ethics but I think it could be more important to discuss ways by which we could develop new practices that are accepted as ethical. The point is not to be able to talk about a new ethics but being able to behave in a new ethical way.
  • We need to nurture the emergence of new practices; a new kind of relation among people and this could be done if we promote the emergence of new kind of relationships. I think that ICT may be used to promote this new kind of organisational forms and relationships. Exploring this connection may help you in the discussion of ICT and ethics.
  • The concept of boundary has to be called into the discussion as well.
  • To what extend words like respect, dignity, love, etc. are manifestations of models that we have in our heads? If that is the case, what kind of mechanism can we used to change them? Can ICT be useful here? Is ICT connecting technology, processes and values?
  • Notice that in your discussion you have not mentioned very much ICT at all and perhaps it makes sense to review a hidden supposition in this group: why specifically do we need a new ethics in the presence of new forms of ICTs? In the last meeting we have an interesting connection through the notion of privacy. Why don't you focus on ICT?


  • Because of the increase in the use of technology I think that we are experiencing (and developing) relationships with others that have every time less physical contact. This may have, in the near future, emotional and value consequences in our practices and understanding of who we are. 
  • A metaphor of hat I would like to express here is the experiment undergone with the gorilla Coco who was taught to communicate using sign language. With time she expressed that she was not a gorilla but a girl with some differences to other girls. What sort of structural and emotional changes may occur in future generations if we decide to bring up a generation of such gorillas?
  • I think that the visibility of differences is a key concept for this discussion.
  • ICT is a given fact; Ethics is 'the' problem. I am not threatening by ICT itself but as the use of it like in genetic manipulation. Can we think of the emergence of two different worlds in the new future, one in which people and other things are genetically manipulated and "programmed" and other word that has no access at all to these new practices? This is an ethical issue, not a technological problem. This is why I think; this group has been taking most of the time about ethics and not about ICT.
  • In ethical terms, the boundary problem could be related to the boundaries we impose to our daily practices. The 'sicarios, for instance, love their mother and exhibit a profound respect for the Virgin Mary and, in fact, ask in their prayers for help before gong to kill somebody. It is clear where do they put their boundaries in relation to caring for the others.
  • ICT is perhaps the best tool we have now at our disposal to create citizenship. A concept of citizenship based on the ontology of Maturana that is extended in a recursive way from individuals to species.
  • Regarding new forms of communicating a new ethics in a non-textual way we could think of images, films and multimedia hypertexts in general. Nowadays we do not have to describe things in a text hoping that the reader will visualise what we are trying to express. With our current ICT now we can show and tell and not only describe.


  • Perhaps you need to change the heading of your group from ICT and ETHICS to Ethics and ICT. It seems that you are now focusing on the question of how to use ICT to enable ethical changes.
  • The notion of Foucaultīs transgression of boundaries could be helpful to your discussion.
  • In terms of the use of ICT you have stressed its use to communicate about ethics but it can also be used to enable ethical behaviour.