I. Ethical Use of the Computer
There are several ways of identifying and deciding
ethical issues. One of the most common ways of categorizing these approaches is
the rules vs. consequences criteria. The first argues that our actions should be
guided by general rules or principles: do not harm; tell the truth; do not
steal; respect for persons. The second argues that we should assess the
“rightness” of an action or decision by the consequences that will likely
result. Most commonly the second approach identifies some “value” or values,
and measures the actions by the extent to which these values are or are not
enhanced, or progress made toward certain goals, such as a better life for all.
On reflection is should be clear that there is no
consensus about which of these is the more appropriate. In the ensuing
discussion, arguments and positions will be presented using both of these
The magnitude of computer use in our society dictates
that ethical standards or guidelines be developed.
Any code of computer ethics should stipulate who monitors
what is put into personal computers. Ethical guidelines are required for
decisions of what data are allowable and legitimate for personal computers.
Students should understand that distributing unauthorized
copies of a computer program it is theft. It is also wrong to break a security
code to a bank, a school’s grading system, or the telephone company.
Ethics relate to those who sell computer hardware and
software, as well. Not all computer vendors deal adequately with the
responsibilities associated with a sale. Very few, if any, supply sufficient
training, service, education, and proper use of the computer.
The groups that need to be concerned about the
development and teaching of ethics include users, suppliers and trainers in