Abstract - The Information Society 21(1)

Social Engineering in the Information Age

Alistair S. Duff

The paper explores the relevance of social engineering for the post-industrial epoch. The concept of social engineering has been dormant in recent years, stained by the behavior of police states in the twentieth century. Yet stripped of its excesses, social engineering still represents a defensible moral and political enterprise. What is needed for the twenty-first century, however, is a chastened, deontological theory of social engineering, one that accepts the inviolability of the person while still pursuing ambitious long-term teleological strategies through state action. For its content, progressive information society policy should revisit the ethical norms developed by the left-liberal tradition, as articulated by the late John Rawls and others. The paper concludes that the information age offers a new opportunity to engineer a just social order, or, at any rate, that the policy-making community needs to reevaluate the idea of social engineering.

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