- What cultural values do the proposed solutions carry?
- What ethical values underlie the proposed solutions?
Analysis revealed the cultural orientations and the ethical foundations of these solutions, which we have called the users’ degree of ethical awareness. To be more precise, an analysis of proposed solutions to the problems of Internet use was carried out based on the community’s ethical presuppositions.
Having analyzed the information on the establishment, use, acceptance, and integration of ICTS in general and the Internet in particular, we were led to propose an ethical model of Internet integration, which is presented in this work.
Toward the Development of an Ethical Model of Internet Integration
The research led us to develop an ethical model of integration to serve as a reference, both for national policy in African countries and for individual Internet users (see “An ethical model of Internet integration,” in Chapter 7). The need for such a model exists, in our opinion, because of certain paradoxes we observed at various levels and contexts within each of the countries in the study. These paradoxes lie at the very heart of the ethical inquiry and are found in all social spheres. They can be described as follows:
- The Internet is a tool for accessing information, yet it simultaneously enforces inequity and exclusion.
- Culturally, the Internet offers a window on the world but is rife with ideology and illicit or offensive material.
- Most people consider the Internet an indispensable information and communications tool, yet its costs – for materials, infrastructure, and telecommunications – make it compete with other priorities and give rise to an economic dependence on the North.
- The Internet should be universally accessible, yet the technology can exacerbate what one might call technological illiteracy.
- According to some, the government should play a role in the development of the Internet, yet according to others its development should be free of government interference.
- The Internet contributes to the general economic development of countries, yet it can reinforce monopolies held by the state or by multinational corporations (to the detriment of local SMES ).
Analysis of the data collected led us to make certain recommendations on meeting the information (consciousness-raising) and training needs of the citizenry, developing policies for computerizing the nation, and formulating regulatory and jurisdictional law.
3. See the article by Lanvin (1997), Director of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, based in Geneva).
4. The Universal Ethics Project is an initiative of UNESCO ‘s Division of Philosophy and Ethics. It came into being in the spring of 1997, and its main objective is to explore the possibility of a universal ethics for the world’s many national cultural traditions.
5. According to Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1992). Schein defines those five assumptions as follows: (1) the nature of people’s relationship to the environment: adaptation is valued (we adapt to it); control is valued (an aggressive attitude, we impose our will on it); taking a fatalistic attitude is valued (fatalism); (2) the nature of reality and of truth: three possible attitudes (we believe that . . .): objectivity: reality has a separate existence and we will discover it (scientific attitude); authority is valued: truth is whatever the leader says; intersubjectivity is valued: truth is the outcome of consensus building (we discuss the situation together and come up with a solution); (3) the nature of human nature: individuals are considered selfish; individuals are considered altruistic; people are neither inherently good nor evil (Rousseauism); (4) the nature of human activity (a corollary of man’s relation to the environment): work is valued as a means of subjugating nature ( Western societies); work is valued as a means of adapting to the environmental situation; work is a means of ensuring subsistence; (5) the nature of human relations: the individual is valued: the most important person is the person who is most competent (individualism), which might be interpreted to mean the person with the greatest means (intellectual, financial . . .); the person who holds power is valued: the most important person is the sole authority, holds power; every individual’s opinion is valued: everyone is important.