Monthly Archives: April 2019

Can Networks be Virtuous?

This is about ethics. Ethics tells us what we ought to do. It is based on the distinction between what we really do, the “is” and what we should do, the “ought.” If everybody did what they should, then we wouldn’t need ethics. But let’s face it, people don’t do what they ought to do. Why not? Has ethics failed? Are people inherently immoral? And if so, what good does it do to keep telling them that they should do otherwise? Despite enormous efforts for centuries, ethics seems to be a futile enterprise divorced from reality. One answer to the apparent futility of ethics is to say that people do not do what they ought to do, but what they are. If people do the right thing, that’s not because of ethics, or because of being told what they ought to do. It’s because that is simply what they are. There is no “ought.” There is only what “is.” In other words, you shall know them by their actions – and not by their proclaimed or hidden motives. But what are people? What should we be reading from their actions?

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