Computer Ethics

Edited by Lavinia Marin (Delft University of Technology)
About this topic
Summary Computer ethics is a relatively new field of ethical inquiry, although some of its foundational texts range from 1960s. It can be seen as either a field of applied ethics (ethics applied to computers) or as form of professional ethics, but, more widely, as an attempt to re-think the human condition in light of digital technology developments. Fundamental ethical topics in this area include: responsibility, privacy, surveillance, automation and autonomy, the good life online, evil online, etc.
Key works Weckert, John (ed.). Computer ethics. Routledge, 2017 is an edited collection containing a selection of fundamental texts in computer ethics ranging from the 1960's until 2004.  Another comprehensive book is van den Hoven & Weckert 2008Information Technology and Moral Philosophy (2008)
Introductions Moor 1985  Floridi 2010 Müller 2020
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  1. Cybersecurity, Trustworthiness and Resilient Systems: Guiding Values for Policy.Adam Henschke & Shannon Ford - 2017 - Journal of Cyber Policy 1 (2).
    Cyberspace relies on information technologies to mediate relations between different people, across different communication networks and is reliant on the supporting technology. These interactions typically occur without physical proximity and those working depending on cybersystems must be able to trust the overall human–technical systems that support cyberspace. As such, detailed discussion of cybersecurity policy would be improved by including trust as a key value to help guide policy discussions. Moreover, effective cybersystems must have resilience designed into them. This paper argues (...)
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  2. From Explanation to Recommendation: Ethical Standards for Algorithmic Recourse.Emily Sullivan & Philippe Verreault-Julien - forthcoming - Proceedings of the 2022 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (AIES’22).
    People are increasingly subject to algorithmic decisions, and it is generally agreed that end-users should be provided an explanation or rationale for these decisions. There are different purposes that explanations can have, such as increasing user trust in the system or allowing users to contest the decision. One specific purpose that is gaining more traction is algorithmic recourse. We first pro- pose that recourse should be viewed as a recommendation problem, not an explanation problem. Then, we argue that the capability (...)
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  3. Inductive Risk, Understanding, and Opaque Machine Learning Models.Emily Sullivan - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-13.
    Under what conditions does machine learning (ML) model opacity inhibit the possibility of explaining and understanding phenomena? In this paper, I argue that non-epistemic values give shape to the ML opacity problem even if we keep researcher interests fixed. Treating ML models as an instance of doing model-based science to explain and understand phenomena reveals that there is (i) an external opacity problem, where the presence of inductive risk imposes higher standards on externally validating models, and (ii) an internal opacity (...)
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  4. Using Value Sensitive Design to Understand Transportation Choices and Envision a Future Transportation System.Kari Edison Watkins - 2021 - Ethics and Information Technology 23 (1):79-82.
    The increasing passengerization of transportation through shared ride services and driverless vehicles has the potential to vastly change the transportation system. Although values are sometimes considered in the design of information tools and through attitudes toward travel, the systematic approach of value sensitive design should be used in the design of transportation infrastructure to create a sustainable transportation future.
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  5. Manual del Ciberactivista. Teoría y práctica de las acciones micropolíticas.Javier de la Cueva - 2015 - Bandaàparte Editores.
    El contenido de la obra se halla dividido en dos partes, una primera teórica y otra segunda práctica. En la primera parte se realiza una explicación analítica del ciberactivismo mientras que la segunda se centra en reflexiones sobre aspectos concretos que pudieran ser útiles para quien desee planificar alguna acción.
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  6. Computer--Assisted Medical Decision-Making.Homer R. Warner - 1979
  7. The Virtual World: A Tension Between Global Reach and Local Sensitivity.Simon Rogerson - 2004 - International Review of Information Ethics 2.
    Society, its citizens and its organisations are becoming more dependent upon technology and its global application as the means of providing information and obtaining services in a virtual world. This paper considers some of issues surrounding a virtual world of global reach yet still having to be locally sensitive. It challenges current thinking and concepts on the basis that we have a new dimension to our person through our Internet existence. Strategic guidance is suggested in an attempt to realise the (...)
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  8. The Problems of Global Cultural Homogenisation in a Technologically Dependant World.N. Ben Fairweather & Simon Rogerson - 2003 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 1 (1):7-12.
    Global cultural homogenisation has significant consequences for our responsibility for others in distant parts of the globe. ICT gives a powerful impetus to this cultural homogenisation. There are a number of distinct elements that contribute to this.
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  9. Bernard Gert's Morality and its Application to Computer Ethics.Triplett Timm - 2002 - Ethics and Information Technology 4 (1):79-92.
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  10. The Cubicle Warrior: The Marionette of Digitalized Warfare. [REVIEW]Rinie van Est - 2010 - Ethics and Information Technology 12 (3):289-296.
    In the last decade we have entered the era of remote controlled military technology. The excitement about this new technology should not mask the ethical questions that it raises. A fundamental ethical question is who may be held responsible for civilian deaths. In this paper we will discuss the role of the human operator or so-called ‘cubicle warrior’, who remotely controls the military robots behind visual interfaces. We will argue that the socio-technical system conditions the cubicle warrior to dehumanize the (...)
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  11. Internet En Service Pack.Máximo Lameiro - 2004 - Aposta 7:3.
    Because the full development of Internet this paper is old today. But in his time was an expression of disappointing about the cyber trends.
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  12. ICT Ethics Bibliography 2012–2014: A Select List of Recent Books. [REVIEW]Herman T. Tavani - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (3):243-247.
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  13. The Importance of Capabilities in the Sustainability of Information and Communications Technology Programs: The Case of Remote Indigenous Australian Communities. [REVIEW]Donna Vaughan - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):131-150.
    The use of the capability approach as an evaluative tool for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy and programs in developing countries, in particular at a grass-roots community level, is an emerging field of application. However, one of the difficulties with ICT for development (ICT4D) evaluations is in linking what is often no more than a resource, for example basic access, to actual outcomes, or means to end. This article argues that the capability approach provides a framework for evaluating the (...)
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  14. Understanding Benefits Realisation of iREACH From a Capability Approach Perspective.Helena Grunfeld, Sokleap Hak & Tara Pin - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):151-172.
    The research presented in this paper is the first wave of a longitudinal study of a Cambodian information and communication for development (ICT4D) project, iREACH, aimed at testing a framework for evaluating whether and how such initiatives can contribute to capabilities, empowerment and sustainability. The framework is informed by Amartya Sen’s capability approach (CA), uses a participatory methodology, considers the micro-, meso-, and macro- levels in understanding the role ICT can play in the development process, and adopts a forward-looking longitudinal (...)
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  15. The Capability Approach and the `Medium of Choice': Steps Towards Conceptualising Information and Communication Technologies for Development. [REVIEW]Dorothea Kleine - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):119-130.
    Amartya Sen’s capability approach has become increasingly popular in development studies. This paper identifies controllability and operationalisability as two key stumbling blocks which prevent the capability approach from being used even more widely in development practice. It discusses the origins and application of the Choice Framework, a conceptual tool designed to help operationalise the approach. The framework can be used to deconstruct embedded ideologies and analyse the appropriateness of development goals, to map development as a systemic process, and to plan (...)
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  16. Technology, Capabilities and Critical Perspectives: What Can Critical Theory Contribute to Sen’s Capability Approach? [REVIEW]Yingqin Zheng & Bernd Carsten Stahl - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):69-80.
    This paper explores what insights can be drawn from critical theory to enrich and strengthen Sen’s capability approach in relation to technology and human development. The two theories share some important commonalities: both are concerned with the pursuit of “a good life”; both are normative theories rooted in ethics and meant to make a difference, and both are interested in democracy. The paper provides a brief overview of both schools of thought and their applications to technology and human development. Three (...)
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  17. Editorial: ICT and the Capability Approach. [REVIEW]Ilse Oosterlaken & Jeroen Den Hoven - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):65-67.
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  18. Human Capabilities and Information and Communication Technology: The Communicative Connection. [REVIEW]William F. Birdsall - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):93-106.
    The potential contributions information and communication technology (ICT) can make to advancing human capabilities are acknowledged by both the capability approach (CA) and ICT communities. However, there is a lack of genuine engagement between the two communities. This paper addresses the question: How can a collaborative dialogue between the CA and ICT communities be advanced? A prerequisite to exploring collaboratively the potential use of particular technologies with specific capabilities is a conceptual framework within which a dialogue can be undertaken to (...)
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  19. Editorial: Moral Luck, Social Networking Sites, and Trust on the Web. [REVIEW]Maria C. Bottis, Frances S. Grodzinsky & Herman T. Tavani - 2010 - Ethics and Information Technology 12 (4):297-298.
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  20. ICT Ethics Bibliography 2009–2011: A Select List of Recent Books. [REVIEW]Herman T. Tavani - 2010 - Ethics and Information Technology 12 (4):379-382.
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  21. Owning the Future, Seth Shulman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. [REVIEW]Joseph S. Fulda - 2000 - Ethics and Information Technology 2 (3):193-194.
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  22. Introduction: One Thousand Friends. [REVIEW]Dean Cocking, Jeroen van den Hoven & Job Timmermans - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (3):179-184.
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  23. Militainment and Mechatronics: Occultatio and the Veil of Science Fiction Cool in United States Air Force Advertisements.Nicholas R. Maradin Iii - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (2).
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  24. How to Approximate Users' Values While Preserving Privacy: Experiences with Using Attitudes Towards Work Tasks as Proxies for Personal Value Elicitation. [REVIEW]Sven H. Koch, Rumyana Proynova, Barbara Paech & Thomas Wetter - 2013 - Ethics and Information Technology 15 (1):45-61.
    Software users have different sets of personal values, such as benevolence, self-direction, and tradition. Among other factors, these personal values influence users’ emotions, preferences, motivations, and ways of performing tasks—and hence, information needs. Studies of user acceptance indicate that personal traits like values and related soft issues are important for the user’s approval of software. If a user’s dominant personal value were known, software could automatically show an interface variant which offers information and functionality that best matches his or her (...)
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  25. Property, Privacy and Personhood in a World of Ambient Intelligence.Niels Dijk - 2010 - Ethics and Information Technology 12 (1):57-69.
    Profiling technologies are the facilitating force behind the vision of Ambient Intelligence in which everyday devices are connected and embedded with all kinds of smart characteristics enabling them to take decisions in order to serve our preferences without us being aware of it. These technological practices have considerable impact on the process by which our personhood takes shape and pose threats like discrimination and normalisation. The legal response to these developments should move away from a focus on entitlements to personal (...)
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  26. Owning the Future by Seth Shulman. [REVIEW]Joseph S. Fulda - 2000 - Ethics and Information Technology 2 (3):193-194.
    Very favorable review of a wide-ranging book.
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  27. Information Technology.Luciano Floridi - 2012 - In Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis, Stig Andur Pedersen & Vincent F. Hendricks (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  28. Understanding the Behavioral Intention to Report Unethical Information Technology Practices: The Role of Machiavellianism, Gender, and Computer Expertise. [REVIEW]Antonis C. Stylianou, Susan Winter, Yuan Niu, Robert A. Giacalone & Matt Campbell - 2013 - Journal of Business Ethics 117 (2):333-343.
    Although organizations can derive competitive advantage from developing and implementing information systems, they are confronted with a rising number of unethical information practices. Because end-users and computer experts are the conduit to an ethical organizational environment, their intention to report unethical IT-related practices plays a critical role in protecting intellectual property and privacy rights. Using the survey methodology, this article investigates the relationship between willingness to report intellectual property and privacy violations and Machiavellianism, gender and computer literacy in the form (...)
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  29. Intending to Err: The Ethical Challenge of Lethal, Autonomous Systems. [REVIEW]Mark S. Swiatek - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (4):241-254.
    Current precursors in the development of lethal, autonomous systems point to the use of biometric devices for assessing, identifying, and verifying targets. The inclusion of biometric devices entails the use of a probabilistic matching program that requires the deliberate targeting of noncombatants as a statistically necessary function of the system. While the tactical employment of the LAS may be justified on the grounds that the deliberate killing of a smaller number of noncombatants is better than the accidental killing of a (...)
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  30. Real Character-Friends: Aristotelian Friendship, Living Together, and Technology.Michael T. McFall - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (3):221-230.
    Aristotle’s account of friendship has largely withstood the test of time. Yet there are overlooked elements of his account that, when challenged by apparent threats of current and emerging communication technologies, reveal his account to be remarkably prescient. I evaluate the danger that technological advances in communication pose to the future of friendship by examining and defending Aristotle’s claim that perfect or character-friends must live together. I concede that technologically-mediated communication can aid existing character-friendships, but I argue that character-friendships cannot (...)
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  31. Introduction: One Thousand Friends. [REVIEW]Dean Cocking, Jeroen den Hoven & Job Timmermans - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (3):179-184.
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  32. Cracking Down on Autonomy: Three Challenges to Design in IT Law. [REVIEW]U. Pagallo - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (4):319-328.
    The paper examines how technology challenges conventional borders of national legal systems, as shown by cases that scholars address as a part of their everyday work in the fields of information technology (IT)-Law, i.e., computer crimes, data protection, digital copyright, and so forth. Information on the internet has in fact a ubiquitous nature that transcends political borders and questions the notion of the law as made of commands enforced through physical sanctions. Whereas many of today’s impasses on jurisdiction, international conflicts (...)
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  33. Coercion or Empowerment? Moderation of Content in Wikipedia as 'Essentially Contested' Bureaucratic Rules.Paul B. de Laat - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (2):123-135.
    In communities of user-generated content, systems for the management of content and/or their contributors are usually accepted without much protest. Not so, however, in the case of Wikipedia, in which the proposal to introduce a system of review for new edits (in order to counter vandalism) led to heated discussions. This debate is analysed, and arguments of both supporters and opponents (of English, German and French tongue) are extracted from Wikipedian archives. In order to better understand this division of the (...)
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  34. Robert Merges: Justifying Intellectual Property: Harvard UP, Cambridge, MA, 2011, Xiv+402 Pp, ISBN 9780674049482. [REVIEW]Gordon Hull - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (2):169-177.
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  35. Elicitation of Situated Values: Need for Tools to Help Stakeholders and Designers to Reflect and Communicate. [REVIEW]Alina Pommeranz, Christian Detweiler, Pascal Wiggers & Catholijn Jonker - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (4):285-303.
    Explicitly considering human values in the design process of socio-technical systems has become a responsibility of designers. It is, however, challenging to design for values because (1) relevant values must be identified and communicated between all stakeholders and designers and (2) stakeholders’ values differ and trade-offs must be made. We focus on the first aspect, which requires elicitation of stakeholders’ situated values , i.e. values relevant to a specific real life context. Available techniques to elicit knowledge and requirements from stakeholders (...)
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  36. Returning Students' Right to Access, Choice and Notice: A Proposed Code of Ethics for Instructors Using Turnitin. [REVIEW]Bastiaan Vanacker - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (4):327-338.
    This paper identifies the ethical issues associated with college instructors’ use of plagiarism detection software (PDS), specifically the Turnitin program. It addresses the pros and cons of using such software in higher education, arguing that its use is justified on the basis that it increases institutional trust, and demonstrating that two common criticisms of such software are not universally valid. An analysis of the legal issues surrounding Turnitin, however, indicates that the way it is designed and operates raises some ethical (...)
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  37. Ethical Frontiers of ICT and Older Users: Cultural, Pragmatic and Ethical Issues. [REVIEW]Athena McLean - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (4):313-326.
    The reality of an ageing Europe has called attention to the importance of e-inclusion for a growing population of senior citizens. For some, this may mean closing the digital divide by providing access and support to technologies that increase citizen participation; for others, e-inclusion means access to assistive technologies to facilitate and extend their living independently. These initiatives address a social need and provide economic opportunities for European industry. While undoubtedly desirable, and supported by European Union initiatives, several cultural assumptions (...)
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  38. Capabilities in, Capabilities Out: Overcoming Digital Divides by Promoting Corporate Citizenship and Fair ICT. [REVIEW]Thorsten Busch - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (4):339-353.
    This conceptual article discusses strategies of corporations in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector and their role in the conflict over access to knowledge in the digital environment. Its main hypothesis is that ICT corporations are very capable actors when it comes to bridging digital divides in both developed and developing countries—maybe even the most capable actors. Therefore, it is argued that ICT corporations could use their capabilities to help citizens gain sustainable access to knowledge in order to enable (...)
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  39. Richard Spinello and Maria Bottis: Understanding the Debate on the Legal Protection of Moral Intellectual Property Interests: Review Essay of A Defense of Intellectual Property Rights: Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, ISBN 978 1 84720 395 3. [REVIEW]Kenneth Einar Himma - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (3):283-288.
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  40. Information, Knowledge and Wisdom: Groundwork for the Normative Evaluation of Digital Information and its Relation to the Good Life. [REVIEW]Edward H. Spence - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (3):261-275.
    This paper provides a general philosophical groundwork for the theoretical and applied normative evaluation of information generally and digital information specifically in relation to the good life. The overall aim of the paper is to address the question of how Information Ethics and computer ethics more generally can be expanded to include more centrally the issue of how and to what extent information relates and contributes to the quality of life or the good life , for individuals and for society. (...)
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  41. Crime and the Internet.David Wall - 2005 - Journal of Information Ethics 14 (2):77-103.
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  42. Should Web Sites for Bomb-Making Be Legal?Tony Doyle - 2004 - Journal of Information Ethics 13 (1):34-37.
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  43. Power and the Digital Divide.Jeremy Moss - 2002 - Ethics and Information Technology 4 (2):159-165.
    The ethical and political dilemmas raised byInformation and Communication Technology (ICT)have only just begun to be understood. Theimpact of centralised data collection, masscommunication technologies or the centrality ofcomputer technology as a means of accessingimportant social institutions, all poseimportant ethical and political questions. As away of capturing some of these effects I willcharacterise them in terms of the type of powerand, more particularly, the ‘Power-over’ peoplethat they exercise. My choice of thisparticular nomenclature is that it allows us todescribe, firstly, how specific (...)
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  44. Is There an Ethics of Computing?Geoffrey Brown - 1991 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 8 (1):19-26.
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  45. Is Ethics Computable?James H. Moor - 1995 - Metaphilosophy 26 (1-2):1-21.
  46. A Proposal for a Course on Computer Ethics.Philip A. Pecorino & Walter Maner - 1985 - Metaphilosophy 16 (4):327-337.
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  47. A Computer Ethics Bibliography.Terrell Ward Bynum - 1985 - Metaphilosophy 16 (4):350-353.
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  48. What is Computer Ethics?James H. Moor - 1985 - Metaphilosophy 16 (4):266-275.
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  49. Computer Ethics and Moral Methodology.Jeroen Van Den Hoven - 1997 - Metaphilosophy 28 (3):234-248.
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  50. Symposium on Computer Ethics.Terrell Ward Bynum - 1997 - Metaphilosophy 28 (3):233-233.
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