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Epistemic value theory and information ethics
Fallis D. Minds and Machines14 (1):101-117,2004.Type:Article
Date Reviewed: Aug 6 2004

This interesting and refreshing paper uses epistemic value theory to evaluate several policy issues related to information ethics.

Epistemic value theory seeks to assess the consequences of an ethical position, in terms of its aggregate contribution to the knowledge of society. The assumption, of course, is that knowledge is inherently good, and a policy that yields the greatest aggregate knowledge to society is a superior policy. This paper is refreshing, because it provides a deeper analytical structure for evaluating information policy. On the issue of copyright, for example, the usual discourse often deteriorates into dogmatic volleys of the same claims between advocates and opponents. Enforcing copyright is important, one side claims, to protect the economic interests of content producers. Copyright is a bad thing, responds the other side, because those who create content use their monopoly ownership to overcharge, and restrict the dissemination of knowledge. Epistemic value theory replaces the polemic arguments of consumer rights versus producer rights with a discussion of what is good for society.

I must admit that I did not agree with every point made by the author of this paper, through his discussion of intellectual property, speech regulation, and privacy. But, at least, the author provides a framework for working through any differences, and that is progress. I would recommend this paper to anyone interested in information ethics, cyber ethics, or any of their subsidiary topics.

Reviewer:  J. M. Artz Review #: CR129968 (0501-0141)
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