Herman Tavani

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Dr. Herman T. Tavani, from his home page
Birthname Herman T. Tavani
Date of Birth Unknown
Birth Place Unknown
Nationality American
Occupation Professor
Biography Information Ethics and Philosophy Expert

Herman T. Tavani, PhD has spent over a decade studying the philosophy and ethics of information technologies. Tavani is currently a Professor of Philosophy at Rivier University in New Hampshire. In addition, he is a guest lecturer, scholar, and research fellow at several other colleges including Harvard, Dartmouth, and Boston College. He has edited and written more than 100 publications in the fields of ethics and technology. [1]

Background & Education

Herman Tavani received his Bachelor's and Master's of Arts in Philosophy from West Chester University. He went on to obtain his PhD from Temple University.[2] He worked as a software technical writer and writing supervisor until becoming a Professor of Philosophy. Tavani is currently a Professor of Philosophy, the Philosophy Department Coordinator, and the Director of the Liberal Studies Program at Rivier College. He, his wife, Joanne, and their daughter, Regina, currently live in Nashua, New Hampshire.

In addition, Dr. Tavani is also a guest lecturer at Boston College, a guest scholar and fellow at Dartmouth College, and a "Visiting Scientist" in applied ethics of Occupational Health at the Harvard School of Public Health [3]. According to his home page, Tavani has lectured throughout the world, including the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In 2012, Herman Tavani will be a Keynote Speaker along with Luciano Floridi at the 5th International Conference in Information Law and Ethics at Ionian University in Corfu, Greece[1].


  • President, International Society for Ethics and Information Technology (2010-Present) - Tavani previously served INSEIT as a Co-Director from 2001-2006.
  • President of the Northern New England Philosophical Association (NNEPA)
  • Secretary/Treasurer of the Association for Computing’s Special Interest Group on Computers and Society (ACM SIGCAS)


Tavani has has edited or written more than 100 publications over the course of his career. In an interview with Katherine Henderson, and editor of Computers and Society, Tavani notes that he "is a philosopher and not a computer scientists" [4] but one of his overarching passions is the ethics of information technology and computing. While this is not the only topic of his publications, many of them address a wide range of specifics on this topic.

In volumes Tavani has edited, he often offers thoughts an analyses on ethical issues surrounding technologies. Tavani worked with Kenneth Himma as editors of The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics and co-edited with Richard Spinello Intellectual Property Rights in a Networked World: Theory and Practice and two editions of Readings in CyberEthics. He is currently a Book Review Editor for the journal Ethics and Information Technology[1] and is a guest editor for other journals such as Information, Metaphilosophy, and Computers and Society.[5]

In his own writing he speaks mainly on the policy of information privacy, "cyberethics," and biological information and computing ethics. His articles have appeared in dozens of books, periodicals and journals and has written and co-written a few books. A few of his works are featured below.

Tavani and the Uniqueness Debate

In 2002 the journal, Ethics and Information Technology published an article by Tavani focused on the Uniqueness of Computer Ethics. In this article, Tavani concludes that the common arguments towards the "computer ethics is unique" thesis (CEIU) are inadequate. Tavani also argues that is is not necessary to accept the assumptions and conclusions made by either side of the argument, but the issues of computer ethics are "philosophically interesting" and important to consider. [6]

Two interpretations of the CEIU thesis that Tavani argues:

(1) ICT has generated either new moral issues or new moral objects, which in turn require new moral categories to describe and classify these new issues or new objects; or
(2) Certain ethical problems involving the use of ICT have stretched and strained our existing moral framework so profoundly that new moral principles are required to understand and explain those problems.[6]

Ethics and Technology: Controversies, Questions, and Strategies for Ethical Computing

The third edition of this book was published in 2011. According to the back cover, issues covered includes:

  • Blogs and the 'blogosphere"
  • Web mining and personal privacy, including the Facebook Beacon controversy
  • Cyberbullying on social networking services (SNSs)
  • "Sexting" incidents involving teenagers vis-à-vis current child pornography laws
  • Violence and pornography in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), including World of Warcraft and Second Life
  • Virtual economies and "gold farming" in virtual worlds
  • Cyberespionage activities carried out by governments and state-sponsored organizations;
  • "Certified Ethical Hackers" who carry out pre-emptive counter hacking activities on the part of organizations that hire them

Ethics and Technology: Ethical Issues in an Age of Information and Communication Technology

This book focuses on the technical, social, and philosophical perspectives on the emerging field of what Tavani calls CyberEthics. Some of the topics include[7]:

  • Globalization and outsourcing
  • Property rights and open source software
  • HIPAA (privacy laws) and surveillance
  • The Patriot Act and civil liberties
  • Bioinformatics and genomics research
  • Converging technologies--pervasive computing and nanocomputing
  • Children's online pornography laws

The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics

Published in 2008

Ethics, Computing, and Genomics

Published in 2006

Intellectual Property Rights in a Networked World: Theory and Practice

Published in 2005

Readings in CyberEthics

Published in 2004 [8]

Recognition and Awards

  • Catholic Library Association’s 2004 John Brubaker Memorial Award - Tavani was honored for his scholarly writing in Catholic Library World. [5]
  • 2008 ACM SIGCAS Outstanding Service Award - Tavani was recognized for his contributions to the SIGCAS quarterly publication of Computers and Society. [4]

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 5th International Conference on Information Law and Ethics, http://conferences.ionio.gr/icil2012/keynote, 2011.
  2. Rivier College - Meet the Faculty: Dr. Herman Tavani, http://www.rivier.edu/academics/departments/default.aspx?id=1552, 2011.
  3. "Harvard Catalyst Profiles: Herman T. Tavani", http://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/profiles/profile/person/15965, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Interview with Herman Tavani", http://www.sigcas.org/awards-1/interview-with-herman-tavani, Dec.2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Professor Herman Tavani's Home Page, http://www.rivier.edu/faculty/htavani/, June 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The uniqueness debate in computer ethics: What exactly is at issue, and why does it matter," Tavani, Herman, Ethics and Information Technology, 2002.
  7. Good Reads, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1272484.Ethics_and_Technology, 2011.
  8. http://www.rivier.edu/faculty/htavani/
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