TEIL II: Einführung in die Informationsethik

Rafael Capurro


12. Ethische Aspekte der Informationswissenschaft

12.1 B. J. Kostrewski, Ch. Oppenheim: Ethics in Information Science Research and Teaching    
12.2 B. Frohmann: Knowledge and power in information science 

12.1 B. J. Kostrewski, Ch. Oppenheim: Ethics in Information Science Research and Teaching

Zuerst erschienen in: Journal of Information Science, 1 (1980) S. 277-283. Wiederabgedruckt in: R. Capurro, K. Wiegerling, A. Brellochs, Hrsg.: Informationsethik (Konstanz 1995).    
"Ethics in Research"
"Cheating" in research.   
It seems to us that in the field of information science, cheating is much less likely to occur than, say, in the biological and physical sciences. For one thing, information science may not be afflicted by the 'publish or perish' syndrome (or the related 'be cited or perish' syndrome) as some of the harder sciences have been. (...)     
On the other side of the coin of researchers who cheat in their research is the problem of publications resulting from a piece of work involving senior and junior authors. There are two ethical questions here: should a worthwhile piece of research be written up at all, and if so, by whom? We think that if a supervisor does not wish to publish, then the junior author, i.e. the person who actually carried out the research, should have the right to write up one or more articles based on the research in his/her name alone. (...)    
Giving credit to co-workers.    
The second question concerns the authorship of an article which is published. Acknowledgement of the co-operation of co-workers, regardless of their status is an essential component of the integrity of all types of research. Thus, student projects which are of sufficient substance to warrant publication should give principal credit to the student rather that the supervisor. One simple method is to place the authors in alphabetical order of surname. Indeed there is some evidence that senior authors who adopt this practice are more likely to be awarded a Nobel Prize that those who don't (SV. Ashton, S.E. Robertson: A method of predicting Nobel price winners in chemistry, Social Studies in Science 8 (1978) 341-348).    

Areas of research that should not be attempted    
Belkin and Robertson (N. J. Belkin, S. E. Robertson: Some ethical and political implications of theoretical research in information science. Paper presented at ASIS Annual Meeting, 1976) have argued strongly that there are certain areas of information science that should not be researched because of their possible implications. In particular they are concerned that the results of research in information science are not transferred into such areas as propaganda, advertising and education in which information is sender-oriented rather than user-oriented. (...)    
The argument that theoretical research should not be undertaken is, of course, highly debatable, as it is difficult to predict the long-term consequences of particular theoretical advances. (...)    
Ethics in teaching information science.    
A lecturer in any subject is in a unique position to influence his or her students by presenting the information in a biased manner. Perhaps the surest defence against such bias is the long term one of ex-students going into the information science profession and becoming aware that their education has been biased in some way. It must also be said that lectures would be dull indeed if the lecturer did not inject some personal asides and commentary on other people's work.    
The above remarks apply to all subjects, of course. Information science at present lacks the theoretical framework which could act as a template against which intellectual dishonesty could be checked, and is in this respect particularly vulnerable. Furthermore, because the subject is so wide-ranging, a teacher has a responsibility to present as total a picture as possible, since withholding information is a form of bias."  



12.2 B. Frohmann: Knowledge and power in information science 

Zuerst erschienen in: Journal of Documentation 48 (1992) 365-386. Wiederabgedruckt in: R. Capurro, K. Wiegerling, A. Brellochs Hrsg.: Informationsethik (Konstanz 1995).    


"The Cognitive Viewpoint in LIS Theory"
The main features of the cognitive viewpoint can be briefly summarized. It is the view that central theoretical consideration ought to be given to the 'cognitive processes' that occur at each pole of typical information-retrieval systems. Information is produced by 'generators', each with their 'world images', or 'knowledge structures'. They produce texts with the intention of changing the 'world images' of the recipients who, for their part, pursue information as a result of a perceived 'gap' in their own image-structure. Information scientists bring the two together by virtue of their knowledge of both the recipient's need and the information available in the 'knowledge store'. The generation of this knowledge is the mandate of LIS theory.     
Discursive Features of the Cognitive Viewpoint.
Theoretical Imperialism. 
The cognitive viewpoint is proposed neither as one theory among many, nor as a local theory for a specific set of problems, but as a total theory for LIS, and as the only theory. (...)    
The colonization of all LIS territories through the imposition of a universal and unifying discourse requires the constitution of stable, objective, knowable, and fundamental theoretical objects. It can promise a unified knowledge of 'a continuum spectrum of information processes' because it first constructs fixed, stable mental image-structures. A discourse of fragmented, conflicted, or contradictory mental contents could offer no stable 'image structures' for objective investigation. A discourse of social constitution of 'images' or 'models of the world' could not offer fundamental theoretical entities. A discourse of 'information processes' as social practices played out on an agonistic field of conflicting and shifting historical forces, instead of mental events inside individual minds, could not issue guarantees of explanatory theory. The cognitive viewpoint's talk of image-structures as natural objects, of 'information' as a change in 'structure', is an essential part of its universalistic and totalizing discursive strategy. (...)    

Instrumental Reason

By constructing production and reception as independently motivated processes within individual 'information processing-devices', the cognitive viewpoint restricts LIS theory to a discourse of instrumental reason. Its keywords become efficiency, standardization, predictability, and determination of effects. It submits to a master narrative whose controlling metaphor is the Shannon model of information transfer. Progress beyond this model on the grounds that it ignores the meaning of messages has become a truism of much LIS theorizing, but to introduce meaning through talk of images, representations, pictures, or cognitive maps, while at the same time accepting a discoursive construction of two devices, a generator and a recipient, whose operations are understood as objective, given, natural world processes, fails to escape the dominance of the model's most powerful metaphor. Since information transfer is conceived as an alteration of internal representations, rather than, for example, as social practice, the cognitive viewpoint bars LIS theory from investigation of the social, political, and economic forces which configure each pole of the information system."   


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