Information ethics, as is well known, has emerged as an independent area of ethical and philosophical inquiry. There are a number of academic journals that are devoted entirely to the numerous ethical issues that arise in connection with the new information communication technologies; these issues include a host of intellectual property, information privacy, and security issues of concern to librarians and other information professionals. In addition, there are a number of major international conferences devoted to information ethics every year. It would hardly be overstating the matter to say that information ethics is as “hot” an area of theoretical inquiry as medical ethics. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview on these and related issues.
The paper presents a review of relevant information ethics literature together with the author's assessment of the arguments.
There are issues that are more abstract and basic than the substantive issues with which most information ethics theorizing is concerned. These issues are thought to be “foundational” in the sense that we cannot fully succeed in giving an analysis of the concrete problems of information ethics (e.g. are legal intellectual property rights justifiably protected?) until these issues are adequately addressed.
The paper offers a needed survey of foundational issues in information ethics.
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