Philosophical Ethics. The nature of ethical analysis. Discussion based on Johnson, Computer Ethics, Chapter 2.

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1 Philosophical Ethics The nature of ethical analysis Discussion based on Johnson, Computer Ethics, Chapter 2.

2 How to resolve ethical issues? censorship abortion affirmative action How do we defend our moral opinions?

3 Foundations of Ethics Terminology Ethics (from, character) Moral Choice: assumes free will Rocks, Plants, Animals Persons Making choices: deciding (do, not do action)

4 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) Role of intellect Role of will Distinction Principles Application of principles

5 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) Principles of right and wrong Right: oriented towards good Wrong: oriented against good Good: what is it?

6 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) Levels of goodness Pleasure, health: both good. May conflict. Humans always choose actions for the sake of what is good in them What is highest good?

7 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) The Good Candidates? Happiness Fulfillment What is human nature?

8 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) What is human nature? Body Intellect Free will Social nature

9 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) Purpose of life? Make use of freedom in ways that help us to remain free. Life's goals Other goals? Health Knowledge and understanding Social relations

10 Foundations of Ethics (cont'd) Particular kinds of choices Material goods Intellectual goods Free will Social aspects

11 Philosophical analysis Examine reasons for our beliefs Articulate, and then critically analyze Consistency Views on captial punishment and abortion Dialectic process: Claim, argument, critical examination

12 Example: Euthanasia is wrong Ethical principle? Human life has highest value. Boundary cases: Patient conscious, in extreme pain. Patient unconscious, severely brain damaged. Patient terminally ill. Patient young or elderly.

13 Example (cont'd) Is taking a human life ever justified? War Captial punishment Revised principle Can't take a human life except in self defense or to save another human life.

14 Descriptive vs. normative claims Descriptive: Empirical statement of fact, subject to verification. Normative: What people ought to do (prescriptive). Social sciences are descriptive. Philosophical ethics is normative. Example: Software copying.

15 Ethical Relativism What's right for you may not be right for me. Arguments in favor of ethical relativism: Different cultures have different cultural norms. A society's norms may change over time. People acquire their moral ideas from their culture.

16 Ethical Relativism (cont'd): Arguments opposing ethical relativism: Is does not imply ought. Cultural differences not as great as they seem. Some underlying principles widely accepted: Seek what fulfills you as a human being Treat others with respect Norms change as people work out logical outcomes of ethical systems.

17 Ethical Relativism (cont'd): More fundamental problems: The relativist view is absolute! Everyone should respect ethical systems of others. How to decide which group one belongs to? No guidance when new issues arise. Relativism: lack of an ethical theory.

18 Ethical Relativism: Case Study IBM Germany sold tabulating machinery to the Nazis in WW2. You (an employee) are assigned to this task. You are aware of the Nazi racial policies. Ethical relativism: Should you participate in this task?

19 Case Study (cont'd) Ethical relativism: What are the standards of your society? Suppose your society agrees with Nazi policy. Are you allowed to rebel against these standards if you think they're wrong? If you choose to participate, how would your American friend react to your justification?

20 Categories of ethical theories Two categories for judging actions: Consequentialist: judge in terms of its consequences. An act may be justified if circumstances warrant. Deontological: judge by rightness/wrongness of act itself. Some acts are never justified.

21 Utilitarianism Choose actions resulting in the greatest good overall. Good can include intangibles (e.g., happiness). Problem: can be used to justify harming the few to benefit the many.

22 Utilitiarianism (cont'd) Two kinds of goods: Instrumental: useful for achieving other goods Intrinsic: useful or desirable in themselves With respect to ethical theories: Only intrinsic goods are or primary importance. Instrumental goods important only insofar as they contribute to obtaining intrinsic goods.

23 Utilitarianism (cont'd) Useful for analyzing situations in which intrinsic goods depend on quantifiable instrumental goods. Apportioning funding for computers in schools where resources are limited. Deciding who gets organ transplants when supply is limited.

24 Utilitariansim (cont'd) Too many possible individual acts Use rules of behavior Rule utilitarians: adopt rules that maximize happiness Tell the truth Keep your promises Don't reward behavior that causes pain to others

25 Utilitariansim (cont'd) Act utlitarians: There may be exceptions to a rule. Rules are merely rules of thumb. Individual actions matter more than rules. Lying may be better than telling the truth. Utilitarian grounds for society's laws? Utilitariansim and relativism

26 Utilitariansim (cont'd) Less satisfactory in situations where competing goods are hard to quantify: Cost of cleaning air vs. number of deaths due to lung disease. Personal privacy vs. public safety.

27 Utilitarian Case Study Monitoring employee . Policy Costs Benefits No Monitoring Lack of control Misuse difficult to prevent Allows personal use of w/o company knowledge Environment of trust Morale highest Monitoring Violates privacy Protects against lawsuits With Notice Diminishes trust Prevents or reduces misuse Lowers morale Monitoring Violates privacy Best chance to catch misuse

28 Utilitarian Case Study (cont'd) Conclusions: All three are probably legal. All three may be ethical according to utilitarian principles. Which is best?

29 Deontological Theories Utilitarianism: consequences of rule determine right or wrong Deontological ( + ) theories: principle inherent in the action determines right or wrong

30 Kantian Ethics Categorical imperative: Treat other persons as ends in themselves, not merely as means to an end. a/k/a golden rule A person is a moral agent. A person can make rational decisions. Happiness is not the greatest good!

31 Kantian Ethics (cont'd) Example: Killing a person Utilitarian objection Kantian objection Exceptions? Killing vs. murdering?

32 Kantian Case Study Monitoring employee . Policy Costs Benefits No Monitoring Lack of control Misuse difficult to prevent Allows personal use of w/o company knowledge Environment of trust Morale highest Monitoring Violates privacy Protects against lawsuits With Notice Diminishes trust Prevents or reduces misuse Lowers morale Monitoring Violates privacy Best chance to catch misuse

33 Kantian Case Study (cont'd) Conclusions: All three are probably legal. Monitoring w/o notice is not ethical on deontological theories. Deontological theory allows the other two policies. Utilitarian theory can help to choose one. Which is best?

34 Rights Generally associated with deontological theories. Can be justified on utilitarian grounds. Legal vs. moral rights.

35 Rights (cont'd) Classification: Negative (e.g., my right to not get killed) Positive (e.g., my right to life) More controversial: can lead to counter intuitive implications Rights via a social contract theory

36 Rights (cont'd) Rawlsian justice (J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 1971) Distributive justice Problem: We all want rules that favor us. Veil of ignorance: must make rules for generic human beings

37 Rights (cont'd) Basic rules of Rawlsian justice: Each person should have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both reasonably expected to to everyone's advantage, and attached to positions and offices open to all.

38 Virtue Ethics What is a good person? What are the virtues associated with being a good person? Courage What is courage? Addresses moral character Professional ethics (good computer professional)

39 Individual and Social Policy Ethics Macro problems: for groups of people Should the U.S. grant software creators a legal right to own software? Micro problems: for individuals Should I make a copy of this software? Should be clear as to which level we're addressing

40 Conclusion We now shift to ethical issues surrounding ICT, but stil concerned about general questions of ethical theories Both science and ethics are refining processes Computer ethics: traditional moral concepts, along with new features

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