Russell and the quest for a Computer Ethics

Antonio Marturano


In my paper I will analyse the arguments by Bertrand Russell about the quest for a new ethics. In his A Scientific Outlook, Russell analyses the development of the scientific method. He never mentioned computers but he mentioned other kinds of Information Technologies available during his times (cinema, TV, and radio). He talks about biotechnologies, too. He thoughts the well-estabilished ethics were not enough anymore as a regulative background for the fast development of these technologies and we need a new ethics. It is very unclear what Russell means for“ A new ethics” he seems to think about a kind of ethical theory not bonded to some transcendental entities (or religious-like). His thoughts are very interested for two reasons: the first they helps us to understand the foundation of computer ethics, the second reason is they help us to understand the well known debate about computer as a new challenge for ethical theories or computer are reshaping ethical theories. My interpretation of Russell’s arguments goes towards the first approach of the meaning of computer ethics. Computers are not reshaping ethics, but they give us new elements for make these theories more sophisticated to face their challenges.