Professional ethics
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS. Calvin Gotlieb, Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science University of Toronto York University October 18, 2006. ETHICS. Webster “The branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human

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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS

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Professional ethics

PROFESSIONAL ETHICS

Calvin Gotlieb,

Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science

University of Toronto

York University

October 18, 2006


Ethics

ETHICS

Webster

“The branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human

conduct with respect to rightness and wrongness of actions and the

goodness and badness of motives and ends”

In considering professional ethics it is necessary to put these in

context with different ethical theories proposed through the

centuries, in many countries, by religious leaders and moral

philosophers

Reference: Michael J. Quinn “Ethics for the Information Age”

Pearson Education, 2nd ed. 2006

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Ethical theories

Ethical Theories

  • Descriptive ethics---as practiced

  • Normative ethics-from the writings of philosophers and religious leaders

  • Assumption

    Will accept theories based on logic/reason

    (as opposed to, say, belief or practice)

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Subjective cultural relativsim

SUBJECTIVE/CULTURAL RELATIVSIM

Negative claim

There are no universal norms

Positive claim

Right and wrong are relative to the individual and society

Problems

Accepts intolerance, slavery, apartheid, torture, where these are societal norms

Negates idea of moral progress

Relativism view in itself is a universal claim

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Divine command theory

DIVINE COMMAND THEORY

Good actions are those aligned with the will of God

God’s will is revealed in the “holy book” handed down

through his messenger

Problems?

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Consequentialism act utilitariansim

CONSEQUENTIALISM( ACT) UTILITARIANSIM

Jeremy Bentham John Stuart Mills

What makes acts right or wrong depends wholly on the consequences

Consequences are difficult to predict So--

Act so as to achieve the “greatest good for the greatest number”

Problems

Leadsto a “calculus of values” But can values be quantified?

Should we kill one person to get many body parts?

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Deontological theories

DEONTOLOGICAL THEORIES

Immanuel Kant

The only unambiguous good thing is the will to do good

There are absolutely, inherently right rules

Rationality—Man is unique in ability to reason

Therefore rules are good if they follow from logic

Categorical Imperative

Rules are good if they apply to everyone (Universality)

E.g. Do no harm (-) Golden rule (+)

Never treat human beings as means to an end, but rather as ends in themselves

Leads to idea of “human rights”---privacy, intellectual property rights

Are there universal rights?—e.g. life, liberty, pursuit of happiness

Problems

How to adjudicate between conflicting rights?—privacy and free speech

Does absolute right imply existence of absolute evil?

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Social contract theory

SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY

Thomas Hobbes Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There is a “social contract” between individuals and society where

everyone gains (is not hurt)

This leads to legal contract i.e. Laws

Hence the connection between laws,ethics, morality

Laws about driving (on the left or right) or protecting intellectual

Property may not be inherently moral but they prevent harm and promote good

Social Contract theory recognizes the harm resulting form the concentration of wealth and power

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Professional ethics

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Professional ethics

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Professional ethics

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


Ethical codes for professions

Ethical Codes for Professions

Requirements for Codes to be Effective

  • A Code has to formulated and promulgated

  • A transparent process has to be in place to judge cases

    where there has been a possible transgression of the code

  • A support system has to be known to aid persons who

    are willing to be whistleblowers on witnessing what they

    believe is a serious infraction of the code

York, October 18, 2006 Professional Ethics


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