Despite companies facing real consequences for getting ethics wrong, basic ethical questions in emerging technologies remain unresolved. Companies have begun trying to answer these tough questions, but their techniques are often hindered by the classical approach of moral philosophy and ethics – namely normative philosophy – which prescribe an approach to resolving ethical dilemmas from the outset, based on assumed moral truths. In contrast, we propose that a key foundation for ‘getting ethics right’ is to do the opposite: to discover them, by going out into the world to study how relevant people resolve similar ethical dilemmas in their daily lives – a project we term ‘grounded ethics’. Building from Durkheim's theory of moral facts and more recent developments in the anthropology of morals and ethics, this paper explores the methods and theory useful to such a mission – synthesizing these into a framework to guide future ‘grounded ethics’ practice.
Keywords: Ethics, Technology, Methodology, Moral Facts
Article citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings pp 98–114, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic
Please sign in OR create a free account to access our library—the leading collection of peer-reviewed work on ethnographic practice. To access video, Become an EPIC Member.