Foundations of Information Ethics (FINE)


The project is five year joint efforts across the turn of the century, funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, by the researchers from Kyoto, Hiroshima and Chiba Universities for the construction of philosophically tenable thinking of ethical issues in the ever increasing variety of uses of computer and information technology and its impacts on society.

FINE99 Photo Feature

The International Workshop will be held on March 15 and 16. The Program is here.

Principal Investigators

Masahiko Mizutani, Kyoto University
Kotaro NAWA, Kansai University
Mitsugu Ochi, Hiroshima University
Syun Tutiya, Chiba University
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The project aims at the following targets:

  1. To delineate the intellectual domain of information ethics which is both philosophically consistent and technologically up to date
  2. To demarcate the domain of information ethics within a wider context of applied ethics, including biomedical ethics and environmental ethics
  3. To enlighten both ourselves and the intellectual community with the importance of "case studies," which analyze the conflict of interests involved in actual cases and suggest a possibly wide range of measures to take, in the hope that we will generalize over the cases into a generic understanding of the future society
  4. To propose a specific frame of reference against which relevant problems are analyzed, discussed and resolved in a way that groups with apparently conflicting interest can agree, or at least mutually understand each other
  5. To create domestic and international interdisciplinary for a in which people of the common interest discuss the relevant issues in light of the cutting the edge technology
  6. To define the possible method and content of future pedagogical enterprise, both at home and in school, that makes much of the importance of information ethics
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Information Ethics is one of the newest fields in the field of applied ethics, in the sense that applied ethics deals with and tries to resolve the conflicts between advances in technology and people's life in the modern society. The remarkable development of computer and network technology has given rise to so unprecedented and so diversified a set of ethical and moral problems that attempts at solving these problems undoubtedly will take philosophically focused and technologically well-informed intellectual efforts. The problems we are facing include the ethical status of "unauthorized" uses of computers and networks, the cultural and economic imbalance between groups with different historical, regional backgrounds in the globalized information infrastructure, the new dimensions of human rights like privacy and copyright in the digitized world, and the moral obligations and duties as professionals in information technology. The researchers working on the project are well aware of the urgency and imminence of the tasks and decided to collaborate.

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Work Plan:

Year 1(August 1998 - March 1999):

In the first year, the organizational and administrative decisions are given due attention, thus the principal investigators discussing the method of data collection and organization and the methods of creating a milieu for mutual understanding.

Given the "borderless"-ness of the uses of information technology, the international collaboration and coordination is in order. Though augmented with network technology, face-to-face communication with over-sea researchers are to take place, with view to locating the primary concrete focuses of the project, in Princeton in September, London in December, and as a plenary forum, in Kyoto in March 1999.

Monthly meetings are to be held at each site to work on the theoretical and actual sides of the problems the project is tackling. The minutes and presentation materials go in the public domain soon after the meetings.

One or two college level introductory anthologies suitable for textbooks in classrooms are to be published, in Japanese, to describe the the state of the art in this newly rising ethical field.

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Year 2(April 1999 - March 2000):

In the second year, the project embarks on data collection and publicly accessible database at http:/www.fine.bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp.

Bimonthly newsletters is to start to provide materials for public discussion.

Monthly workshops at each site will continue.

Based on the data collection, "case books" will be published with the description and the analysis of actual cases with different backgrounds, as well as the overview of the current trends in information ethics.

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Year 3(April 2000 - March 2001):

The database will be maintained up to date, bimonthly newsletters circulated, and monthly meetings held, with a specific intention of presenting, in December 2000, a set of theoretical and practical proposals as an outcome of the research done on the project in the three years.

An international workshop will be held to discuss and review the proposals in March 2001.

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Year 4(Apr. 2001 - Mar. 2002):

In the forth year, attempts will be made to solicit interested people to respond to and comment on the proposals and discuss them in the public.

Publication of textbooks will be enhanced at college and other levels, have a national conference in cooperation with learned societies of ethics and information technology.

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Year 5(April 2002 - March 2003):

With the feedbacks from relevant sectors, the project will reconsider the proposals. Revisions and editions will be made to the final proposal, which includes theoretical demarcation of the field, definitions of the basic categories and terms, and an analytic framework for the contemporary and future cases.

For the purpose of reviewing and finalizing the project's proposal, a third conference will be held around December 2002.

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Principal Investigators:

Masahiko Mizutani, Kyoto University(Project Leader)
Kotaro Nawa, Kansai University
Mitsugu Ochi, Hiroshima University
Syun Tutiya, Chiba University


Kyoto Site: Soshichi UCHII, Kazu NAGAI, Kazuyuki ITO, Yasuo DEGUCHI, Hiroyuki SOGO, Jun YOSHIDA, Susumu YOSHIDA, Shinji HAMAUZU, Takeo TATSUMI, Katsuhiro KOHARA, Kotaro NAWA, Hisashi SONODA, Kenji KAMEDA, Motonobu GOTO, Nobuo KURATA, Tetsuji ISEDA, Yumiko NARA, Mariko OKUNO, Satoshi EGUCHI, Koichiro ITAI, Taro OKUDA

Hiroshima Site:
Reiji AIHARA, Takawo SHOHOJI, Yoshiki KONDO, Tomio MATSUI, Haruko OKANO, Yoko BEPPU, Kaoru SEIJO, Yasukazu TSUBAKI, Kunio TAKAHASHI, Masahi TSUBOI

Chiba Site:

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FINE Project <webmaster@fine.bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp>
Last modified: Fri Dec 15 15:58:30 JST 2000