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In the digital age


Excellent and comprehensive source of information http://ethics.csc.ncsu.edu/ Quinn M.J. (2009) Ethics for the Information Age: 3rd edition, Pearson Education, Boston ISBN 10-321-54936-8 http://www.bcs.org/ and search for ethics Robotics https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt/community/ethical_con siderations/543 A start for IT http://www.sans.org/securityresources/ethics.php?ref=3781


A society is an association of people organised under a system of rules Cooperation helps to promote common good People in society compete with each other (trivial & significant)? Rules of conduct within society: morality You can belong to many societies: moral dilemmas Ethics is the philosophical study of morality a rational examination into peoples moral beliefs and behaviours (Quinn, 2009: p55)

Defining Terms (Quinn, 2009)

Philosophers have proposed many ethical theories Useful theories help you to examine moral problems, reach conclusions and be able to defend and explain these conclusions to sceptics Chain of reasoning that leads to a conclusion why do you believe that doing X is right?


Each person decides for themselves No universal right and wrong Rests with societys moral guidelines Good actions are those aligned with the will of God

Relativism: Subjective Relativism & Cultural Relativism

Action is good if the net effect is to produce more happiness than unhappiness (by person) Utility: object to produce/prevent happiness

Divine Command

Utilitarianism: Act Utilitarianism & Rule Utilitarianism

Adopt moral rules which if followed by everyone will lead to the greatest increase in happiness

Social Contract

A set of rules to govern relations amongst citizens A government to enforce the rules


No universal morals and norms Subjective relativism: each person decides (for - nobody is all knowing, against doing what you want) Cultural relativism: right and wrong relates to a societies moral guidelines (for - one society cannot judge another, against the existence of many acceptable cultural practices does not imply that any cultural practice is acceptable: societies share core values?)


Good actions are those aligned with the will of God and bad ones are those contrary For: God is all good and all knowing Against: there are many religions (multicultural society?)

Divine Command Theory

Utility: tendency to produce happiness or unhappiness for a community (balancing activity) Act: an action is good if its net effect is more happiness (used to only refer to adult white males)
For focus on happiness, down to earth and comprehensive Against how to draw the line, no sense of duty

Rule: rules if followed by everyone will lead to the greatest increase in happiness
What would happen if everyone followed the proposed moral rule; what harm would be caused; what are the benefits; does one outweigh the other.

Act & Rule Utilitarianism

Cooperation is better
Mutually agree to follow certain rules

Therefore two things apply

Establishing a set of moral rules and each person is obliged to follow them A government capable of enforcing the rules

Agree to follow rules on how to treat one another that rational people can accept for mutual benefit on the condition that others follow them For clear Against nobody signed the contract

Social Contract

Should your employer make sure the workplace is designed to minimise health risks such as back strain and carpal tunnel syndrome for those who work on computers? Can your boss prohibit you from sending personal memos via electronic mail to a friend at the other side of the bank, hospital, newsroom, or business office? Should your employer monitor your work? If so, should you be warned beforehand? If warned, does that make the practice OK? What if computer research found that people of your ethnic background had a higher than average chance of getting a specific disease? Should insurance companies be allowed to use that information to charge you more? Can you ethically advertise your product or service on the Internet? Is it okay to transmit pornography over the Internet?
http://www.cs4fn.org/society/dilemmas.php http://www.networkworld.com/careers/2000/0529man.html

Ethical Dilemmas


Should you read the private e-mail of your network users just because you can?
Is it okay to read employees e-mail as a security measure, to ensure that sensitive company information isnt being disclosed? Is it okay to read employees e-mail to ensure that company rules (for instance, against personal use of the e-mail system) arent being violated?

If you do read employees e-mail, should you disclose that policy to them?
Before or after the fact?

Is it okay to monitor the Web sites visited by your network users?

Should you routinely keep logs of visited sites? Is it negligent to not monitor such Internet usage, to prevent the possibility of pornography in the workplace that could create a hostile work environment?

Is it okay to place key loggers on machines on the network to capture everything the user types?
Screen capture programs so you can see everything thats displayed? Should users be informed that theyre being watched in this way?

Is it okay to read the documents and look at the graphics files that are stored on users computers or in their directories on the file server?

Ethical Dilemmas



Ethics is the philosophical study of morality a rational examination into peoples moral beliefs and behaviours (Quinn, 2009: p55) A number of theories.
We looked at utilitarianism; social contract; divine command; and relativism

These lead to ethical dilemmas that are viewed differently by different people

Ethics in Computing