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Syllabus Showcase: Social, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Computer Science, Trystan Goetze
Data breaches, algorithmic bias, digital rights management, surveillance technology, facial recognition, Cambridge Analytica, online misinformation, job automation, the singularity – these are just some of the computer ethics issues that have dominated public discussion over the last five to ten years. Given the importance of these topics, one might expect there to be a large number of philosophers, technologists, and policy makers working actively on computer ethics education, policy, and research. But until very recently, this hasn’t been the case.
Dalhousie University has been ahead of the curve for the last 15 years. Since joining the department, Darren Abramson has taught Social, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Computer Science. It’s a required course for all computer science majors (part of the programme’s accreditation by the Canadian Information Processing Society), with 150–200 students per section, only 10% of whom are students from other majors taking the course as an elective.
I joined the department for my Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at the same time that Darren was going on sabbatical and needed someone to cover the course for a year. At the time, I agreed because it sounded interesting, seemed like a good course to have in my portfolio, and connected to some research I was doing on intellectual accountability online.
In the end, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the course saved my career, and reinvigorated my love of philosophy.
In the most recent iteration of the course that I taught, using Darren’s syllabus as a template, we open with a general introduction to computer ethics, discussing how new technologies make new kinds of behavior possible, creating new social, ethical, and political problems. We also talk about the socio-technical systems perspective , an approach from science, technology, and society studies wherein we conceive of technologies not as independent artifacts, but as objects whose production, maintenance, and use are embedded in social structures and value systems.
Next, we turn to a discussion of professional ethics in the technology sector. Starting from a discussion of ethical failures past and recent – from the Therac-25 computer-controlled radiotherapy machine to Cambridge Analytica – students then learn the Association for Computing Machinery’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and how to apply it to case studies.
Then comes a crash course in moral theories: utilitarianism, Kantianism, virtue theory, and rights theories. Why go to philosophical ethics at all? As I explain to the students, codes of conduct and legal regulations don’t always have the answers. Sometimes principles of a code will conflict. Regulations are often incomplete or absent. More to the point, merely complying with the law or the code does not entail that one is doing the right thing. So, it’s important to have some familiarity with more general ethical principles, how to apply them, and how to make arguments to justify one’s convictions.
The remaining half of the course is devoted to specific issues. We discuss the philosophy of intellectual property and how computing technologies have complicated intellectual property law, as well as copyleft and its origins in the Free and Open Source Software movement. We talk about the value of privacy , the threats posed to it by government and corporate surveillance, the ethics of hacking , and privacy regulations like the GDPR and PIPEDA . We learn about the social impacts of technology, including digital divides , algorithmic bias , changes to socio-economic classes , and the possibility that too much information is bad for us . Finally, we close with a mini-unit on the ethics of artificial intelligence and machine learning, looking at robot rights and morally significant decisions that are increasingly being made by machine learning systems.
I’ve taught the course two ways. Initially, I taught face-to-face, and experimented with a pedagogical approach called Team-Based Learning (TBL), which allows for deeper discussion and collaboration than is typically possible in a large class. To oversimplify, the basic approach is to put students into permanent teams who take pre-reading quizzes and complete discussion exercises together. I think TBL is an exciting alternative teaching method – and most of my students agreed! – but it deserves its own blog post to go into fully.
Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I wasn’t able to continue using TBL for the second time I taught the course. In the move online, I tried some new things, some of which worked and some of which didn’t. I freely admit that I fell into the trap of adding too many small assignments, which ended up being a bit overwhelming. Things that worked well included the reading quizzes, which had exactly the spread of grades I expected, despite my refusing to use any digital proctoring.
Applied ethics courses get a bad rap for being giant classes filled with thankless, disengaged students, but that hasn’t been my experience. Sure, there are some students who are only there to get the credit, but I’m consistently impressed by how many of them are engaged by the material. And even if only a few of them learn how to be more ethical technologists, I think it’s worth it.
Getting into computer ethics has also been highly productive for my career beyond teaching. In winter 2021 I had just been through a difficult cycle on the philosophy job market and was feeling increasingly despondent about continuing in academia. (I’m still on the fence, for what it’s worth.) Since teaching the course, I’ve started connecting my existing interests in responsibility and epistemic injustice to computer ethics, launched interdisciplinary projects with colleagues at Dalhousie, started doing a little consulting work in AI ethics, and even learned a bit of programming .
Finally, this fall I will be starting a postdoc at Harvard University in their Embedded EthiCS programme, which integrates ethics lessons taught by philosophers into computer science courses. My role is to be a bridge between Harvard’s programme and other institutions who are interested in developing similar offerings, so please reach out if you would like to discuss!
The Syllabus Showcase of the APA Blog is designed to share insights into the syllabi of philosophy educators. We include syllabi in their original, unedited format that showcase a wide variety of philosophy classes. We would love for you to be a part of this project. Please contact Series Editor, Dr. Matt Deaton via MattDeaton.com or Editor of the Teaching Beat, Dr. Sabrina D. MisirHiralall via firstname.lastname@example.org with potential submissions.
- Trystan Goetze
Trystan S. Goetze (he/they/she) is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Dalhousie University. He completed his PhD in 2018 at the University of Sheffield. His areas of specialization are epistemic injustice, moral responsibility, and computer ethics. This fall, he will take up a new postdoc in Harvard University’s Embedded EthiCS programme. In his spare time, he plays and designs tabletop roleplaying games.
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Fostering ethical thinking in computing
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Traditional computer scientists and engineers are trained to develop solutions for specific needs, but aren’t always trained to consider their broader implications. Each new technology generation, and particularly the rise of artificial intelligence, leads to new kinds of systems, new ways of creating tools, and new forms of data, for which norms, rules, and laws frequently have yet to catch up. The kinds of impact that such innovations have in the world has often not been apparent until many years later.
As part of the efforts in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC) within the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, a new case studies series examines social, ethical, and policy challenges of present-day efforts in computing with the aim of facilitating the development of responsible “habits of mind and action” for those who create and deploy computing technologies.
“Advances in computing have undeniably changed much of how we live and work. Understanding and incorporating broader social context is becoming ever more critical,” says Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. “This case study series is designed to be a basis for discussions in the classroom and beyond, regarding social, ethical, economic, and other implications so that students and researchers can pursue the development of technology across domains in a holistic manner that addresses these important issues.”
A modular system
By design, the case studies are brief and modular to allow users to mix and match the content to fit a variety of pedagogical needs. Series editors David Kaiser and Julie Shah, who are the associate deans for SERC, structured the cases primarily to be appropriate for undergraduate instruction across a range of classes and fields of study.
“Our goal was to provide a seamless way for instructors to integrate cases into an existing course or cluster several cases together to support a broader module within a course. They might also use the cases as a starting point to design new courses that focus squarely on themes of social and ethical responsibilities of computing,” says Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and professor of physics.
Shah, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and a roboticist who designs systems in which humans and machines operate side by side, expects that the cases will also be of interest to those outside of academia, including computing professionals, policy specialists, and general readers. In curating the series, Shah says that “we interpret ‘social and ethical responsibilities of computing’ broadly to focus on perspectives of people who are affected by various technologies, as well as focus on perspectives of designers and engineers.”
The cases are not limited to a particular format and can take shape in various forms — from a magazine-like feature article or Socratic dialogues to choose-your-own-adventure stories or role-playing games grounded in empirical research. Each case study is brief, but includes accompanying notes and references to facilitate more in-depth exploration of a given topic. Multimedia projects will also be considered. “The main goal is to present important material — based on original research — in engaging ways to broad audiences of non-specialists,” says Kaiser.
The SERC case studies are specially commissioned and written by scholars who conduct research centrally on the subject of the piece. Kaiser and Shah approached researchers from within MIT as well as from other academic institutions to bring in a mix of diverse voices on a spectrum of topics. Some cases focus on a particular technology or on trends across platforms, while others assess social, historical, philosophical, legal, and cultural facets that are relevant for thinking critically about current efforts in computing and data sciences.
The cases published in the inaugural issue place readers in various settings that challenge them to consider the social and ethical implications of computing technologies, such as how social media services and surveillance tools are built; the racial disparities that can arise from deploying facial recognition technology in unregulated, real-world settings; the biases of risk prediction algorithms in the criminal justice system; and the politicization of data collection.
"Most of us agree that we want computing to work for social good, but which good? Whose good? Whose needs and values and worldviews are prioritized and whose are overlooked?” says Catherine D’Ignazio, an assistant professor of urban science and planning and director of the Data + Feminism Lab at MIT.
D’Ignazio’s case for the series, co-authored with Lauren Klein, an associate professor in the English and Quantitative Theory and Methods departments at Emory University, introduces readers to the idea that while data are useful, they are not always neutral. “These case studies help us understand the unequal histories that shape our technological systems as well as study their disparate outcomes and effects. They are an exciting step towards holistic, sociotechnical thinking and making."
Kaiser and Shah formed an editorial board composed of 55 faculty members and senior researchers associated with 19 departments, labs, and centers at MIT, and instituted a rigorous peer-review policy model commonly adopted by specialized journals. Members of the editorial board will also help commission topics for new cases and help identify authors for a given topic.
For each submission, the series editors collect four to six peer reviews, with reviewers mostly drawn from the editorial board. For each case, half the reviewers come from fields in computing and data sciences and half from fields in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, to ensure balance of topics and presentation within a given case study and across the series.
“Over the past two decades I’ve become a bit jaded when it comes to the academic review process, and so I was particularly heartened to see such care and thought put into all of the reviews," says Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the School of Information. “The constructive review process made our case study significantly stronger.”
Farid’s case, “The Dangers of Risk Prediction in the Criminal Justice System,” which he penned with Julia Dressel, recently a student of computer science at Dartmouth College, is one of the four commissioned pieces featured in the inaugural issue.
Cases are additionally reviewed by undergraduate volunteers, who help the series editors gauge each submission for balance, accessibility for students in multiple fields of study, and possibilities for adoption in specific courses. The students also work with them to create original homework problems and active learning projects to accompany each case study, to further facilitate adoption of the original materials across a range of existing undergraduate subjects.
“I volunteered to work with this group because I believe that it's incredibly important for those working in computer science to include thinking about ethics not as an afterthought, but integrated into every step and decision that is made, says Annie Snyder, a mathematical economics sophomore and a member of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing’s Undergraduate Advisory Group. “While this is a massive issue to take on, this project is an amazing opportunity to start building an ethical culture amongst the incredibly talented students at MIT who will hopefully carry it forward into their own projects and workplace.”
New sets of case studies, produced with support from the MIT Press’ Open Publishing Services program, will be published twice a year via the Knowledge Futures Group’s PubPub platform . The SERC case studies are made available for free on an open-access basis, under Creative Commons licensing terms. Authors retain copyright, enabling them to reuse and republish their work in more specialized scholarly publications.
“It was important to us to approach this project in an inclusive way and lower the barrier for people to be able to access this content. These are complex issues that we need to deal with, and we hope that by making the cases widely available, more people will engage in social and ethical considerations as they’re studying and developing computing technologies,” says Shah.
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The teaching of computer ethics on computer science and related degree programmes. a European survey
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- Published: 06 October 2021
- volume 7 , pages 101–129 ( 2022 )
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Within the Computer Science community, many ethical issues have emerged as significant and critical concerns. Computer ethics is an academic field in its own right and there are unique ethical issues associated with information technology. It encompasses a range of issues and concerns including privacy and agency around personal information, Artificial Intelligence and pervasive technology, the Internet of Things and surveillance applications. As computing technology impacts society at an ever growing pace, there are growing calls for more computer ethics content to be included in Computer Science curricula. In this paper we present the results of a survey that polled faculty from Computer Science and related disciplines about teaching practices for computer ethics at their institutions. The survey was completed by respondents from 61 universities across 23 European countries. Participants were surveyed on whether or not computer ethics is taught to Computer Science students at each institution, the reasons why computer ethics is or is not taught, how computer ethics is taught, the background of staff who teach computer ethics and the scope of computer ethics curricula. This paper presents and discusses the results of the survey.
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Computers and technological applications are now central to many aspects of life and society, from industry and commerce, government, research, education, medicine, communication, and entertainment systems. Computer Scientists and professionals from related disciplines who design and develop computer applications have a significant responsibility as the systems they develop can have wide ranging impacts on society where those impacts can be beneficial but may also at times be negative. The last decade has seen rapid technological growth and innovation, with the realities of Artificial Intelligence technology and related applications coming to fruition. Increasingly there is a sense that we are developing technology faster than we are assessing its moral and ethical implications.
Computer ethics, defined as “the analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology” (Moor, 1985 , p.266), has a long history, dating back to the works of Wiener on Cybernetics almost 70 years ago. Over the years many variations of the term computer ethics have entered the literature including computing ethics, information ethics, informatics ethics, ICT Ethics, IT ethics and ethics of information systems (Stahl et al., 2016 ). These terms reflect the widespread and increasingly pervasive use and impacts of computing technology in all areas of society such as education, transportation, governance and so on (Dodig-Crnkovic, 2003 ).
As such, in this paper we use the term “computer ethics” as a broad term to encompass a wide range of topics related to computer technology and ethics, including computing ethics, information ethics, informatics ethics, ICT Ethics, IT ethics and ethics of information systems. Despite the long history of computer ethics and many academic discussions on the topic, professional ethics for designers and developers of computer technology are less well developed than for those in other fields such as medical, legal and business and engineering ethics. Computer Science is still a relatively young and still evolving discipline. Furthermore, the ethical questions faced by Computer Scientists are often more nuanced than those faced by other professions. For example, in Engineering education, the classic ethical case studies depict losses of life or injury as a result of ethical lapses in these fields. e.g. the Ford Pinto fires or the collapse of the Hyatt walkway in Kansas City. While some Computer Scientists build safety critical systems, many others develop systems that are non-critical from a safety perspective, but at the same time have wide societal impacts. For example, commercial and government systems such social media platforms, predictive analytics for consumer behaviours or surveillance technologies. Some of the impacts of such systems are intended, for example, to encourage online consumers to purchase goods or services or to automate human-centric tasks. However, unintended consequences of new technologies are becoming increasingly obvious—code developed for one purpose in a specific system can be reused in another system where it could different or even ethical consequences. These consequences have increasingly come into public view, for example, how data harvested illegally from social media platforms was used to influence voters in elections in the US and the UK or how automated decision making software displayed gender and racial biases when shortlisting applicants for jobs.
As such it is important that graduates of Computer Science and related programmes are equipped to consider the ethical dimensions of the technology they will design and develop in their professional lives. It is becoming more commonplace for institutions to prioritize integrating computer ethics into their Computer Science curricula so students don’t just learn about how to build software, but also they learn how to analyse the potential negative consequences of any software they design and build. Finally, with more and more countries introducing computing into school curricula (Passey, 2017 ; Sentance & Csizmadia, 2017 ) with the aim of creating a whole new learning culture (Brodnik & Lewin, 2017 ), Computer Science will come to play an even more important role in all levels of education, thus making computer ethics an imperative field of knowledge for all educators.
In this paper we outline the results of a large scale survey of European academics about existing competencies in the teaching of computer ethics in Computer Science and related disciplines (Ethics4EU, 2021 ). The survey was completed by respondents from 61 universities across 23 European countries. Respondents were surveyed on whether or not computer ethics is taught to Computer Science students at each institution, the reasons why computer ethics is or is not taught, how computer ethics is taught (for example, as a standalone course or embedded within other modules), the background of staff who teach computer ethics and the scope of computer ethics curricula. Data was also gathered on teaching and learning methods used (theory, case studies, practical work) and how computer ethics is assessed. The survey was conducted as part of an Erasmus + project, Ethics4EU that is focused on developing new computer ethics curricula and learning materials for faculty teaching Computer Science. The aim of the survey was to provide a comprehensive insight into teaching practices for computer ethics in Computer Science and related disciplines which will be used to guide the development of new teaching and learning resources.
The rest of this paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we present a literature review about the teaching of computer ethics in Computer Science. In Section 3 we present our survey methodology. In Section 4 we present and discuss the finding from our survey. We conclude with a discussion in Section 5 .
Computer ethics have been the subject of academic research for many years. In The Human Use of Human Beings (Wiener, 1950 ), Wiener wrote about how computers have the potential to drastically alter the communication mechanisms and therefore transform the fabric of societies namely social policies, law, the economy and personal relationships. The issues he identified in included topics that are still important today: computers and security, computers and unemployment, responsibilities of computer professionals, computers for persons with disabilities, information networks and globalization, virtual communities, teleworking, merging of human bodies with machines, robot ethics, artificial intelligence, computers and religion, and a number of other subjects (Bynum, 2000 ).
In the 1970s Walter Maner coined the term ‘computer ethics’ recognising an important new area of applied ethics and was one of the first academics to develop a computer ethics course for students (Bynum, 2008 ). In 1985 Debora Johnson published the seminal textbook Computer Ethics (D. Johnson, 1985 ) where she stated that computers “pose new versions of standard moral problems and moral dilemmas, exacerbating the old problems, and forcing us to apply ordinary moral norms in uncharted realms.” “Computer Ethics” quickly became the primary text used to teach computer at universities. The textbook also set the research agenda on topics such as ownership of software and intellectual property, computing and privacy, responsibilities of computer professionals, and fair distribution of technology and human power. In later editions in 1994, 2001 and 2009, Johnson added new ethical topics such as hacking, inclusive technologies for persons with disabilities, and Internet ethics.
A different emphasis for computer ethics was advocated by Donald Gotterbarn (Gotterbarn, 1991 ), who believed that computer ethics should be seen as a professional ethics devoted to the development and advancement of standards of good practice and codes of conduct for computing professionals. In the 1990s Gotterbarn’s professional ethics approach purported that Computer Science students should be taught their professional responsibilities, standards and reasoning skills to deal with emerging and future ethical issues relevant to their profession as well as specific values and avoid malpractice (Iqbal & Beigh, 2017 ). Gotterbarn’s position was complemented by the publication of the ACM’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in 1991 which included recommendations to teach social and ethical issues as part of undergraduate Computer Science curricula (Bynum, 2008 , 1992 ; Fuller et al., 2010 ; Tucker, 1991 ).
The approach of teaching computer ethics as a standalone professional ethics subject or for it to be delivered as an external course, often outsourced to a different department like that of Philosophy or Social Sciences, sometimes devoid of technical context has pervaded for some time (Skirpan et al., 2018 ). For example, a survey from 2019 by Saltz et al. ( 2019 ) examined the syllabi of machine learning courses from a large number of third level institutions in the US and found that for a majority of programmes, students are not taught any ethics content and for those that are, it is usually a stand-alone elective course. It is only recently that scholars have argued that since every computer-related subject carries social or ethical implications, then these ethical topics should be widely integrated and infused in Computer Science curricula (Harris et al., 2019 ; Weikle, 2018 ). For example, Grosz et al. ( 2019 ) argue that modern technology cannot be considered “value-neutral” (p. 54); it can have unplanned consequences and that Computer Science students should be trained to identify the potential harmful effects of the technologies they help develop. An important concept that students need to be able to think about is not only whether they can create something, but whether they should create it in the first place. The authors argue that teaching computer scientists to identify and address ethical problems starting from the design phase is as important as enabling them to develop algorithms and programs that work efficiently (p. 61). Therefore, they argue for the integration of computer ethics throughout the whole Computer Science curriculum.
A recent paper (Fiesler et al., 2020 ) surveys Computer Science computer ethics classes in 94 universities located mainly in the US, showed that there is much variability in the content of computer ethics courses which they attribute to the lack of standards in this particular subject. This is not to say that there are no common patterns. Topics such as privacy, algorithms and inequality are considered critical. The study also highlighted a slight move from standalone computer ethics courses towards integrating computer ethics throughout technical courses. Scott and Barlowe ( 2016 ) describe an experimental Computer Science module that introduced first-year university students to basic programming with computer ethics and found that those students who had completed the course were more likely to do better during their first year of Computer Science. In related work, Ferrarello ( 2019 ) underline that social and ethical awareness when introduced into Design and Engineering education generally promotes the industry’s capability to tackle ethical and social issues effectively. The study found that using methods such as workshops that adopted collaborative, engaged design approaches, facilitated discussion, debates and reflection helped the participants acknowledge responsibilities and the ownership of decision making in design and engineering.
At a postgraduate level, Dexter et al. ( 2013 ) investigated the requirement for computer ethics education on graduate level programmes in four diverse US academic institutions. They found that the majority of faculty and students were in favour of an elective computer ethics course and almost half were in favour of a compulsory computer ethics graduate course.
In terms of how computer ethics is taught, case-based analysis of ethical and societal issues of technology that have either appeared in the news or are part of hypothetical scenarios are a popular approach (Ghafarian, 2002 ; Kraft, 2011 ; Larson & Miller, 2018 ; Quinn, 2006 ). This approach relies on precedent cases and paradigms to reach a conclusion about a test case. Larson and Miller (Larson & Miller, 2018 ) argue that just reading about ethical issues is not enough, rather case-based analysis provides an environment where students can apply computer ethics and critical thinking in realistic scenarios. In a 2019 study Lester and Dalat-Ward (Lester & Dalat-Ward, 2019 ) found that combining case-based learning and ethical decision making with deliberative dialogue and role playing was an efficient method to achieve the learning outcomes when compared to traditional lecture-based teaching. They also found that the students’ self-confidence on the subject matter increased as well as their critical thinking skills and their openness towards differing viewpoints. However, one challenge the researchers discovered is the extensive preparation time required by faculty members before each class.
Deliberation appears to be a good tool for teaching ethics as shown in a 2020 study by Shen et al. ( 2020 ) where they used deliberation and Value Cards in a gamified teaching approach that combines technical training with topics such as Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics (FATE) for a Machine Learning class. Their aim was to help students understand the societal and ethical implications of machine learning-based algorithmic systems while taking into account diverse social values. They designed a set of Value Cards drawing from the research on value sensitive design and based on the concept of the Envisioning cards toolkit (Friedman & Hendry, 2012 ).
Others advocate interdisciplinary collaborations between different academic faculties as an effective way to deliver computer ethics. For example, Kesar ( 2016 ) created a computing curriculum that emphasizes interdisciplinary collaborations between academic departments, promotes industry interactions and supports students to develop critical ethical reasoning skills for real business settings. In a review, the majority of students identified the ethical and social properties of their projects rather than the technological aspects as the most complex issues. Another recent interdisciplinary approach was reported by Reich et al. ( 2020 ) who designed a multidisciplinary approach for teaching computer ethics at Stanford University. Their approach combines the expertise from the faculties of Philosophy, Political Science and Computer Science and includes panels of speakers and custom-built case studies. Wilk ( 2019 ) who proposes the creation of an entirely new Computer Science course titled “Computers, Ethics, Law, and Public Policy”. The course would combine computer ethics with law and use examples and case studies to illustrate ethical and legal decision making. The author states the importance of teaching legal aspects to Computer Science students because as new technologies appear there will be new requirements to develop laws and computer ethics to address them.
Kortsarts and Fischbach (Kortsarts & Fischbach, 2014 ) proposed an approach which combines together the ACM Code of Ethics and case-based design and analysis. More specifically, their approach to computer ethics constituted of three parts. The first part was about the students learning the ACM code of ethics and designing case studies. In the second part the students had to analyse said case studies. In the last part, the students had to review reading material from the ACM digital library and present their findings. The researchers found that over two thirds of the students found computer ethics to be important and would influence their decision-making process in the future and also said discovering the ACM Code of Ethics was worthwhile.
Drawing a parallel with the field of Engineering Ethics, which historically precedes Computer Ethics, Hess and Fore ( 2018 ) conducted a systematic literature review of US Engineering ethics interventions and found that the most common approaches were the use of case studies, exposure to professional codes and standards and discussion activities. Their study identified a great amount of variation in the aims, methodologies and assessment approaches in the interventions available. They argue that there is need for greater specificity about the term “ethics”, educators should set clear and well-defined goals for teaching ethics and they should be able to provide evidence to community about the effectiveness of their approaches with respect to the aforementioned goals.
Bates et al. ( 2020 ) identified various challenges in integrating ethical and societal dimensions into programmes. For example, forming a curriculum that is based on ethical values can be challenging when teaching has to accommodate students coming in with different cultural values to their academic teachers. Also, an interdisciplinary approach to teaching ethics and critical thinking skills might run into the obstacle of miscommunication due to different fields of expertise that have to work together.
It is worth noting that much of the research on the teaching of computer ethics focuses on US institutions and there is a lack of comprehensive data on the teaching of computer ethics in Computer Science from a European perspective. Our study aims to contribute towards shedding more light on what is the situation regarding European Computer Science and related programmes. In the next sections, we outline the results of a survey of 61 universities across Europe designed to understand the extent to which and how computer ethics is taught on Computer Science and related programmes across Europe.
We designed an online survey to better understand existing practices in the teaching of computer ethics in Computer Science programmes at European Universities. The survey was created using Lime Survey software and was developed in the English language only. The questionnaire was sent to all members and networking partners of Informatics Europe and European Digital Learning Network who are partners in the Ethics4EU project with a reach of reaching 152 European Universities from 30 European countries. It was also publicly available from the Informatics Europe website and shared on a range of social media platforms, including: Twitter, Facebook and relevant LinkedIn groups. The questionnaire was deployed in January 2020 and was available online for 6 weeks. Over the six weeks, weekly reminders asking people to fill out the online questionnaire were sent. In total we received responses from 61 universities from 23 European countries representing a 40% response rate. Each response is unique for the respective university. Participants did not receive any incentives or remuneration to complete the survey.
The questionnaire (see Appendix ) was divided into three sections. Section A surveyed demographic information including the country of the respondent’s institution, their role, and the number of students studying Computer Science and related programmes at the institution. The rest of the questionnaire was split into two parts, B and C, based on whether the institution taught computer ethics as part of any Computer Science or related programmes. Section B was completed by those at institutions that do not teach computer ethics, and amounted to 22 out of 61 responses. The questions in Section B examined the reasons why Computer Science is not taught at those institutions. Section C was completed by respondents at institutions where computer ethics is taught on their Computer Science and/or related programmes. This amounted to 39 institutions and the questions surveyed how computer ethics is taught, the background of staff who teach computer ethics and the scope of computer ethics curricula.
For reasons beyond the researcher’s control there was a larger number of responses from Italian institutions relative to other countries represented in the survey. However, as responses were grouped by whether an institution teaches computer ethics or not, the responses from Italian universities were balanced with the rest of the countries for Section C (institutions that do teach computer ethics). On the other hand, in section B (institutions that do not teach computer ethics), Italian institutions accounted for almost one third of the responses (7 out of 22). Steps were taken to balance the data using Jackknife resampling (Tukey, 1958 ) whereby each response is systematically left out of the overall sample to ensure that no single response has a significant impact on the overall outcome. Additionally, pairs and trios of the responses from the Italian institutions were left out to explore whether or not those responses had a significant impact on the overall trends, and it was found that they did not.
In this section we present the results of the survey starting with participants’ demographic information. The survey reached around 150 academic institutions and 61 of them completed it. This shows a response rate of 41%.
Section A—participant demographics
What country is your institution primarily based in (choose only one answer).
Twenty-three countries were represented in the 61 responses. It is worth noting that the majority of EU member countries are represented here, as well as several other European countries. Respondents from Italy are in the majority, and as discussed responses were analysed and no significant impact of this overrepresentation was found (Fig. 1 ).
Countries of participants
Does your institution teach all subjects or focus on technical ones? (choose only one answer)
As show in in Table 1 , almost one third (31%) of academic institutions focus on technical subjects, whereas the remaining institutions (69%) are general universities that teach a broader range of subjects.
What is your role within your institution? (choose all that apply)
The majority of the respondents identified as Professor (62%). 14.75% identified as Lecturers . Please note that in European counties, lecturers and professors are both full time academic staff who carry out teaching and research duties. Therefore 77% (Table 2 ) of respondents have direct teaching experience at an academic institution. It is also helpful that other respondents identify themselves as having academic management roles, given that they would be more acutely aware of challenges associated to resource allocation, which has been identified as a key challenge to the teaching of computer ethics in Computer Science programmes (Grosz et al., 2019 ; Johnson, 2010 ; Pease & Baker, 2009 ).
Respondents could also provide other roles additionally to those shown in Table 2 . The following roles were also provided:
Vice dean of the faculty
Vice rector and former Head of School
Head of ethics committee; Research integrity officer
Teaching and Research Assistant
Approximately how many students attend your institution? (choose only one answer)
A wide range of academic institutions sizes were represented in the survey (Table 3 ). The majority of institutions (74%) had between 10,000 and 50,000 students.
Approximately how many students are studying on Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes (e.g. Informatics, Information Systems, Analytics, Computing for Business, Computer Engineering, etc.)? (choose only one answer)
All academic institutions reported students studying on Computer Science or related programmes. 30% of institutions surveyed report having between 1001 and 2500 students (Table 4 ) enrolled in Computer Science and related programmes.
NOTE: A “programme” refers to a complete collection of subjects a student had to study before achieving a qualification, e.g. a BSc in Computer Science.
At what level does your institution teach Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes? (choose all that apply)
Of the 61 academic institutions surveyed, only 3 exclusively teach postgraduate programmes, and 1 exclusively teaches undergraduate programmes, with majority (90) teaching a combination of both (Table 5 ).
Section B—Institutions that do not teach ethics as part of their Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes
A total of 22 responses from 61 countries were received from academic institutions that do not teach computer ethics on their Computer Science (and related) programmes. Of those responses, 21 came from institutions that teach all academic subject areas and only 1 from an institution that focuses on technical subjects. In our dataset, almost one third (7 out of 22) of those responses were from Italian institutions. In response to this overrepresentation, Jackknife resampling was applied to estimate the bias of the sample and no significant impact was found. The rest of the institutions were spread geographically across Europe.
How important do you think it is that ethics is taught on Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes?
In academic institutions that do not teach computer ethics, almost two-thirds (63%) of the respondents’ consider the teaching of computer ethics as either being “Important” or “Very Important” for Computer Science (and related) programmes (Table 6 ).
Please explain in a sentence or two why you answered the previous question the way you did
The respondents gave a range of reasons as to why the teaching of computer ethics is important. The.
most common was the ever-growing impact that computers have on society which was mentioned by almost 50% of the respondents. Some of the respondents highlighted specific areas within Computer Science where they believe computer ethics is important—Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Security and Ubiquitous Computing were mentioned multiple times.
In terms of content delivery, some respondents felt that computer ethics should be taught by incorporating it into existing modules, whereas others felt it should be delivered as an optional module. Specific content that respondents suggested included Codes of Ethics, Intellectual Property rights, privacy, as well as the broader areas of software design and development and where computer ethics fits into those processes.
Those who felt that there was not a need to teach computer ethics suggested it was because employers don’t ask for it, it’s not the most important thing to teach on a Computer Science (or related) programme, and that teaching it is not cost effective. Others claimed that teaching computer ethics would not help students become more ethical as they should already know about ethics before they come to university – from previous schooling and their family. One respondent claimed that ethics isn’t taught in other non-natural science programmes, so wondered why Computer Science should be different; and another suggested it is only relevant in Computer Science research, not teaching.
Rate the following as reasons why ethics is not taught on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes
Respondents were asked to select from a number of possible options outlining why computer ethics is not taught (see Table 7 ). The main reasons the academic institutions do not teach it is a lack of time (73%) and a lack of staff availability (73%). Half of the respondents suggests a lack of staff expertise was also a factor. The responses reaffirm the notion that the majority of respondents do believe that teaching computer ethics is important event though it is not taught on Computer Science (or related) programmes at their institutions (71%).
Are there plans to teach ethics on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes?
The responses were evenly split between academic institutions that planning to begin teaching computer ethics on their Computer Science (and related) programmes and those who aren’t (41% each). 18% of respondents did not know (Table 8 ). Respondents were asked to comment on their answer to this question. For those respondents whose institutions are planning to teach computer ethics, the main subject areas mentioned were Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Security, Health Informatics & Bioinformatics, Requirements Engineering, and CSCW (Computer-Supported Cooperative Work). One respondent mentioned that their institute are launching an Ethical-Legal stream on their MSc in Data Science programme. For those from institutions with no plans to teach computer ethics, they stated it was due to either a lack of interest or a lack of expertise in the topic. One respondent did mention that students at their institution have the option of doing an ethics module in another faculty as part of their programmes.
Section C—Institutions that do teach ethics as part of their Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes
A total of 39 responses were collected from academic institutions that teach computer ethics in their Computer Science (and related) programmes from 17 countries. Of those responses, 18 came from institutions that only focus on technical subjects and 21 came from institutions that teach all academic subjects areas.
From the institutions that are teaching computer ethics in Computer Science (and related) programmes, 95% of the respondents rate the teaching of computer ethics as either being “Important” or “Very Important” (Table 9 ).
Do you think your institution/department is teaching enough ethics on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes? (choose only one answer)
Over one-third (36%) of the participants responded that do not believe that their intuitions are teaching enough computer ethics in their Computer Science or related programmes (Table 10 ). Almost half felt enough computer ethics is being taught “to a certain extent”.
At what level is ethics taught as part of your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes? (choose all that apply)
Computer ethics is taught in 26% of the surveyed institutions at BSc level only (Table 11 ). In 23% of the surveyed institutions it is taught at both BSc and MSc level. In 28% of institutions it is taught at BSc, MSc, and PhD level. The final 23% represents other combinations, such as “BSc and PhD level” or “MSc level only”.
How is ethics taught on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes? (choose only one answer)
NOTE: in this case, a “module” refers to a single topic that a student studies over one or two semesters, e.g. Databases, Computer Networks, etc.
This question explores if computer ethics is being taught as a stand-alone module, or distributed throughout several modules, or a combination of both (Table 12 ). In the majority of institutions (38%), computer ethics is taught as a standalone module.
Which background does the person or people who teach ethics in your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes have? (choose all that apply)
The results presented in Table 13 show that staff teaching computer ethics at the surveyed institutions come from a wide variety of backgrounds, with many coming from multiple disciplines. The most represented discipline is Computer Science at 72%. However, a large number of those teaching computer ethics have backgrounds in Ethics , Philosophy and Law. Please note that respondents could choose more than one background and as such the percentage sum is higher than 100%.
Other backgrounds were provided by respondents in free text answers and included: “Economics”; “Linguistics, Cognitive Science”.
Which of the following teaching methods are used to teach ethics on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes?
Traditional approaches to teaching, such as “Lecturing” and “Case Studies” are the popular approaches to teaching computer ethics, with “Debates” and “Problem Based Learning” the next most popular pair of approaches (see Table 14 ). Guest Lectures are also relatively popular. Other methods listed in respondents comments includes:
Groupwork, Peer Instruction (using PeerWise), Student Discussions
Seminars and Guest lecturers from the Arts
Interviews with Researchers
How many teaching hours per semester is devoted to ethics on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes? (choose only one answer)
Just under half of all respondents (48%) indicated that they teach between up to 5 h per semester, in contrast to 18% of respondents who indicated that they teach computer ethics for 20 + hours per semester (Table 15 ). There is clearly a large difference to the amount of time the surveyed institutions devote to the teaching of computer ethics in Computer Science (and related) programmes Table 16 .
Which ethical topics are taught on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes?
The most common topic is ethical issues with respondents commenting that these are topics specific to subjects (e.g. Data Science). Just over half of the respondents (51%) said that Code of Ethics from a professional body are taught at their institutions and exactly half (50%) teach Ethical Theory. Other topics mentioned in respondents comments included:
How is ethics assessed on your Computer Science and/or Computer Science related programmes? (choose all that apply)
The top three methods of assessing students’ understanding of computer ethics are Exams, Essays, and Presentations; three quite standard approaches to assessing Computer Science content. With much lower representation we find Quizzes, Portfolios, and Rubrics (Table 17 ). Some other approaches mentioned by respondents included methods such as Debates, Peer Instruction, and Discussion, and dynamic and real-world approaches such as Risk Analysis, Real Use Cases, and Videos.
Does your institution teach ethics as part of any of the computing topics outlined below? (These classifications are based on criteria by ACM – Association for Computing Machinery)
The survey used the European Research Council’s Peer Evaluation (PE) panel classifications of Computer Science (PE6) disciplines. The categories are as follows:
PE6_1 : Computer architecture, pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing
PE6_2 : Computer systems, parallel/distributed systems, sensor networks, embedded systems, cyber-physical systems
PE6_3 : Software engineering, operating systems, computer languages
PE6_4 : Theoretical computer science, formal methods, and quantum computing
PE6_5 : Cryptology, security, privacy, quantum crypto
PE6_6 : Algorithms, distributed, parallel and network algorithms, algorithmic game theory
PE6_7 : Artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, multi agent systems
PE6_8 : Computer graphics, computer vision, multi-media, computer games
PE6_9 : Human computer interaction and interface, visualization and natural language processing
PE6_10 : Web and information systems, database systems, information retrieval and digital libraries, data fusion
PE6_11 : Machine learning, statistical data processing and applications using signal processing (e.g. speech, image, video)
PE6_12 : Scientific computing, simulation and modelling tools
PE6_13 : Bioinformatics, biocomputing, and DNA and molecular computation
Respondents to indicate “Yes” or “No” as to whether or not they taught ethical content for each topic. The results are presented in Fig. 2 .
Computing topics where ethics is taught
The PE6 areas considered to be most important in terms of teaching computer ethics were:
PE6_7 Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Systems, Multi Agent Systems
PE6_5 Cryptology, Security, Privacy, Quantum Crypto
PE6_9 Human Computer Interaction and Interface, Visualization and Natural Language Processing
The PE6 areas considered to be least important in terms of teaching:
PE6_8 Computer graphics, computer vision, multi-media, computer games
PE6_1 Computer architecture, pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing
PE6_12 Scientific Computing, Simulation and Modelling Tools
It is perhaps not surprising that Artificial Intelligence, Security and Privacy ranked highly in topics that are taught as these are mentioned frequently by respondents as areas where there are important computer ethics issues to be considered, for example as indicated by responses outlined in Sect. 4.3.3 and Sect. 4.3.8. It is surprising however that pervasive and ubiquitous computing and simulation and modelling ranked so lowly on the list of topics taught given the important ethical dimensions to these topics.
We have presented the results of a survey that polled faculty from Computer Science and related disciplines on teaching practices in computer ethics in Computer Science and related programmes across Europe. The survey was completed by respondents from 61 universities across 23 European countries. Some of the interesting findings that emerged from the survey include:
Two thirds of the institutions surveyed teach computer ethics as part of Computer Science (or related) programmes, however one third do not.
There is widespread agreement about the importance of teaching computer ethics to students enrolled on Computer Science (or related) programmes. This importance was noted whether or not an institute taught computer ethics as part of their Computer Science or related programmes.
Computer ethics is often taught as a standalone subject.
When computer ethics is not taught as part of Computer Science (or related) programmes the most common reasons cited are a lack of staff availability and expertise.
Computer ethics is considered more important for certain Computer Science topics. For example Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Security.
Most institutions devote a relatively small number of hours to teaching computer ethics on their Computer Science or related programmes, 67% of institutions surveyed teach 10 h or less per semester.
As noted from the survey computer ethics is considered more important by many respondents, for certain Computer Science topics. For example, respondents mention the importance of computer ethics with regard to topics such as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Security and respondents replied that computer ethics is most commonly taught as part of Artificial Intelligence, Computer Security and Human Computer Interaction courses. There is a great deal of public interest in and media coverage of topics concerning data and Artificial Intelligence applications; they are also topics that are currently undergoing intense academic research. It may be that those who teach computer ethics can more easily locate and identify case studies and other relevant information such as research papers for these topics. For example (Morley et al., 2020 ), new AI ethics tools are emerging that allow developers to analyse AI and machine learning systems for levels of potential bias. Furthermore, much has been written on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation which effectively create a “right to explanation,” whereby a user can ask for an explanation of an algorithmic decision that was made about them (Goodman & Flaxman, 2017 ). This has led to an increase in the literature about how create explainable AI systems (Ras et al., 2018 ). However, it should not be overlooked that computer ethics is relevant across a range of Computer Science topics including all of the PE6 areas outlined in Fig. 2 . Evidently there is a need to develop teaching content and case studies for ethical issues across a broader range of Computer Science topics.
Our survey also found that computer ethics is often taught as a standalone subject at the academic institutions surveyed. This is in spite of evidence that infusing computer ethics in Computer Science curricula gives students a better understanding of the ethical impacts and possible harmful effects of the technologies they implement (Grosz et al. 2019 ). According to Grosz, such a “distributed pedagogy” approach reinforces the message that ethical reasoning is part of what you do as a Computer Scientist. Embedding computer ethics across the curriculum helps Computer Science students see how ethical issues can arise from many contexts. Given the increasing likelihood that many Computer Science graduates will work on sociotechnical systems with a variety of impacts on their end users, it is important that Computer Science teaching emphasizes not only the technical capabilities of these systems but also provides students with the ethical reasoning skills to analyse the understand the ethical implications of these systems.
It is also worth noting that our survey found that people who teach computer ethics to Computer Science students are more likely to come from a technical background rather than an Ethics background. The question of who should teach computer ethics to Computer Science students raises questions about the goals of teaching computer ethics. If the goal is to raise awareness of the ethical issues surrounding computers and to develop analytical skills for ethical decision making then it would seem that it is more appropriate for Ethicists to teach this content (D. Johnson, 1994 ). However, many ethical topics in Computer Science require a deep understanding of the technology that gives rise to the ethical questions, for example the complex mathematical structures that underpin deep learning algorithms. To increase both the breadth and depth of computer ethics teaching, content would be best developed via collaborations between Computer Scientists and Ethicists.
It is also noteworthy that looking at the responses from Sect. 4.3.6, when teaching computer ethics, guest lecturers from industry and professional bodies are not widely used. Taking this in conjunction with the responses from Sect. 4.3.8 which indicates that the least frequent type of teaching is through the use of different corporations’ codes of ethics, followed by national bodies’ codes of ethics (although teaching using professionally bodies’ codes of ethics is far more common), this may suggest that the connection between computer ethics and the relevant sectorial industry needs to be further emphasised. This is important, as one of the key aims of this research is to produce teaching content that will equip students with a working knowledge of the types of ethically quandaries that they may encounter in their working lives. Therefore, having guest lecturers from industry, and particularly from local or national industry, that may be more readily identifiable with by the students, may help underscore the relevance of computer ethics to their own future professional careers.
In future work, the Ethics4EU project is that is focused on developing new open computer ethics curricula and learning materials for faculty who teach Computer Science. The design and development of these curricula will be done in collaboration between academics from Computer Science and Ethics. The curricula will consist of teaching content including case studies, in-class activities, assignments and recommended readings. The Ethics4EU project will also establish a community of practice for those who teach computer ethics to share lessons learned. The overarching aims of the curricula will be to integrate the teaching of computational methods with ethical reasoning skills and provide students with experience in identifying, confronting, and working through ethical questions across many topics in Computer Science. Such skills will equip graduates to produce socially responsible computer technology with benefits for all of society.
Conflicts of interest/Competing interests
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.
This research was undertaken using the BERA guidelines as a reference point to ensure that all activities were designed in such a way as to adhere to normal ethical research practices.
All materials and data related to survey is available.
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The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
This paper is part of the Ethics4EU project which is Co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union under Grant Agreement No 2019–1-IE02-KA203-000665.
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European Digital Learning Network, Milan, Italy
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Appendix The questionnaire used in the survey
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Stavrakakis, I., Gordon, D., Tierney, B. et al. The teaching of computer ethics on computer science and related degree programmes. a European survey. International Journal of Ethics Education 7 , 101–129 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40889-021-00135-1
Accepted : 24 August 2021
Published : 06 October 2021
Issue Date : April 2022
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s40889-021-00135-1
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A-Level Ethical Issues (16-18 years)
What are ethics.
Ethics are a structure of standards and practices that influence how people lead their lives. It is not strictly implemented to follow these ethics, but it is basically for the benefit of everyone that we do.
Ethics are unlike laws that legally mandate what is right or wrong. Ethics illustrate society’s views about what is right and what is wrong.
Computer ethics are a set of moral standards that govern the use of computers. It is society’s views about the use of computers, both hardware and software. Privacy concerns, intellectual property rights and effects on society are some of the common issues of computer ethics.
- Hacking – is unlawful intrusion into a computer or a network. A hacker can intrude through the security levels of a computer system or network and can acquire unauthorised access to other computers.
- Malware – means malicious software which is created to impair a computer system. Common malware are viruses, spyware, worms and trojan horses. A virus can delete files from a hard drive while a spyware can collect data from a computer.
- Data Protection – also known as information privacy or data privacy is the process of safeguarding data which intends to influence a balance between individual privacy rights while still authorising data to be used for business purposes.
- Anonymity – is a way of keeping a user’s identity masked through various applications.
Intellectual Property Rights
- Copyright – is a form of intellectual property that gives proprietary publication, distribution and usage rights for the author. This means that whatever idea the author created cannot be employed or disseminated by anyone else without the permission of the author.
- Plagiarism – is an act of copying and publishing another person’s work without proper citation. It’s like stealing someone else’s work and releasing it as your own work.
- Cracking – is a way of breaking into a system by getting past the security features of the system. It’s a way of skipping the registration and authentication steps when installing a software.
- Software License – allows the use of digital material by following the license agreement. Ownership remains with the original copyright owner, users are just granted licenses to use the material based on the agreement.
Effects on Society
- There are also ethical concerns on health and safety of employees getting sick from constant sitting, staring at computer screens and typing on the keyboard or clicking on the mouse.
- There are ways where we can save energy like limiting computer time and turning off the computer or putting on sleep mode when not in use. Buying energy efficient computers with Energy Star label can also help save the environment.
- Computer gaming influenced society both positively and negatively. Positive effects are improved hand-eye coordination, stress relief and improved strategic thinking. Negative effects are addiction of gamers, isolation from the real world and exposure to violence.
- Computer technology helps the government in improving services to its citizens. Advanced database can hold huge data being collected and analysed by the government.
- Computer technology aids businesses by automating processes, reports and analysis.
- Computer ethics
101+ Professional Ethics Topics For Presentation In 2023
In today’s rapidly evolving world, where technology and information flow at an unprecedented pace, the importance of ethics in presentations cannot be overstated. Presentations serve as a powerful tool for communication, education, and persuasion, but they also carry a responsibility to uphold ethical standards. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or anyone who engages in presentations, understanding the ethics of presentation is essential to ensure your message is not only impactful but also respectful and truthful.
Are you gearing up for a presentation in 2023 and seeking the perfect professional ethics topic? Look no further. In this blog, we’ve compiled a list of professional ethics topics for presentation. Whether you’re a student, educator, or professional, these topics are sure to engage your audience and spark insightful discussions.
What are the Ethics of Presentation?
Table of Contents
The ethics of presentation encompass a set of principles that guide how information is shared, ensuring honesty, respect, and fairness. Presenters are ethically obligated to provide accurate and well-researched content, avoiding misleading or biased information. They should respect their audience’s diversity and viewpoints, refraining from offensive or discriminatory material. Transparency about sources and potential conflicts of interest is crucial.
Additionally, presenters should prioritize engagement through interactive and informative sessions, respecting participants’ time and interests. By adhering to these ethics, presenters create a conducive environment for learning, exchange of ideas, and meaningful discussions.
Why is it Important to Study Professional Ethics Topics For Presentation?
Studying professional ethics topics for presentation holds significant importance for several reasons:
1. Ethical Awareness
Exploring these topics cultivates a heightened awareness of ethical dilemmas and challenges in various fields, fostering responsible decision-making and behavior.
2. Critical Thinking
Delving into ethical issues encourages critical thinking, enabling individuals to analyze complex situations, consider multiple perspectives, and arrive at well-informed conclusions.
3. Skill Development
Researching and presenting on ethics topics enhances research, communication, and presentation skills, which are vital for effective professional and personal interactions.
4. Social Responsibility
Understanding ethical considerations empowers individuals to contribute positively to society by making ethical choices and advocating for responsible practices within their domains.
5. Ethical Leadership
Mastery of these topics equips individuals to lead ethically, inspiring teams and organizations to uphold values, integrity, and accountability, thereby fostering a culture of trust and respect.
Also Read: Google Scholar Research Topics
List of Professional Ethics Topics For Presentation
Let’s get started with some professional ethics topics for presentation in 2023:
Here are some presentation on professional ethics topics in business ethics:
1. Ethical considerations in marketing strategies
2. Corporate social responsibility: Realities and challenges
3. Balancing profit and ethical decision-making
4. Whistleblowing: Necessity or breach of loyalty?
5. Ethical implications of supply chain management
6. Workplace diversity and inclusivity as ethical imperatives
7. Ethical challenges in international business operations
8. Business ethics in the era of remote work and virtual teams
9. Transparency in financial reporting and ethical accountability
10. Ethical leadership: Inspiring trust and fostering integrity
AI and Robotics
Here are some presentation on professional ethics topics in AI and robotics:
1. Ethical considerations in autonomous vehicles
2. The future of work: Human workers vs. robots
3. AI in healthcare: Benefits, risks, and ethical dilemmas
4. Robot rights and responsibilities
5. Ethical dimensions of AI in criminal justice and predictive policing
6. Ethical challenges in AI-driven content creation and deep fakes
7. Bias in AI algorithms: Addressing racial, gender, and cultural prejudices
8. Ethical implications of AI-enhanced warfare and autonomous weapons
9. Human-AI collaboration: Ensuring transparency and accountability
10. Ethical frameworks for AI development and regulation
Technology and Privacy
Here are some professional ethics topics for presentation in technology and privacy:
1. Data privacy in the digital age
2. Ethical implications of AI-powered decision-making
3. Internet security and user trust
4. Social media responsibility: Fake news and online manipulation
5. Biometric data usage: Balancing convenience and privacy
6. Ethical considerations in facial recognition technology
7. The ethics of data collection by wearable tech and IoT devices
8. Virtual reality and augmented reality: Ethical challenges in content creation
9. Cybersecurity ethics: Balancing offensive and defensive capabilities
10. Ethical implications of emerging technologies: Blockchain, quantum computing , etc.
Here are some presentation on professional ethics topics in environmental ethics:
1. Sustainable practices in business and daily life
2. Climate change communication and ethics
3. Balancing economic development and environmental protection
4. Ethical consumerism: Buying green or greenwashing?
5. Biodiversity preservation: Moral obligation or human interest?
6. The ethics of eco-friendly packaging and waste reduction
7. Renewable energy adoption: Ethical imperative for a greener future
8. Urban planning and ethics: Creating sustainable and livable cities
9. Conservation ethics: Balancing human needs with wildlife preservation
10. Ethical challenges in addressing water scarcity and pollution
Here are some presentation on professional ethics topics in healthcare ethics:
1. Patient autonomy and informed consent
2. Ethical issues in organ transplantation
3. Access to healthcare: A moral imperative
4. Pharmaceutical industry ethics: Profit vs. public health
5. Ethical considerations in end-of-life care and euthanasia
6. Genetics and genomics: Ethical implications of personalized medicine
7. Resource allocation ethics in global healthcare disparities
8. Mental health treatment ethics: Balancing autonomy and intervention
9. Ethical challenges in clinical trials and research involving human subjects
10. Telemedicine ethics: Ensuring quality care and patient privacy
Here are some professional ethics topics for presentation in social justice:
1. Racial and gender equality in the workplace
2. LGBTQ+ rights and discrimination awareness
3. Poverty alleviation strategies and ethical considerations
4. Ethical implications of cultural appropriation
5. Disability rights and inclusivity in society
6. Ageism and the ethics of age-based discrimination
7. Social justice advocacy in the digital age: Opportunities and challenges
8. Ethical dimensions of immigration policies and refugee crises
9. Gender pay gap and equal pay: A moral imperative
10. Ethical challenges in addressing systemic racism and unconscious bias
Here are some presentation on professional ethics topics in education ethics:
1. Cheating and plagiarism in academia
2. Teacher-student boundaries in the digital era
3. Inclusivity and diversity in educational materials
4. Standardized testing: Fairness and biases
5. The ethics of teacher evaluations and accountability
6. Online education ethics: Ensuring academic integrity in virtual classrooms
7. Access to quality education as a human right
8. Ethical considerations in homeschooling and alternative education
9. Balancing educational innovation with traditional pedagogical ethics
10. Special education ethics: Inclusion and individualized support
Media and Journalism
Here are some professional ethics topics for presentation in media and journalism:
1. Media sensationalism: Where’s the ethical line?
2. Fake news proliferation and its impact on society
3. Photo manipulation and truth in visual storytelling
4. Press freedom vs. responsible reporting
5. Clickbait and the ethics of headline writing
6. Journalism Ethics in the age of social media influencers
7. Ethical implications of embedded journalism in conflict zones
8. The ethics of undercover reporting and hidden cameras
9. Native advertising and sponsored content: Transparency and integrity
10. Sensitivity in reporting traumatic events and respecting privacy
Here are some presentation on professional ethics topics in political ethics:
1. Ethics of political campaign strategies
2. Transparency in government decision-making
3. Populism and its ethical implications
4. Balancing national security and individual privacy
5. Lobbying and campaign finance ethics
6. Ethical considerations in diplomacy and international relations
7. Redistricting and gerrymandering: Manipulating electoral outcomes
8. Media’s role in shaping political ethics and public opinion
9. The ethics of political endorsements and alliances
10. Ethical responsibilities of elected officials and public servants
Cultural and Artistic Ethics
Here are some professional ethics topics for presentation in cultural and artistic ethics:
1. Appropriation of indigenous art and culture
2. Ethical boundaries in controversial art
3. Commercialization of cultural heritage
4. Ethics of historical preservation and restoration
5. Art censorship and freedom of expression
6. Artist’s moral obligations: Reflections of society in art
7. Ethical considerations in documentary filmmaking
8. Copyright and intellectual property ethics in the digital age
9. Cultural sensitivity in creative works
10. Environmental ethics in artistic practices: Sustainable materials and impact
Technology and Workforce
Here are presentation on professional ethics topics in technology and workforce:
1. Ethical implications of remote work: Balancing productivity and employee well-being
2. Automation in the gig economy: Ensuring fair treatment and job security
3. Cybersecurity workforce ethics: Training and retaining ethical hackers
4. Digital divide and access to technology: Equity in education and employment opportunities
5. AI-driven talent acquisition: Addressing bias and discrimination in hiring algorithms
In a world inundated with information, presentations stand out as a potent means of communication. However, the responsibility of presenting ethically is paramount. The ethics of presentation ensure that information is accurate, respect for diverse perspectives is maintained, and the potential impacts of the message are carefully considered. By adhering to ethical principles in presentations, we not only convey our messages effectively but also contribute to a more informed, compassionate, and just society. So, the next time you prepare a presentation, remember that the power of your words goes hand in hand with the ethics behind them.
I hope you enjoy this blog about professional ethics topics for presentation.
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Introduction to Computer Ethics
Jan 06, 2020
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Introduction to Computer Ethics. Computer ethics defined (1). The ethical questions that arise as a consequence of the development and deployment of computing technologies. This involves: clarifying the issues & problems developing a framework for their resolution Johnson & Nissenbaum.
- computer ethics
- policy vacuums
- ethical issues
- computer ethics situation
- computer ethics defined 1
Computer ethics defined (1) • The ethical questions that arise as a consequence of the development and deployment of computing technologies. This involves: • clarifying the issues & problems • developing a framework for their resolution Johnson & Nissenbaum
Computer ethics defined (2) • The analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology James Moor
Computer ethics defined (3) • Computer ethics examines the impact of computers on our social, legal, and moral systems … Tavani
Evolution of computer ethics issues
Is computer ethics different from other kinds of ethics? • I.e., is an entirely new kind of ethics required in order to deal with the ethical questions that arise from widespread computer use? • Let’s distinguish between the uniqueness of the technology & the uniqueness of the ethical issues. • Even though there is a relationship • Powerful technologies have profound social consequences.
The uniqueness of the computer • It plays a defining role in the world • It has expanded capabilities • And provides expanded possibilities • It has created new entities • The scale of computer-dependent activities is greater than ever because of its: • Speed • Scope • Ability to store & manipulate large amounts of data • Ability to perform complex calculations
The uniqueness of computer ethics? • Consider some examples of the impact of this unique technology: • Privacy issues • Intellectual property issues • Workplace issues • Effects of malfunctions
Some say “yes”, others say “no” • All agree that it’s important to study computer ethics, but with varying perspectives • Maner: yes • There are brand new ethical issues before us that didn’t exist before the advent of computing. • Johnson: no • The ethical problems that arise are not new, but are new species of old problems. • Moor: yes & no • Ethical problems arising from situations in which computers are essentiallyinvolved are unique. • Barlow: yes • Views cyberspace as a newly discovered continent.
Deborah Johnson New species have special features and…if we simply treat them as the same as other familiar cases we may fail to recognize how the new features change the situation in morally significant ways.
James Moor The logical malleability & informational enrichment capabilities of computers give rise to policy vacuums caused by conceptual muddles.
Best available definition: a field concerned with "policy vacuums" and "conceptual muddles" regarding the social and ethical use of information technology Moor policy vacuum – Computers provide us with new capabilities and these in turn give us new choices for action conceptual muddle - a problem in computer ethics may seem clear initially, a little reflection reveals a conceptual muddle
Computer ethics as a field of professional ethics • Most professions promote standards for acceptable behavior. What special responsibilities do computer professionals have?
Computer ethics as a field of philosophical ethics • Johnson • New species of old problems • Moor • Filling ethical policy vacuums • Brey • Disclosive ethics
A first stab at analyzing a computer ethics situation • Who are the stakeholders? • What are the technology aspects that give rise to significant ethical issues? • Formulate an analogy that enables you to highlight & clarify the significant issues • Draw a conclusion.
Identifying stakeholders • The social context and socialimpact of a specific instance of computer usage are best understood when we can identify the stakeholders - those individuals and groups whose lives will be most affected. • What relationships do these people have to each other? to the technology? • How are various aspects of their lives affected by this use of technology?
Analogies • Reasoning by analogy involves the use of familiar situations to understand ethical issues involving computers. • They are useful in teasing out the similarities as well as the differences. • They must be fully developed to be useful.
General Comments on Ethics • The world of ethics is gray • Ethical conflict is characterized by • Intense feelings • Rapid development
The Top Ten Rules of Computer Ethics • Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people. • Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work. • Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files. • Thou shalt not use a computer to steal. • Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid. • Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization or proper compensation. • Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output. • Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing. • Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.
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180 Ethics Topics & Ethical Questions to Debate
Our code of ethics is derived from what we think is right or wrong. On top of that, we have to agree to the moral standards established by the society we live in. Conventional norms generally label theft, murder, or harassment as bad. However, there are many influences that impact our considerations and understanding of ethics.
Our specialists will write a custom essay on any topic for 13.00 10.40/page
Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies moral issues. This article outlines the three different types of ethics and presents a list of compelling ethics topics for essays and research papers, as well as ethical questions to debate.
You don’t know how to write about ethics or which ethical argument topic to choose for your paper? Maybe your assignment deadline is dreadfully looming over you? Our custom writing service is happy to help you craft a fantastic essay on ethics whenever the need arises.
🔝 Top 10 Ethical Topics
- 🧑🤝🧑Types of Ethics
- 🤔 Ethical Issues
- 🖥️ Computer Ethics
- 🧬 Bioethics
- 🚓👮 Criminal Justice
- ⚖️ Ethical Dilemmas
⭐ Top 10 Ethics Topics to Debate
😈 ethical questions to debate, 🔍 references.
- Religious beliefs vs. medical care
- Issues behind unpaid internships
- Toxic environment at the workplace
- The dilemma of reporting an accident
- Should one’s political leanings be private?
- The limits of doctor-patient confidentiality
- Is it ethical to pay children for good grades?
- Ethics at the workplace and discrimination
- Should social media be allowed at the workplace?
- Promotion of environmental responsibility in business
🧑🤝🧑 Types of Ethics
Modern philosophy splits ethics into three groups: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.
- The core question of metaethics is: “What is morality, and where does it come from?” It is also concerned with the emergence of human values, motivation, and reasoning.
- Normative ethics seeks to answer the question, “How should I act?” An example of a normative moral theory is Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law . In other words: be kind.
- Applied ethics seeks to apply moral considerations into real-life controversial subjects. Its contents can vary greatly and touch bioethics as well as criminal justice. It studies specific actions and practices from the point of moral acceptance.
However, ethics does not end with these three types. Over the centuries, philosophers have proposed various ethical theories. Their four general categories are deontological, utilitarian, right, and virtue ethics.
- A deontologist is a person with a set of moral duties from which they will not adhere. When faced with an ethical conflict, they will always act according to their self-proclaimed obligations.
- For a utilitarian , a decision needs to yield the greatest benefit for the majority.
- If rights are the root of an ethical theory, these are the highest priority. A person’s rights can either be established in a society by law or bestowed from one individual upon another.
- Judging someone by virtue means considering a person’s character rather than their actions. Here, an individual’s reputation, motivation, and ethics play a crucial role.
Now that you know the basics, you have the perfect ground to start your ethics essay.
🤔 Ethical Topics for an Essay
Ethical issues are situations in which an individual needs to evaluate which course of action is morally right. Essays on this topic shine a light on difficult questions. Therefore, students need to defend their position convincingly.
- Discuss what we should do about climate change.
- What are the moral problems surrounding abortion?
- Can we still justify eating meat?
- Investigate the use of plastic in the beauty industry.
- Is it unethical to be extremely rich?
- Should you buy Nestlé products despite the fact that the company privatizes water?
- Is the unequal distribution of wealth unethical?
- Discuss how workplace ethics should take sexism into account.
- What can we do to combat racism?
- Why are LGBT+ people discriminated against?
- Should euthanasia be legal?
- Can war be ethical?
- Should schools punish students for attending the Fridays for Future protests?
- Would drug use be unethical if it were legal?
- Explain the moral problems that come with automating jobs.
- Is it ethical to hire someone to do assignments for you?
- How far should everyone’s right to privacy go?
- Is using animals for scientific testing unethical?
- How should governments deal with refugees?
- Discuss the carbon impact of having children.
- Can modern societies still be held accountable for what their nation did in the past?
- Analyze the benefits and disadvantages of universal income.
- How much control should the state have on the press?
- Should schools teach religion?
- What are ethical concerns regarding downloading media from the internet?
🖥️ Computer Ethics Essay Topics
The advent of information technology has altered every aspect of our lives. Computer ethics applies traditional moral theories to everything surrounding computers and cyber security. The list below contains enthralling ethical topics concerned with the realm of computing.
- How much work should we leave entirely to computers?
- Discuss the dangers of storing vulnerable data online.
- Are computers secure enough to contain so much information about our lives?
- Discuss if hacking can be morally justified.
- Examine privacy-related concerns regarding computers.
- Should all software be free?
- How can you legitimize the possession of a computer algorithm patent?
- What can be done to prevent cyberbullying?
- Investigate the moral effects anonymity has on internet users.
- Whose laws apply if you wish to protect your rights online?
- Discuss how the necessity to own a computer impacts poorer nations and people.
- Which ethical problems can people face due to the internet’s possibilities?
- When is sabotaging another person’s computer justified?
- Analyze the social responsibility that comes with developing new software.
- Are computer crimes less harmful than crimes against humans?
- Who owns information that is distributed online?
- What is more important: easy accessibility or privacy?
- Investigate the moral problems associated with AI.
- If a computer makes a critical mistake, whose fault is it?
- Discuss the importance of netiquette.
- How should tech companies deal with ethical problems?
- Can AI algorithms ensure ethical behavior?
- Why do tech companies need ethics boards?
- Which ethical conflicts appear when using drones?
- Investigate racial bias in facial recognition systems.
🏅 Sports Ethics Topics for a Paper
Morality in sports is based on integrity, respect, responsibility, and fairness. Often, this puts athletes into a dilemma: do I want to be ethical, or do I want to win? Answering these questions is not always easy. The following list compiles sports topics for a research paper on ethics.
- What are moral complications when using enhancement drugs?
- Is gamesmanship unethical?
- How important is ethics in sports?
- Discuss the moral responsibilities of athletes.
- What are ethical reasons to pay college athletes?
- Investigate the ethical implications of kneeling for the national anthem.
- Can college sports and the principles of higher education go hand in hand?
- Investigate the sexist bias in sports.
- Was it selfish when the American female soccer team went to court to demand equal pay?
- What moral obligations do universities have towards their athletes?
- When can you justify cheating?
- Concerning the environment, how can professional sports events be ethical?
- Which ethical problems do healthcare workers have concerning sportspeople?
- Which moral duties do teams’ coaches have?
- Are the extremely high salaries of sports professionals justified?
- In 2003, the Olympics abolished the wild card system. Was that fair?
- Because of the Paralympics, disabled athletes cannot take part in the real Olympics. Is that discriminatory?
- Discuss how money influences the fairness of a sport.
- Debate if and how children are exploited to become elite athletes.
- Which moral duties should a good sport follow?
- How much should parents get involved in their child’s physical education?
- Investigate if everyday codes of ethics should apply to sports.
- Discuss the ethical implications of motorsports.
- Who is responsible if a player gets injured?
- Are referees always fair?
🧬 Bioethics Topics for an Essay
Bioethics comes into play when we talk about life and health. It expands from genetics to neurology and even plastic surgery. In the name of the common good, researchers often find themselves in conflicting positions. This makes bioethics an especially exciting topic to write about.
- Discuss the moral conflicts of genetic engineering.
- What are the ethical responsibilities associated with using CRISPR?
- Investigate the problems of stem cell research.
- When can humans be used for drug testing?
- Should vaccinations be mandatory for everyone?
- Investigate the ethics that apply to a medical worker.
- Discuss the harmful effects of plastic surgery.
- Should a person who is brain dead be kept alive?
- Is it just that medical care is linked to an individual’s ability to pay?
- Should everyone be an organ donor by default?
- What is more important: a person’s right to privacy or the information of at-risk relatives?
- Is prenatal invasive testing ethical?
- Should neuroenhancement drugs be legal?
- Discuss ethical conflicts concerning Disclosure and Barring Service.
- Is it ethical to improve memory functions with brain stimulation?
- Analyze the ethical issues concerning precision medicine.
- What are the problems of surrogacy?
- Should medical personnel collect healthy tissues of a deceased person without their consent?
- What should be done with the child of a brain-dead pregnant woman?
- How important is a subject’s anonymity during research?
- Discuss the ethics of shared decision-making.
- How much responsibility do mentally challenged people carry for their actions?
- Was Sweden right not to impose strict lockdown rules during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- To what extent are businesses responsible for their employees’ health?
- Should universal healthcare be free?
🚓👮 Criminal Justice Ethics Topics to Write About
Law enforcers should always act ethically. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Police officers and attorneys often end up in morally ambiguous situations. In many cases, they don’t do what the public deems the right thing. Below are the examples of criminal justice ethics topics.
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- When is it legitimate for a police officer to use violence?
- How can an officer remain impartial?
- Should law enforcement visibly wear guns in public?
- How much force is too much?
- Investigate possible ethical implications associated with true crime podcasts.
- Should prostitution be legal in the US?
- How ethical is interrogation?
- Can torture be justified?
- Discuss the ethical consequences of lying when working in criminal justice.
- Is working undercover deception?
- Debate whether it is an American citizen’s moral duty to participate in jury duty.
- Should the police be allowed to access everyone’s data?
- Discuss the moral complications of “innocent until proven guilty.”
- Should convicted pedophiles be allowed to see their children?
- Can teaching ethics at schools prevent crime?
- Analyze ethical problems of the Stanford Prison Experiment.
- Should NATO have become involved in America’s Afghan war?
- What are the ethical implications of shooter drills at school?
- Was Edward Snowden morally in the wrong?
- How should we deal with child soldiers?
- Discuss if the prosecution of Julian Assange is justified.
- Examine the ethical problems of private prisons.
- What moral obligations should someone consider when granting prisoners the right to work?
- When is capital punishment justified?
- Is it ethical to incarcerate juvenile offenders?
⚖️ Ethical Dilemma Topics to Write About
An ethical issue becomes a dilemma when different moral standards clash with each other. In this situation, it is impossible to find a path to an ethically permissible solution that is unambiguous. The following sample topics are a solid base to start a discussion on morals.
- Should parents watch over what their children do on the internet?
- Would you report an accident you caused if there are no witnesses?
- What should a doctor do if a patient refuses life-saving treatment for religious reasons?
- Should you turn down a client if their political views do not match yours?
- Would you promote something you are not convinced of to get money?
- Should you lie to land a job that gets you out of poverty?
- Your partner cheated on you. Now, you get the chance to take your revenge with someone you really like. Would you do it?
- Should students use automated writing tools like free thesis generators , summarizers, and paraphrasers?
- Your teacher is continuously mocking your classmate. You are a teacher’s pet. Would you speak up?
- Your son likes to wear dresses. One day, he asks if he can wear one to school. Will you let him?
- You are very religious. Your daughter wants to get married to another woman and invites you to her wedding. What will you do?
- Prenatal testing showed that your unborn child has a disability. Would you terminate pregnancy?
- You are in a long-term relationship. Suddenly, your partner gets a job offer in another part of the world. What would you do?
- You have a terminal illness. This makes you a financial burden to your relatives. Are you obliged towards them to quit your treatment?
- You have a red and a blue candy bar. Blue is your favorite, but you also know that it’s your friend’s favorite. Will you give it to them?
- A friend asked you for a loan. Since then, they have not given you anything back. They are still not wholly stable financially. Will you ask them to return the money?
- Your grandma passed away and bequeathed her favorite mink coat to you. You are a vegan. What do you do?
- A few years ago, you borrowed a gun from a friend. Now, they ask for it back, but their mental state seems to be rapidly deteriorating. This makes you scared they are going to shoot someone, or themselves. What do you do?
- You find out that your friend cheats on their spouse. You are close friends with their family. Will you tell on them?
- For your birthday, your friend gave you a sweater they’ve made themselves. You think it’s ugly. Do you tell them?
- You are a vegan. Should you buy vegan products which are highly problematic to produce?
- You are in a restaurant. Your order arrives too late. The waitress looks stressed. Will you make her take it back?
- You went to the store and bought a new, expensive item. The clerk gives you too much change. Do you give it back?
- You are walking with a friend and find $50 on the floor. Would you share it with them?
- Your child firmly believes in Santa Claus. One Christmas, they start suspecting that he is not real. What do you do?
- Is having pets ethical?
- Can eating meat be justified?
- Should we defund the police?
- Should atomic bombs be banned?
- Can discrimination be justified?
- Is it ethical to ask someone’s age?
- Should children get paid for chores?
- Is it unprofessional to send voice messages?
- Should children be allowed to vote?
- Should influencers promote products they don’t use?
- Should there be any limitations to doctor and patient confidentiality?
- Should physician-assisted suicide be allowed?
- Can teenagers get plastic surgery?
- What to do when you find out that your relative has committed an offense?
- What to do when you see your friend cheating on the exam?
- Should sportsmen be paid more than teachers?
- Should gender quotas be used during parliamentary elections?
- Do companies have the right to collect information about their customers?
- Can politicians appeal to religious issues during electoral campaigns?
- Should fake news be censored in a democratic society?
We hope that in this list you’ve found the ethics topic that fits you the best. Good luck with your assignment!
- 430 Philosophy Topics & Questions for Your Essay
- 226 Research Topics on Criminal Justice & Criminology
- 512 Research Topics on HumSS (Humanities & Social Sciences)
- 204 Research Topics on Technology & Computer Science
- What’s the Difference Between Morality and Ethics?: Britannica
- What is Ethics?: Santa Clara University
- Ethics: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Metaethics: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Ethical Issues: Idaho State University
- The Problem with AI Ethics: The Verge
- Sports Ethics: Santa Clara University
- What Is Bioethics?: Michigan State University
- Ethics in Criminal Justice: Campbellsville University
- Kant’s Formula of Universal Law: Harvard University
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Professional Ethics Topics
Explore compelling and relevant professional ethics topics for presentation. Elevate your discourse on ethical dilemmas, values, and responsibilities in the workplace.
Hey, fellow seekers of ethical wisdom and professional prowess! Get ready to dive headfirst into the captivating world of professional ethics topics – where the tango between integrity and career takes the center stage.
Whether you’re a savvy pro on a quest to fine-tune your moral compass or a student gearing up to wow the crowd with your presentation skills, hold on tight – because we’re about to unravel a tapestry of insights that’s as enlightening as it is entertaining.
In a world flooded with data and decisions, professional ethics isn’t just a rulebook; it’s your backstage pass to a thriving career. It’s what keeps you grounded, respected, and trusted in the hustle and bustle of your professional journey.
So, gear up for this exhilarating ride! We’re about to journey through the very foundations of ethical principles, and we’ll also tackle the real-world puzzles that professionals face, all while having a blast.
Ready to join the adventure? Grab your ethical compass and let’s navigate the exhilarating twists and turns of professional ethics topics, where learning meets excitement in the most fantastic way possible!
Understanding the Importance
Table of Contents
Alright, let’s talk about why professional ethics are like the secret sauce in the world of careers and businesses. You know, that thing that adds a dash of trust, a sprinkle of credibility, and a whole lot of “I want to work with them again” vibes. Strap in, because we’re about to uncover why understanding the importance of professional ethics is a game-changer.
Picture this: You’re working with someone new, whether it’s a client, a colleague, or a partner. What’s the first thing you’re secretly hoping for? Yep, it’s trust. Professional ethics are the trust-building foundation. When you stick to ethical standards, you’re basically saying, “Hey, you can count on me to do the right thing, even when no one’s watching.” And that trust? It’s worth its weight in gold.
2. Legal Compliance
Here’s the cool thing about professional ethics – they often hold hands with the law. While not every ethical rule is a legal one, many of them are. So, when you’re all about ethical behavior, you’re also playing it safe on the legal front. Double win, anyone?
3. Enhancing Reputation
Reputation is like your personal brand, and you want it to be top-notch, right? Enter professional ethics. When you rock those ethical standards, your reputation gets a serious boost. People start seeing you as the pro who doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the ethical walk. It’s like having a spotlight on you in a sea of professionals.
4. Fostering Client Confidence
If you’re in the business of helping clients – be it with legal advice, health care, or financial wizardry – client confidence is your holy grail. Think about it: Would you want someone who’s just “meh” on ethics handling your important matters? Nope. When you weave professional ethics into your game plan, you’re telling clients, “Hey, I’ve got your back, and I’ll do right by you.”
5. Navigating Ethical Dilemmas
Life loves throwing curveballs, and sometimes, they’re ethical ones. You know, those moments where you’re like, “Wait, what’s the right thing to do here?” Professional ethics are like your compass in these situations. They give you a roadmap to tackle those dilemmas head-on, without losing your integrity along the way.
6. Long-Term Success
Sure, quick wins are nice, but what about long-term success that stands the test of time? That’s where professional ethics shine. When you’re all about ethics, you’re not just in it for the short haul. You’re building relationships that last, gaining repeat business, and becoming the go-to pro that everyone recommends.
Hold onto your hats because we’re diving deeper into the world of professional ethics. We’re talking ethical frameworks, industry codes, and all the tricky ethical stuff professionals like you face. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be a pro at making not just legally sound decisions, but downright ethically awesome ones too. Let’s roll!
professional ethics topics for presentation
Have a close look at professional ethics topics for presentation:-
Foundational Professional Ethics Topics
- Introduction to Professional Ethics
- The Importance of Ethical Conduct
- Historical Perspectives on Professional Ethics
- Ethical Theories and Frameworks
- Codes of Ethics
- Ethical Decision-Making Models
- Ethics and Personal Values
- Professional Ethics vs. Personal Ethics
- Ethical Leadership Traits
- Ethical Dilemmas in Everyday Life
- Ethical Decision-Making in a Global Context
- The Role of Moral Courage in Professional Ethics
- Ethical Responsibilities in Public Service
- Ethics in Journalism and Media
- The Ethics of Whistleblowing
- Ethical Considerations in Healthcare Administration
- Ethics in Scientific Research
- Ethics in Nonprofit Organizations
- Ethical Considerations in Marketing and Advertising
- Ethics in the Arts and Creative Industries
Industry-Specific Professional Ethics Topics
- Patient Confidentiality in Telemedicine
- Ethical Challenges in Organ Transplants
- Ethical Issues in Genetic Testing
- End-of-Life Care and Medical Ethics
- Healthcare Resource Allocation Ethics
- Ethical Considerations in Medical Research with Human Subjects
- Physician-Assisted Suicide and Ethical Debates
- Medical Ethics in Pandemic Response
- Ethical Implications of Artificial Organs
- Ethical Dilemmas in Clinical Trials
- Confidentiality and Attorney-Client Privilege
- Ethics in Criminal Defense
- Conflicts of Interest in Legal Practice
- Legal Ethics in Corporate Law
- Professional Responsibility in Courtroom Behavior
- Ethics in Alternative Dispute Resolution
- The Role of Ethics in Intellectual Property Law
- Ethics in Environmental Law
- Legal Ethics in Immigration Law
- Ethical Challenges in Cybersecurity Law
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reporting
- Ethical Leadership in Business
- Ethical Decision-Making in Marketing
- Supply Chain Ethics
- Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Ethics
- Environmental Sustainability and Business Ethics
- Business Ethics in the Age of AI
- Ethical Considerations in Corporate Governance
- Ethical Issues in Product Development
- Whistleblowing Policies in Corporations
Ethics in Technology
- Ethical Considerations in Data Mining
- Bias and Fairness in AI Algorithms
- Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity
- AI and Healthcare Ethics
- Ethical Implications of Autonomous Vehicles
- Ethics in Social Media Data Usage
- Privacy and Surveillance Ethics
- The Role of Ethics in Space Exploration
- Ethical Use of Biotechnology
- Transparency and Accountability in Tech Companies
- Ethical Challenges in Leadership Transitions
- The Ethical Dimensions of Decision-Making
- Ethical Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations
- Ethical Leadership in Educational Institutions
- The Role of Empathy in Ethical Leadership
- Ethical Communication in Leadership
- Ethical Decision-Making in Crisis Management
- Ethical Considerations in Change Management
- The Ethics of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Leadership
- Gender and Diversity in Ethical Leadership
- The Psychology of Ethical Decision-Making
- Ethical Dilemmas in the Age of Social Media
- Ethical Issues in Artificial Intelligence Development
- Ethical Challenges in Human Resources Management
- Ethical Considerations in Global Supply Chains
- Environmental Ethics and Corporate Sustainability
- The Ethics of Marketing to Children
- Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies
- Ethical Leadership vs. Ethical Followership
- Ethical Implications of Workplace Automation
Ethical Training and Education
- Integrating Ethics into School Curricula
- Professional Ethics Workshops and Training
- Ethics in Leadership Development Programs
- Ethical Decision-Making Exercises
- The Role of Ethics in Lifelong Learning
- Ethics in Higher Education Accreditation
- The Impact of Ethical Education on Career Development
- Teaching Business Ethics in MBA Programs
- Ethical Training for Healthcare Professionals
- The Ethics of Online Education and E-Learning
These expanded categories offer a diverse range of professional ethics topics that can be explored in presentations, discussions, and research within various fields and industries.
What are some good ethics topics?
Have a close look at some of good ethics topics:-
AI’s Moral Maze
Dive into the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence and its ethical quandaries, from self-driving car dilemmas to robot rights.
Explore the ethical tightrope of healthcare decisions during global crises , such as resource allocation and vaccine distribution.
Planet or Profit
Engage in the debate over environmental ethics, asking whether sustainability should trump corporate profits and how to tackle climate change responsibly.
Digital Business Dilemmas
Uncover the ethical shadows in the digital realm, including data privacy, online marketing tactics, and the ethics of AI-driven decision-making.
Gene Editing and You
Delve into the ethical storm surrounding genetic engineering, from designer babies to curing diseases by rewriting our DNA.
Life and Death Debates
Navigate the complex ethical waters of healthcare, from end-of-life choices and assisted suicide to organ transplants and the right to refuse treatment.
AI as Doctors
Probe the ethical implications of AI in healthcare, where algorithms diagnose, treat, and care for patients, raising questions about trust and bias.
Human Clones, Real Questions
Contemplate the ethical frontiers of human cloning, exploring the possibilities, limits, and moral dilemmas.
Privacy Under Siege
Discuss the battle between personal privacy rights and the needs of national security in an age of constant surveillance and data collection.
Take a ride into the ethical landscape of autonomous vehicles, where machines make life-or-death choices during accidents.
These engaging twists on ethical topics not only spark curiosity but also invite readers and listeners to dive into the ethical complexities of our modern world.
What is an example of a professional ethical issue?
Imagine you’re a financial advisor. You help people make smart investment choices to secure their future. But here’s the twist: What if you stand to make a pretty penny from recommending a specific investment option? That’s where the conflict of interest comes into play.
A conflict of interest arises when your personal interests clash with your professional duty. In this case, your duty is to provide the best financial advice for your clients. But if you’re tempted by a fat commission for pushing a certain investment, things get a bit murky.
On one hand, you want your clients to thrive financially. On the other hand, your wallet is whispering, “Hey, recommend that investment, and I’ll pad your bank account.” See the dilemma?
Now, picture this scenario across various professions: lawyers, doctors, journalists – you name it. Whenever personal gain butts heads with professional duty, you’re wading into the waters of a potential ethical issue.
Ethics guidelines and codes of conduct exist to help professionals navigate these tricky situations. They often require transparency – like letting your clients know about potential conflicts – and taking steps to put their interests front and center, even if it means passing up on personal gains.
So, the next time you hear “conflict of interest,” think of it as a tug of war between doing what’s right and what’s personally tempting – a true test of professional integrity.
What are the topics for ethics and human values?
Have a close look at the topics for ethics and human values.
Ethical Dilemmas in Pop Culture
Ever thought about the tough choices characters make in your favorite movies or TV shows? Let’s discuss the moral dilemmas faced by superheroes, antiheroes, and beloved characters.
Would You Push the Button?
Imagine a train headed for disaster, and you have the power to divert it, but it would mean sacrificing something or someone else. This classic ethical dilemma, the trolley problem, sparks lively debates.
Your Right to Choose: When it comes to end-of-life decisions, should individuals have the right to choose how and when they pass away? This topic raises profound questions about autonomy and compassion.
The Price of Fashion
Ethical fashion explores the impact of your clothing choices, from fair labor practices to sustainability. Can you look stylish while supporting ethical brands?
The Power of Persuasion
Ethical marketing isn’t just about selling products; it’s about selling ideas. Explore the ethics of advertising, from emotional manipulation to truth in advertising.
Breaking Bad in Healthcare
From organ trafficking to medical experimentation, some real-life medical stories blur the line between healing and harm. What’s the ethical prescription?
Leadership Beyond the Boardroom
Ethical leaders aren’t just in the corner office. They guide teams, communities, and nations. What traits define an ethical leader, and how do they navigate complex moral terrain?
The Gene Editing Frontier
CRISPR technology allows us to edit genes. But where’s the line between curing genetic diseases and designing “perfect” babies? Ethics meets science fiction.
Tech Titans and Ethical Responsibility
The giants of the tech industry shape our digital lives. But what happens when their power clashes with ethical responsibility? We’ll dissect the ethical side of Silicon Valley.
The Ethics of Giving
Explore the ethics of philanthropy, charitable giving, and the responsibility of those with means to make the world a better place.
These engaging ethical topics touch on everyday dilemmas, thought-provoking scenarios, and complex moral questions that we encounter in our lives and the world around us. Let’s delve into these discussions with enthusiasm and curiosity!
What are some ethical issues in today’s society?
Absolutely, let’s dive into some of the most gripping ethical issues buzzing in today’s society:
Privacy vs. Data Goldmine
In a world where our every click is tracked, the ethical dilemma of balancing our right to privacy with data-hungry corporations and governments sparks heated debates.
AI Bias and Fairness
Imagine AI making life-altering decisions, yet it inherits biases from its creators. This raises ethical eyebrows on fairness, especially in areas like hiring and lending.
Fake News Frenzy
The explosive spread of misinformation on social media leaves us questioning the ethical responsibilities of platforms and our role in curbing the chaos.
Climate Change Crunch
Ethical alarms ring as we confront the dire consequences of climate change. Balancing our carbon footprint with the planet’s survival is a moral imperative.
Social Justice Shake-Up
The battle against systemic racism, income inequality, and discrimination forces us to reevaluate our ethical stance on justice, equity, and human rights.
Digital Health Data Dilemma
Health apps and wearables promise insights, but the ethical quandary lies in who controls our health data and how it’s used.
The right to die with dignity collides with cultural, religious, and medical ethics, leading to profound conversations on euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Gene Editing Quandary
CRISPR technology lets us edit genes, but the line between curing diseases and playing god sparks ethical debates.
As AI advances, questions arise about the rights of humanoid robots – are they property or autonomous beings with ethical considerations?
Mental Health Taboo
Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health demands ethical reflections on how we address, support, and advocate for those affected.
These captivating ethical topics remind us that our rapidly evolving world poses complex challenges that require both empathy and critical thinking to navigate. Let’s engage in discussions that shape our ethical compass and inspire positive change.
In wrapping up our journey through the world of professional ethics topics for presentation, it’s abundantly clear that these issues aren’t just dry subjects in a conference room; they’re the heartbeat of our professional lives.
We’ve delved into the tech-driven ethical puzzles of the 21st century, where artificial intelligence wrestles with bias, and privacy tiptoes on a razor’s edge. We’ve traversed the treacherous terrain of environmental ethics, where our planet’s health hinges on our moral choices.
We’ve probed the very soul of business ethics, where profit meets responsibility, and we’ve dared to contemplate the delicate matters of life and death in healthcare ethics.
As we conclude, it’s not just about closing a presentation but recognizing that professional ethics are the bedrock of trust, integrity, and progress in our society. They’re the compass that guides us through murky waters, ensuring our actions reflect the values we hold dear.
So, let’s remember that professional ethics aren’t just words on a screen; they’re the legacy we leave, the principles we uphold, and the beacon that lights our path to a better, fairer, and more ethical tomorrow.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the significance of professional ethics in modern society.
Professional ethics underpin trust, legal compliance, and reputation, making them vital in today’s interconnected world.
Can professional ethics vary between industries?
Yes, professional ethics are shaped by industry-specific codes and practices, leading to variations.
What are the consequences of ignoring professional ethics?
Ignoring professional ethics can lead to legal trouble, reputational damage, and loss of trust.
How can individuals develop their ethical decision-making skills?
Developing ethical decision-making skills involves self-awareness, education, and practice.
Are there cases where ethical dilemmas have no clear solution?
Yes, ethical dilemmas often involve conflicting values, making it challenging to find a straightforward solution.
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Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Computer ethics: basic concepts and historical overview.
In the industrialized nations of the world, the "information revolution" already has significantly altered many aspects of life -- in banking and commerce, work and employment, medical care, national defense, transportation and entertainment. Consequently, information technology has begun to affect (in both good and bad ways) community life, family life, human relationships, education, freedom, democracy, and so on (to name a few examples). Computer ethics in the broadest sense can be understood as that branch of applied ethics which studies and analyzes such social and ethical impacts of information technology.
In recent years, this robust new field has led to new university courses, conferences, workshops, professional organizations, curriculum materials, books, articles, journals, and research centers. And in the age of the world-wide-web, computer ethics is quickly being transformed into "global information ethics".
1. Some Historical Milestones
2. defining the field of computer ethics, 3.1 computers in the workplace, 3.2 computer crime, 3.3 privacy and anonymity, 3.4 intellectual property, 3.5 professional responsibility, 3.6 globalization, 3.7 the metaethics of computer ethics, bibliography, other internet resources, related entries, 1940s and 1950s.
It has long been clear to me that the modern ultra-rapid computing machine was in principle an ideal central nervous system to an apparatus for automatic control; and that its input and output need not be in the form of numbers or diagrams. It might very well be, respectively, the readings of artificial sense organs, such as photoelectric cells or thermometers, and the performance of motors or solenoids ... . we are already in a position to construct artificial machines of almost any degree of elaborateness of performance. Long before Nagasaki and the public awareness of the atomic bomb, it had occurred to me that we were here in the presence of another social potentiality of unheard-of importance for good and for evil. (pp. 27-28)
Wiener's book included (1) an account of the purpose of a human life, (2) four principles of justice, (3) a powerful method for doing applied ethics, (4) discussions of the fundamental questions of computer ethics, and (5) examples of key computer ethics topics. [Wiener 1950/1954, see also Bynum 1999]
Wiener's foundation of computer ethics was far ahead of its time, and it was virtually ignored for decades. On his view, the integration of computer technology into society will eventually constitute the remaking of society -- the "second industrial revolution". It will require a multi-faceted process taking decades of effort, and it will radically change everything. A project so vast will necessarily include a wide diversity of tasks and challenges. Workers must adjust to radical changes in the work place; governments must establish new laws and regulations; industry and businesses must create new policies and practices; professional organizations must develop new codes of conduct for their members; sociologists and psychologists must study and understand new social and psychological phenomena; and philosophers must rethink and redefine old social and ethical concepts.
In the mid 1970s, Walter Maner (then of Old Dominion University in Virginia; now at Bowling Green State University in Ohio) began to use the term "computer ethics" to refer to that field of inquiry dealing with ethical problems aggravated, transformed or created by computer technology. Maner offered an experimental course on the subject at Old Dominion University. During the late 1970s (and indeed into the mid 1980s), Maner generated much interest in university-level computer ethics courses. He offered a variety of workshops and lectures at computer science conferences and philosophy conferences across America. In 1978 he also self-published and disseminated his Starter Kit in Computer Ethics , which contained curriculum materials and pedagogical advice for university teachers to develop computer ethics courses. The Starter Kit included suggested course descriptions for university catalogs, a rationale for offering such a course in the university curriculum, a list of course objectives, some teaching tips and discussions of topics like privacy and confidentiality, computer crime, computer decisions, technological dependence and professional codes of ethics. Maner's trailblazing course, plus his Starter Kit and the many conference workshops he conducted, had a significant impact upon the teaching of computer ethics across America. Many university courses were put in place because of him, and several important scholars were attracted into the field.
In the mid-80s, James Moor of Dartmouth College published his influential article "What Is Computer Ethics?" (see discussion below) in Computers and Ethics , a special issue of the journal Metaphilosophy [Moor, 1985]. In addition, Deborah Johnson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute published Computer Ethics [Johnson, 1985], the first textbook -- and for more than a decade, the defining textbook -- in the field. There were also relevant books published in psychology and sociology: for example, Sherry Turkle of MIT wrote The Second Self [Turkle, 1984], a book on the impact of computing on the human psyche; and Judith Perrolle produced Computers and Social Change: Information, Property and Power [Perrolle, 1987], a sociological approach to computing and human values.
In the early 80s, the present author (Terrell Ward Bynum) assisted Maner in publishing his Starter Kit in Computer Ethics [Maner, 1980] at a time when most philosophers and computer scientists considered the field to be unimportant [See Maner, 1996]. Bynum furthered Maner's mission of developing courses and organizing workshops, and in 1985, edited a special issue of Metaphilosophy devoted to computer ethics [Bynum, 1985]. In 1991 Bynum and Maner convened the first international multidisciplinary conference on computer ethics, which was seen by many as a major milestone of the field. It brought together, for the first time, philosophers, computer professionals, sociologists, psychologists, lawyers, business leaders, news reporters and government officials. It generated a set of monographs, video programs and curriculum materials [see van Speybroeck, July 1994].
These important developments were significantly aided by the pioneering work of Simon Rogerson of De Montfort University (UK), who established the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility there. In Rogerson's view, there was need in the mid-1990s for a "second generation" of computer ethics developments:
The mid-1990s has heralded the beginning of a second generation of Computer Ethics. The time has come to build upon and elaborate the conceptual foundation whilst, in parallel, developing the frameworks within which practical action can occur, thus reducing the probability of unforeseen effects of information technology application [Rogerson, Spring 1996, 2; Rogerson and Bynum, 1997].
When he decided to use the term "computer ethics" in the mid-70s, Walter Maner defined the field as one which examines "ethical problems aggravated, transformed or created by computer technology". Some old ethical problems, he said, are made worse by computers, while others are wholly new because of information technology. By analogy with the more developed field of medical ethics, Maner focused attention upon applications of traditional ethical theories used by philosophers doing "applied ethics" -- especially analyses using the utilitarian ethics of the English philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, or the rationalist ethics of the German philosopher Immanual Kant.
In her book, Computer Ethics , Deborah Johnson  defined the field as one which studies the way in which computers "pose new versions of standard moral problems and moral dilemmas, exacerbating the old problems, and forcing us to apply ordinary moral norms in uncharted realms," [Johnson, page 1]. Like Maner before her, Johnson recommended the "applied ethics" approach of using procedures and concepts from utilitarianism and Kantianism. But, unlike Maner, she did not believe that computers create wholly new moral problems. Rather, she thought that computers gave a "new twist" to old ethical issues which were already well known.
James Moor's definition of computer ethics in his article "What Is Computer Ethics?" [Moor, 1985] was much broader and more wide-ranging than that of Maner or Johnson. It is independent of any specific philosopher's theory; and it is compatible with a wide variety of methodological approaches to ethical problem-solving. Over the past decade, Moor's definition has been the most influential one. He defined computer ethics as a field concerned with "policy vacuums" and "conceptual muddles" regarding the social and ethical use of information technology:
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].
Computers are logically malleable in that they can be shaped and molded to do any activity that can be characterized in terms of inputs, outputs and connecting logical operations....Because logic applies everywhere, the potential applications of computer technology appear limitless. The computer is the nearest thing we have to a universal tool. Indeed, the limits of computers are largely the limits of our own creativity [Moor, 1985, 269]
Moor's way of defining the field of computer ethics is very powerful and suggestive. It is broad enough to be compatible with a wide range of philosophical theories and methodologies, and it is rooted in a perceptive understanding of how technological revolutions proceed. Currently it is the best available definition of the field.
Nevertheless, there is yet another way of understanding computer ethics that is also very helpful--and compatible with a wide variety of theories and approaches. This "other way" was the approach taken by Wiener in 1950 in his book The Human Use of Human Beings , and Moor also discussed it briefly in "What Is Computer Ethics?" . According to this alternative account, computer ethics identifies and analyzes the impacts of information technology upon human values like health, wealth, opportunity, freedom, democracy, knowledge, privacy, security, self-fulfillment, and so on. This very broad view of computer ethics embraces applied ethics, sociology of computing, technology assessment, computer law, and related fields; and it employs concepts, theories and methodologies from these and other relevant disciplines [Bynum, 1993]. The fruitfulness of this way of understanding computer ethics is reflected in the fact that it has served as the organizing theme of major conferences like the National Conference on Computing and Values (1991), and it is the basis of recent developments such as Brey's "disclosive computer ethics" methodology [Brey 2000] and the emerging research field of "value-sensitive computer design". (See, for example, [Friedman, 1997], [Friedman and Nissenbaum, 1996], [Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000].)
In the 1990s, Donald Gotterbarn became a strong advocate for a different approach to defining the field of computer ethics. In Gotterbarn's view, computer ethics should be viewed as a branch of professional ethics, which is concerned primarily with standards of practice and codes of conduct of computing professionals:
There is little attention paid to the domain of professional ethics -- the values that guide the day-to-day activities of computing professionals in their role as professionals. By computing professional I mean anyone involved in the design and development of computer artifacts... The ethical decisions made during the development of these artifacts have a direct relationship to many of the issues discussed under the broader concept of computer ethics [Gotterbarn, 1991].
3. Example Topics in Computer Ethics
The employment outlook, however, is not all bad. Consider, for example, the fact that the computer industry already has generated a wide variety of new jobs: hardware engineers, software engineers, systems analysts, webmasters, information technology teachers, computer sales clerks, and so on. Thus it appears that, in the short run, computer-generated unemployment will be an important social problem; but in the long run, information technology will create many more jobs than it eliminates.
Even when a job is not eliminated by computers, it can be radically altered. For example, airline pilots still sit at the controls of commercial airplanes; but during much of a flight the pilot simply watches as a computer flies the plane. Similarly, those who prepare food in restaurants or make products in factories may still have jobs; but often they simply push buttons and watch as computerized devices actually perform the needed tasks. In this way, it is possible for computers to cause "de-skilling" of workers, turning them into passive observers and button pushers. Again, however, the picture is not all bad because computers also have generated new jobs which require new sophisticated skills to perform -- for example, "computer assisted drafting" and "keyhole" surgery.
Another workplace issue concerns health and safety. As Forester and Morrison point out [Forester and Morrison, 140-72, Chapter 8], when information technology is introduced into a workplace, it is important to consider likely impacts upon health and job satisfaction of workers who will use it. It is possible, for example, that such workers will feel stressed trying to keep up with high-speed computerized devices -- or they may be injured by repeating the same physical movement over and over -- or their health may be threatened by radiation emanating from computer monitors. These are just a few of the social and ethical issues that arise when information technology is introduced into the workplace.
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Integrity -- assuring that data and programs are not modified without proper authority
- Unimpaired service
- Consistency -- ensuring that the data and behavior we see today will be the same tomorrow
- Controlling access to resources
Computer crimes, such as embezzlement or planting of logic bombs, are normally committed by trusted personnel who have permission to use the computer system. Computer security, therefore, must also be concerned with the actions of trusted computer users.
Another major risk to computer security is the so-called "hacker" who breaks into someone's computer system without permission. Some hackers intentionally steal data or commit vandalism, while others merely "explore" the system to see how it works and what files it contains. These "explorers" often claim to be benevolent defenders of freedom and fighters against rip-offs by major corporations or spying by government agents. These self-appointed vigilantes of cyberspace say they do no harm, and claim to be helpful to society by exposing security risks. However every act of hacking is harmful, because any known successful penetration of a computer system requires the owner to thoroughly check for damaged or lost data and programs. Even if the hacker did indeed make no changes, the computer's owner must run through a costly and time-consuming investigation of the compromised system [Spafford, 1992].
One of the earliest computer ethics topics to arouse public interest was privacy. For example, in the mid-1960s the American government already had created large databases of information about private citizens (census data, tax records, military service records, welfare records, and so on). In the US Congress, bills were introduced to assign a personal identification number to every citizen and then gather all the government's data about each citizen under the corresponding ID number. A public outcry about "big-brother government" caused Congress to scrap this plan and led the US President to appoint committees to recommend privacy legislation. In the early 1970s, major computer privacy laws were passed in the USA. Ever since then, computer-threatened privacy has remained as a topic of public concern. The ease and efficiency with which computers and computer networks can be used to gather, store, search, compare, retrieve and share personal information make computer technology especially threatening to anyone who wishes to keep various kinds of "sensitive" information (e.g., medical records) out of the public domain or out of the hands of those who are perceived as potential threats. During the past decade, commercialization and rapid growth of the internet; the rise of the world-wide-web; increasing "user-friendliness" and processing power of computers; and decreasing costs of computer technology have led to new privacy issues, such as data-mining, data matching, recording of "click trails" on the web, and so on [see Tavani, 1999].
The variety of privacy-related issues generated by computer technology has led philosophers and other thinkers to re-examine the concept of privacy itself. Since the mid-1960s, for example, a number of scholars have elaborated a theory of privacy defined as "control over personal information" (see, for example, [Westin, 1967], [Miller, 1971], [Fried, 1984] and [Elgesem, 1996]). On the other hand, philosophers Moor and Tavani have argued that control of personal information is insufficient to establish or protect privacy, and "the concept of privacy itself is best defined in terms of restricted access, not control" [Tavani and Moor, 2001] (see also [Moor, 1997]). In addition, Nissenbaum has argued that there is even a sense of privacy in public spaces, or circumstances "other than the intimate." An adequate definition of privacy, therefore, must take account of "privacy in public" [Nissenbaum, 1998]. As computer technology rapidly advances -- creating ever new possibilities for compiling, storing, accessing and analyzing information -- philosophical debates about the meaning of "privacy" will likely continue (see also [Introna, 1997]).
Questions of anonymity on the internet are sometimes discussed in the same context with questions of privacy and the internet, because anonymity can provide many of the same benefits as privacy. For example, if someone is using the internet to obtain medical or psychological counseling, or to discuss sensitive topics (for example, AIDS, abortion, gay rights, venereal disease, political dissent), anonymity can afford protection similar to that of privacy. Similarly, both anonymity and privacy on the internet can be helpful in preserving human values such as security, mental health, self-fulfillment and peace of mind. Unfortunately, privacy and anonymity also can be exploited to facilitate unwanted and undesirable computer-aided activities in cyberspace, such as money laundering, drug trading, terrorism, or preying upon the vulnerable (see [Marx, 2001] and [Nissenbaum, 1999]).
- The "source code" which is written by the programmer(s) in a high-level computer language like Java or C++.
- The "object code", which is a machine-language translation of the source code.
- The "algorithm", which is the sequence of machine commands that the source code and object code represent.
- The "look and feel" of a program, which is the way the program appears on the screen and interfaces with users.
employer -- employee client -- professional professional -- professional society -- professional
Professional organizations in the USA, like the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), have established codes of ethics, curriculum guidelines and accreditation requirements to help computer professionals understand and manage ethical responsibilities. For example, in 1991 a Joint Curriculum Task Force of the ACM and IEEE adopted a set of guidelines ("Curriculum 1991") for college programs in computer science. The guidelines say that a significant component of computer ethics (in the broad sense) should be included in undergraduate education in computer science [Turner, 1991].
In addition, both the ACM and IEEE have adopted Codes of Ethics for their members. The most recent ACM Code (1992), for example, includes "general moral imperatives", such as "avoid harm to others" and "be honest and trustworthy". And also included are "more specific professional responsibilities" like "acquire and maintain professional competence" and "know and respect existing laws pertaining to professional work." The IEEE Code of Ethics (1990) includes such principles as "avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible" and "be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data."
The Accreditation Board for Engineering Technologies (ABET) has long required an ethics component in the computer engineering curriculum. And in 1991, the Computer Sciences Accreditation Commission/Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAC/CSAB) also adopted the requirement that a significant component of computer ethics be included in any computer sciences degree granting program that is nationally accredited [Conry, 1992].
It is clear that professional organizations in computer science recognize and insist upon standards of professional responsibility for their members.
Global cyberbusiness, global education, information rich and information poor.
In her 1999 ETHICOMP paper [Johnson, 1999], Johnson expressed a view which, upon first sight, may seem to be the same as Gorniak's. [ 2 ] A closer look at the Johnson hypothesis reveals that it is a different kind of claim than Gorniak's, though not inconsistent with it. Johnson's hypothesis addresses the question of whether or not the name "computer ethics" (or perhaps "information ethics") will continue to be used by ethicists and others to refer to ethical questions and problems generated by information technology. On Johnson's view, as information technology becomes very commonplace -- as it gets integrated and absorbed into our everyday surroundings and is perceived simply as an aspect of ordinary life -- we may no longer notice its presence. At that point, we would no longer need a term like "computer ethics" to single out a subset of ethical issues arising from the use of information technology. Computer technology would be absorbed into the fabric of life, and computer ethics would thus be effectively absorbed into ordinary ethics.
Taken together, the Gorniak and Johnson hypotheses look to a future in which what we call "computer ethics" today is globally important and a vital aspect of everyday life, but the name "computer ethics" may no longer be used.
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- ACM SIGCAS , Special Interest Group on Computers and Society, Association for Computing Machinery
- Australian Institute of Computer Ethics
- Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility , (De Montfort University, UK)
- Centre for Philosophy of Information and Communication Technology , (Erasmus University, the Netherlands)
- Computer Ethics Bibliography , by Herman Tavani (Rivier College)
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Electronic Privacy Information Center
- Research Center on Computing & Society , (Southern Connecticut State University)
- Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute , (East Tennessee State University)
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