Friday, April 13, 2007

Good Resource to Scout the Discussion on Blogging Ethics and Codes of Civility

With all the blogging buzz right now (e.g., here and here) reacting to recent stories and proposals on codes of civility and conduct for bloggers, and possible legal liability of blogs, here is an organizing site that provides links and context to many useful sources on the issue.  It's from the the Internet Scout Project of the University of Wisconsin, about which my GW colleague Phil Katz tells me:  "In general, the Scout Report is one of the best compilations of good stuff available online."  He adds: "There are a couple of interesting links at the Scout Report about blogging, not just on the narrow topic of ethics."  [Alan Childress]

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The 'narrow topic of ethics'? Hmmm. I'm not quite sure what was meant by this remark, but it does reveal some questionable assumptions in contemporary approaches to ethics, some if not all of which have been questioned in the recent rehabilitation of virtue ethics and sophisticated attempts to discover what modern ethical theories might glean from Asian worldviews (cf. Joel Kupperman's Learning from Asian Philosophy, 1999). For instance, with regard to the scope of ethics: is it largely confined to a particular class of (infrequent yet momentous) choices? Is the scope of ethics broad enough to include all or almost all of life? Are all parts (e.g., the private and the public) of life governed in some holistic, consistent and integrated way? Is ethics about human flourishing (eudaimonia)? And so forth and so on.

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Apr 13, 2007 11:26:29 AM

Hey, Patrick, thanks again for reading us and commenting (and I always appreciate that you cite sources and contribute). Your point is well taken, but not if directed at Phil (who, btw, has a PhD in history from Princeton and would be surprised to be labeled as too legalistic or focused in his interests). That quote was in an email in reply to an exchange I had with him in which I mused whether blog ethics was on topic to the blog, and he clearly was replying to that and not intending a slight of ethical inquiry. I would have been clearer about the context if I had perceived the meaning of that phrase you did. I did not see it, and just quoted him out of context, and apologize for any confusion. I hope you do know that we at LPB believe ethics is way broader than rules of conduct for lawyers. [Ask Jeff if you want to!] I can assure you that Phil does too, and again any misunderstanding about that is mine.

Posted by: Alan Childress | Apr 13, 2007 12:00:41 PM

Thanks Alan. I *was* a bit reluctant to comment but as I've come across similar sentiment and characterizations in the past.... Again, I appreciate the clarification. (And I'm also grateful for your continuing tolerance of an outsider on this blog, from which I'm learning quite a bit.)

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Apr 13, 2007 12:42:09 PM

No slight to the philosophers was intended! I should have said "... not just on the important topic of ethics." To be honest, I'm impressed that bloggers (and lawyers, for that matter) spend so much time thinking about ethics -- an antidote, perhaps, to the recent shortage of ethical activity in public life?

Posted by: Phil Katz | Apr 16, 2007 8:46:21 AM

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