The Use Of The Internet Essay, Research Paper
The use of the Internet has caused one’s authenticity to decrease in the past years. Authenticity may be perceived as one’s genuine nature and true identity. For many human beings it has also grown to be an important tool by allowing them to communicate more efficiently and comfortably with others across the nation. The Internet can be used in both moral and immoral manners.
For example, when chatting with friends and family to whom it is difficult to speak with on the telephone, one is able to use the Internet for no extra charge, would be considered a morally good purpose. Where as, if not used with caution the Internet can be a very dangerous place. People have committed crimes, resulting in murder, rape, exploitative pornography, and many more immoral acts.
The growth of technology is “progress”, as the moral good and everything therefore must have a “means-end” conclusion. George Ritzer best describes this in his book “McDonaldization”. Ritzer introduces the rubber cage of rationality where the bars of society are bendable therefore the wonderful world of cyberspace is escapable. The effectual growth of technology on one’s authenticity may be viewed by two different theories, one being, Utilitarianism, by John Stewart Mill and the other as Kantianism, by Immanuel Kant.
Utilitarianism, or the “Greatest Happiness Principle”, is the theory that one must act to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. It is an action, which is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone. He also states ” .that actions are right in proportion, as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness (Mill, 11). Happiness is then interpreted as the absence of pain; conversely, unhappiness is interpreted as the presence of pain and the lack of pleasure. Mills’ famous essay Utilitarianism reaffirms hedonism however Mill argues pleasure is not quantitatively equal, but in fact is measurable. He defends the creed of utility by stating that social benefit is the standard of right.
Kantianism is the notion that one’s mind must be able to determine objects of understanding, called metaphysics, be capable of thinking rationally and by thinking rationally, one develops morals. Comprehensively the world conforms to the operations of the mind. As a result, the mind imposes certain categories of thought, which deal with how experiences are synthesized. These concepts are quantity, quality, relation, and modality. Moral categories are as universal as those described above, applying to all rational beings. These conditions are a priori, or prior to experience and are principles that help lead to behavior one can call moral (Kant, 22:411).
“Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a good will,” (Kant, 14:402). His point is the essence of a morally good act is the principle that a person affirms when he or she wills an act. This also implies a person needs to utilize the good will despite inclination or self-interest. Kant believes that a rational being strives to do what ought to be done for the sake of moral law as opposed to possible outcomes.
Kant makes a distinction between a good without qualification and conditional good (Kant, 38-39:432). This can be seen as, an action based upon conditional goods, which are contingent upon prediction and are unsuitable for a system of moral guidance. It is important to Kant, for one to consume so much energy into an act not out of duty, or perhaps evil, but out of rationality. The freedom exercised is the equal to which is assumed while exercising the good will. Freedom is a regulative idea, which cannot be proven by experience, yet must be assumed to fulfill moral obligation.
The categorical imperatives are a set of commands to direct our will. These apply to all people and commands conduct immediately, without having any other purpose or conditions. It is categorical because of its application to all rational beings and imperative because it’s the principle by which one should act. The basic formulation of the categorical imperative is “Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law,” (Kant, 30:421). This is an inadequate consequence of inclination because universal laws, in this respect; is similar to natural laws of science. Formulations of the categorical imperative include, not treating other human beings as a means rather than an end, and by the will regarding itself when making any universal law.
I believe that the categorical imperatives proposed by Immanuel Kant hold value in the growth of technology, affecting our authenticity.
“I feel that people tend to enjoy feeling in control of their own actions, feelings, and identities,” (Petro, 3). This explains freedom of will, which is connected to one’s morality. Kant argues that with any negative freedom, comes a positive freedom. This exemplifies the benefits of the Internet through the connections of family and friends. The Internet allows people to correspond back and forth to one another more efficiently, predictably, and calculably, by means of e-mailing addresses, instant messages and by faxing. On the hand there are burdens with in the Internet, such as, exploitation, pornography, and other Internet related crimes.
“However, one recourse still remains open to us, mainly, to inquire whether we do not take one point of view when by means of freedom we think of ourselves as a priori efficient causes, and another point of view when we represent ourselves with reference to our actions as effects which we see before our eyes,” (Kant, 52:451).
Kant believes that each of us has a duty to do the right things for the right reasons. He considers universality to be important. In order to judge whether something is morally correct, one must think for oneself, whether the action can be maximized so that all humanity could perform the same actions and still be morally correct. As individuals, we need to utilize our ability to reason and decide for ourselves which rules we would make for ourselves individually.
” .to the love of power or to the love of excitement, both of which do really enter into and contribute to it; but its most appropriate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings posses in one form or other, and in some, though by no means in exact, proportion to their higher faculties, and which is so essential a part of the happiness of those in whom it is strong that nothing which conflicts with it could be otherwise than momentarily an object of desire to them,” (Mill, 9).
This illustrates that we cannot permit ourselves to be completely selfless because it would be depriving to ourselves for the good life, nor can we be completely selfish because we can receive pleasure in helping others. We make these distinctions about what is morally correct through mental cultivation. Mental cultivation for ourselves is also necessary so we are not influenced solely by the ideas of others, in which case we consider our own ideas on right and wrong actions. The Internet is a place where one can be whom ever they want to be. It is easy to feed off of one’s mental influence being one can not connect a face with mere language.
Morally speaking, I am still most comfortable with the Kantian point of view, rather then the one of Mill. “The practical imperative will therefore be the following: Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means,” (Kant, 36:429). In relation to the Internet we must ask ourselves whether the maxim of our actions can be willed for everyone, in order for the Internet to strengthen one’s morality within the World Wide Web. I feel that if everyone were to treat the Internet as an end, everyone would become conformed into the same type of individuals lacking authenticity.
Whereas, Mill’s theory suggests that we should consider others by first thinking for ourselves reasoning whether our actions will maximize pleasure over pain for the greatest number of individuals. Therefore by thinking for ourselves, our actions ultimately affect others. This could not work effectively through the Internet, initially the outcome would be identical to what the Internet and chat rooms consist of at the present time, resulting in false identities.
In conclusion, in order to correct the irrational actions of many people who abuse the Internet one must look at reason being the most fundamental principle to one’s actions and conclusively those who act immorally always act wrongly because morality flows directly out by obeying the rules of rationality.