sábado, 15 de enero de 2011

On Ethics, Law and Hybrid Literacy


Although my general approach pursues a bidirectional interplay between functions and structures, in the present post I want to address some questions located in just one of the arrows of the overall scheme, the (quasi)causal relation going from Structure to Functions. In particular, I want to address some questions in the realm of Law and Ethics often making parallel with their economic counterpart of Political Economy (as the old fashioned socialist interpretation of economy) against market oriented, Neoliberal Economy [1].

We think of law as an inertial structure for social behavior. From the Ten Amendments to the Constitutions, we have tend to think on the written language as the connatural substrate for law. It would be hard to think on law if there is no reliable mechanism to preserve it in its original form, after all, its reluctance to change is what differentiate law from ethics. One could argue that before literacy there where social institutions which assured the transfer of knowledge and rules of coexistence between members of the tribe. But one can't deny that the lack of literacy constitute a significant obstacle to the development of a more complex law supported society.  I'd like to draw a parallel between these ancient tribes and their structurally challenged institutions with a more modern practice, neo-institutionalism. The later may be seen as the pretension to give a more diachronic character to a long standing synchronic object: the public institutions [2]. Their challenge along the twentieth century was the opposite to the one faced by the pre-literal tribes, they had to implement flexibility criteria in a medium which is not suited for it. The substrate of public institutions is dominated by the most inflexible of all literary styles: bureaucracy. But just as literacy came to the rescue (or doom) for those tribes, now cyberspace reveals as a dimension of language which provides the precision and storage capacity of written language with the addition of interactivity which used to be exclusive of orality. At this moment I want to recall the fact that orality has been for the realm of ethics what literacy has been for law. With the coming of cyberspace and its multitude of protocols for social interaction one faces the question: where is it heading to the former dialectics between law and ethics which used to be separated by two well differentiate substrates: literacy and orality? In principle, liberalism has found in cyberspace a connatural substrate, and it will be hard to claim structural limitations again. We shall see then if liberalism is a functionally complete discourse or if other functional demands will pave their way into the cyberspace by means of protocolary constructions. At this level I think the answer seems obvious -although we might be mislead by echos of old practices-, society cannot be reduced to a local -ethical- ordering. Perhaps the reasons why this debate about ethical vs. law or socialist vs. liberal society seems to persevere being the answers seemingly obvious is because they have been emptied of their original meaning and have joined the same destiny of peace and democracy, that of the virgin princess.

Related Posts: Entre la ética y la ley: paradojas del lenguaje (Blog: PhiLoSoPhiK).

[1] Another useful parallel would be that of synchronic versus diachronic production of proteins.

[2] This is no more than the contradictory extension of economic neoliberalism into the realm of politics (neoliberalism has always have a negative attitude towards public institutions and I guess that realizing, once again, that they could not infinitely minimized them they decided to make them one more agent in the market). It is also worth noting that the archetype of neoliberalism, the corporation, have greater developed from the small private enterprise thanks to the implementation of synchronic practices.

PDT: this post is a mess but I'd rather think of it as an embryo.
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