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chapter 3: Ethics, Technology and Values


chapter 3: Ethics, Technology and Values Traditional Definition of Ethics Ethical Theories Functional Definition of Ethics Codes of Ethics Reflections on Computer Ethics – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: chapter 3: Ethics, Technology and Values

chapter 3 Ethics, Technology and Values
  • Traditional Definition of Ethics
  • Ethical Theories
  • Functional Definition of Ethics
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Reflections on Computer Ethics
  • Technology and values

Traditional Definition of Ethics
  • Ethics comes from a Greek word ethe which
    means character.
  • It is a set of theories of value, virtue or of
    right action
  • It is a set of theories to provide general
    rules/principles to be used in making moral
  • to provide justification for those rules
  • Every human action is judged to be good/bad
    based on these theories

Ethical Theories
  • Ethical Theories
  • A system of justices developed, tested, revised,
    and debated over the years by groups/societies.
  • Codes of Ethics are based on these theories
  • Processes of reasoning, explanation, and
    justification used in ethics are based on these

Ethical Theories
  • Some of the theories are
  • Consequentialism
  • Deontology
  • Human nature
  • Relativism
  • Emotivism
  • Hedonism

  • (1) Consequentialism
  • actions are judged good/bad depending on the
    outcome/ results of such actions
  • There are three types of Consequentialism
  • (I) Egoism- putting an individuals interests
    and happiness above everyone elses.
  • (ii) Utilitarianism putting a groups interests
    and happiness above self.
  • (iii) Altruism actions are judged good if the
    consequences are favorable to all except the
  • (2) Deontology (duty theory - militaristic)
    an action is good if done as a duty regardless
    of outcomes .

  • (3) Human nature actions are judged good
    based on the capabilities of the actor
    (individual committing an evil action is lacking
    in some capabilities)
  • (4) Relativism this takes right and wrong to
    be relative to society ( hence no universal
  • (5) Hedonism - this seeks maximum pleasure
    (/happiness) for all.
  • (6) Emotivism This theory maintains that
    ethical statements are neither true nor false and
    cannot be proven they are really only statements
    about how someone feels

  • These theories are used as engines to help
    understand and justify human actions
  • Theories have not changed with time and
    technology although the premises for human
    actions have changed
  • Theories are used in layers of reasoning
    (/several steps) to justify all human actions.

Functional Definition of Ethics
  • 1 if good/right
  • f(A,B)
  • 0 if bad/wrong
  • where a ? A set of all human
  • b ? B set of all
    ethical theories
  • The function f is an ethical decision function
    that assigns to every pair (a,b) a unique binary
    value of 1 for good or 0 for bad.

Codes of Ethics
  • The main domains in which ethics is defined are
    governed by a particular set of rules called
    codes of ethics.
  • Code of ethics definition in business
  • A written set of guidelines issued by an
    organization to its workers and management to
    help them conduct their actions in accordance
    with its primary values and ethical standards.

Codes of Ethics
  • Ethical codes forms
  • 1. Principles, which may act as guidelines,
    references, or bases for some document.
  • 2. Public policies, which may include aspects of
    acceptable behavior, norms, and practices of a
    society or group.
  • 3.Codes of conduct, which may include ethical
  • 4. Legal instruments, which enforce good conduct
    through courts.
  • See ACM Web Page Http//
  • See also the textbook pages 45-57.

Objectives of Codes of Ethics
  • Disciplinary By instilling discipline, the group
    or profession ensures professionalism and
    integrity of its members.
  • Advisory The codes are usually a good source of
    tips to members and offer advice and guidance in
    areas where there are fuzzy moral issues.
  • Educational Ethical codes are good educational
    tools for members of the domain, especially the
    new ones who have to learn the dos and donts of
    the new profession. These codes are also a good
    source of renewal for the older members needing
    to refresh and polish their possibly waning

Objectives of Codes of Ethics
  • Inspirational Besides being disciplinary,
    advisory, and educational, the codes should also
    carry subliminal messages to those using them to
    inspire them to be good.
  • Publicity One way for professions to create a
    good clientele is to show that they have a strong
    code of ethics and, therefore, their members are
    committed to basic values and are responsible.

Reflections on Computer Ethics
  • What makes computer ethics the same/different
    from traditional ethics???
  • Changing premises
  • Different temptations e.g. Speed, Privacy and
    anonymity, International scope, aesthetic
    attraction, The power to destroy..etc(see p
  • Different means of delivery
  • Complacency
  • Ethical muddles

Technology and values
  • Technology is influencing the ethical and moral
    values of societies.
  • Successful technological advances have created
    tempting situations by
  • Adding value
  • Removing value
  • Changing value

Technology and Values
  • To keep societys values we need to
  • Formulate new laws to strengthen existing values
    ( made obsolete by technological advances)
  • Construct a conceptual model in which the new
    laws can be applied
  • Successfully Launch massive education

  • Analyzing a Professional Ethical Scenario

Analyzing a Professional Ethical Scenario
  • Stage 1Brainstorming phase
  • List risks, issues, problems, consequences.
  • List all the stakeholders.
  • List possible actions.

Analyzing Professional Responsibilities (contd)
  • Stage 2Analysis phase
  • Identify the responsibilities of the
  • Identify the rights of stakeholders.
  • Consider the impact of the action options on the
  • Find sections in codes of ethics that apply,
    categorize each potential action or response as
    ethically obligatory, ethically prohibited, or
    ethically acceptable.

Analyzing Professional Responsibilities (contd)
  • Consider the ethical merits of each option and
    select one.