Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Technological determinism and the naturalistic fallacy

Sorry for the long title.  'Technological determinism' is the view that the Internet is an unstoppable force (for good) and that trying to close down piracy sites such as Pirate Bay and TVShack will just lead to them being reopened elsewhere.  Implicit (often explicit) in this view is that this force is on the side of good, and right and so on.  A victory of the People against the Man.  The naturalistic fallacy is the fallacy that because something is the case, it ought to be the case.   Though it does not invoke the fallacy, this very nice site here explains it very well in the context of the 'free culture' or 'piracy' movement.

Yes. It is technologically easy to:
  • Drive 120 miles an hour.
  • Use someone else’s credit card to purchase goods online.
  • Log into someone else’s bank account and transfer money to yourself.
  • Shoot someone with a gun.
This does not imply that it is right to do so.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

>> 'Technological determinism' is the view that the Internet is an unstoppable force (for good) and that trying to close down piracy sites such as Pirate Bay and TVShack will just lead to them being reopened elsewhere.

I'm not sure if you're challenging this or not, but I think it is largely accurate.

>> Yes. It is technologically easy to: [...] Shoot someone with a gun. This does not imply that it is right to do so.

No, it doesn't. But at the same time, law enforcement does not accomplish very much by going after the middle-men, who hook up gun buyers with gun sellers.

The fact "that trying to close down piracy sites such as Pirate Bay and TVShack will just lead to them being reopened elsewhere" doesn't imply that piracy sites such as Pirate Bay and TVShack are morally right. But I think it does imply that law enforcement is not going to accomplish very much by shutting them down, even if they do make an example out of some of the proprietors.

Of course, one problem is that it's not particularly easy to go after *any* of the parts of the operation. I'm not sure there's much at all that law enforcement can do. So long as the meme of "copyright infringement is not theft" remains so popular, it's going to be an extremely difficult thing to stop.

10:10 pm  
Blogger Crawshaw said...

Jaron Lanier talks in his book, You Are not a Gadget about two different political cultures that grew up around the technology and cultural boom, and suggests several different ways that innovation could make it so that, even though piracy is nearly unstoppable (short of some draconian policies), we can mitigate its effects. He is not justifying the behaviour he is simply coming up with solutions, that do not seem to also allow governments to put policies in that would be draconian in trying to get rid of this piracy.

We are not changing the ethics of an entire community, it is negotiation between people who hold many different ethical, economic and political beliefs.

Also to say that "they know it is wrong" is incorrect, the statement should read "some of them agree with others that it is wrong but still do it anyway, others know that some others think it is wrong, but do not agree that it is, and some disagree that it is wrong, but do not do it anyway"

3:54 pm  

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