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James Moor - Computer Ethics - Essay Example

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In “What is Computer Ethics”, philosopher James H. Moor makes a broad, ambitions account of the nature of computer ethics, with the implicit intent of deriving a special science set off from the other regions of ethical thinking. In his essay, Moor seeks to explain the causes of ethical questions brought on by computer-related technological forces in our society as opposed to other kinds of technologies…
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Download file to see previous pages 269). Thus, individuals are empowered to perform a large number of operations previously unavailable to them. An example might be the ability to make microloans to individuals in developing countries: an ability that most people in developed countries did not have 20 to 30 years ago. As ethical philosophers have pointed out for centuries, even though one can perform a certain action that does not necessarily mean one ought to perform that action. Given this basis for Moor’s discussion of computer ethics, it seems that Moor successfully argues for special consideration of computer ethics as a specialized area in moral philosophy. Early in his essay, Moor introduces the concept of a “policy vacuum”, which limits the public’s ability to utilize the potential of computer technology. A policy vacuum is an absence of officially recognized public standards for how to utilize a resource. One often finds a policy vacuum where there is cutting-edge technology that the public does not seem to have a use for. A current example of a policy vacuum might be related to green technology, which is subject to endless political debates. Even though the technology exists, it is unclear how the public will deploy those resources and gain benefits from it. Another example of a policy vacuum may exist in developing nations where modern technology is new and not well-understood. In such a case, the country may not see the need for the new resource and thus not capitalize on its potential. Moor also introduces the notion of a “conceptual vacuum” early in his paper. Although a conceptual vacuum occurs in concert with a policy vacuum, the conceptual vacuum invariably occurs before and causes the policy vacuum. That is, without a “coherent conceptual framework within which to formulate a policy for action”, there can be no policy for action, which produces the inevitable result of a policy vacuum. A coherent conceptual framework is necessary because one cannot, for instance, explain the benefits of high-speed broadband to the leader of a developing country who has never used, let alone heard of, the internet. Another example of a conceptual vacuum might be, with respect to the United States, is the debate over the use of renewable energy and “green” technology. The consequences of a change to alternative sources of energy might not be conceptually compatible with a view of the world that does not admit of the consequences of global climate change. Thus, a policy vacuum results when those who are in charge of making decisions cannot comprehend the conceptual basis of their decisions. Further into his essay, Moor begins to establish a basis for comparing the “Computer Revolution” with the “Industrial Revolution”. The reason for this comparison probably lies in the ethical dilemmas evoked by the Industrial Revolution, which Moor is trying to draw parallels with in our modern age. In one respect, the Computer Revolution is complete: the sense in which our lives have become thoroughly interconnected with computer technology (by means of laptop computers and mobile phones). Nevertheless, in a second sense, the Computer Revolution is not over: the sense in which computer technology has yet to fully develop and fully integrate with every ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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