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Ethics for the Information Age

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1 Ethics for the Information Age
Michael J. Quinn

2 Terms Society Morality Ethics
An association of people organized under a system of rules designed to advance the good of its members over time Morality Rules of conduct describing what people ought and ought not to do in various situations Ethics The philosophical study of morality, a rational examination into people’s moral beliefs and behaviors

3 Scenario 1 page 56 Did Alexis do anything wrong?
Who benefited from Alexis’s course of action? Who was hurt by Alexis’s course of action? Did Alexis have unfair advantage over her high school classmates? Would any of your answers change if it turns out Alexis did not win a college scholarship after all and is now working at McDonalds? Are there better ways Alexis could have accomplished her objective? What additional information would help you answer the previous questions?

4 Scenario 2 page 57 Did the anti-spam organization do anything wrong?
Did the ISPs that refused to accept from the blacklisted ISPs do anything wrong? Who benefited from the organization’s action? Who was hurt by the organization’s action? Could the organization have achieved its goals through a better course of action? What additional information would help you answer the previous questions?

5 Scenario 3 page 57 Did the East Dakota State Police do anything wrong?
Who benefited from the actions of the EDSP? Who was hurt by the actions of the EDSP? What other courses of action could the EDSP have taken to achieve its objectives? Examine the advantages and disadvantages of these alternative courses of action. What additional information would help you answer the previous questions?

6 Scenario 4 page 58 Should you recommend release of the product next week? Who will benefit if the company follows your recommendation? Who will be harmed if the company follows your recommendation? Do you have an obligation to any group of people that may be affected by your decision? What additional information would help you answer the previous questions?

7 Ethical Theories 2400 years ago Socrates was
His student, Plato, put Socrates’ philosophy in writing A useful theory is one that allows its proponents to examine moral problems, reach conclusions and defend those conclusions in front of a skeptical, yet open-minded audience If you are unable to give logical reasons that support your conclusions, you are unlikely to persuade anyone Following are 7 ethical theories

8 Subjective Relativism
There are no universal moral norms of right and wrong Individuals or groups can have completely opposite views of a moral problem and both can be right Subjective Relativism Holds that each person decides right and wrong for himself/herself Cases for and against

9 Cultural Relativism The meaning of right and wrong rests with a society’s actual moral guidelines The guidelines vary from place to place and time to time Read dilemma p. 63 Cases for and against

10 Divine Command This theory is based on the idea that good actions are those aligned with the will of God and bad actions are those contrary to the will of God Cases for and against

11 Kantianism Kant believed that people’s actions ought to be guided by moral laws and that these laws were universal In order to apply to all rational beings, any supreme principle of morality must itself be based on reason Kant concluded that the only thing in the world that can be called good without qualification is good will Accordingly, we should focus on what we ought to do ... dutifulness Allows the moral laws to be derived through a reasoning process A Kantian goes beyond simply stating that an action is right or wrong and can explain why it is right or wrong Categorical Imperatives (1st and 2nd page 70 and 71) Scenario p. 72 Cases for and against

12 Act Utilitarianism An action is good if it benefits someone
An action is bad if it harms someone The principle of utility An action is right (or wrong) to the extent that it increases (or decreases) the total happiness of the affected parties Scenario page 75 Cases for and against

13 Rule Utilitarianism We ought to adopt those moral rules which, if followed by everyone, will lead to the greatest increase in total happiness Applies the principle of utility to moral rules instead of individual moral actions Scenario page 79 Cases for and against

14 Social Contract Rational people understand that cooperation is essential and possible only when people mutually agree to follow certain guidelines Thus, moral rules are set up when those living in a civilized society agree to: Establish a set of moral rules to govern relations among citizens A government capable of enforcing those rules Rousseau adds that the critical problem is to find an association that guarantees each person safety and property, yet enables each person to remain free Scenario page 86 Cases for and against

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