Cristina Caramelo Gomes (Portugal)


“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Then are dreamt of in your philosophy” William Shakespeare 1564-1616: Hamlet (1601)


James Rachels argues, in Elements of Moral Philosophy, that there is a core set of values that are common to all societies and are necessary for it to exist. The values Rachels found in common were the duty of care to the children, the appreciation of truth and the interdiction of murder. This was probably true in what we may call the traditional or classical forms of society. Remains to be seen if that is the case in the Information Society where, in facto, it seems that moral relativism found its way. There are two ways that we can approach morality: as de facto morality or as ideal morality. De facto morality concerns they way people in fact behave and involves the moral principles that are actually in place in a given culture. By contrast, ideal morality concerns the way people should behave, irrespective of their actual behaviour.

The ideal morality may be founded within two main approaches: the ethics and the aesthetics and, as Kant demonstrated, the later may be the reason why some principles are included in the first. This is probably the truest idea about the de facto morality in the last century and, truly, in the first years of the present: the culture and morality since the industrial revolution are essentially consumerist and consumerism is dictated by aesthetic reasons and principles. Aesthetic principles are not ethical principles (though in same cases may influence them). They are essentially connected to the way people appear in society and the way other people judge their behaviour. The de facto morality is essentially based in aesthetic principles. Either way, morality is the boundary people set to their one behaviour.

The Information Society and its major tool, the Internet, ground these remarks. In the first place, the Internet is a consumer oasis. In the second place, the Internet is a place of complete freedom of expression, a place where people express themselves with no limits whatsoever, except for the ones that one imposes himself. What use people make of it! … Child abuse, nazism, fascism, racism, satanic rites: Internet may be (is) home for all sort of perverted, twisted and evil personality. And the number of people anonymously showing themselves there is growing and, frightening as it may seem, that is the mirror of the world population and mankind in the present century. When no ethic morality constrains the behaviour and no aesthetic considerations arise, the human being unlashes his real self.

There is also the other face of the coin. Many people are reacting to this complete absence of moral and ethical values, searching for some light within the darkness. Those people are the ones that give reason to Jung, when he said that the 21st century would be the century of spirituality or wont be at all.


Ethic and aesthetic are issues which have been discussed from the antiquity by different philosophers. Aristotle considered that ethic was the mean to achieve virtue and justice. Kant considered aesthetic connected with the beauty, the taste, the judgement and the moral. The human behaviour is always tackled by one or both concepts.

The new information and communication technologies allow the user to be anonymous. This allows the freedom to pronounce his/her convictions with no fear of retaliation and without cultural or aesthetic constrains. The constraints left are the ethic.

According to these statements it seems crucial to realise that the society as we know until now has been regulated fundamentally by aesthetical behaves, people act as the society expects, to avoid social exclusion.

ICT can promote new forms of communication and social interaction. The new hypothesis endorsed by ICT provide evidence that Ethic is a major issue which should be discussed and be part as a principle of the homo-informaticus.


An integrated research methodology is important in this type of investigation. Qualitative methods will be crucial to understand the main issues where the society has been establish along history. It is important also to identify the new hypothesis opened by the new technologies and the personality of their user. It is fundamental to identify the history definitions of these subjects and see how these definitions can be understood and validated in the contemporary society.

The list below describes the research methodology being used in this study:

  • Literature review of all relevant material – IT and ICT, New ways of working, human being evolution, history of philosophy – using text books, research papers and mainly the world-wide-web.
  • Interviews to survey the practice of ethic or aesthetic behaviour.
  • Produce written account of the findings of the research.


Fieser, J. and Dowden, B. (ed.), (2001) “Moral Relativism”, The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy [Internet]. Available from: < Fieser, J. and Dowden, B. (ed.), (2001) "Aristotle (384-322 BCE.) Overview." The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy [Internet]. Available from: < Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (2001) "David Hume", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Internet]. Available from: < Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (2001) "Friedrich Nietzsche", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Internet]. Available from: < Parliament of the World's Religions (1993) Declaration Toward a Global Ethic. [Internet]. Available from: < Leddy, T. "Kant's Aesthetics - Tattoos, Architecture, and Gender-Bending" in Review of the International Yearbook of Aesthetics. [Internet]. Available from: < Aristotle (350 B. C. E.) Nicomachean Ethics. [Internet]. Available from: <