These theoretical and meta-theoretical frameworks constitute our “ethical toolkit” – a collection of important but diverse ways of analyzing and attempting to resolve ethical problems. Part of our work as ethicists is learning how to apply a given theoretical framework to a specific issue; and given the diversity of possible theoretical frameworks, we must also determine which frameworks are best suited for confronting and resolving specific ethical issues. The meta- theoretical frameworks of relativism, absolutism, and pluralism help clarify and guide these determinations.
A synopsis of digital media ethics Much of the ethical reflection on digital media – most especially, on the ethical dimensions of information and communication technologies (ICTs) – arose alongside the technologies themselves. But this means that, until the last two decades or so, most of the discussion and reflection on digital media ethics took place primarily within Western countries, utilizing primarily Western ethical traditions and ways of thinking. To begin with, there is widespread agreement that Norbert Wiener’s The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society stands as the first book in computer ethics. For over two decades, “computer ethics” was the concern of a very small group of professionals – principally computer scientists and a few philosophers. “Computer ethics” as its own term emerged only in the 1970s, mainly through the work of Walter Maner, but also manifest, for example, in the first professional code of computer ethics of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1973 (and subsequently revised – most recently in ACM. The introduction of the personal computer (PC) in 1982, however, began a dramatic expansion of the role of computers and computer networks into the lives of “the rest of us” – i.e., those of us who are not computer scientists or other sorts of information professionals, such as librarians. Following the emergence of the internet and World Wide Web in the lives and awareness of most people in the developed world in the early 1990s, a number of savvy observers began to predict (rightly) that by the beginning of the twenty-first century, information and computing ethics (ICE) would become a global ethics – i.e., a domain of ethical issues, debate, and possible resolution, of concern to more and more people representing an increasingly global diversity of cultural norms and ethical and religious traditions. In fact, what is called “intercultural computing ethics” has been underway in ICE since the 1990s