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Ethics for a Digital Age

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Bastiaan Vanacker and Don Heider

Thematically organized around three of the most pressing ethical issues of the digital age (shifting of professional norms, moderating offensive content, and privacy), this volume offers a window into some of the hot-button ethical issues facing a society where digital has become the new normal. Straddling an applied ethical and theoretical approach, the research represented not only reflects on how our ethical frameworks have been changed and challenged by digital technology, but also provides insights for those confronted with specific ethical dilemmas related to digital technology. With contributions from established experts and up-and-coming scholars alike, this book cuts across disciplines and with appeal to communication scholars, philosophers, and anyone with an interest in ethics and technology.
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1. Emerging Genres of Science Communication and Their Ethical Exigencies

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1.   Emerging Genres of Science Communication and Their Ethical Exigencies

ASHLEY ROSE KELLY

“The mores of science possess a methodological rationale,” Robert K. Merton wrote, “but they are binding, not only because they are procedurally efficient, but because they are believed to be good and right” (Merton, 1973, p. 270). Merton famously outlined the ethos of modern science, telling us that the “institutional goal of science is the extension of certified knowledge,” and that this goal is accomplished not merely through technical means (though technical means are essential), but also through the mores governing the work of science (Merton, 1973, p. 270). “Moral” and “technical prescriptions” are realized through “[f]our sets of institutional imperatives,” often referred to as “Mertonian norms.” These four norms are universalism, communism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism (Merton, 1973, p. 270). The claim that science is a social endeavor is a relatively uncontroversial claim now but important because it reminds us that the work of science is concerned not simply with “discovery” or “uncovering” facts about the world but also with constructing an understanding of the world. Much of this understanding is constructed through discursive acts.

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