[IRP] follow up presentation & discussion on values - rights and principles

Rafael Capurro rafael
Thu May 14 14:38:30 EEST 2009


my name is Rafael (Capurro), sorry for not being in Rome.
> hi everybody
> first of all thanks to Marianne, Lisa, Emily and Lea who participated 
> in the session and contributed really valuable points!!
> i posted a video recording of the session @  http://blip.tv/file/2109983
> and some consice feedback from lea and marianne - as well as the chat 
> history is all saved on the wiki page @ 
> http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/node/79
> allow me respond to the following thoughts of Lea
> Max is seeking primarily two types of feedback: 1) 
> intellectual/conceptual feedback, 2) strategically, is this a useful 
> way to look at the discussion and how do we go about it? Particularly 
> expanding beyond ''rights'' to ''values'' and ''morals."
> Lea Shaver: Max expressed some doubt about whether it is 
> helpful/strategic to speak beyond "rights" more broadly to "values." 
> In my opinion, "values" might be very useful in the sense it allows us 
> to talk about principles we believe are good for governing the network 
> environment that relate or facilitate "human rights" without directly 
> being a human right. For example, the "value" of openness (in terms of 
> technical architecture) or independence (not directly controlled by 
> governments) might be important to promote the human rights of "free 
> expression" and "privacy." I take Max's concern to be that we might 
> demote the end principles that should properly be recognized as 
> "rights" to the level of "values," and open up a competition between 
> universal human rights and particular values that might actually be in 
> conflict with them, i.e. a Chinese assertion of "harmony" as a value 
> that trumps freedom of expression. But I think we can stick to an 
> insistence upon universal human rights as the end goals, and still 
> find a useful role for also speaking about "values" in Internet 
> governance that will help promote human rights. I would say something 
> similar about "principles." Like, in order to respect and promote the 
> right of freedom of privacy, we should follow the principle that 
> "transmissions should not be blocked by intermediaries, only by the 
> choice of the recipient." I'm less sure where "morality" fits in as a 
> useful concept.
morality can be seen as part of the cultural or symbolic (opposed or 
complemetary to biological) human "immune system."  (I follow ideas from 
Peter Sloterdijk in this regard). No organism or human society (or 
system) can survive without some kinf of immune system that helps so 
select (or not) what comes from the "Umwelt" or surrounding environment 
of the system. In this sense, the internet is also a system that now 
tries to defined its "morality" (incl. legal norms etc.) in order to 
survive (and change, as the environment changes and influnces this 
system and viceversa).
The danger is when such immune systems become stiff i.e. do not have the 
possibility of adapting to what is new ore are considered as absolute. 
Even such codes like the UDHR is not something ultimate or absolute, not 
only because its concepts are due to re-interpretation, but also because 
it was born as an answer to the atrocities of World War II. It is 
evident that at that time the, say, ecological crisis etc. was not 
something this declaration was supposed to give an answer. This does not 
mean that the principles put in this (and other) declarations are 
obsolete, quite the contrary, but that new challenges, like in case of 
the biosphere or the internet, push us now for creative answers.
In order for codes (moral or legal ones or...) not to become stiff (and 
eventually block the survival of a system) it is necessary an open space 
of critical reflection. In the case of morality we call this space moral 
philosophy or ethics. It is important to understand this difference 
(between morality (coded or not) and ethics as a critical reflection of 
values, laws, principles etc.

> Max: i see two caveats that we need to address:
> (a) when we select the values (openness, accessibility) it is a 
> selection and therefore will appeal to exactly the same people who we 
> are already talking to
and who are supposed to be part of the system (or potential part of it)
> (b) when i read lea's input i thought exactly what she wrote in the 
> last sentences - how are values than different from principles? i 
> thought openness, interoperability, net-neutrality etc. are the principles
the difference between values and principles could be stated as 
following: in order to legitimize (my) values I need a set of principles 
upon which I can argue (in favor or against) some values. Of course, I 
can also question such principles too. Example: I believe that human 
life is a value in itself (or has an "intrinsic value") and I argue in 
favor (or against) this valued based on the principle of, say, human 
autonomy or human freedom. But, of course, in case such principle is 
questionned it becomes itself a value, which means that there is a 
"dialectic" or "circularity" between what needs to be founded and its 
(possible) foundation. There have been several proposals to "break" this 
circle, either taking some principles as absolute and not cricizable 
(metaphysical and/or religious foundations) or the Kantian "solution" of 
having only one (formal) maxime of morality which is the categorical 
imperative (which means value conflicts are to be solved by asking about 
the universability of their maxims), or the utilitarian way or the way 
proposed by discourse ethics (by asking for a rational argumentation in 
a dialogical context), or going back to (fundamental) moral intuitions. 
These methodologies remain beyond the framework of looking for any kind 
of (rational) foundation(s) but they eventually do not answer the 
question about the (or other) factual or "real" reasons for doing the 
good that might arise from, for instance, an evolutionary explanation 
(which does not answer the question of "thou shall" by going to to "it 
is" or "it was"...: naturalistic fallacy). In other words, the process 
of "redendum rationem rationi" is part of the solution and part of the 
problem too. Stopping the process (the explicit and/or the implicit one) 
of questionning moral norms (and values) on the basis of (final) 
principles is not a plausible (and sustainable) way, I think.

> On the other hand i completely see the point Rebecca made (and Lea 
> with the reference to "harmony") regarding our discourse bein hijacked 
> or at least driven in areas where it will be very difficult to find 
> constructive solutions
this is how I see it too, particulary concerning "our" discourse... vs. 
"con-structive" solutions
> My thinking was/is that we use values as a way to find common goals 
> and a shared basis - (1) we all want XXXXX (2) let's have a dialogue 
> about how to get there. And from the values that i found moral values 
> (ethics - maybe under the heading of social values) seemd to be the 
> best to start with, because religious or political values are even 
> more tainted/diverse, and others like astaetic values are not relevant 
> to our cause.   
> Lea also writes: To the extent we frame our input as implementing 
> legal principles universally agreed on by sovereign governments as a 
> basis for framing and constraining the exercise of that sovereignty, 
> it gives the input greater import. Instead of merely saying, "Please, 
> we'd like you to implement these values," we say "These steps are 
> necessary to implement the human rights obligations you are legally 
> committed to."
> Max: so here we have the principles-values overlap or do they even 
> mean the same? I do really like the second point about procedure.
> My suggestion again: Facilitate a dialogue on "how cultures can 
> interact in the global communication environment" - with the goal of 
> developing an "inter- or trans-cultural netiquette" and an appeal (or 
> something similar to the original appeal that got this coalition 
> started) outlining all the values that should be aspired to. We can 
> then use this appeal to get it signed by governments & other 
> institutions. 
> To lay the groundwork for that we could organize an "online debate 
> with representatives from different cultures"
an excellent idea

> Looking forward to discuss further
> Max
>     -------------------------------------------------
>     /"I dont divide the world into the weak and the strong, or into
>     the successes and the failures. ...
>     I divide the world into the learners and the nonlearners"/
>       .   .   .   .  .  .  . Benjamin Barber
>     -------------------------------------------------
>     Dr. Max Senges
>     www.maxsenges.com <http://www.maxsenges.com>
>     www.knowledgeentrepreneur.com <http://www.knowledgeentrepreneur.com>
>     ------------------------------------------------- 

Prof. Dr. Rafael Capurro
Hochschule der Medien (HdM), Germany
Steinbeis Hochschule Berlin (SHB), Germany
Postal Address: Redtenbacherstr. 9, 76133 Karlsruhe, Germany
E-Mail: rafael at capurro.de
Voice: + 49 - 721 - 98 22 9 - 22 (Fax: -21)
Homepage: www.capurro.de
STI-IE: http://sti-ie.de
ICIE: http://icie.zkm.de
IRIE: http://www.i-r-i-e.net
Information Ethics Senior Fellow, 2009-2010, Center for Information Policy Research, School of Information Studies, UW-Milwaukee, USA

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