A distinction is made between moral indoctrination and instruction in ethics. It is argued that the legitimate and important field of computer ethics should not be permitted to become mere moral indoctrination. Computer ethics is an academic field in its own right with unique ethical issues that would not have existed if computer technology had not been invented. Several example issues are presented to illustrate this point. The failure to find satisfactory non-computer analogies testifies to the uniqueness of computer ethics. (...) Lack of an effective analogy forces us to discover new moral values, formulate new moral principles, develop new policies, and find new ways to think about the issues presented to us. For all of these reasons, the kind of issues presented deserve to be addressed separately from others that might at first appear similar. At the very least, they have been so transformed by computing technology that their altered form demands special attention. (shrink)
The rise of various unique, or uniquely transformed, ethical issues supports the claim that computer ethics deserves to be regarded as an academic field in its own right. Some of these issues are unique because they inherit the unique properties of the technology that generates or transforms them. When we are unable to resolve these issues through non-computer moral analogies, we are forced to discover new moral values, formulate new moral principles and develop new policies.
The domain of “procedural ethics” is the set of reflective and deliberative methods that maximize the reliability of moral judgment. While no general algorithmic method exists that will guarantee the validity of ethical deliberation, non‐algorithmic “heuristic” methods can guide and inform the process, making it significantly more robust and dependable. This essay examines various representative heuristic procedures commonly recommended for use in applied ethics, maps them into a uniform set of twelve stages, identifies common faults, then shows how the resulting (...) stage‐by‐stage decision‐making model could be adapted for general use and for use in computer ethics. (shrink)