An Expository Narrative on
James Moor’s Seminal Essay,
“What is Computer Ethics?”
Author, philosopher, and Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at Dartmouth College, Dr. James Moor wrote an essay on the relationship between computers and ethics, called “What is Computer Ethics,” in 1985. This essay became the harbinger of the concept of ethics in computing. In this essay Moor states that computer ethics include: "(1) Identification of computer-generated policy vacuums, (2) clarification of conceptual muddles, (3) formulation of policies for the use of computer technology, and (4) ethical justification of such policies."
A typical problem in computer ethics arises because there is a policy vacuum about how computer technology should be used. Computers provide us with new capabilities and these in turn give us new choices for action. Often, either no policies for conduct in these situations exist or existing policies seem inadequate. A central task of computer ethics is to determine what we should do in such cases, that is, formulate policies to guide our actions …. One difficulty is that along with a policy vacuum there is often a conceptual vacuum. Although a problem in computer ethics may seem clear initially, a little reflection reveals a conceptual muddle. What is needed in such cases is an analysis that provides a coherent conceptual framework within which to formulate a policy for action. (Moor, 1985, 266)
Even though today computer ethics is no longer an idea in its infancy, there are many interpretations of ethics in relation to information technology. Today almost all companies use computer and information technology to serve their clients and because of that they have to have strong ethical standards for the conduct of their business. Microsoft Corporation's “Four Pillars of Trustworthy Computing” (Reynolds, 2010) which combine security, privacy, reliability and integrity in a system focused on the aspect of... [continues]
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