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1 Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Department of Computer Science and Engineering Mälardalen University 2007 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CDT409.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Department of Computer Science and Engineering Mälardalen University 2007 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CDT409."— Presentation transcript:

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2 1 Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Department of Computer Science and Engineering Mälardalen University 2007 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CDT409 LECTURE 2

3 2 LECTURE1 HIGHLIGHTS Course Preliminaries Basic Moral Orientations Overview, 1 LECTURE2 Basic Moral Orientations Overview, 2 Relativism, Absolutism, Pluralism

4 3 Planning for the course Examination n RESEARCH PAPER Choose paper title now! Papers are written individually. Topics should be specific for everyone.

5 4 Basic Moral Orientations Overview 1

6 5 On What Basis Do We Make Moral Decisions? n Divine Command -- “Do what the sacred book tells you” - the will of God n Utilitarianism -- “Make the world a better place” n Virtue Ethics -- “Be a good person” n The Ethics of Duty -- “Do your duty” n Immanuel Kant -- Categoric imperativ n Ethical Egoism -- “Watch out for #1”

7 6 On What Basis Do We Make Moral Decisions? n The Ethics of Natural and Human Rights -- “...all people are created...with certain unalienable rights” n Social Contract Ethics n Moral Reason versus Moral Feeling n Evolutionary Ethics

8 7 Moral Reason versus Moral Feeling n Morality is strictly a matter of rational judgment: Samuel Clarke n Since time of Plato: moral truths exist in a spiritual realm. n Moral truths like mathematical truths are eternal. n Morality is strictly a matter of feeling (emotion): David Hume n We have a moral sense Samuel Clarke ( ) David Hume ( )

9 8 On what basis do we make moral decisions? n Emotivism/Value nihilism Alfred Jules Ayer ( ), Axel Hägerström ( ). When I say “It is wrong to commit genocide” I am not making a factual statement. Instead, I am merely expressing my personal attitudes and feelings. "X is right" means "I like X." We pick out our moral principles by following our feelings. The "Immoral Feelings" Objection: Assume that I like getting drunk and, while I'm drunk, I like to hurt people and animals. If emotivism would be true, then it would be morally right for me to hurt people and animals, as I have right to my personal feelings. But it is morally wrong to hurt people and animals simply because one feels like doing so. So the fact that moral judgment is intentional and not only factual does not make values meaningless.

10 9 On what basis do we make moral decisions? n Existentialist Ethics The existentialists emphasize freedom, individuality and subjectivity. n Nietzsche, F. (Writings include Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Human All Too Human, etc.) n Sartre, J.P. (Writings include Being and Nothingness, Nausea, etc.)

11 10 Evolutionary Ethics n Human social behavior is an extended development of biological evolution. n Evolutionary ethics: moral behavior is that which tends to aid in human survival. n Darwin: Origin of Species focuses on the evolutionary mechanisms of non-human animals. n Biologists and philosophers of nineteenth century attempted to frame morality as an extension of the evolutionary biological process. n Problem of the theory: what is progress? What is good? Any signs of moral improvement since Plato?

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13 12 The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics Computer Ethics Institute 1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people. 2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work. 3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files. 4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal. 5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.

14 13 6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid. 7. Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization or proper compensation. 8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output. 9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing. 10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

15 14 References n Basic material: –http://ethics.acusd.edu/presentations/Hinman/theory/relativism/http://ethics.acusd.edu/presentations/Hinman/theory/relativism/ –http://ethics.acusd.edu/socialethics/http://ethics.acusd.edu/socialethics/ –MORAL PHILOSOPHY THROUGH THE AGES, James Fieser, Mayfield Publishing Company, 2001MORAL PHILOSOPHY THROUGH THE AGES n Additional resources: –http://ethics.acusd.edu/relativism.htmlhttp://ethics.acusd.edu/relativism.html

16 15 Basic Moral Orientations Overview 2

17 16 Ethical Relativism, Absolutism, and Pluralism Based on: Lawrence M. Hinman, Ph.D. Director, The Values Institute University of San Diego

18 17 Classical Ethical/Cultural Relativism The Greek Skeptics n Xenophanes ( BCE) “Ethiopians say that their gods are flat-nosed and dark, Thracians that theirs are blue-eyed and red-haired. If oxen and horses and lions had hands and were able to draw with their hands and do the same things as men, horses would draw the shapes of gods to look like horses and oxen to look like ox, and each would make the god’s bodies have the same shape as they themselves had.” n The historian Heroditus ( BCE) “Everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and the religion he was brought up in, to be the best.”

19 18 Classical Ethical/Cultural Relativism The Greek Skeptics n Sextus Empiricus (second century AD, Alexandria) Gives example after example of moral standards that differ from one society to another, such as attitudes about homosexuality, incest, cannibalism, human sacrifice, the killing of elderly, infanticide, theft, consumption of animal flesh… Sextus Empiricus concludes that we should doubt the existence of an independent and universal standard of morality, and instead regard moral values as the result of cultural preferences. Pyrrhonian skepticism – suspending judgments leads to ataraxa (“peace of mind”).

20 19 Ethical Relativism (1) n French philosopher Michael de Montaigne ( ): Custom has the power to shape every possible kind of cultural practice. Although we pretend that morality is a fixed feature of nature, morality too is formed through custom. n Scottish philosopher David Hume ( ): “Fashion, vogue, custom, and law are the chief foundation of all moral determinations”

21 20 Arguments for Ethical Relativism n Cultural Differences Argument (1) Different cultures have different moral codes. (2) Moral opinions vary from culture to culture. (3) Neither opinion is right or wrong. _____________________________________ There is no objective truth in morality.

22 21 Insights of Ethical Relativism Ethical relativism has several important insights: n The fact of moral diversity n The need for tolerance and understanding n We should not pass judgment on practices in other cultures when we don’t understand them n Sometimes reasonable people may differ on what’s morally acceptable

23 22 Three Questions about the Meaning of Relativism Morality is relative. Relative to what? Individuals Cultures Nations Groups How much of morality is relative? All Most Some What part of morality is relative? Behavior Peripheral values Fundamental values

24 23 Relative to what? n Descriptive ethical relativists say that moral values are relative, but to what: –Culture –Nation –Group –Individual—subjectivism n How do we individuate cultures?

25 24 What is relative? n Behavior –Different behaviors may exemplify the same value –The same behavior may exemplify different values in different culture n Core values –Are there central values found in all cultures? n Peripheral values –Obviously some culturally-specific values

26 25 Ethical Relativism: Limitations n Presupposes an epistemological solipsism* n Is unhelpful in dealing with overlaps of cultures--precisely where we need help. –Commerce and trade –Media –World Wide Web [*Solipsism - belief in self as only reality: the belief that the only thing somebody can be sure of is that he or she exists, and that true knowledge of anything else is impossible]

27 26 Ethical Relativism: Solipsism n Sometimes we say that we can’t judge other cultures because we can’t fully understand them. n Do we need full understanding to judge something? n Do we even have full understanding of ourselves? n Would this eliminate anthropology as a discipline? n Does it deny a main goal of multiculturalism?

28 27 Ethical Relativism: Overlapping Cultures, 1 n Ethical relativism suggests that we let each culture live as it sees fit n This is only feasible when cultures don’t have to interact with one another.

29 28 Ethical Relativism: Overlapping Cultures, 2 n The challenge of the coming century is precisely overlapping cultures: –Multinational corporations –International media--BBC, MTV, CNN –International sports-- Olympics –World Wide Web

30 29 Ethical Relativism: Overlapping Cultures, 3 n The actual situation in today’s world is much closer to the diagram at the right.

31 30 Ethical Relativism: A Self-Defensive Position n Ethical relativism maintains that we cannot make moral judgments about other cultures n The corollary of this is that we are protected in principle against the judgments made by other cultures

32 31 From the solitude of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia, a monk works as an electronic scrivener on the Internet. Rembrandt Monk Reading, 1661 Taliban law requires women in Afghanistan to wear a chador or burqa that covers the face and entire body. Fencer – protective suit Astronaut – protective suit Different kids of clothing Nuns uniforms A proper dress for her?

33 32 Jane Seymour by Holbein,1537 Leonardo da Vinci Lady with an Ermine Different kids of clothing Dieric Bouts - Madonna and Child Catherine of Aragon in middle age, c Tudor England dress

34 33 Arguments Against Ethical Relativism n There Are Some Universals in Codes of Behavior across Cultures Three core common values: n caring for children n truth telling (trust) and n prohibitions against murder The society must guard against killing, abusing the young, lying, breaking promises or other commitments at its own peril. Were the society not to establish some rules against such behaviors, the society itself would cease to exist.

35 34 Ethical Objectivism n The view that moral principles have objective validity whether or not people recognize them as such, that is, moral rightness or wrongness does not depend on social approval, but on such independent considerations as whether the act or principle promotes human flourishing or ameliorates human suffering. Plato ( BCE)

36 35 Ethical Absolutism/Universalism/Realism n Ethical Absolutism: Morality is eternal and unchanging and holds for all rational beings at all times and places. In other words, moral right and wrong are fundamentally the same for all people. (Morality is considered different than mere etiquette). There is only one correct answer to every moral problem. A completely absolutist ethic consists of absolute principles that provide an answer for every possible situation in life, regardless of culture.

37 36 Ethical Absolutism n Absolutism comes in many versions--including the divine right of kings n Absolutism is less about what we believe and more about how we believe it n Common elements: –There is a single Truth –Their position embodies that truth Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) Louis the Great, The Sun King

38 37 Ethical Absolutism n Ethical absolutism gets some things right –We need to make judgments –Certain things are intolerable n But it gets some things wrong, including: –Our truth is the truth –We can’t learn from others

39 38 Ethical Pluralism (1) n Combines insights of both relativism and absolutism: –The central challenge: how to live together with differing and conflicting values –Fallibilism: recognizes that we might be mistaken –Sees disagreement as a possible strength

40 39 Ethical Pluralism (2) n Moral pluralists maintain that there are moral truths, but they do not form a body of coherent and consistent truths in the way that one finds in the science or mathematics. Moral truths are real, but partial. Moreover, they are inescapably plural. There are many moral truths, not just one–and they may conflict with one another.

41 40 Ethical Pluralism (3) n Pluralism is the cultural manifestation of ethical individualism; it is implied by the respect for the human being, for what it means to be human. n We have differing moral perspectives, but we must often inhabit a common world.

42 41 Ethical Pluralism (4) Ethical pluralism offers three categories to describe actions: n Prohibited: those actions which are not seen as permissible at all –Absolutism sees the importance of this n Tolerated: those actions and values in which legitimate differences are possible –Relativism sees the importance of this n Ideal: a moral vision of what the ideal society would be like

43 42 Ethical Pluralism (5) n For each action or policy, we can place it in one of three regions: –Ideal--Center –Permitted--Middle Respected Tolerated –Prohibited--Outside

44 43 Five Questions n What is the present state? n What is the ideal state? n What is the minimally acceptable state? n How do we get from the present to the minimally acceptable state? n How do we get from the minimum to the ideal state?

45 44 Developing a Moral Stance Here’s a way of visualizing these issues:

46 45 What is the present state? n 1)Overall, the actual state of race and ethnicity in our society is: –a) Excellent –B Very good –c) Good –d) Poor –e) Terrible n 2)List three important facts that support your evaluation in #1 –a) –b) –c)

47 46 What is the present state?--#2 n #3. What are the three most important issues facing us in regard to race and ethnicity today? –a) –b) –c)

48 47 What is the minimally acceptable state? n What are the minimum conditions necessary for a just society in regard to race and ethnicity? List at least three characteristics or conditions. –#1 –#2 –#3

49 48 What is the ideal state? n What are the ideal conditions necessary for a just society in regard to race and ethnicity? List at least three characteristics or conditions. –#1 –#2 –#3

50 49 How should we get from the present to the minimally acceptable state? n How should we get from the actual state to the minimally acceptable state? List specific ways of getting from the actual state of society to the minimal conditions listed earlier. –Examples: laws, taxes, regulations, protests, civil disobedience

51 50 How should we get from the present to the ideal state? n How should we get from the actual state to the ideal state? List specific ways of getting from the actual state of society to the ideal conditions listed above. –Examples: Public relations campaigns, education, tax incentives, laws

52 51 Appendix Developing Moral Common Ground Goals n Understanding –ourselves –others –the issue n Common Ground –agreement where appropriate –living with some disagreements –changing the situation


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