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Aristotle and most other commentators recognize that ethics must be ultimate focused on the end goal of providing some good for others. The utility function is defined as providing the greatest good for the greatest number. In tribal society ethics only extends to the members in good standing of the tribe. Most people use a hybrid version which gives greatest weight to the good of the family and then ratchets down from there to the community, the local government, the national government and for people as a whole. Now with the Internet spanning all populations there is a confusion of where ethics should apply in the digital world. The unfortunate answer seems to be, nowhere. Until we get a redefinition of ethics that will apply to the digital world, it is not likely that our experience on the internet will improve above its current abysmal state.
To start with, not everyone agrees on the goals of a body of ethics. Is it material wealth, happiness, contentment or some less well defined goal altogether?
Our good friend Aristotle tell us that it is "foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs" as to the nature of ethics. But that "each man judges well the things he knows, and of those he is a good judge." But on the internet what is it that any user can know about their correspondent?
- Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics
- Wikipedia Utilitarianism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism