Mind Your Metaphors: An Examination of the Inefficacy Argument as a Reason Against Regulating On-Line Conduct

21 Pages Posted: 18 May 2006

See all articles by Ian R. Kerr

Ian R. Kerr

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Abstract

This book chapter provides a critical analysis of the "inefficacy argument" as a rationale against regulating the internet. This line of reasoning is centered on the claim that the internet, as a decentralized communications technology, has the built-in ability to circumvent and thus render irrelevant many of our fundamental normative commitments. The author argues that the regulation question is not merely one of efficacy but is instead one of morality. The author deconstructs the typical metaphors employed in arguments against regulating online conduct and cautions that we are dangerously close to allowing ourselves to believe that the realm of regulation is beyond our control. The author argues that destruction of normative commitments is not the result of new communications technologies, but rather, it is the product of human interference.

In conclusion. the author proposes that normative concerns are not subordinate to practical ones. To suggest otherwise is to speak in the language of metaphor and excuse, a language that will ultimately suppress the importance of individual responsibility and moral accountability.

Keywords: internet regulation, cyberspace, cyberlaw

Suggested Citation

Kerr, Ian R., Mind Your Metaphors: An Examination of the Inefficacy Argument as a Reason Against Regulating On-Line Conduct. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=902680

Ian R. Kerr (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada
613-562-5800 (Phone)

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