Computer Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Computer, Internet Pages: 21 (7106 words) Published: November 26, 2013


Ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the behavior of a group or individual. Therefore, computer ethics is set of moral principles that regulate the use of computers. Some common issues of computer ethics include intellectual property rights (such as copyrighted electronic content), privacy concerns, and how computers affect society. For example, while it is easy to duplicate copyrighted electronic (or digital) content, computer ethics would suggest that it is wrong to do so without the author's approval. And while it may be possible to access someone's personal information on a computer system, computer ethics would advise that such an action is unethical. As technology advances, computers continue to have a greater impact on society. Therefore, computer ethics promotes the discussion of how much influence computers should have in areas such as artificial intelligence and human communication. As the world of computers evolves, computer ethics continues to create ethical standards that address new issues raised by new technologies. FOUNDATION:

To understand the foundation of computer ethics, it is important to look into the different schools of ethical theory. Each school of ethics influences a situation in a certain direction and pushes the final outcome of ethical theory. Relativism is the belief that there are no universal moral norms of right and wrong. In the school of relativistic ethical belief, ethicists divide it into two connected but different structures, subject (Moral) and culture (Anthropological). Moral relativism is the idea that each person decides what is right and wrong for them. Anthropological relativism is the concept of right and wrong is decided by a society’s actual moral belief structure. Deontology is the belief that people’s actions are to be guided by moral laws, and that these moral laws are universal. The origins of Deontological Ethics are generally attributed to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and his ideas concerning the Categorical Imperative. Kant believed that in order for any ethical school of thought to apply to all rational beings, they must have a foundation in reason. Kant split this school into two categorical imperatives. The first categorical imperative states to act only from moral rules that you can at the same time will to be universal moral laws. The second categorical imperative states to act so that you always treat both yourself and other people as ends in themselves, and never only as a means to an end. Utilitarianism is the belief that if an action is good it benefits someone and an action is bad if it harms someone. This ethical belief can be broken down into two different schools, Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism. Act Utilitarianism is the belief that an action is good if its overall effect is to produce more happiness than unhappiness. Rule Utilitarianism is the belief that we should adopt a moral rule and if followed by everybody, would lead to a greater level of overall happiness. Social contract is the concept that for a society to arise and maintain order, a morality based set of rules must be agreed upon. Social contract theory has influenced modern government and is heavily involved with societal law. Philosophers like John Rawls, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau helped created the foundation of social contract. Virtue Ethics is the belief that ethics should be more concerned with the character of the moral agent (virtue), rather than focusing on a set of rules dictating right and wrong actions, as in the cases of deontology and utilitarianism, or a focus on social context, such as is seen with Social Contract ethics. Although concern for virtue appears in several philosophical traditions, in the West the roots of the tradition lie in the work of Plato and Aristotle, and even today the tradition’s key concepts derive from ancient Greek philosophy....

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