PHIL 236.3 — Ethics and Technology

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Web Resources

ReadMe Library Resources Writing in Philosophy Theories & Theorists
Biotechnology Intellectual Property Privacy Information Technology

General Disclaimers <README>

Caveat Lector: I occasionally consult many of the resources linked to below and I have had at least a fairly careful look at all of them. But that doesn't mean I endorse all of them equally. Some of them I have found useful, accurate, insightful, etc., others less so, a few much less so.

In fact, I regard some of these sources as downright suspect, in so far as the claims they make can be shown to be biased, self-serving and/or misinformed. In such cases, I include them here not as guides to the truth, but as evidence for what some people actually do claim about the issues in question.

In short, be forewarned: Not everything you read on the internet is the unvarnished truth. (No kidding.)

The Nature of Online Information: It is very easy to simply copy text from a web page and paste it into your word processor. By now, practically everyone knows how to do this and, to the extent that it cuts down on time spent typing and trudging to the library, it is probably a great aid to scholarship. But just because they are so easy to manipulate, online electronic texts also give rise to various hazards. I can think of at least three:

1.) Because it so easy to find factual information (statistics, legal citations, etc.) online, it is easy to plunk it down into your own work without actually having to think about or to reflect on what you have found. Resist this (and see 3. below).

2.) Arguably, the Internet also creates some fairly strong selection effects in favour of anything that is new, hip, popular, well-funded, etc. as against anything that is old, square, esoteric or located outside of the cash nexus. This is true of mass media in general, of course, and it is true of the Internet precisely to the extent that the Internet has become a mass medium. (If you don't believe me when I say that the Internet has become, in large part, a mass medium, consider the logic of search engines.) Notice, however, that there is no reason to expect that the truth will be found among that first bunch of adjectives rather than the second. In particular, it seems fair to assume that whatever you find on the Internet will be more or less favourably disposed toward technology in general.

In short: Just because a view isn't well-represented on the Internet doesn't necessarily mean that it's nugatory or false. And, conversely, just because practically every Internet source seems to support some particular claim doesn't necessarily mean that it's true.

3.) Internet sources may also tempt you toward plagiarism and other sorts of academic dishonesty, again, partly just because they are so easy to copy. By "plagiarism" I mean any occasion on which you use someone else's thinking, writing, or data and attempt to pass it off as your own. The U of S Office of the Registrar provides a more comprehensive statement on academic dishonesty that I suggest you read, paying special attention to the list of available penalties.

In my view, what makes plagiarism wrong (at least in an academic setting) is not so much the misuse of someone else's intellectual property (though others might disagree on that score), but the plagiarist's misrepresentation of herself as a student. A plagiarist, perforce, attempts to deceive me and to gain an unfair advantage over other students.

If that isn't enough to dissuade you, be advised that I do in fact follow up on cases of suspected plagiarism. These days, using ordinary search engines and tools like, it is almost as easy to catch plagiarists as it is to plagiarize in the first place. Every year, I catch a half-dozen or so students trying to cheat in this way. Don't be one of them.

By all means use Internet resources in your research but, when you do, be sure to include appropriate citations in your work.


Library Resources

The Philosophers Index
CSA Illumina via U of S Library (access restricted to U of S users)

The best single resource for finding journal articles in philosophy. Listings relevant to aesthetics are somewhat limited, but articles from the main journals in the field are included back to 1940.



Subject Databases for Philosophy
U of S Library





Writing in Philosophy

Academic Honesty

University of Saskatchewan


Writing in Philosophy
Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto

I draw your attention in particular to Geoffery Payzant's What Does He Want?. It may have been written before you were born, but more things than you might imagine haven't really changed since 1979.


How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

Eric S. Raymond

Raymond is a self-styled "observer-participant anthropologist in the Internet hacker culture" and is the author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary (2001). In the 'smart questions' piece, he advises the uninitiated on how to ask a technical question, especially in the context of Usenet technical groups and hacker forums.

While this may have little to do with writing in philosophy per se, notice what a "good question" amounts to on Raymond's view: A good question is written so as to be clear rather than cool. A good question is genuinely challenging, it shows thought and an attempt to think things through for yourself as carefully as possible. In short, a good question is the sort of question that is worth answering. To the extent that writing in philosophy consists of trying to ask the right questions (and that is a pretty great extent), I think Raymond's advice is very much applicable.


How to Write a Philosophy Paper

Peter Horban, Simon Fraser University


Writing Philosophy

erraticimpact Philosophy Research Base

Theories & Theorists

Andrew Feenberg's Homepage

David Friedman's Homepage

Langdon Winner's Homepage

Society for Philosophy and Technology

An international scholarly society promoting work in the philosophy of technology, broadly defined. Publishes the bi-annual online journal Techné.

Technological Determinism and Social Choice

Chris Kimble, University of York, UK



Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Ag-West Biotech

A lobbying and trade organization for the promotion of agricultural biotechnology in Saskatchewan.


The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee (CBAC) site was mothballed by Industry Canada in 2007. Some of the reports produced by CBAC are still available here, however.

Biotech Ethics Blog

Chris MacDonald, St. Mary's University


Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The government agency, together with Health Canada, is responsible for the assessment and regulation of biotechnology in connection with plant biology, livestock feed and veterinary biologics.

Council for Biotechnology Information

A lobbying and public relations group, funded by the main corporate interests in biotech, to promote agricultural and food biotechnology. Unsurprisingly, virtually all of the information found on the site stresses the benefits of biotech products. The CBI Canadian site includes useful and up-to-date information on regulatory developments in Canada.

Food Ethics Blog

Chris MacDonald, St. Mary's University

Bryn Williams-Jones, Université de Montréal.

"A clearing house for information on the social, ethical and policy issues associated with genetic and genomic knowledge and technology."


The "leading online magazine of genetics, society and culture." Some featured articles are semi-technical but most should be accessible to people with only a modest background in biology.

Health Canada

Responsible for the assessment and regulation of biotechnology with respect to human food safety, medical applications and other areas covered under the Food and Drug Act.


A clearinghouse of international law and policy information pertaining to, e.g., genetic testing, gene therapy, gene banking. Admirably thorough and international in focus.

Human Genome Organization (HUGO)

HUGO is an international organization of scientists and other researchers involved in the Human Genome Project. The organization collects and coordinate information pertaining to human genetic research and also sponsors projects related to ethical, social, and intellectual property issues.

Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD)

"The umbrella organization that unites the province's producers, processors, buyers, traders, certifiers and consumers of organic food and fibre." One aspect of SOD's activities may be of particular interest to students is the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund -- a fund to support class action lawsuits pertaining to GM canola and wheat in Saskatchewan.

Intellectual Property

IP Insider

News magazine-style coverage of news and developments in intellectual property law, aimed mainly at practicing lawyers. Mostly focused on U.S. cases.

Intellectual Property and Technology Forum

Boston College Law School

Legal, ethical and social scholarship in the area of intellectual property. Deals mainly with U.S. case law, but the articles and commentaries contained here are for the most part free of legal technicalities and should be accessible to non-specialist readers.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Virginia Journal of Law and Technology

Freely available content dealing with a number of areas connected to technology and the law; IP issues especially.


Electronic Frontier Canada

Canada's answer, I suppose, to the EFF. Site appears not have been updated since 2004. Superceded, perhaps, by Online Rights Canada.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Perhaps the best-known civil-libertarian organization in cyberspace.

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

A U.S-based (and so, regrettably, mostly U.S.-focused) public interest research group. DIY-minded folk may be especially interested in the section devoted to Practical Privacy Tools.


Download and development site for the official open source implementation of Pretty Good Privacy, the encryption software originally developed by Philip Zimmerman.


Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Of particular interest is the information provided on The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act of 2000.

Information Technology

Canadian Internet Law Resource Page

Michael Geist, University of Ottawa

An interesting collection of articles, case law and links. Some of the information is somewhat out of date. Up to the minute informration and analysis can be found on Geist's blog.


Center for Democracy and Technology

"Technology" here means information technology almost exclusively. At least some attempt is made to consider international issues.

Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P)

Risks Digest

Association for Computing Machinery Committee on Computers and Public Policy

An moderated archive of bulletins and usenet postings from comp.risks "on risks to the public in computers and related systems." Very frequent updates; you can even receive Risk Forum updates via an RSS feed.

Techlaw Journal

News and analysis of legislation, litigation, and regulation affecting computer and internet industries. Focused almost exclusively on the United States.


Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics

University of British Columbia

The CAE site hosts a great deal useful content related to research projects at the Centre. The Centre also hosts a Genetics and Ethics Research Group.

Centre for the Study of Technology and Society



The brainchild of Canadian political theorists Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, CTHEORY is "an international journal of theory, technology, and culture, publishing articles, interviews, event-scenes and reviews of key books." Given the Kroker's penchant for a jargon-laden, painfully hip, I wouldn't normally consider listing CTHEORY as a resource for this course. Recently, however, CTHEORY has begun offering no charge downloads of complete books, including reprints from Montreal's New World Perspectives press. Among these is Technology and the Canadian Mind: Innis/McLuhan/Grant -- an important work by Arthur Kroker from the days when he was still trying to make his work intelligible to mainstream scholars.


International Bioethics Committee, UNESCO

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The international organization that aims to offer prospective (if almost exclusively hortatory, i.e., non-binding) guidance for biomedical and biotechnology development throughout the world. The IBC has drafted a Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, which is, amongst other things, of interest in view of the deontological ethical principles that it implicitly relies on.


Risk Assessment and Policy Association, Franklin Peirce Law Center

An academic journal (now defunct) dealing with risk assessment and related concerns in science and technology. A bit difficult to search: I recommend starting with the Articles and Comments by Title.

Technology Review

A monthly glossy magazine that stresses it connection with MIT (in fact it is now a spin-off company), the Technology Review deals with "emerging technologies and their impact." Information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology are especially well-covered and there are regular features dealing with policy issues in these areas. Reporting in the Review is popular in focus, but it is in general really quite well-done, providing an intelligent and reasonably detailed account of technical and scientific particulars.

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Last Updated: May 23, 2017