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Prospects for Peace in the Cyber Domain – By George R. Lucas

In his philosophical essay, George R. Lucas examines a fundamental ethical dilemma in Hobbes’s original, otherwise strictly amoral account of the State of Nature: How should man bring about what appears to be a morally required transition to a more stable political arrangement, comprising a rule of law under which the interests of the various inhabitants in life, property and security would be more readily guaranteed? Hobbes described opposition to this morally requisite transition as arising from “universal diffidence,” the mutual mistrust between individuals, coupled with the misguided belief of each in his or her own superiority. His, the author argues, is thus a perfect moral framework from which to analyze prospects for attaining peace in the cyber domain.

With his framework in place, it can be quickly noted that the chief moral questions pertain to whether one may already discern a gradual voluntary recognition and acceptance of general norms of responsible individual and state behavior within the cyber domain, arising from experience and consequent enlightened self-interest, or whether the interests of the responsible majority must eventually compel some sort of transition from the state of nature by forcibly overriding the wishes of presumably irresponsible or malevolent outliers in the interests of the general welfare. Lucas leaves no doubt that we should approach the norm-building process descriptively, and put up with the relative legal freedom of cyberspace, rather than deciding on the morally unacceptable second solution.

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