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PEER - Personal Ethics Review

Rest satisfied with doing well, and leave
others to talk of you as they please.
-- Pythagoras


Project Pages


Personal ethics are often not sufficiently reflected to be applied reliably to everyday life. Often is a subtle or indirect consequence of everyday actions unknown or the ethical stance of others only becomes clear after a while. Another common problem is that the ethical stance of candidates can only be assessed from promotional statements.

This project has the goal to allow people to describe their personal ethics in more detail and also allow to describe the development of their personal ethics over time.


The personal ethics review application will allow to record and publish a journal of personal ethics which are digitally signed and timestamped. The digital signature will associate the owner of the signature with an elaborate description of his or her personal ethics and at the same time connect a person with a web of trust of persons who vouch for his or her integrity regarding published ethics. Ideas for personal ethics include:

PEER will allow to describe personal ethics with self-written journal entries and at the same time allow to approximate personal ethics with standardized policies, similar to ESP policies. The latter can be used to approximate the personal ethical stance with more widely accepted and, possibly, weaker positions.

A mechanism in the PEER web of trust could be that people who vouch for somebody else's integrity should generally be available to mediate or discuss a problem in case a third party puts doubt on that person's integrity. People who apply bad judgement or prejudices in a situation like that may find that their own peers revoke their signatures. This may sound like a modified social engineering scenario but it is something entirely different when people are free to choose their peers and thereby actually invite critics to contact them and use them as mediators in case of dispute: You are free to invite people to defend your integrity against people who doubt your integrity and their motiviation to be fair towards third parties is their own integrity. Putting this information into static, public and digitally signed certificates prevents anybody from expressing inconsistent views to different people or in different circles of society. I'm not quite sure if this idea is a bug or a feature but if you have an opinion on that I'd be glad to hear it (Bernhard.Fastenrath@arcor.de).

General rules could be that a single person shouldn't sign too many certificates (maybe with a maximum of 100), not sign certificates of people who are not or no longer in close contact with him or her and allow certificates to expire after, at most, ten years. A person should try to get between 5 and 10 signatures and also try to get certificates from membership organizations that are willing to participate with mediators. Giving new signatures to persons who already had signatures should require some validation:

A signer who fails to verify the basic requirements may loose credibility him - or herself. Membership certificates would not represent endorsement of a person's ethics beyond the ethics of that organization and there would be no limit to the number of membership certificates a person can acquire. Different views of a person's integrity could apply bias according to user-definable rules, e.g. "Blacklist all persons who break the general rules".

Examples for personal ethical policies:

Questions for analyzing personal ethics:

Network Neighborhood

A sub-project will be a peer-2-peer bulletin board.

Related projects

See also


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