Blockchain: Ethical Opportunities and Risks

Prof Claus Dierksmeier discussed business ethical questions of blockchain applications with doctoral students of the program “Ethics and Good Leadership in Business".

Prof Dierksmeier, chair of globalization ethics of the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, visited the doctoral program „Ethics and Good Leadership in Business“ for a jour fixe. In his talk “Blockchain & Business Ethics,” he took a moral philosophical look at blockchain applications beyond crypotcurrencies, from decentral oracle and prediction platforms to cryptojacking, transparent supply chains, base of the pyramid (BoP) entrepreneurship, and job platforms. He presented how classical moral theories–deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics and contract theory–deal with these applications. They agree, for instance, that decentral oracle and prediction platforms and cryptojacking are morally unacceptable and approve of using blockchains to create transparent supply chains or to foster BoP entrepreneurship. In some ambivalent cases, these theories are not on the same page, however. They disagree, for example, how to evaluate that we trust blockchain outcomes although decentral and depersonalized blockchains lack intermediators whom we can trust. Does this ´”trusteless trust” solve a fundamental trust problem or does it create new ones? Should one prefer job platforms which only concentrate on professional qualifications to a personal employee selection? Especially such ambivalent cases were the subject of the discussion with the doctoral students. It was discussed whether and how societies can find solutions for ambivalent cases and whether and how global rules can be established.

Prof Dierksmeier, who was director of the Weltethos Institut until summer 2018, visited the doctoral program in course of the cooperation between the WCGE and the WEIT.