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  1. Aug 2018
    1. Earlier, I have criticized Facebook for not anticipating the ethical problems with Facebook live and for its general approach of trying things out without much ethical forethought. But wouldn’t a pragmatist argue that because they are charting into new territory, digital innovators are more likely to make ethical mistakes giving the lack of existing normative framework?  This pragmatic defense only has limited power though, as there are general guiding ethical norms and principles in place already.  It is of course true that (some of) these norms might be subject to change in the digital environment and that sometimes our existing frameworks are ill-equipped to deal with new moral dilemmas. However, this does not excuse some of the more egregious ethical lapses we have seen recently, which were violations of well-known and accepted moral guidelines.
    2. This approach, I believe, works well for digital ethics, where we try to articulate rules that govern how we interact with each other through digital technologies. For example, when social media emerged, there was no fixed rule about when it is appropriate to tag someone in a picture and when it isn’t. So we figured out a netiquette and ethical norms as we were going along, based on experience, existing norms, insights from experts etc. There still might be areas of disagreement, but I would argue that overall we have come to an understanding of what is acceptable and what isn’t on this issue, and these norms are passed on to new users of social media.
    3. Phillip Kitcher, in the introduction of The Ethical Project describes the project of this pragmatic naturalism as follows: “Ethics emerges as a human phenomenon, permanently unfinished. We, collectively, made it up, and have developed, refined, and distorted it, generation by generation. Ethics should be understood as a project --the ethical project-- in which we have been engaged for most of our history as a species.” This a functionalist view sees ethics as a set of guidelines that make communal living possible. A successful ethical system is one that can fulfill this function.
    4. For a pragmatist, documenting this change and questioning what perpetuated it in order to better understand our current norm is the more interesting endeavor. From this understanding, ethical guidelines can be crafted, but the descriptive process precedes the prescriptive one.
    5. According to pragmatics, our attitudes and norms change in response to societal changes. For example, in an episode of Mad Men a guest at a party could be seen slapping a child that wasn’t his. It was one of the many (and one of the milder) examples in which the show’s creators’ reminded their audience that in the 1960s different rules governed social interactions.
    6. In daily language, the word pragmatic is often used pejoratively, to describe someone with a lack of principles (or character) who will let the situation, rather than a firm moral compass, guide her actions. But in the philosophical sense, pragmatism refers to an orientation towards ethics that isn’t occupying itself with abstract concepts such as “truth,” “right” and “wrong” or with coming up with all-encompassing ethical theories. Instead it focuses on praxis rather than theory and sees the role of the ethicist more to “de-scribe” norms as they develop than to “pre-scribe” them. 
  2. Mar 2018
  3. Sep 2015
    1. rhetorical character in the broadest sense, that is, by theirselection, design, and objectives

      this is interesting ... it's the purposes that matter most -- pragmatism

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