Write a blog 300-500 words about IT ethics and reasonings


Search the internet for a case related to ICT ethics and submit your views and reflections on the ethical issues involved as a blog entry. (should include some video/ image)

Combine the theory on lecture 1 and 2 (2 files included below) with the cases.

Using APA 6th Format for references

Use at least 5 quality references

Links to some relevant cases or case databases are as follows:







However, you may consider any appropriate case available from reputable sources, including published articles, news items and so on.

I also add some sample so you can make the blog follow their format.

ITC 331 Topic 2
Representing ethical arguments
Ethics and Morality
ï‚— The term Ethics is derived from Ethos (Greek), and
Morality from Mores (Latin).
ï‚— Both terms translate roughly into notions affecting
“custom,” ”habit,” and “behavior.”
ï‚— Ethics is defined as the study of morality, which
raises two questions:
ï‚— (a) What is morality?
ï‚— (b) What is the study of morality?
What is Morality?
ï‚— Morality can be defined as:
a system of rules for guiding human conduct, and
principles for evaluating those rules.
Two points are worth noting in this definition:
ï‚— (i) morality is a system;
ï‚— (ii) it is a system comprised of moral rules and
ï‚— Moral rules can be understood as “rules of
conduct,” which are very similar to “policies.”
Rules of Conduct as “Policies”
ï‚— James Moor (2004) notes that policies can range
from formal laws to informal, implicit guidelines
for actions.
ï‚— Moor suggests that every act can be viewed as an
instance of a policy.
ï‚— There are two kinds of rules of conduct:
ï‚— 1) Directives for guiding our conduct as individuals (at
the micro-level)
ï‚— 2) Social Policies framed at the macro-level.
ï‚— Directives are rules (of conduct) that guide our
actions, and thus direct us to behave in certain
ï‚— Rules such as “Do not steal” and “Do not harm
others” are both examples of rules of conduct that
direct us in our individual moral choices at the
“micro-ethical” level (i.e., the level of individual
Social Policies
ï‚— Some rules of conduct guide our actions at the
“macro-ethical” level by helping us frame social
 Rules such as “Proprietary software should not be
copied” or “Software that can be used to invade the
privacy of users should not be developed” are
examples of rules of conduct that arise out of our
social policies.
ï‚— There is a correlation between directives and social
policies (e.g., rules involving stealing).
ï‚— The rules of conduct in a moral system are
evaluated by way of standards called principles.
ï‚— For example, the principle of “social utility,” which
is concerned with promoting the greatest good for
the greatest number, can be used to evaluate a
social policy such as “Proprietary software should
not be copied without permission.”
Figure 2-1: Basic Components of a Moral
Rules of Conduct
(Action-guiding rules, in the form
of either directives or social
two types
Principles of Evaluation
(Evaluative standards used
to justify rules of conduct)
Examples include principles such
as of social utility and justice as
Rules for guiding the
actions of individuals
(micro-level ethical
Rules for establishing
social policies
(macro-level ethical rules)
Examples include directives
such as:”Do not steal” and
“Do not harm others.”
Examples include social policies such as:
“Software should be protected“ and
“Privacy should be respected.”
Three Schemes for Grounding the Evaluative
Rules in a Moral System
ï‚— The principles are grounded in one of three
different kinds of schemes:
ï‚— Religion;
ï‚— Law;
ï‚— Philosophical Ethics.
ï‚— Consider how a particular moral principle can be
justified from the vantage-points of each scheme.
 Consider the rule of conduct: “Do not steal.”
Approach #1: Grounding Moral Principles in
a Religious System
ï‚— Consider the following rationale for why stealing is
morally wrong:
Stealing is wrong because it offends God or because it
violates one of God’s (Ten) Commandments.
ï‚— From the point of view of institutionalized
religion, stealing is wrong because of it offends
God or because it violates the commands of a
supreme authority.
Approach #2: Grounding Moral Principles in
a Legal System
An alternative rationale would be:
Stealing is wrong because it violates the law.
ï‚— Here the grounds for determining why stealing is
wrong are not tied to religion.
ï‚— If stealing violates a law in a particular nation or
jurisdiction, then the act of stealing can be
declared to be wrong independent of any religious
beliefs that one may or may not happen to have.
Approach #3: Grounding Moral Principles in a
Philosophical System of Ethics
â–ª A third way of approaching the question is:
Stealing is wrong because it is wrong (independent of
any form of external authority or any external
â–ª On this view, the moral “rightness” or “wrongness”
of stealing is not grounded in some external
authoritative source.
â–ª It does not appeal to an external authority, either
theological or legal, for justification.
Ethicists vs. Moralists
ï‚— Ethicists study morality from the perspective of
philosophical methodology; they appeal to logical
arguments to justify their positions.
ï‚— Moralists often claim to have all of the answers
regarding morality.
ï‚— Many moralists also exhibit characteristics that
have been described as “preachy” and
ï‚— Some moralists may have a particular moral
agenda to advance.
Discussion Stoppers as “Roadblocks” to Moral
ï‚— Discussion stoppers can be articulated in terms of
the following four questions:
ï‚— 1. People disagree about morality; so how can we
reach agreement on moral issues?
ï‚— 2. Who am I/Who are we to judge others and to
impose my/our values on others?
ï‚— 3. Isn’t morality simply a private matter?
ï‚— 4. Isn’t morality simply a matter that different
cultures and groups should determine for
Discussion Stopper # 1: People Disagree on Solutions to Moral
ï‚— People who hold this view fail to recognize:
ï‚— (i) Experts in other fields of study, such as science
and math., also disagree on what the correct
answers to certain questions are.
ï‚— (ii) There is common agreement about answers to
some moral questions.
ï‚— (iii) People do not always distinguish between
“disagreements about factual matters” and
“disagreements on general principles” in disputes
involving morality.
Discussion Stopper # 2: Who am I to Judge
ï‚— We need to distinguish between:
 (a) “persons making judgments” and “persons
being judgmental,“ and
 (b) “judgments involving condemnations” vs.
“judgments involving evaluations.”
ï‚— Also, we are sometimes required to make judgments
about others.
Discussion Stopper # 3: Ethics is Simply a Private
ï‚— Many people assume that morality is essentially
personal in nature and that morality must therefore be
simply a private matter.
ï‚— “Private morality” is essentially an oxymoron or
contradictory notion.
ï‚— Morality is a public phenomenon (Gert).
Discussion Stopper # 4: Morality is Simply a Matter for
Individual Cultures to Decide
ï‚— According to this view, a moral system is
dependent on, or relative to, a particular culture or
ï‚— There are some very serious problems with this
view, which is called ethical relativism.
ï‚— To understand the problems inherent in this
position, it is useful to distinguish between two
positions involving relativism: cultural relativism
and moral relativism.
Table 2-2 Summary of Logical Flaws in the
Discussion Stoppers
Stopper #1
Stopper #2
Stopper #3
People disagree on
solutions to moral
Who am I to judge
Ethics is imply a private Morality is simply a
matter for individual
cultures to decide.
1. Fails to recognize that
experts in many areas
disagree on key issues in
their fields.
1. Fails to distinguish
between the act of
judging and being a
judgmental person.
1. Fails to recognize that
morality is
essentially a public
1. Fails to distinguish
between descriptive and
normative claims about
2. Fails to recognize that
there are many moral
issues on which people
2. Fails to distinguish
between judging as
condemning and judging
as evaluating.
2. Assumes that people
can never reach common
agreement on some moral
3. Fails to distinguish
between disagreements
about principles and
disagreements about
3. Fails to recognize that
sometimes we are
required to make
2. Fails to note that
morality can cause
major harm to
3. Confuses moral choices
with individual or
Stopper #4
3. Assumes that a system
is moral because a
majority in a culture
decides it is moral.
Why Do We Need Ethical
ï‚— Ethical theories can guide us in our analysis of moral
issues involving cyber-technology.
ï‚— Is there a simpler, alternative scheme that we could use
in our moral deliberations?
ï‚— Why not simply follow the “golden rule” or follow
one’s own conscience?
Following the Golden Rule
ï‚— No one one would ever object to the spirit the
golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you.”
ï‚— This rule assumes that whatever I am willing to
accept that you do unto me, you would also be
willing to accept that I do unto you.
ï‚— Suppose that if I were a programmer I would be
willing to give away my software programs for free.
ï‚— Does it follow that I should expect others to do the same
for me?
Following your Conscience
ï‚— On the face of it, the notion of following one’s
conscience seems like a reasonable maxim.
ï‚— But it is also a dangerous principle or rule for
grounding one’s choices for acting morally.
ï‚— Consider that the 9/11 terrorists might been
following their individual consciences.
ï‚— Because conscience is very subjective, it cannot
provide grounds for moral deliberation that are
both rational and impartial.
The Structure of Ethical Theories
ï‚— An essential feature of theory in general is that it
guides us in our investigations.
ï‚— In science, theory provides us with some general
principles and structures to analyze our data.
ï‚— The purpose of ethical theory, like scientific
theory, is to provide us with a framework for
analyzing moral issues.
ï‚— Ideally, a good theory should be coherent,
consistent, comprehensive, and systematic.
Four Ethical Theories
ï‚— Consequence-based
ï‚— Duty-based
ï‚— Contract-based
ï‚— Character-based
Consequence-based Ethical
ï‚— Some argue that the primary goal of a moral
system is to produce desirable consequences or
outcomes for its members.
ï‚— On this view, the consequences (i.e., the ends
achieved) of actions and policies that provide the
ultimate standard against which moral decisions
must be evaluated.
ï‚— So if choosing between acts A or B, the morally
correct action will be the one that produces the
most desirable outcome.
Consequence-based Theories
ï‚— In determining the best ourcome, we can ask the
question, whose outcome?
ï‚— Utilitarians argue that it is the consequences of the
greatest number of individuals, or the majority, in a
given society that deserve consideration in moral
Consequence-based Theories:
(Utilitarianism continued)
ï‚— According to the utilitarian theory:
An individual act (X) or a social policy (Y) is morally
permissible if the consequences that result from (X) or
(Y) produce the greatest amount of good for the
greatest number of persons affected by the act or
Utilitarianism (continued)
ï‚— Utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham
ï‚— (a) all people desire happiness;
ï‚— (b) happiness is an intrinsic good that is desired for its
own sake.
Criticism of Act Utilitarianism
ï‚— Critics reject the emphasis on the consequence of
individual acts.
ï‚— They point out that in our day-to-day activities, we
tend not to deliberate on each individual action as
if that action were unique.
ï‚— Rather, we are inclined to deliberate on the basis of
certain principles or general rules that guide our
Duty-based Ethical Theories
ï‚— Immanuel Kant argued that morality must
ultimately be grounded in the concept of duty or
obligations that humans have to one another.
ï‚— For Kant, morality can never be grounded in the
consequences of human actions.
 Thus, in Kant’s view, morality has nothing to do
with the promotion of happiness or the
achievement of desirable consequences.
Duty-based Ethical Theories
ï‚— Kant rejects utilitarianism in particular, and all
consequentialist ethical theories in general.
ï‚— He points out that, in some instances, performing
our duties may result in our being unhappy and
may not necessarily lead to consequences that are
considered desirable.
ï‚— Theories in which the notion of duty or obligation
serve a foundation for morality are called
deontological theories because they derive their
meaning from the Greek root deon, which means
Duty-based Ethical Theories
ï‚— Kant defends his ethical theory on the grounds that:
ï‚— (1) humans are rational, autonomous agents;
ï‚— (2) human beings are ends-in-themselves, and not
means to ends.
Categorical Imperative
ï‚— Kant believed that if everyone followed the
categorical imperative, we would have a genuinely
moral system.
ï‚— It would be a system based on two essential
ï‚— universality,
ï‚— impartiality.
ï‚— In such as system, every individual would be
treated fairly since the same rules would apply
universally to all persons.
Criticisms of Rule Deontology
ï‚— Kant’s theory has been criticized as inadequate
because the categorical imperative cannot help us
in cases where we have two or more conflicting
ï‚— Consider that we have duties to both keep
promises and to tell the truth, and sometimes we
encounter situations in which we are required
either to tell the truth and break a promise or to
keep a promise and tell a lie.
ï‚— Kant does not provide us with a mechanism for
resolving such conflicts.
Contract-based Ethical Theories
ï‚— From the perspective of social-contract theory, a moral
system comes into being by virtue of certain
contractual agreements between individuals.
ï‚— One of the earliest versions of a contract-based ethical
theory can be found in the writings of Thomas
Contract-based Ethical Theories
ï‚— One virtue of the social-contract model is that it
gives us a motivation for being moral.
ï‚— It is in our individual self-interest to develop a
moral system with rules.
ï‚— This type of motivation for establishing a moral
system is absent in both the utilitarian or
deontological theories.
ï‚— So a contract-based ethical theory would seem to
have one advantage over them.
Criticisms of Social Contract Theory
ï‚— Critics point out that social-contract theory
provides for only a minimalist morality.
ï‚— It is minimalist in the sense that we are obligated
to behave morally only where an explicit or formal
contract exists.
ï‚— So if I have no express contract with you, or if a
country like the U.S. has no explicit contract with a
developing nation, there is no moral obligation for
me to help you or no obligation for the U.S. to
come to the aid of that developing nation.
Character-based Ethical Theories
ï‚— Virtue ethics(also sometimes called “character
ethics”) ignores the roles that consequences,
duties, and social contracts play in moral systems
in determining the appropriate standard for
evaluating moral behavior.
ï‚— Virtue ethics focuses on criteria having to do with
the character development of individuals and their
acquisition of good character traits from the kinds
of habits they develop.
Character-based Ethical Theory
ï‚— Virtue ethics can be traced back to Plato and
ï‚— To become an ethical person, more is required
than simply memorizing and deliberating on
certain kinds of rules.
ï‚— What is also needed, Aristotle argued, is that
people develop certain virtues.
ï‚— Aristotle believed that to be a moral person, one
had to acquire the right virtues (strengths or
Character-based Ethical Theories
 Instead of asking, “What should I do in such and
such a situation?”, a virtue ethicist asks: “What
kind of person should I be?”
ï‚— The emphasis is on being a moral person – not
simply understanding what moral rules are and
how they apply in certain situations.
ï‚— While deontological and utilitarian theories are
“action-oriented” and “rule-oriented,” virtue ethics
is “agent-oriented” because it is centered on the
agent him/her-self.
Criticism of Character-based Ethical
ï‚— Character-based ethical systems tend to flourish
in cultures where the emphasis placed on
community life is stronger than that accorded to
the role of individuals themselves.
ï‚— In the West, since the Enlightenment, more
emphasis has been placed on the importance of
individual autonomy and individual rights.
ï‚— In the Ancient Greek world of Aristotle’s time, the
notion of community was paramount.
Table 2-3 Four Types of Ethical
Type of Theory
Stresses promotion of
happiness and utility
Ignores concerns of justice
for the minority population
Duty-based (Deontology)
Stresses the role of duty and
respect for persons
Underestimates the
importance of happiness and
social utility
Contract-based (Rights)
Provides a motivation for
Offers only a minimal
Character-based (Virtue)
Stresses moral development
and moral education
Depends on homogeneous
community standards for
Ethical Principles applied to
Mary’s problem
Doing ethics technique
1. What is going on?
2. What are the facts?
3. What are the issues?
4. Who is affected?
This leads to:
5. What are the ethical issues and implications?
6. What can be done about it?
7. What options are there?
8. Which option is best – and why?
Mary’s problem
ï‚— Consider an HCI consultant, Mary, with extensive experience in evaluating web
sites and GUI’s. She has just received an evaluation contract for a new
accounting product made by company A due to her prior experience with ecommerce site evaluation. The work involves assessing the training
requirements and the usability of the system. During the initial configuration
of her usability laboratory she becomes aware that software she is to evaluate
contains a GUI already patented by a rival company B, which she evaluated
several weeks before.
ï‚— Under her contractual agreements Mary is not allowed to discuss the
evaluation of a product with anyone outside the contract. She therefore has an
obligation to company B not to provide information regarding their product to
anyone else without their permission. She has a similar obligation to company
Mary’s problem
Can she continue with the evaluation?
If she cannot continue with the evaluation how does she inform company A of the patent violation?
Does she have an obligation to let Company B know Company A has copied their GUI?
Underlying the various ethical issues in this case is that of the violation of intellectual property
rights. Such a violation is certainly illegal, but whether it is also immoral is more contentious. When
examined in detail its basis is not as solid as it is often assumed, despite the commonly held view
presented by which claims that companies that have invested resources in creating software are
entitled to reap an economic reward. It is not obvious that the reward should come through
ownership. But be this as it may, the fact that it is illegal raises the important issue in this case.
The central issue is that of honouring contracts, and the more basic principle of keeping
promises. The consultant has, in effect, promised to keep the information learnt in the
consultancies confidential. The problem is that it is difficult both to do this and to let Company A
know that they are doing something illegal. One ought, generally, to keep promises. But why? The
answer that one gives will depend on more general ethical theories.
Lets consider two types of theories, consequentialist and deontological.
Mary’s problem
Consequentialism versus deontology
ï‚— Consequentialist theories state that consequences are all important in
determining what is the ethical or moral thing to do. The best known of these
theories is the utilitarianism, particularly as it was made famous by John Stuart Mill.
ï‚— Mill’s well known view is that the morally right action is that which produces the greatest
happiness for the greatest number of people. Many varieties of utilitarianism have been
developed to take account of various problems, but there is something attractive about
the general idea. It does seem right that consequences are important in
determining the rightness or wrongness of actions.
ï‚— Immanuel Kant for example, believed that lying was always wrong, regardless of the
consequences. Looking at invasion of personal privacy and unauthorised copying in this
light, those activities, if wrong, they are wrong in themselves, regardless of
consequences even where those consequences might be good.
Mary’s problem
Why should Mary worry about breaking a contract?
 On deontological grounds one might argue that to break a promise is to show lack of
respect for the person to whom the promise was made, and as such is always morally
wrong, regardless of whether or not the consequences are good.
 On a consequentialist view breaking promises is generally bad simply because the
convention of having promises is a very useful one, and any promise breaking weakens
that convention.
 However, in order to avoid a greater harm, in an individual case the right thing to do
could be to break a promise.
 Perhaps in this example it is not too difficult to avoid breaking the promise of
confidentiality. The consultant can just tell Company A that the particular
GUI has been patented. She need not say how she knows this. But the situation
may not be so simple, if she worked for Company B just a few weeks previously. It
may be obvious that she learnt this while working for them, in which case she
could be accused of breaking her promise to them. It may well be that by
revealing anything at all she is breaking a promise to one of the companies.
 But if she does nothing, she is acting unprofessionally in not letting her
client know that they are doing something illegal, and this too is
Doing ethics technique
1. What is going on?
While Mary was evaluating company A’s GUIs, she became aware that
some of these GUIs are already patented by company B, which she
worked several weeks before.
2. What are the facts?
Mary is currently working with company A’s GUIs
She was working with company B
She became aware that company A has some GUIs which are being
already patented by company B.
Doing ethics technique
3. What are the issues?
ï‚— Breaking confidentiality
ï‚— Violation of Patent/copyright
ï‚— Breaking of rules of contract with company B
4. Who is affected?
ï‚— Mary
ï‚— Company A
ï‚— Company B
Doing ethics technique
5. What are the ethical issues and implications?
 According KANT – Categorical Imperative
â—¦ {You have to treat people the same always, respect yourself and respect
You can not lie, you can not break promises
Mary can not work on this project with A because she would be
respecting company B, she would lie to company A that she knows
nothing about company B.
Mary can NOT say anything to company B, because she has a contract
with company A. She can NOT say anything to company A about B
because she had a confidentiality contract with company B.
To respect her professional integrity she has to remove herself from this
She has a duty to inform company A that there could be a patent issue
and they investigate further.
Doing ethics technique
5. What are the ethical issues and implications?
 According to utilitarianism
â—¦ If Mary does nothing and continuous to work on the project that is
â—¦ The aim of utilitarianism is to make the majority of the parties happy.
Mary would be happy if this situation was not happening – if she did not
work in on this project with company A she not be in trouble with company B
in the future..
Mary would be in trouble with company A if she tells company B.
Mary has to stop working on this project and to stop company A from
breaking the patent.
 Finally Mary has to stop working on this project and ask
company A to review existing patents.
Doing ethics technique
6. What can be done about it?
â—¦ Mary can not work on this project but has to look at some options.
7. What options are there?
â—¦ Mary can quit the contract and say nothing (personal reasons)
â—¦ Mary can tell everything to company A (but she will be breaking the
old contract with company B).
â—¦ Mary stops working on this project and ask company A to review
existing patents
8. Which option is best – and why?
ITC 331 Topic 1
•Human beings are often classified by their behavior.
•Behavior is therefore considered as indicators of the attitudes held by
a person
•How do we objectively evaluate behavior to determine ethicality?
•Dictionary meaning of Ethics
“moral philosophy” or “moral principles; rules of conduct”
•Dictionary meaning of Ethical
“relating to morals, especially as concerning human conduct”
Ethics and Ethical Decision Making
•Ethics has to do with a principle – based choice between competing
alternatives. The choices are often between the Right and the Wrong.
•Its about attacking the problem logically and making decisions based
on well reasoned, defensible ethical principles.
•Ethical principles are ideas of behavior that are commonly acceptable
to society.
•This module is all about ethics and Info Technology, its relation with
human actions, how to choose between right and wrong, how to use a
number of guidelines and ethical principles to make ethical decisions.
Competing Factors That Affect Our Behavior
Maslow’s definition of Behavior
Maslow (1954) described behavior as based upon a hierarchy of needs that if satisfied provide
reward for the individual and if not can result in inappropriate behavior.
UTAS – Community Leadership Online Resource. Retrieved Feb 20th, 2008, from
Competing Factors That Affect Our Behavior
and Value Judgment
•Human action is rarely simple or straight forward.
•A number of influences often lead to competing outcomes and
therefore an individual must weigh risks and consequences before
making an independent value judgment.
•The objective is to make a judgment, based on combination of values
and those of others, to arrive at a defensible principled choice.
•A way of achieving a high quality ethical value judgment is through a
structured analysis and decision making process which forms the core
of this module.
ï‚— http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/business/items/200908/s2655
ï‚— http://www.theage.com.au/business/clive-peeters-leftreeling-by-20m-sting-20090811-egz2.html
Ethics and Computers
Managing computers ethically is not an easy task for
individuals or organizations.
Some of the difficulty posed by computers are:
Using computers and data communications alters
relationship with people because of reduced personal
contact and the speed of processing.
Electronic information is more fragile and can be
manipulated with easily or can be accessed by
unauthorised sources.
Effort to protect and desire to share information
integrity, confidentiality and availability do conflict.
Lack of ethical values and practices or different
values and practices by different individuals.
Unethical Computer use and Issues
Social and economic issues
Issues of individual practice
Software development issues
Computer processing issues
Issues relating to work place
Issues of data collection, storage and access
Issues relating electronic mail and internet
Resource exploitation issues
Vendor – Client issues
Computer crime issues
The Ten cyber-commandments ☺
Thou shall not use a computer to harm other people.
Thou shall not interfere with other people’s computer
Thou shall not snoop around in other people’s files.
Thou shall not use a computer to steal.
Thou shall not use a computer to bear false witness.
Thou shall not use or copy software for which you have
not paid.
Thou shall not use other people’s computer resources
without authorization.
Thou shall not appropriate other people’s intellectual
Thou shall think about the social consequences of the
program you write.
Thou shall use a computer in ways that show
consideration and respect.
What Is Cyberethics?
ï‚— Cyberethics is the study of moral, legal, and social
issues involving cybertechnology.
ï‚— It examines the impact that cybertechnology has for
our social, legal, and moral systems.
ï‚— It also evaluates the social policies and laws that we
frame in response to issues generated by the
development and use of cybertechnology.
What Is Cybertechnology?
ï‚— Cybertechnology refers to a wide range of computing
and communications devices
– from standalone computers, to “connected” or networked
computing and communications technologies, to the
Internet itself.
ï‚— Cybertechnologies include:
ï‚— hand-held devices (such as personal digital assistants);
ï‚— personal computers (desktops and laptops);
ï‚— large mainframe computers.
Cybertechnology (Continued)
ï‚— Networked devices can be connected directly to the
ï‚— They also can be connected to other devices through one
or more privately owned computer networks.
ï‚— Privately owned networks include both:
ï‚— Local Area Networks (LANs),
ï‚— Wide Area Networks (WANs).
Why the term cyberethics?
ï‚— Cyberethics is a more accurate label than computer
ethics, which can suggest the study of ethical issues
limited either to:
ï‚— computing machines,
ï‚— computing professionals.
ï‚— Cyberethics is also more accurate than Internet ethics,
which is limited only to ethical issues affecting
computer networks.
The Evolution of Cybertechnology and
Cyberethics: Four Phases
 Computer technology emerged in the late 1940s, when some
analysts confidently predicted that no more than six
computers would ever need to be built.
 The first phase of computing technology (1950s and 1960s)
consisted mainly of huge mainframe computers that were
unconnected (i.e., stand-alone machines).
 One ethical/social question that arose during Phase 1 dealt
with the impact of computing machines as “giant brains” and
what that meant for being human.
 Another question raised during this phase concerned privacy
threats and the fear of Big Brother.
The Evolution of Cybertechnology and
Cyberethics (Continued)
ï‚— In Phase 2 (1970s and 1980s), computing machines and
communications devices began to converge.
Mainframe computers and personal computers could be linked
together via privately owned networks such as LANs and
Privacy concerns arose because confidential information could
easily be exchanged between networked databases.
Intellectual property issues emerged because personal
computers could easily duplicate proprietary software
Computer crime was possible because people could break into
the computers of large organizations.
The Evolution of Cybertechnology and
Cyberethics (Continued)
ï‚— During Phase 3 (1990-present), the availability of Internet
access to the general public has increased significantly.
This has been facilitated by the phenomenal growth of the
World Wide Web.
The proliferation of Internet- and Web-based technologies in
this phase has raised ethical and social concerns affecting:
free speech,
The Evolution of Cybertechnology and
Cyberethics (Continued)
ï‚— As cybertechnology evolves in Phase 4, computers will likely
become more and more a part of who or what we are as
human beings.
ï‚— James Moor (2005) notes that computing devices will soon be
a part of our clothing, and even our bodies.
ï‚— Computers are already becoming ubiquitous, and are
beginning to “pervade” both our work and recreational
ï‚— Objects in these environments already exhibit what Philip Brey
(2005) calls “ambient intelligence,” which enables “smart
objects” to be connected to one another via wireless
Table 1-1: Summary of Four Phases
of Cyberethics
Time Period
Technological Features
Associated Issues
Stand-alone machines (large
mainframe computers)
Artificial intelligence (AI),
database privacy (“Big Brother”)
Minicomputers and PCs
interconnected via privately owned
Issues from Phase 1 plus
concerns involving intellectual
property and software piracy,
computer crime, privacy and the
exchange of records.
Internet and World Wide Web
Issues from Phases 1 and 2 plus
concerns about free speech,
anonymity, legal jurisdiction,
virtual communities, etc.
Present to
Near Future
Convergence of information and
communication technologies with
nanotechnology research and
bioinformatics research, etc.
Issues from Phases 1-3 plus
concerns about artificial
electronic agents (“bots”) with
decision-making capabilities,
bionic chip implants,
nanocomputing research, etc.
Uniqueness Issue
ï‚— There are two points of view on whether cybertechnology
has generated any new or unique ethical issues:
 (1) Traditionalists argue that nothing is new – crime is
crime, and murder is murder.
ï‚— (2) Uniqueness Proponents argue that
cybertechnology has introduced (at least some) new
and unique ethical issues that could not have existed
before computers.
Uniqueness Issue (Continued)
ï‚— Both sides seem correct on some claims, and both
seem to be wrong on others.
ï‚— Traditionalists underestimate the role that issues of
scale and scope that apply because of the impact of
computer technology.
ï‚— For example, cyberstalkers can stalk multiple victims
simultaneously (scale) and globally (because of the scope or
reach of the Internet).
ï‚— Cyberstalkers can also operate without ever having to leave
the comfort of their homes.
Alternative Strategy for Analyzing the
Uniqueness Issue
ï‚— James Moor (2000) argues that computer technology
generates “new possibilities for human action” because
computers are logically malleable.
ï‚— Logical malleability, in turn, introduces policy vacuums.
ï‚— Policy vacuums often arise because of conceptual
Case Illustration of a Policy
Vacuum: Duplicating Software
ï‚— In the early 1980s, there were no clear laws regarding the
duplication of software programs, which was made easy
because of personal computers.
ï‚— A policy vacuum arose.
ï‚— Before the policy vacuum could be filled, we had to clear
up a conceptual muddle: What exactly is software?
Cyberethics as a Branch of Applied
ï‚— Applied ethics, unlike theoretical ethics, examines
“practical” ethical issues.
ï‚— It analyzes moral issues from the vantage-point of
one or more ethical theories.
ï‚— Ethicists working in fields of applied ethics are more
interested in applying ethical theories to the analysis
of specific moral problems than in debating the
ethical theories themselves.
Cyberethics as a Branch of Applied
Ethics (continued)
ï‚— Three distinct perspectives of applied
ethics (as applied to cyberethics):
Professional Ethics;
ï‚— Philosophical Ethics;
ï‚— Descriptive Ethics.
Perspective # 1: Professional Ethics
 According to this view, cyberethics is the field that
identifies and analyzes issues of ethical responsibility
for computer professionals.
 Consider a computer professional’s role in designing,
developing, and maintaining computer hardware and
software systems.
 Suppose a programmer discovers that a software product she
has been working on is about to be released for sale to the
public, even though it is unreliable because it contains
“buggy” software.
 Should she “blow the whistle”?
Professional Ethics
ï‚— Don Gotterbarn (1995) has suggested that computer
ethics issues are professional ethics issues.
ï‚— Computer ethics, for Gotterbarn, is similar to medical
ethics and legal ethics, which are tied to issues
involving specific professions.
 He notes that computer ethics issues aren’t about
technology per se.
 For example, we don’t have automobile ethics, airplane
ethics, etc.
Perspective # 2: Philosophical Ethics
â–ª From this perspective, cyberethics is a field of
philosophical analysis and inquiry that goes beyond
professional ethics.
â–ª Moor (2000) defines computer ethics as:
…the analysis of the nature and social impact of computer
technology and the corresponding formulation and
justification of policies for the ethical use of such
technology. [Italics Added.]
Philosophical Ethics Perspective
 Moor argues that automobile and airplane
technologies did not affect our social policies and
norms in the same kinds of fundamental ways that
computer technology has.
 Automobile and airplane technologies have
revolutionized transportation, resulting in our ability
to travel faster and farther than was possible in
previous eras.
 But they did not have the same impact on our legal
and moral systems as cybertechnology.
Perspective #3: Cyberethics as a Field of
Descriptive Ethics
ï‚— The professional and philosophical perspectives both
illustrate normative inquiries into applied ethics
ï‚— Normative inquiries or studies are contrasted with
descriptive studies.
 Descriptive investigations report about “What is the case.“
ï‚— Normative inquiries evaluate situations from the vantage-
point of the question: “What ought to be the case?”.
Descriptive Ethics Perspective
 Scenario: A community’s workforce and the
introduction of a new technology.
ï‚— Suppose a new technology displaces 8,000 workers in
a community.
ï‚— If we analyze the issues solely in terms of the number
of jobs that were gained or lost in that community,
our investigation is essentially descriptive in nature.
ï‚— We are simply describing an impact that technology X has
for Community Y.
Descriptive Ethics Perspective
ï‚— Descriptive vs. Normative Claims
ï‚— Consider three assertions:
ï‚— (1) “Bill Gates served as the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft
Corporation for many years.”
ï‚— (2) “Bill Gates should expand Microsoft’s product offerings.“
 (3) “Bill Gates should not engage in business practices that are unfair to
â–ª Claims (2) And (3) are normative, (1) is descriptive;
(2) is normative but nonmoral, while (3) is both
normative and moral.
Table 1-2: Summary of Cyberethics
Type of Perspective
Issues Examined
Computer Science
Professional Responsibility
System Reliability/Safety
Codes of Conduct
Privacy & Anonymity
Intellectual Property
Free Speech
Behavioral Sciences
Impact of cybertechnology
on governmental/financial/
educational institutions and
socio-demographic groups
Is Cyber-technology Neutral?
ï‚— Technology seems neutral, at least initially.
 Consider the cliché: “Guns don’t kill people, people
kill people.”
ï‚— Corlann Gee Bush (2006) argues that gun technology,
like all technologies, is biased in certain directions.
ï‚— She points out that certain features inherent in gun
technology itself cause guns to be biased in a
direction towards violence.
Is Technology Neutral (continued)?
ï‚— Bush uses an analogy from physics to illustrate the
bias inherent in technology.
ï‚— An atom that either loses or gains electrons through
the ionization process becomes charged or valenced
in a certain direction.
ï‚— Bush notes that all technologies, including guns, are
similarly valenced in that they tend to “favor” certain
directions rather than others.
ï‚— Thus technology is biased and is not neutral.
Ethics and Law
•Law implies that a recognized authority has decided that
the action the law allows or prohibits is of benefit to
society in some way or the other.
•Law makes a good starting point for ethical decision
making as law is grounded on ethical principals but not
always as law is not always ethical.
•The relationship between ethics and law leads to four
possible states that depends on weather an act is ethical
or not or legal or not.
Ethics and Law
Four possibilities between ethics and law.
An act that is ethical and legal
Buying a software package for doing accounting for
An act that is ethical but not legal
Coping copyrighted product for back up use only.
An act that is not ethical but legal
Using unlicensed software in foreign country where
software copyrights do not apply.
An act that is not ethical and not legal
Making unauthorised copies of copyrighted software
for commercial purposes.
Ethical Theory and Guidelines
Ethical theory can be used as a foundation to provide a rationale of
moral argument. It helps us to be able to classify and understand
arguments and to be able to offer defensible conclusions.
Many decisions have to be “made on the run”. How we do this
depends largely on the automated, unconscious responses we make
to the particular situations. A Guideline is something that helps us to a
particular direction.
Informal guidelines can provide a rapid means of identifying and
classifying moral dilemmas, and thus directing behaviour towards an
ethical solution.
Formal Guidelines are more explicit statements of expected behavior.
Informal Guidelines
“Don’t tell anybody but …”. Such behavior is common among those who
want to “keep it quiet” and they are instinctively aware that an action is
The Parent Test. Would you be comfortable with an action if you were to
inform your parents of it? Would they approve?
The Public Broadcast Test. How would you and/or the public react to
reporting an action in the electronic or printed media?
The Advertising Test. Similar to the above but more deliberate, this test
asks whether a marketing or advertising campaign could be based on
the action taken.
The Nose (or Tongue) Test. Ethical dilemmas can have that “bad smell”
or “bad taste” about them. This test examines the unconscious
responses that result from confronting the dilemma with instinctive
moral and ethical rules.
Formal Guidelines
By going through these questions one can get a clearer
picture of the dilemma and perhaps of the beginning of the
ethical solution
Does the act violate the corporate policy? This
decides that weather the act is in accordance with the
companies set policies and guidelines.
Does the act violate the corporate or
professional code of conduct or ethics? These are
guidelines and rules defined by various societies and
companies which are based on ethical background.
Does the act violate the Golden Rule? How
would you react if the same rules under the circumstances
act on you.
Damon Horowitz calls for a “moral
operating system”
At TEDxSiliconValley, Damon
Horowitz reviews the
enormous new powers that
technology gives us: to know
more — and more about each
other — than ever before.
Drawing the audience into a
philosophical discussion,
Horowitz invites us to pay
new attention to the basic
philosophy — the ethical
principles — behind the burst
of invention remaking our
world. Where’s the moral
operating system that allows
us to make sense of it?
ï‚— http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG3vB2Cu_jM

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