Does Cyberspace Promote Human Rights and Democracy? Applying Karl Popper's Scientific Method

By Lior Tabansky.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The last decade has seen a tremendous expansion of cyberspace. Democratization is paramount to freedom, personal welfare and international security. A universally common notion holds that cyberspace fosters the promotion of human rights and political democratization. How can we be positive that this idea is valid and its implications are indeed to be expected? The existing body of research on the topic has yielded inconclusive results, even after decades of extensive research and growing empiric data sets. The article claims that application of a strict scientific approach is beneficial to shed light on this important topic, and proposes a more stringent logical methodology to improve understanding of the matter. This article proposes following Popper's guidelines for scientific inquiry: demarcation between science and non-science using the falsifiability criterion. After a brief introduction to the field of inquiry and the proposed methodology, a refutable theory is stated and a hypothesis derived. For instance: A growing measure of political freedom should be experienced and measured following growing information and communication technologies (ICT) availability. The hypothesis is subjected to two critical tests, seeking a refutation. The global state of cyberspace and democracy is examined in the article, and the impact of technological changes in Russia is presented as a case study. The results of such a Popperian exercise suggest that further research is necessary to support the common notion that cyberspace fosters the promotion of Human Rights and political democratization.

Keywords: Cyberspace, Democracy, Popper, Russia

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.13-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 401.438KB).

Lior Tabansky

Non-resident Researcher, Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, The Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Lior Tabansky is a Doctoral Candidate at Tel Aviv University in the Department of Political Science, studying Cyberspace in a comparative national security perspective. He is a Researcher at the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security at Tel Aviv University.