Has technology introduced new ethical problems?

Journal of Business Ethics 19 (1):81 - 90 (1999)
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Drawing on William F. Ogburn's cultural lag thesis, an inherent conflict is proposed between the rapid speed of modern technological advances and the slower speed by which ethical guidelines for utilization of new technologies are developed. Ogburn's cultural lag thesis proposes that material culture advances more rapidly than non-material culture. Technology is viewed as part of material culture and ethical guidelines for technology utilization are viewed as an adaptive aspect of non-material culture. Cultural lag is seen as a critical ethical issue because failure to develop broad social consensus on appropriate applications of modern technology may lead to breakdowns in social solidarity and the rise of social conflict. Reasons for cultural lag between technology and ethics include the social structural and market conditions under which each are developed. The thesis is illustrated by reviews of technological trends involving computer-telecommunications electronics and bio- genetic engineering, and the implications of these and other technologies for privacy rights, electronic commerce, control of essential resources and social definitions of life are discussed.



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Ethical issues in biology and medicine.Preston N. Williams (ed.) - 1973 - Cambridge, Mass.,: Schenkman Pub. Co.; distributed by General Learning Press [Morristown, N.J..

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