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Ethical aspects relating to cyberspace

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Chinese Initiative on Jointly Building a Community With a Shared Future in Cyberspace
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Active research on virtual communication has been conducted relatively recently – since the early 1990s – and is becoming increasingly intense. The growing interest of representatives from different humanitarian subjects (philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, culturologists, linguists) in this topic is explained not so much by the unprecedented dynamics of the development of the subject matter of research, but rather by the fundamental role that communication plays in the 2000s.

The current telecommunication technologies and, first of all, the global IT network Internet and the related cyberspace, are one of the most important factors in the development of the world community, as it has a decisive impact on the public, political, economic and socio-cultural spheres. There is therefore a clear need for a comprehensive philosophical understanding of the consequences of global computerisation and today’s society, which makes it possible to synthesise the varied data of applied sciences.

Since virtual communication is a relatively new cultural phenomenon, no comprehensible, distinct and effective system of moral regulation has yet emerged in this area. Furthermore, virtual communication has such characteristics that it can be regarded as the embodiment of a libertarian, even anarchist or apparently anarchist ideal, so that third parties are allowed to express themselves in order to control those who do so on the part of the establishment.

Virtual communication offers people unprecedented opportunities for fulfilling personal freedom, challenging its moral nature, which gives rise to many ethical problems of both a theoretical and applied nature that generally require an adequate solution.

The relevance of the problem is therefore determined, on the one hand, by the scientific and theoretical need for a holistic and systematic study of the ethical aspects of virtual communication, and, on the other hand, by the practical social need to bridge a regulatory gap in this area.

Research is mainly focused on the individuals’ activity and behaviours during computer-mediated communication, but more so directed by the web in its essence. That is, the set of rules and principles governing this communication, i.e. the morality and/or immorality of cyberspace.

There is a need for moral and philosophical reflection and an objective assessment of the virtual communication processes and their impact on society. To achieve this goal, the following tasks need to be addressed:

to characterize the specificities of virtual communication;

– to consider the key ideas of the “library” available;

– to analyse the degree of influence of these ideas on the creation of an ethos specific to cyberspace;

– to determine the status of morality in the system of normative regulators of virtual communication;

– to identify the fundamental moral principles that regulate behaviour in this sphere;

– to describe and analyse the rules that are or should be at the basis of codes of ethics in cyberspace;

– to identify the specificities of netiquette (the civilised behaviour we should have when communicating), and determine what role citizens themselves should play in their own desirable self-regulation on the Internet;

– to consider and analyse the main ethical and philosophical dilemmas generated by the emergence of the new information and communication technologies.

Hence de-anarchisation is subject to the solution of these problems.

The ethics of virtual communication or – as is commonly called – the ethics of the cybernetic network, as a field of practical philosophy is just beginning to emerge. In spite of the fact that a fairly large number of publications on the problems of human interaction with global IT networks have appeared in recent years, especially in English-speaking countries, only a small amount of these works is dedicated to the ethical aspects of such interaction, since in those countries the efforts are unscrupulously underpinned by profit and far outweigh the production of essays devoted to human and moral values.

The ethics of virtual communication is very often regarded as a continuation and development of the academic sphere of computer ethics, which is a field of applied ethics that studies the moral problems created by information technologies.

This approach seems entirely legitimate if we pay primary attention to the indirect nature of virtual interaction.

At the same time, a number of researchers believe that all computer-mediated actions, without exception, have an information nature. This means, in one way or another, having a significant impact on the infosphere, the consequences of which are only subject to moral evaluation. As a result, information becomes a completely independent subject of moral relations, and hence the ethics of computers and virtual communication acquires a status that is philosophically more significant than the ethics of information tout court, which has been developed until “recently”.

According to another viewpoint, the ethics of virtual communication should be considered one of the varieties of professional ethics, significantly closer to that of librarians and communicators (media codes of ethics, journalists’ charters, etc.). This approach is based on the analysis of the most common and socially relevant types of activities by Internet users, and hence, although with some reservations, they become representatives of different professional groups that have not only the right to exist, but also to put themselves on an equal footing with similar existing national or international institutions.

There are two main strategies to justify the web ethics: the Anglophone (mainly in the United States of America) and the German-speaking one. The Anglophone authors focus on the cultural and axiological aspects of web ethics, considering the moral problems of virtual communication within the framework of normative ethics and, as a rule, on the basis of the application of classical ethical concepts to them (primarily deontology, utilitarianism, economism, business practices). The German-speaking authors, instead, focus their attention on the communication aspects of web ethics and on a more theoretically significant but too abstract issue – whether ethics, in general, and web ethics, in particular, can be substantiated – and conduct research primarily on the basis of discourse ethics.

The methodological basis of the study is a synthetic interdisciplinary approach, as well as a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the phenomenon being studied. The proposed methodology combines the analysis of value, structural-functional and historical-genetic criteria and judgements with the main ideas of the anthropological and hermeneutic schools, as well as with the achievements of scientific disciplines such as political science, sociology, cultural studies, psychology and communication theory.

The novelty of these results consists:

– in identifying the specificities of the ethical discipline of virtual communication;

– in the thematisation and systematisation of the main ethical regulators of virtual communication;

– in the theoretical validity of the moral norms, rules and principles governing behaviours in this field.

The theoretical significance of this lies in the systematic presentation of the virtual communication processes from an ethical viewpoint, which not only makes it possible to explore the practice of cyberspace, but also serves as a prerequisite for the creation of effective mechanisms to ensure the implementation of common morals with relevant norms, rules and principles.

The results obtained can be used for further research on the problem of the influence of virtual communication on society and personality within the framework of theoretical disciplines such as ethics, pedagogy, sociology and psychology. The methodology for

 analysing communication processes can find wide application in modern mass communication theory and practice.

In most cases, virtual communication is characterised by distinctive features such as mediation, interactivity, distance and global intercultural nature. The participants’ anonymity provides ample opportunities for the construction of a personal identity as there is no status hierarchy, while their extra-institutionality, the non-development and uncertainty of social rules (including legal and moral ones), can lead to marginalisation and mockery of communication processes, which are sectarianly concentrated in a restricted group of Internet users who gradually lose contact with earthly reality.

The aforementioned characteristics, together with the imperfection of modern IT regulations, considerably limit the possibilities of organisational and legal regulation of this area, which enables participants in virtual communication to consider it “the last territory of freedom”, a new res nullius, in which to take refuge from State control. Consequently, the above mentioned voluntary moral self-regulation, which is largely spontaneous and performs compensatory functions, begins to play a priority role in the normative regulation of virtual communication. Or rather, law-makers follow their example to produce rules. Or the lawmakers themselves act as Internet users so that they can better understand the environment by entering it with anonymous roles. (1. continued)

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7 Trends Reshaping a USD 3.9 Trillion Global Halal Industry

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The Global Halal Market (GHM) is not just growing, it’s exploding. Driven by a surging Muslim population, rising disposable incomes, and shifting consumer preferences, this behemoth is projected to reach a staggering USD 3.9 trillion by 2027. But what’s driving this explosive growth? Buckle up, because 2024 promises a thrilling ride fueled by cutting-edge technology, ethical consumerism, and personalized convenience. Here’s your deep dive into the 7 hottest trends reshaping the global halal landscape:

Halal Tech Revolution: Where Silicon Valley Meets Mecca

Forget clunky processes and opaque sourcing. The halal industry is getting a tech makeover, and it’s about time. Blockchain is ensuring ethical sourcing and transparent supply chains, from farm to fork. Imagine halal meat traced back to its free-range roots, with every step documented on a tamper-proof digital ledger. Artificial intelligence is optimizing slaughterhouses, automating processes, and ensuring humane treatment of animals. Halal e-commerce platforms are booming, bringing convenience and halal-certified products to Muslim consumers worldwide. Think Amazon, but with prayer apps, virtual tours of halal farms, and even halal-compliant fintech solutions – the future of halal is digital and delicious!

Ethical Halal: Beyond Compliance, Embracing Values

Muslim consumers are no longer satisfied with just a halal label. They crave sustainability, animal welfare, and organic goodness. Expect a surge in plant-based halal options, from juicy burgers to creamy milkshakes made with innovative pea protein and lentil blends. Ethically sourced meat, raised on antibiotic-free feed and roaming in spacious pastures, will be the new gold standard. And get ready for a beauty revolution: cruelty-free cosmetics and hygiene products that adhere to Islamic principles will pamper consumers with peace of mind.

Convenience is King: Busy Lives, Halal Solutions

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience reigns supreme. The halal industry is taking note, with solutions tailor-made for busy Muslim lives. Subscription meal kits will deliver pre-portioned, halal-certified ingredients straight to doorsteps, complete with recipe cards for stress-free meal prep. Halal food delivery apps will take the guesswork out of dining out, connecting users with a curated selection of restaurants and cafes offering delicious and compliant meals. And for those special occasions, on-demand halal catering will ensure stress-free gatherings, leaving hosts free to enjoy the festivities.

Beyond Food: The Halal Universe Expands

The halal industry is shedding its “food-only” label and branching out into exciting new frontiers. Halal travel is booming, with destinations vying for Muslim tourists by offering halal amenities, prayer spaces, and culturally sensitive experiences. Imagine exploring Marrakech’s vibrant souks or unwinding on a pristine Maldives beach, all while knowing your needs are catered to. Halal cosmetics are gaining traction, with innovative brands formulating products free of alcohol, animal derivatives, and harsh chemicals. And even the pharmaceutical industry is taking notice, developing halal-compliant medications and healthcare products that align with Islamic principles.

Science & Innovation: Reimagining Halal with Cutting-Edge Tech

Research labs are not just churning out papers; they’re cooking up a futuristic halal feast. Lab-grown halal meat is no longer science fiction, with companies like Eat Just and Aleph Farms creating meat indistinguishable from its conventional counterpart, but without the ethical and environmental concerns. Plant-based alternatives are evolving beyond bland tofu, with innovative textures and flavors mimicking everything from juicy steaks to succulent lamb shanks. Get ready for halal food reimagined with cutting-edge technology, offering delicious and sustainable options for the future.

Health & Wellness: Halal Goes Holistic

Muslim consumers are prioritizing their well-being like never before. Enter functional halal foods infused with ingredients like probiotics, antioxidants, and adaptogens, designed to nourish the body and mind. Sports nutrition is another burgeoning market, with protein powders and energy bars formulated specifically for Muslim athletes seeking halal-compliant performance boosters. And for those managing chronic conditions, dietary supplements tailored to diabetes management, weight loss, or heart health will offer halal solutions for holistic well-being.

Storytelling & Branding: Building Trust, Shaping Perceptions

In a crowded marketplace, differentiating your brand is key. The halal industry is catching on, embracing compelling narratives and values-driven branding. Showcase your commitment to ethical sourcing, sustainability, and community engagement. Share inspiring stories of the farmers who raise your halal meat, the scientists developing innovative food technologies, or the communities you empower through your business practices. By building trust and aligning with consumer values, halal brands can stand out.

Embrace the Halal Revolution:2024 is not just a year on the calendar; it’s the dawn of a new era for the halal industry. By harnessing the power of technology, embracing ethical values, and catering to evolving consumer needs, halal businesses can tap into a USD 3.9 trillion market brimming with potential. So, whether you’re a food producer, travel blogger, or tech whiz, join the halal revolution. Optimize your offerings, tell your story, and connect with Muslim consumers worldwide. The future of halal is bright, and the time to act is now.


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Beyond Andalusia: Exploring Spain’s Islamic Heritage through Halal Tourism

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Spain’s evolving landscape of Muslim-friendly tourism is a testament to its rich Islamic history and its commitment to embracing diverse cultural needs. As we head into 2023, projections indicate a staggering 85 million international visitors to Spain, a 16.4% increase from the previous year, highlighting the country’s growing appeal as a global tourist destination. A significant portion of these tourists are from Muslim-majority countries, drawn to Spain’s Islamic heritage and the burgeoning availability of Halal services and tailored cultural experiences.

The Rise of Halal Tourism in Spain

Spain’s shift towards accommodating Muslim tourists is evident in the increasing number of Halal-certified establishments and services. The Spanish Halal Institute has reported a surge in businesses seeking Halal certification, a rise from 100 in 2010 to over 500 in recent years. This growth is not only a response to the rising Muslim visitor numbers but also a strategic move by Spanish businesses to tap into the lucrative Muslim market.

Muslim-friendly Services Across Spain

Beyond the traditionally popular Andalucía, other regions in Spain are adapting to the needs of Muslim tourists. Cities like Barcelona, Toledo, and Madrid now offer a range of Halal dining options, prayer facilities, and culturally sensitive services. For instance, the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona, a Halal-certified hotel, offers amenities tailored to Muslim guests, including prayer mats and Halal food options. Similarly, the Costa del Sol Hotel in Torremolinos has trained its staff in Muslim culture and traditions, enhancing the experience for its Muslim clientele.

Cultural and Historical Tourism

Spain’s Islamic history, particularly the legacy of Al-Andalus, is a major draw for Muslim visitors. Educational initiatives like walking tours in Toledo, led by Aicha Fernández, and Madrid’s Muslim and Arab heritage tours, organized by Rafael Martínez, provide insights into Spain’s rich Islamic past. These tours are not just tourist attractions but educational experiences, offering deep dives into the historical and cultural significance of Spain’s Islamic era.

Economic Impact and Market Potential

The economic potential of Muslim-friendly tourism in Spain is immense. According to a report by the State of the Islamic Economy (2022), the global Muslim population, a significant portion of which belongs to the rising middle class, is increasingly travel-savvy and demands tailored services. This presents a lucrative opportunity for Spanish businesses in the tourism sector.

Government Initiatives and Recognition

The Spanish government’s role in promoting Muslim-friendly tourism is pivotal. Efforts like the creation of Halal tourism guides by municipalities like Málaga, which won recognition at the Halal In Travel Global Summit in Singapore, underscore the national commitment to positioning Spain as a Muslim-friendly destination.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the progress, challenges remain. Celia Rodríguez, a Spanish revert, notes the scarcity of Halal options in some regions and the need for better-informed services for Muslim tourists. This gap presents an opportunity for businesses to further tailor their offerings and improve communication with Muslim clients.

Global Context and Future Prospects

Globally, the trend towards Muslim-friendly tourism is gaining momentum, with countries like South Korea and Japan also emerging as popular destinations. Spain’s strategic approach to embracing and catering to the needs of Muslim tourists not only enhances its competitive edge in the global tourism market but also promotes cultural understanding and inclusivity.


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TB Research Shows a Good Diet can cut Infections by Nearly 50%

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Tuberculosis is the single most deadly infectious killer of humankind. It claimed 1.6 million lives in 2021 alone. As the search for effective ways to fight the disease continues, the findings of new research offer hope: a good diet can cut infections by nearly 50%. Yogan Pillay and Madhukar Pai write that nutrition is a vaccine in all but name.

For centuries, we have known that tuberculosis is a social disease. It thrives on poverty and social factors such as malnutrition, poor housing, overcrowding, unsafe work environments and stigma. Globally in 2021 an estimated 2.2 million cases of TB were attributable to undernourishment, 0.86 million to HIV infection, 0.74 million to alcohol use disorders, 0.69 million to smoking and 0.37 million to diabetes.

But knowledge about social determinants alone does not always translate into tangible action and progress. A new trial in India, called RATIONS, aimed to determine the effect of nutritional supplementation on new cases of tuberculosis in households of adults with pulmonary TB. The research found that providing food baskets to people with TB and their households could go a long way to prevent and mitigate the disease.

No easy silver bullets

The TB community has typically looked for biomedical solutions, or “silver bullets”, for a social pathology, and we are struggling to make progress. Since the COVID pandemic, TB mortality and incidence have increased globally, putting TB back on top as the single most deadly infectious killer of humankind.  In 2021, 1.6 million people died of TB. In Africa, TB incidence is high (212 per 100,000 population) with a high case fatality rate because of the HIV epidemic.

Undernutrition is the most important cause of TB. This has been shown in studies in many countries, including South Africa, where researchers found poor levels of nutrition in patients admitted to a specialized TB hospital. Malnutrition refers to all forms of deficiencies in nutrition, including over-nutrition and obesity. Undernutrition refers more specifically to a deficiency of nutrients. While we know that many patients with TB have poor nutrition, the latest evidence is that undernutrition also plays a key role in TB within households.

The results of the Reducing Activation of Tuberculosis by Improvement of Nutritional Status (RATIONS) trial show that improved nutrition in family members of patients with lung TB reduced all forms of TB by nearly 40%, and infectious TB by nearly 50%.

This trial recruited 10,345 household members of 2,800 patients with lung TB.

  • All TB patients received a monthly 10kg food basket (rice, pulses, milk powder, oil) and multivitamins for six months.
  • In one group family members received 5kg rice and 1.5kg pulses per person per month, while the other group of family members did not get food baskets.

Food worked like a vaccine in this trial, cutting the risk of household members developing TB.  Nutrition could also protect against other conditions such as anaemia, diarrhoea and respiratory infections, but these were not not the main focus of the trial. An accompanying paper, based on the results of the RATIONS trial, showed that severe undernutrition was present in nearly half of all patients.

An early weight gain in the first two months was associated with 60% lower risk of TB mortality. The other benefits were higher treatment success and better weight gain. During the six-month follow-up period, a remarkable treatment success rate of 94% was achieved.

Getting food to patients

How expensive was the intervention? The cost of a food basket was US$13 per TB patient per month and US$4 per household member per month and could be delivered, even in rural areas, using field staff. Even before the RATIONS trial, the Indian government had recognised the need for nutrition support for people with TB, and in 2018 launched “Nikshay Poshan Yojana”, a direct benefit transfer scheme. Under this scheme, each TB patient receives a financial incentive of US$6 per month for the duration of the anti-TB treatment (typically, six months for people with drug-sensitive TB).

Emerging data suggests that while the scheme improves the treatment completion rates among patients with TB in India, they often receive their payments late. There is a need to improve the efficiency and provide timely payments.

The new RATIONS trial suggests that directly providing food baskets may be another effective strategy.

Many countries, including India, have other social security programmes, including public distribution systems  to provide food grains at subsidised prices. Using existing channels to provide extra food rations to people with TB, and expanding the menu to include proteins such as pulses and millets, is a strategy worth exploring. This could also have positive effects on other diseases such as diabetes.

Implications for South Africa

South Africa is one of the countries labelled by the World Health Organization as a “high TB burden country”.

What does this latest research mean for South Africa? Statistics South Africa reported that in 2021 2.6 million people had inadequate access to food and a further 1.1 million stated they had “severe” inadequate access to food. More than 683,000 children five years and younger experienced hunger.

This toxic mix requires prevention of TB by nutritional support, drugs to prevent TB infections and early diagnosis with molecular tests and treatment.

With high levels of food insecurity and undernutrition in South Africa, fuelled by the highest levels of inequality, it is critical that South Africa includes social benefits for people with TB and those in their households to reduce the prevalence of TB in the country and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Regardless of how social benefits are distributed, action must be based on evidence. We need better tests, cures and vaccines for TB, but they alone cannot end the epidemic.  TB patients must be provided with the social benefits that they need and deserve, as a basic human right.

Courtesy: The Conversation


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