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Ethical Decision Making & Information Technology

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1 Ethical Decision Making & Information Technology
from Ethical Decision Making & Information Technology E. Kallman & J. Grillo

2 Objectives Raise sensitivity to ethical circumstances involving IT that have the potential to harm individuals, organizations, or society Provide a process for analyzing ethical situations and for making decisions in response to them Instill readiness and willingness to accept responsibility for the ethicality of one’s actions

3 What are ethics? Principles based on our understanding of what is good, right, proper, moral, or ethical. Ideas of behavior that are commonly acceptable to society Influenced by a variety of sources such as family, religious institutions, educational institutions, professional organizations, government, etc.

4 Why care about ethics? Self-interest: For the interest of the others
Some unethical actions are also illegal Some can effect our careers and reputation For the interest of the others Some unethical decisions can hurt other individuals, the organization we work for, or society  ethical decision making is vital to creating a world in which we want to live.

5 Computer Ethics vs Regular Ethics
Is there an ethical difference between browsing through someone’s computer files and browsing through her desk drawer? No difference New technologies can make them seem different Technology makes some unethical actions easier to take and easier to conceal.

6 What is Ethical Decision Making?
When faced with an ethical dilemma the objective is to make a judgment based on well-reasoned, defensible ethical principles. The risk is poor judgment i.e. a low-quality decision A low-quality decision can have a wide range of negative consequences

7 Two Types of Ethical Choices
Right vs wrong: choosing right from wrong is the easiest Right vs right Situation contains shades of gray i.e. all alternative have desirable and undesirable results Choosing “the lesser of two evils” Objective: make a defensible decision

8 Making Defensible Decisions
First step in ethical decision making is to recognize that an ethical dilemma exists “defensible decision” Two well-meaning individuals can examine the same situation and arrive at different courses of action High-quality ethical decision: based on reason and can be defended according to ethical concepts Ethical decision making is not a science. It is however a skill -- a survival skill

9 Law and Ethics An act can be: If case in 1 or 4, decision is obvious
Ethical and legal Ethical but not legal Not ethical but legal Not ethical and not legal If case in 1 or 4, decision is obvious If case in 2 or 3, or if law is not clear then further analysis is needed. If law provides answer, no further investigation is needed

10 Guidelines to Ethical Decision Making
Informal Guidelines to recognize an ethical problem exist Is there something you or others prefer to keep quiet? The shushers test: who wants to keep things quiet? The Mom test: The TV test The market test The smell test: does your instinct tells you something is wrong?

11 Guidelines to Ethical Decision Making
Formal Guidelines Does the act violate corporate policy? Does it violate corporate or professional code of conduct or ethics? Does it violate the “Golden Rule”? treat others the way you wish them to treat you. What if all above guidelines not helpful? Look at ethical principles

12 Ethical Principles Rights and Duties (deontology)
Consequentialism (teleology) Kant’s Categorical Imperative

13 Rights and Duties (deontology)
Individuals have certain rights but they always come with duties and vice versa E.g. based on your job contract you have the duty to work 40h/weeks and the right to get compensated with a weekly salary + benefits etc. Your employer has the duty to pay you the agreed wage/salary + benefits and the right to the product of your work for 40h/week

14 Rights and Duties (deontology)
In the field of IT questions often arise about three rights: The right to know: e.g. to what extent do we have the right to know and have access to information that relates to us? The right to privacy: to what extent do we have the right to control information that relates to us? The right to property: to what extent do we have a right to protect our computer resources from misuse and abuse?

15 Rights and Duties (deontology)
Each person has the personal duty: To foster trust: other should be able to have confidence that our work is competent, timely, and will not cause harm To act with integrity To be truthful: other should be able to expect us to be truthful. To do justice: our dealings with others are fair e.g. those who perform service are rightfully paid To practice beneficence and nonmaleficence-- beneficence: help others improve themselves. Nonmaleficence: cause no harm to others To act with appropriate gratitude and make appropriate reparation-- gratitude: thankful for the kind acts of others. Reparation: the act of providing fair recompense for wrongful acts to others To work toward self-improvement : improve our mental and moral faculties

16 Consequentialism (teleology)
Judge the rightness or wrongness of an action by the outcomes Minimize harm Maximizing benefits

17 Consequentialism (teleology)
Can be based on Egoism: how the act effects me/my organization? Egoism can be justified in certain circumstances (e.g. a company trying to increase its profit. Counter e.g. some takes action that harms others to protect his jobs) Egoism is limited by other ethical principles Utilitarianism: how the act effects me and others? Our actions benefit others as well as ourselves Action is justified if it max. benefits over costs for all involved. Altruism: how the act effects others? Our actions benefit others even at a cost to us/our organization Can be misapplied: an employee gives company sw products for free??

18 Kant’s Categorical Imperative
Principle of consistency Would everyone benefit (or would no one be harmed)- if everyone were to take the same action being considered? Principle of respect: Requires that we treat people with dignity People are ends in themselves not means E.g. slavery violates the categorical imperative.

19 A Four-Step Process for Ethical Analysis and Decision Making

20 Step 1: Understanding the situation
List and number the relevant facts Which of these raises an ethical issue? Why? What is the potential harm? List the stakeholders involved

21 Step 2: Isolating the major ethical dilemma
What is the ethical dilemma to be solved? State it using the form: Should someone do or not do something.

22 Step 3: Analyzing the ethicality of both alternatives in Step 2.
Consequentialism Rights & duties Kant’s categorial imperqtive

23 Step 4: Making a decision and planning the implementation
Make a defensible decision Based on the analysis of step3, respond to question in Step 2. List the specific steps needed to implement your defensible decision Show how the major stakeholders are effected by these actions What other long-term changes would help such probs in future What should have been done or not done in the first place to avoid this dilemma.

24 SAMPLE CASE Please see textbook pp 35-56.
For your ethics presentation, you may choose one of the case in your textbook, do the 4-step analysis, and present it. Need to turn-in all worksheet with you presentation. Let me know ahead of time (by 10/13/05) which case you want to work on.

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