ESP - Ethics search protocol
Personal Ethics ReviewThe personal ethics review is an independent project for personal ethics but is partly based on the specification of the ESP Project. The goal is to allow more freedom in the description of personal ethics and at the same time allow references to policies that categorize and describe personal ethics as well as the ethical policies desired in entities that use ESP.
Most of us are today surrounded by offers of unknown ethical quality. The verification of production standards is often impossible and where governmental or third party standards exist there is a strong tendency to undermine these standards by discount outlets. One problem is that consumers seldom get the chance to communicate ethical requirements because the proper communication channels do not exist and many producers prefer to measure consumer preferences with a one dimensional scale, the sales.
This project has the goal to offer an open source specification and implementation for that missing communication channel.
Users of this system can demand ethics and support non-government organization that try to uphold environmental, social or other ethics. Gathering data from user profiles is expected from search engines as users specify the ethics they are looking for and the policy providers, certification agents and verification agents they would like to see.
A search engine must return hits according to the quality of matching ethics, if no other criteria was specified to supercede this.
Unsatisfied users can post tickets in a well-defined format to policy providers or verification agents to remind policy implementors to adhere to the ethics they have published. Policy providers and verification agents can declare a published social contract document as (partially) invalid or revoke (self-) certifications. Users can also annotate policies or social contracts and inform others about their private opinion about the adherence or non-adherence of a policy implementor. Mediators should be used to mediate in case of dispute as legal steps are frowned upon (there is a base policy that disallows legal steps where mediation would be appropriate) and can increase the number of negative annotations.
Policies can extend policy schemes (inherting the structure of an empty policy) or extend another policy that has not been declared final. A final policy is not open to be extended. Extending a policy means that paragraphs can be overridden or appended. The implementation of a policy refers to the use of a policy in a social contract.
In an analogy to the Java language one could refer to policy schemes as interfaces and policies as classes but where Java nomenclatur would be to implement a scheme (instead of extending it), the term "implement" refers to what would be the instantiation of a policy in Java, because a policy implementation is the act of adding a policy to one's social contract. Such an "instance" of a policy is parametrized by a single argument, which is the implementation level. Further parametrization may be added in the future, when the search facilities for policy parameters are sufficiently standardized.
Policies should be structured to describe concisely what is required by a policy, not why it is required or how it is to be implemented. It should be considered good style to add links to external web pages describing the why and how to every paragraph that requires further explanations. Explanations should preferrably come in different degrees of verbosity and sophistication but aim to explain the connection to Kant's Categorical Imperative.
Hypothetical hierarchies of policies could look like this:
The extension or implementation of widely known policies or schemes will allow more intelligent search and filtering strategies and will increase the visibility of the policy implementor to interested parties.
TruthfulnessThe implementor promises to report truthfully and to refrain from advertising lies. All information given by the implementor should be true to the best knowledge of the implementor.
MediationThe implementor promises to attempt mediation before any legal steps are taken in any case that concerns policy implementations or policy annotations. The implementor is generally willing to use mediation in all other cases before legal steps are taken.
Public OpinionThe implementor promises to refrain from legal steps against the authors of public annotations to the implementor's social contract, product descriptions or service descriptions. The implementor may post rectifications as annotations to annotations that are perceived as inaccurate. The implementor promises to refrain from annotating his own social contract, products or services and from requesting such annotations from third parties, except for certifications by independent certification organisations. In the latter case the annotation must contain the notice that the implementor is the applicant.
Employee AnnotationsThe implementor promises that employees of the implementor may make annotations to the implementor's social contract and report all perceived irregularities without any penalties by the implementor. The implementor may either counter such an annotation with a rectification or demand that the annotation is forwarded to an organisation or organisations that are willing to investigate the matter. The employee may forward the annotation as a ticket to any organization and still suffer no penalties.
Product InformationThe implementor promises to release information about all products, product groups and services offered by the implementor in a format that can be publicly annotated, usually XML formatted product descriptions that are accessible as web pages and contain a product key, e.g.: "URN:EAN:(ean number)" or "URN:ISBN:(isbn number)", that can be used to reliably annotate the product.
Terms and ConditionsThe implementor makes this policy a part of his terms and conditions. The terms and conditions exhibited on the web page of the implementor will either include the above policy or be an extended policy based on this policy. The terms and conditions will also refer to any further policies implemented by the implementor.
The internet draft is also available as a cross-referenced wiki page.
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