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CSE/ISE 312. Ethics. Do the Right Thing. Ethics Related Scenarios. Should you download movies or books from unauthorized Web sites? Should you warn potential customers that your app copies their contact list?

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Cse ise 312



Do the Right Thing

Ethics related scenarios
Ethics Related Scenarios

  • Should you download movies or books from unauthorized Web sites?

  • Should you warn potential customers that your app copies their contact list?

  • What information of visitors to your website do you give to advertisers or other collectors?

  • Should you fire an employee who criticizes your business in social media?

  • Would you, a manager, monitor and record at work employees’ browsing? Will you inform them first?

What is ethics
What is Ethics

  • Study of what it means to “do the right thing”

  • Ethical theory assumes that people are rational and make free choices

  • Ethical rules are rules to follow in our interactions and our actions that affect others

    • Most attempt to enhance human dignity, peace, happiness, and well-being

Ethical views 1
Ethical Views (1)

Deontological (nonconsequentialist) theories

  • View acts as good or bad based on the intrinsic aspect of the action. Emphasize duty, absolute rules(e.g., do not lie)

  • Three Immanuel Kant’s ideas about ethics:

    • Principle of universality: we should follow rules of behavior that we can universally apply to everyone

    • Logic and reason determines rules of ethical behavior. One should use reason, rationality, and judgment, not emotions, when making ethical decisions

    • Never treat people as merely means to ends, but rather as ends in themselves

Ethical views 2
Ethical Views (2)

Utilitarianism (a consequentialist theory)

  • Consider consequences, aim to increase happiness, or net aggregate utility;

    • Utility: what satisfies a person’s needs and values

    • Aggregate utility: consider all affected people

  • an act is right if it increases aggregate utility

  • Distinguish act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism

    • Act: Consider utility of each act

    • Rule: Consider utility of general ethic rules instead, not individual act

Ethical views 3
Ethical Views (3)

Natural rights

Try let people make their own decisions, act freely according to their own judgment

  • Ethical behaviors respect fundamental/natural rights including rights to life, liberty, and property

  • Acts are likely ethical if they involve voluntary interactions and freely made exchanges, where the parties are not coerced or deceived

    • Emphasize the process by which people interact, not the result of the interaction

Negative rights vs positive rights
Negative rights vs. Positive rights

  • Negative rights (liberties)

    • The rights to act without interference

  • Positive rights (claim-rights)

    • An obligation of some people to provide certain things for others, such as work, food, medical care, etc.

  • Negative rights and positive rights often conflict

    • Some think protecting claim rights is essential, some think protecting liberties is essential

Negative rights vs positive rights1
Negative rights vs. Positive rights

  • Negative rights (liberties)

    • Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

    • Right to freedom of speech and religion

    • Right to work, own property, access the Internet

  • Positive rights (claim-rights)

    • To life: someone is obligated to pay for food/medical care

    • To freedom of speech

    • To a job: someone must hire you

    • To access Internet: subsidized access for poor people

Ethical views 4
Ethical Views (4)

Golden rules

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

  • When making an ethical choice, consider from the perspective of the people the choice affects

  • We want people to recognize us as individuals and to respect our choices. Thus we should respect theirs

    No simple answers

  • Ethical theories do not provide clear, incontrovertibly correct positions on most issues

  • But they help to identify things to consider, help to clarify reasoning and values

Important distinctions 1
Important Distinctions (1)

  • Right, wrong and okay

    • It may be misleading to divide all acts into right and wrong

    • Better to use ethically obligatory/prohibited/acceptable

  • Difference between wrong and harm

    • Carelessly and needlessly causing harm is wrong

    • Harm alone is not sufficient to be unethical

    • Lack of harm is not sufficient to be ethical

Important distinctions 2
Important Distinctions (2)

  • Separating goals from constraints

    • Goals is one thing, constraints on actions that are used to achieve goals is another thing

    • Business’ goal to maximize profits in not unethical, but how to achieve the goal has ethical constraints

  • Personal preference and ethics

    • Try to distinguish between acts we find distasteful, rude, or ill-advised and acts that we can argue convincingly are ethically wrong

Important distinctions 3
Important Distinctions (3)

  • Law and Ethics

    • Some laws enforce ethical rules, some partly, some don’t (e.g., politicians pass laws to benefit themselves)

    • Are we ethically obligated to obey a law?

    • Is it always ethically right to do that which is legal? No!

    • New law lags behind new technology. Ethics fills the gap in between