Answer one of the following questions:
List and describe the five steps in an ethical analysis.
Identify and describe six ethical principles.
4-2 What specific principles for conduct can be used to guide ethical decisions?
Ethics is a concern of humans who have freedom of choice. Ethics is about individual choice: When faced with alternative courses of action, what is the correct moral choice? What are the main features of ethical choice?
Basic Concepts: Responsibility, Accountability, and Liability
Ethical choices are decisions made by individuals who are responsible for the consequences of their actions. Responsibility is a key element of ethical action. Responsibility means that you accept the potential costs, duties, and obligations for the decisions you make. Accountability is a feature of systems and social institutions; it means that mechanisms are in place to determine who took action and who is responsible. Systems and institutions in which it is impossible to find out who took what action are inherently incapable of ethical analysis or ethical action. Liability extends the concept of responsibility further to the area of laws. Liability is a feature of political systems in which a body of laws is in place that permits individuals to recover the damages done to them by other actors, systems, or organizations. Due process is a related feature of law-governed societies and is a process in which laws are known and understood, and ability exists to appeal to higher authorities to ensure that the laws are applied correctly.
These basic concepts form the underpinning of an ethical analysis of information systems and those who manage them. First, information technologies are filtered through social institutions, organizations, and individuals. Systems do not have impacts by themselves. Whatever information system effects exist are products of institutional, organizational, and individual actions and behaviors. Second, responsibility for the consequences of technology falls clearly on the institutions, organizations, and individual managers who choose to use the technology. Using information technology in a socially responsible manner means that you can and will be held accountable for the consequences of your actions. Third, in an ethical, political society, individuals and others can recover damages done to them through a set of laws characterized by due process.
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