Computer ethics is
a diverse and interdisciplinary field engaging a variety of
regarding a variety of issues from a variety of perspectives and levels of
abstraction, so it comes as no surprise that there are many ways to engage the
broad project of cultivating genuine sensitivity. Despite this great diversity,
I suspect that nearly all of these approaches can agree that there is something
amiss in an ethical project that settles for mere compliance. I will explore to
see why computer ethics practice and compliance falls short. This require
special concerned. To cultivate ethical sensitivity, we must bring our audience
either to care about something they did not care about before or to realize the
full implications of something they already care about. Either way, because
caring about something is not generally under one’s immediate voluntary
control, the relationship will involve inquiry-based teaching and mentoring
rather than content-based legislating and enforcement.
theory’s universal imperatives tend towards a certain moral absolutism through
their inability to accommodate exceptional circumstances where “wrong” actions may
result in “good” consequences, unintended or otherwise (Quinn, 2005, p. 67).
Consequentialist theories, conversely, make it possible to justify any action,
however unethical, in the name of a desired goal.
further problem, identified by some authors, is that the privileging of these
specific strands of western ethical theory is implicitly exclusive of other,
political and moral philosophies, particularly those that are non-western in
origin (Duquenoy, 2007, p. 8). This is a limitation for teaching ethics in a
culturally diverse, globally dispersed learning environment and for addressing
the ethical challenges of a twenty-first century digital society (Ess and
each of the major ethical theories has its respective merits, arguably, no single
theory, on its own, is adequate for tackling all the complex modern ethical
dilemmas raised by computer technologies.
real-world decision-making, information technology (IT) professionals
invariably have to balance diverse, often conflicting demands and
responsibilities. These may include legal and contractual obligations, business
priorities and targets, and pressures to cut costs and deliver within
timescales. Professional conduct may be shaped by a complex mix of personal
values and character traits, including opportunism, self-interest, altruism and
codes of conduct of various IT professional bodies are widely acknowledged as
an important source of guidelines and standards of ethical practice. They
They only apply where practitioners are members of such bodies, a
major problem given the relatively low membership levels of professional bodies
in the field of computing. Unlike other professions, the lack of any legal
requirements to belong to a professional body to practice, or of any serious
sanctions if codes are breached, means they have no “teeth”. Some, like McBride
(2012), have argued that codes of conduct tend to result in a rule-based view
of ethics, resulting in the need for “experts” to interpret such rules for
practitioners and creating a climate of formal compliance.
Although legal compliance is seen as a fundamental touchstone for
professionals, legalistic approaches to ethical issues also have their
limitations. An obvious problem is the diversity of legal systems,
internationally, and the jurisdiction of some laws, resulting in a lack of
uniformity in enforcement and applicability in key areas.
This highlights the disparity between the rapid speed of technology
innovation and the relatively gradual pace of legislative debate and enactment.
This means that the law frequently lags behind new and emerging technologies,
resulting in the areas of application where there are legal vacuums and
regulatory frameworks are absent. The associated risks of such technologies can
be obscured by the initial rush of adoption and immersion, making regulation
The claim is simply that, whatever else computer ethics is and does,
whatever other theoretical and practical commitments inform the practices of
particular computer ethicists, it will have to pay special attention to the
intrinsic motivations and concerns of its audience and appeal to those
interests and values if it is to cultivate genuine sensitivity rather than mere
Information ethics, which has been promoted by, and is strongly
linked to, Luciano Floridi’s work 12,27,28, is an attempt to develop an ethical
position on the basis of the ontological properties of information. Disclosive
ethics, on the other hand, 29 is an approach that attempts to make explicit
the ethical assumptions embedded in technologies. Within the Dutch philosophy
of (information) technology there have also been interesting new developments
focusing on the link between ethics and design, such as value sensitive design
29, the morality of artefacts 30, and thinking about responsible
innovation, which has contributed to the development of RRI in general 31.
The argument made here relies on the recognition that computer
ethics can be seen as a reference discourse for ethics- related IS research. To
demonstrate this, one needs to show that theories, topics and approaches of
computer ethics are reflected in IS. It is important to note that this
relationship is not one way and that one can observe an inverse relationship
with IS as a reference discourse for computer ethics.
In general, one can safely say that ethical theory has not been at
the center of attention for IS scholars interested in ethical questions. Where
ethics is the topic of investigation, one can typically find brief
dictionary-style defini-tions of ethics and sometimes more specific references
to some of the better-known ethical positions. The majority of the more
intricate ethical discussions and, in particular, meta-ethical positions that
are often at the core of computer ethics play a minor role in ethics-related IS
In other topic areas, there is less overlap between computer
ethics and ethics-related IS research. Some of the larger problems
concerning the nature of identity, the development of culture and social
interaction are less prominent in IS. At the same time, there is more of a
focus on the ethical aspects of the use of computing technologies in IS .
As suggested, the discourse on computer ethics has a number of
limitations whose resolution is likely to require new ideas and approaches. The
first and most obvious shortcoming is that of the term ‘computer’. When the
discourse on computer ethics began, a computer was a clearly recognizable
artefact. As computers changed their shape and role from large mainframes to
distributed terminals and personal computers, they remained clearly identifi-able.
However, the distinction between computers and other artefacts is no longer
obvious (e.g., cyber-infrastructures, mobile computing and sensor networks).
In the modern society, finding effective solutions for ethical
issues is harder than ever. Boundaries between good and bad are not so
distinctive like black and white. Furthermore, when the issue is computer
ethic, problems are being more complex than others.
The use of information and communication technologies has changed
dramatically with the increase of personal
computers, e-mail, mobile technologies in recent years. These
improvements offer new and rare problems that need different approaches and
solutions. Along with the development of technology new ethical issues have
emerged. These emerging ethical issues have required people who use information
systems to have the ability to make ethical decisions in the process of
software development; consequently this situation has required people to be
aware of ethical issues (Charlesworth, 2000).
The rise of computer using in education forces students to become
more knowledgeable about computer ethics
and the related legal and social issues. In this way, technology can
be accessible to everyone (Bynum and Rogerson 1996; Huff and Martin 1995).In
this context, computer ethics course should have the following general purposes
(Johnson, 1994): to make students aware of the ethical issues surrounding
to increase their sensitivity to ethical issues in the use of
computers and in the practice of computing professions, to provide students
more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which computers change society
and the social environments, to provide conceptual tools and develop analytical
skills in order to identify potential impact of computers or sort out what to
do when in situations calling for ethical decision making.
The Ethical studies concentrate on the ability of the person to
determine right from wrong, and to consistently
evaluate his or her ethics in relation to actions and decision-making.
In almost every facet of business, education, medicine and computer ethics is
an important factor. Along with the development of technology new ethical
issues have emerged. Computer ethics which is one of these issues brings the
process of controversies results with ethical dilemmas in developing countries
and suggests making people aware of the ethical issues surrounding computers.
Computer ethics education begins to become important as a result of it.
Therefore, developing ethical dilemma scenarios in computer ethics education
builds ethical decision-making practices to be applied in the professional
world and also using EPSS will contribute to personal development in
consideration of complexity of analysis process in ethical decision making and computer
ethics education. It is believed that this project will contribute to bring in
an innovative perspective to the literature and social consciousness about the
The impact of the use of technological tools has increased
dramatically in recent decades. As a result, the ethical use of computers and
information technology has also become a subject of great interest. Grant,
Stahl and Rogerson (2009) stated that computer ethics, which is a relatively
new discipline, brings together people such as computer scientists, engineers,
teachers, academicians, philosophers and psychologists in order to discuss
ethical issues. The impressive foundations for computer ethics were laid down
by Norbert Wiener between the 1940s and 1950s; the significant efforts of Donn
Parker, Joseph Weizenbaum and Walter Maner in the 1970s; James Moor’s and
Deborah Johnson’s contributions in the 1980s and Krystyna Gorniak’s hypothesis
in the 1990s (Bynum, 2001)