Module 3 ethics technology and values
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Module 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.

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Module 3: Ethics, Technology and Values

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Module 3 ethics technology and values

Module 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

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Traditional definition of ethics

Traditional Definition of Ethics

  • Ethics comes from a Greek word ethe’ which means character.

  • A set of theories of value, virtue or of right action

  • A set of theories to provide general rules/principles to be used in making moral decisions

    • to provide justification for those rules

  • Every human action is judged to be good/bad based on these theories

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

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 theories.

  • Some of the theories are:

    (1) Consequentialism

    • actions are judged good/bad depending on the outcome/ results of such actions

    • There are three types of Consequentialism:

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza



  • (I) Egoism- putting an individual’s interests and happiness above everyone else’s.

  • (ii) Utilitarianism – putting a group’s interests and happiness above self.

  • (iii) Altruism – actions are judged good if the consequences are favorable to all except the actor

    (2) Deontology – (duty theory - militaristic) – an action is good if done as a duty.

    (3) Human nature – actions are judged good based on the capabilities of the actor (guilty by reasons of insanity)

    (4) Relativism – this takes right and wrong to be relative to society ( hence no universal norms).

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza



(5) Hedonism - this seeks maximum pleasure for all.

(6) Emotivism – this states that ethical statements are neither true nor false but depend on individuals.

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza


Theories …

  • 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 to justify all human actions.

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Functional definition of ethics

Functional Definition of Ethics

1 if good/right

  • f(A,B) = {

    0 if bad/wrong

    where a Є A = { set of all human actions }

    b Є 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.

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Codes of ethics

Codes of Ethics

  • See ACM Web Page Http://

  • See also the textbook pages 46-57.

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Objectives of codes of ethics

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 do’s and don’ts 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 morals.

  • 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.

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Reflections on computer ethics

Reflections on Computer Ethics

  • What makes computer ethics the same/different from traditional ethics:

    • Changing premises

    • Different temptations(see page 58-59)

    • Different means of delivery

    • Complacency

    • Ethical muddles

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Technology and values

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

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

Technology and values1

Technology and Values…

  • To keep society’s values we need to:

    • formulate new laws to strengthen existing values ( made obsolete by technological advances)

    • Construct a new conceptual model in which to apply the changing value system (new)

    • Launch massive education campaigns

Ethical and Social...J.M.Kizza

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