Incorporating a Critical Reasoning Component into the ICT–Ethics Methodological Framework

Is the standard/classic applied–ethics model used by philosophers adequate for analyzing issues in information and communication technology (ICT) ethics? A number of critics have argued that it is not, claiming instead that we need to revise and possibly also expand upon that model. In the various proposals advanced so far, however, no one has questioned whether we need to include an explicit critical reasoning (CR) component as part of an adequate ICT–ethics methodological framework. The purpose of the present study is to show why having such a component is not only useful but perhaps critical to ICT–ethics analysis. After defining what I mean by CR, and describing how it differs significantly from both formal logic and critical thinking, I show why incorporating a CR component can help us to achieve four of our key objectives as ICT–ethics professionals/instructors. First, CR provides us with a clear and systematic method for spotting logical fallacies, some of which might not initially seem either obvious or intuitive, in the various arguments that have been advanced to influence social policies affecting ICT. Second, CR provides us with techniques for testing our own arguments to ensure that they do not contain any logical fallacies. Third, CR provides us with a clear and fairly rigorous methodology for not only avoiding fallacies but also for constructing strong arguments to defend the views we advance. Finally, infusing a CR component into ICT–ethics courses will aid instructors in teaching their students how to detect and avoid logical fallacies, as well as teaching them how to construct strong arguments to defend their own positions on issues.

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