Ethics and Technology What Is the Relationship?

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Ethics and Technology
What is the Relationship?

Rick Wagoner

Information Education Technology 600, Section 002
Professor Dr. A Zargari
September 10, 2004
Ethics and Technology
What is the Relationship?
With technology as well as many other fields of study or concentration we must be sure of our actions and motives before studying, researching, creating, developing, or implementing a new advancement. Consideration must be given to the results of our actions as a measure of prudence. When making these decisions should ethical considerations be included in the equation? Will ethical considerations change our decision? Is it even our responsibility to look at how our actions affect society or the environment? These are the primary considerations that will be considered in the following discussion. Ethics and Conflict Resolution

According to Hjorth, Eichler, Khan, and Morello (2003) “For at least the last two decades, many of the most divisive ethical issues debated in Western societies have been precipitated by developments in science and technology, including advances in reproductive, genetic, weapons, and life-prolonging technologies.” (p.5). Because more and more societal issues are of an ethical nature we must be able to understand the basic considerations involved in such judgments. Hjorth et al. (2003) list four primary considerations of ethical decision making: the facts of the matter; affected patients and their interests; key concepts, criteria, and principles; and ethical theories and arguments.

To fully understand an issue you must gather the facts of the matter. A decision should never be made without fully considering the entire situation and all of the associated facts. You should consider how your decision will affect those around you. This should not be limited by geography or time; you should look to the future impact of your decisions. Key concepts of the issue under consideration may influence judgment and these criteria should be fully explored. Ethical theories and arguments are divided into two categories by Hjorth et al. These categories are Consequentialist and deontologist. Consequentialist think that ethical decisions are viewed as being right or wrong according to the consequences of those decisions while deontologist feel that certain actions are inherently right or wrong without consideration for their consequences.

In trying to understand the impact of ethical decisions in relation to technology we also need to know that there distinct kinds of ethical conflicts that may arise. Hjorth et al. (2003) list these as: • Violations of Established World Orders

• Violations of Supposedly Exceptionless Moral Principles • Distributions of Science- or Technology-Related Benefits • Infliction of Harm or Exposure to Significant Risk Without Prior Consent • Science- or Technology-Precipitated Value Conflicts • Science- or Technology-Engendered “Positive” Rights • Public Harms of Aggregation

• Practitioner Problems
Through the use of the four considerations to ethical decision making we can analyze, identify, and then decide what the proper course of action should be. Without identifying the proper kind of conflict under consideration we can not fully understand the implications of our decisions. Each kind of conflict will have its own special considerations which will make a rudimentary starting point for our decision making process.

As we can see from the considerations to be reviewed and the categories of conflicts each situations must be viewed as a single item. Due to this we are slowly moving away from an ethically black and white world and more into a fuzzy gray world. To adapt to this change we must develop a better method or process for assessing and understanding ethical issues that arise especially in relation to technology and its impact in our lives....
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