Chapter Seven: The Internet

III. The Internet As A Provider Of Morality

It is of the utmost importance to notice that groups on the Internet are not just at liberty to formulate codes of conduct for their members but that they do so with great abandon; and these rules are in almost all cases extremely moral, in the sense that they conform well to codes of behaviour promulgated in the past by religions and other moral authorities. This is partly because such rules are deeply embedded in human nature as a result of evolution, and will immediately come to the surface in any grouping of people if there is no externally imposed frame of reference. Partly also there is no doubt a degree of cultural uniformity among some of the populations that form groups on the Internet, which is reflected in the rules they make for themselves.

Proposing that Internet groups will have basically moral structures may sound rather extreme, or a triumph of soppy hope over reality. But just look at the evidence displayed by the following example of standards set up by an Internet group, SecondLife. It would be easy to find dozens of such examples (and see Appendix 3, which consists of a survey of a number of Virtual Internet Communities - VICs - including extracts in some cases from their rule-books).

With fairly minor adaptions, this would do very well for a code of social ethics under which most 'real-world' inhabitants would be only too happy to live their lives!