This entry discusses and defines ethical critiques and GIS. It complements other GIS&T Body of Knowledge entries on Professional and Practical Ethics and Codes of Ethics for GIS Professionals. Critical ethics is presented as the attempt to provide a better understanding of data politics. Knowledge is never abstract or non-material. Spatial data, as a form of knowledge, may mask, conceal, disallow or disavow, even as it speaks, permits and claims. A critical ethics of GIS investigates this situated power-knowledge. Two concepts from educational pedagogy are suggested: threshold and troublesome knowledge. As we use and continue to learn GIS, these concepts may enrich our experience by usefully leading us astray. This points finally to how ethical critique is practical, empirical and political, rather than abstract or theoretical.
The connections and interactions between GIS&T and society range in scale from institutions and business enterprises down to the individual level. Some fundamental drivers behind those interconnections are political, economic, legal, and cultural. Rapidly developing GI technology and infrastructures also generate various forms of public GIS practice as part of citizen science, VGI and social media. These activities provoke questions and critiques around governance, democracy, diversity, and ethics.
Topics in this Knowledge Area are listed thematically below. Existing topics are linked directly to either their original (2006) or revised entries; forthcoming, future topics are italicized.