Alan Jacobs, “Tending the Digital Commons: A Small Ethics toward the Future”

Under technocratic modernity, “the altered nature of human action, with the magnitude and novelty of its works and their impact on man’s global future, raises moral issues for which past ethics, geared to the dealings of man with his fellow-men within narrow horizons of space and time, has left us unprepared.” Although Heidegger found it necessary, in his attempt to rethink metaphysics, to go back to the insights of the pre-Socratic philosophers, Jonas does not believe that any earlier thinkers hold the key to the ethical challenge posed by technocratic modernity, because no previous society possessed powers that could extend its reach so far in both space and time. A wholly new ethics is required, and is required simply because of the scope of our technologies.