What Did You Say? Communication and Technology Ethics in the Information Age

Title: What Did You Say? Communication and Technology Ethics in the Information Age

The central argument of this paper: evangelicals must intentionally appropriate theologically-grounded moral virtues and practices for virtuous communication and technology engagement.
Communication and technology are ubiquitous. Almost nothing happens without them. In fact, communication seems to be an essential feature of human beings, relationships, and culture; it happens constantly, whether or not words are being used. Likewise, technology is everywhere. It pervades nearly all aspects of our lives. Similarly, dynamic and inescapable ethical questions and concerns are ever-present—including questions and concerns about communication and technology involving personal, interpersonal, cultural and societal situations.
In this paper, several important ethical concerns will be discussed within these two broad and related applied-ethics categories: communication ethics (CE) and technology ethics (TE). Modest goals for this presentation include:
• Briefly describing and discussing communication ethics and technology ethics along with some key subcategories (e.g., interpersonal communication, artificial intelligence)
• Considering ethical issues involving these spheres
• Comparing some specific ethical approaches and moral practices pertaining to these domains, including apparent underlying worldview assumptions and commitments
• Presenting an argument for objective morality, rooted in the Christian metanarrative, which provides moral truth and wisdom for guiding communication and technology arenas
I will argue that the while certain general moral principles (e.g., the Golden Rule, Kant’s Categorical Imperatives) may be beneficial in various communication and technology contexts, ultimately, a robust biblically-based Christian ethics is required (1) to provide clarity and specificity as to right action, as well as good attitude or character; and (2) to critique and demonstrate the implausible of contrarian ethical systems (e.g., ethical relativism). I also will note that while some interpretive differences still arise within Christian ethics, core objective and moral grounding remains. This grounding is preeminently based in God’s character and commands, which guide the interpretive process in recognizing moral truths and moral goods. Such grounding and moral truths and goods ought to be applied with integrity and excellence in all communication and technology realms.

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