Singular justice and software piracy


  • Lucas D. Introna

    1. Professor of Organization, Technology and Ethics, Department of Organization, Work and Technology, Lancaster University Management School, UK
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This paper assumes that the purpose of ethics is to open up a space for the possibility of moral conduct in the flow of everyday life. If this is the case then we can legitimately ask: ‘How then do we do ethics?’ To attempt an answer to this important question, the paper presents some suggestions from the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. With Levinas, it is argued that ethics happens in the singularity of the face of the Other before me ‘here and now’. Ethics matters in my everyday contact with the Other that disturbs my egological existence and claims my response. But what about all other Others, not here now but nevertheless simultaneously already present? What about their equal claim on me? With Levinas and Derrida, the paper attempts to articulate the notion of singular justice as the simultaneous demand of all others requiring my response. In singular justice, the paper attempts to show how the demands of ethics (the singular) and the demands of justice (all other Others) can become the impossible possibility for a ‘justice where there is no distinction between those close and those far off, but in which there also remains the impossibility of passing by the closest’. Furthermore, the paper attempts to argue that singular justice is our calling – or more precisely my calling – to do the right thing, here and now. Finally, by way of explication, the paper discusses a case of software piracy to try to show how singular justice can help us not to think about ethics, which is important, but to (almost) do it – which is very important.