It has been argued that moral problems in relation to Information Technology (IT) require new theories of ethics. In recent years, an interesting new theory to address such concerns has been proposed, namely the theory of Information Ethics (IE). Despite the promise of IE, the theory has not enjoyed public discussion. The aim of this paper is to initiate such discussion by critically evaluating the theory of IE.
The philosophy of mechanisms has developed rapidly during the last 30 years. As mechanisms-based explanations are often seen as an alternative to nomological, law-based explanations, MBEs could be relevant in IS. We begin by offering a short history of mechanistic philosophy and set out to clarify the contemporary landscape. We then suggest that mechanistic models provide an alternative to variance and process models in IS. Finally, we highlight how MBEs typically contain deliberate misrepresentations. Although MBEs have recently been advocated as (...) critical realist accounts in IS, idealizations seem to violate some fundamental tenets of CR and research method principles for CR. Idealizations in MBEs, therefore, may risk being regarded as flawed in IS. If it turns out that CR cannot account for idealizations, naturalism can, and it does so without extra-philosophical baggage. (shrink)
Computer users copy computer software - this is well-known. However, less well-known are the reasons why some computer users choose to make unauthorized copies of computer software. Furthermore, the relationship linking the theory and the practice is unknown, i.e., how the attitudes of ordinary end-users correspond with the theoretical views of computer ethics scholars. In order to fill this gap in the literature, we investigated the moral attitudes of 249 Finnish computing students towards the unauthorized copying of computer software, and (...) we then asked how these results compared with the theoretical reasons offered by computer ethics scholars. The results shed a new light on students' moral attitudes with respect to the unauthorized copying of software. In particular, this new knowledge is useful for computer ethics teachers, and for organizations seeking to combat this practice. (shrink)
It has been debated whether unauthorized copying of computer software is morally justified and whether developers or software companies can own software and require users to pay for its use. Four views in favour of unauthorized copying of software can be distinguished: 'free software', the landlord analogy, the 'non-exclusiveness argument' and 'it is justified to copy a program that we would never buy'. Considerations regarding these issues can be retraced to the three foundations of rights: inherited rights that are already (...) in place, agreed rights, and no rights. From the viewpoint of agreed rights, rights are based on agreement and negotiation, and, referring to the universalizability theses by Rawls and Hare, I argue that it is justified that developers or software companies 'own' their software. I discuss the economic and social effects of free SW, understood as the abolition of financial acknowledgements, suggested by Stallman. I conclude that such free software would give rise to socio-political changes toward systems that are something other than liberal-based. Again, I argue that we have a reason to object to Stallman's program in the light of the universalizability theses. Nevertheless, even if one were to perceive this as a convincing goal, it is questionable whether one should make unauthorized copies on these grounds in a society that does not function on such lines: one should first seek to change the norms and practices of one's society. This is further argued to be advisable, since it is not obvious that adhering to software copyright in the general sense is unfair or irrelevant. For these reasons, we should take violation of the laws governing software copying seriously. Finally, I criticize the non-exclusiveness argument, the landlord analogy and the view that 'is it justified to copy a program that we would never buy'. (shrink)
It is well known that girls are not interested in computer science, information systems, and software engineering studies. While the underlying reasons for this phenomenon have been studied in the US, Canada, and Australia, only a few studies have been carried out in Europe and in Scandinavia. To fill this gap in the research, we have analyzed the qualitative responses of 64 female sixth form students concerning their attitudes towards studying information technology, including computer science, information systems, and software engineering (...) disciplines, and their views about IT as a profession. The results suggest that the IT field is seen in quite a positive light by the girls. Although many of the respondents do not consider IT to be their profession, they nevertheless have positive attitudes towards the field. According to the respondents, the field is growing and developing; it is respected, and seen as the field of the future. Girls who want to become IT professionals see that the profession entails good employment possibilities and benefits and is respected. Some girls have negative views towards the field. These views illustrate the underlying reasons why these girls do not want to study IT. The girls did not perceive the field to be human-related. The need for skills in mathematics and physics are also listed as key reasons why some girls do not want to become IT students. The results of the study suggest that there is a need to clarify among sixth form students the fact that IT jobs can be divided into computer science, information systems, and software engineering, all of which require different competences. (shrink)
The relevance of different concepts of computer software (henceforth SW) rights is analysed from the viewpoint of divergent sociopolitical doctrines. The question of software rights is considered from the ontological assumptions, on one extreme, to the relevance of current practical applications of SW rights (such as copyright and patent), on the other extreme. It will be argued (from a non-descriptive/non-cognitive account) that the current expression of SW rights in Western societies (namely copyright, excluding patent) can be seen to be fair (...) from the viewpoint of the theses of agreed rights and universalisability. Finally, given that such practice is neither immoral, nor irrelevant-but fair (based on the ad ignorantiam argument)-we have good reason to respect it rather than violate or demolish it. (shrink)