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Ethics for a Digital Age, Vol. II

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Edited By Bastiaan Vanacker and Don Heider

The second volume of Ethics for a Digital Age contains a selection of research presented at the fifth and sixth Annual International Symposia on Digital Ethics hosted by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication. Thematically organized around the most pressing ethical issues of the digital age from a professional (parts one and two) and a philosophical perspective (part three), the chapters of this volume offer the reader a window into some of the hot-button ethical issues facing a society where digital has become the new normal. Just as was the case in the first volume, this collection attempts to bridge applied and theoretical approaches to digital ethics. The case studies in this work are grounded in theory and the theoretical pieces are linked back to specific cases, reflecting the multi-methodological and multi-disciplinarian approach espoused by Loyola’s Center of Digital Ethics and Policy during its eight years of existence. With contributions by experts from a variety of academic disciplines, this work will appeal to philosophers, communication scientists, and moral philosophers alike.

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Introduction to Part III (Bastiaan Vanacker)

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Introduction to Part III

BASTIAAN VANACKER

Digital ethics is not about philosophizing about every new technology, app, or gadget that hits the market, but it starts from the realization that the changes we, as a society, have experienced by the rise of digital technologies are somehow sufficiently profound to become philosophically relevant. So consequential that they force us to rethink some of our deeply held beliefs about how we relate to our environment, to each other, and—ultimately—to ourselves. While some might still believe that digital technologies do not fundamentally change anything, or at least not more than, say, the radio, automobile, or the washing machine, it is time to move forward rather than debating this issue to death.

As this field continues to mature, a digital ethic will become more deeply rooted in and connected to other areas of philosophy. It is—and will remain—important and necessary to philosophically address applied ethical questions such as “Should parents put pictures of their children on Facebook?” or “Should Twitter police hate speech more strictly?” but these questions cannot be answered successfully if we do not also question the ontological and epistemological changes precipitated by digital technologies.

And the chapters in this section do exactly this. All four authors in some way argue that the practical ethical questions raised by their work cannot be answered without questioning some of the ontological and epistemological assumptions upon which...

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