Friday 23 April 2010

Floridi on Information Ethics

I like this:
...[I]nformation ethics holds that every entity, as an expression of being, has a dignity, constituted by its mode of existence and essence...

This ontological equality principle means that any form of reality (any instance of information/being), simply for the fact of being what it is, enjoys a minimal, initial, overridable, equal right to exist and develop in a way appropriate to its nature.

Information: A Very Short Introduction Oxford 2010
It is like we might go beyond extending ethics from humans to animals so that we take in anything - any 'informational' object. Floridi talks about replacing biocentrism with ontocentrism.
It [ontocentrism] suggests that there is something even more elemental than life, namely being [...] and something even more fundamental than suffering, namely entropy.
He goes on to point out that this is not the concept of thermodynamic entropy:
Entropy here refers to any kind of corruption, destruction, pollution and depletion of informational object... that is, any form of impoverishment of reality.
Need to be careful with this line of thinking of course, but an interesting line of thought.


Robin Faichney said...

Hi David,

Floridi's approach is bound to be strongly challenged by those who will say things like "if everything has rights, then nothing does". His use of the word "equal" is especially contentious. I think there's a grain of truth in it, though. It could be read as "we should take great care in absolutely all of our actions, and never be needlessly destructive", and I'd go along with that. I think it's quite Buddhistic, in fact.

David Chapman said...

Hi Robin,

In fairness to Floridi, I don't know whether or to what degree he would go along with this approach. His - excellent - little book is merely recounting different ways of thinking about information.

Note also that he qualifies equal with "minimal, initial, overridable".

David Chapman said...

...although actually, readind on, it would appear to be Floridi's position, and he makes the link to religions:

"... makes perfect sense for any religious or spiritual tradition..."