Individuals should perform actions that protect the rights of other people. Performing operations such as lying, cheating, and stealing can lead to the fulfillment of their emotions and desires while at the same time bringing adverse effects to other individuals. It is, therefore, essential for people to ensure actions undertaken do not affect other individuals negatively but rather preserve their rights. Kant argues that there should be a maxim that guides people on how to perform actions. Kant believed that; what matters when performing a right or wrong action is the fulfillment of duties but not the consequences of the work (Bird, 2016). He believed that some activities such as robbery, murder, and cheating were illegal, no matter the level of happiness they would bring forth. He suggested that actions performed should respect the rights of individuals. Kant believed that operations should not be performed for fulfillment of someone's purpose but rather for respecting the rights of human beings (Bird, 2016). He believed in the presence of a high principle of morality, which he termed it as The Categorical Imperative. The categories imperative determines one's moral responsibilities. It has different ways of describing it. First, The Formulae of Universal Law implies that the maxim that you act on must be in the way such that every other person found in the same situation must also work on that maxim (Guevara, 2019). There is also the Moral worth of Persons, where Kant stated that a person has no moral worth if acting is a result of their own emotions or desires.
The Rights to Privacy and Rights of Free Speech Concerning the Use of Anonymous Free Speech on the Internet
Many people argue that every activity that happens online is an act of free speech. Rights of expression based on the internet include chatting online, networking with close people, and uploading or downloading files. However, it is not easy to communicate with your friends online without revealing your information to other people. This is simply because almost every act of speech through the internet can be observed by communication providers (Rainie, Anderson & Albright, 2017). People could follow online groups without disclosure of their identities. Moreover, books, newspapers, and posters could be published without having access to the publisher. However, some software has been installed to monitor most websites. It is, therefore, not so possible for individuals to have the right to privacy. Additionally, the human rights department does not put more effort into enforcing the rights to privacy. The rights to confidentiality protect citizens from the government. Hence it is viewed by the state as a stumbling block to enforce the law and have power over citizens. Rights to privacy entail making sound decisions and choices on your lives, without being intimidated (Bezemek, 2016). It involves making choices amid social or technological conditions that support your preferences. Many suggest that the right to privacy cannot co-exist with communication technology around the world since computer scientists can access the details concerning a person's life (Bezemek, 2016). Technology platforms such as Facebook and Google collect personal data and use it for identification posing a threat to the right of privacy. Google has access to IP addresses, communication details, and location of an individual hence can provide information to law enforcement departments. This situation makes it impossible for individuals to express their opinions through the internet while still dentin them the right to privacy.
Use of Anonymous Free Speech on the Internet with Kant's Theory
Kant defends free speech and does not support legal limits that the government or constitutions can use to deny individuals the right of expression. However, Kant's view on the act of expression implies individuals can communicate whatever they wish regardless of how embarrassing, intimidating, and untruthful it is. His argument does not, therefore, support the constitutional or legal debate about free speech. It is, therefore, a clear indication that free speech on the internet is an act out of duty since people can express their ideas, which can, in turn, affect other individual's rights (Waldman, 2013). However, Kant comments on the essence of having the right to privacy, which protects the act of expression. He argues that personal life should not be accessed by communication providers to grant them the right to privacy, which enables them to express their opinions.
A maxim on the anonymous free speech on the internet can be formulated to enable individuals to express their opinions without legal actions being taken against them. The state should pass a law where its citizens can express their thoughts or communicate with other people privately. Establishing private statutes and public regulations ensures individual misunderstandings are regulated while public laws ensure the state tolerates the crimes done in secret (Waldman, 2013). Through enforcing the private and public bills, individuals' right to free speech on the internet is protected. The maxim guides the state on how to approach hate speech or harassment while still protecting their rights of free speech. Making the laws universal ensures that the right to free speech and also the right to privacy is protected.
Anonymous free speech on the internet cannot fulfill the second formulation of the categorical imperative. The wording of categorical imperative justifies the morals of individuals (Reader, 2012). When people are expressing their opinions through the internet, they need to exhibit good morals by avoiding the use of hate speech or giving views that harass or intimidate other individuals. Personal desires or inclinations should not be the sole purpose for individuals to express their minds, but instead, they should be guided by morals. Using morals when expressing opinions on the internet preserves the rights of other individuals.
According to Kant, what matters when performing a right or wrong action is the fulfillment of duties but not the consequences of the activities. People should ensure that their actions are guided by morals but not personal inclinations or desires. The use of good morals when expressing opinions through the internet ensures that individuals do not find themselves on the wrong side. Therefore no legal actions can be taken against them. Moreover, Kant's theory puts it clear by the use of categorical imperative that a person has no moral worth if emotions or desires guide the actions that he performs. He concludes that there should be a maxim that governs the way people conduct their daily activities
Bird, G. (2016). Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Outline of One Central Argument in the critique of Pure Reason'. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.routledge.com/Kants-Theory-of-Knowledge-An-Outline-of-One-Central-Argument-in-the-Critique/Bird/p/book/9781138652200
Guevara, D. (2019). Kant's theory of moral motivation. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.routledge.com/Kants-Theory-Of-Moral-Motivation/Guevara/p/book/9780367164997
Rainie, H., Anderson, J. Q., & Albright, J. (2017). The future of free speech, trolls, anonymity, and fake news online. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/03/29/the-future-of-free-speech-trolls-anonymity-and-fake-news-online/
Bezemek, C. (2016). Behind a Veil of Obscurity-Anonymity, Encryption, Free Speech, and Privacy. The International Journal of Technology, Law and Policy, Forthcoming. Retrieved from https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1504/IJTPL.2017.085232
Waldman, A. E. (2013). Durkheim's Internet: Social and Political Theory in Online Society. NYUJL & Liberty, 7, 345.Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.nyls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1797&context=fac_articles_chapters
Reader, B. (2012). Free press vs. free speech? The rhetoric of "civility" regarding anonymous online comments. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89(3), 495-513.Retrieved DOI: 10.1177/1077699012447923
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