“I need the Internet for Information” – ICT in School and the Principle of Beneficence

Jan Holmqvist

The Computer Ethics Conference, Sweden, 1997


This purpose of this paper is to discuss the question if school, through the principle of beneficence, can be said to have a moral obligation to give students access to information on the Internet. The paper relates the principle of beneficence to the notion of human need, understood as that which it is bad for man to be without. It discusses in what ways information can be considered a human need and bad for man to be without. The conclusion of the paper is that information as such is not a human need, but that information is linked to human needs and that school therefore has moral obligations in relation to the principle of beneficence, to contribute to the students ability to handle this information. These obligations are on the one hand a moral obligation to act so that the students can find relevant information on the Internet and then evaluate this information. On the other hand school has a moral obligation to guarantee the fair distribution of both information and the ability to deal with this information among their students.