Ethics for the Information Age
In today’s day and age it’s crucial to understand ethics and computer-related ethical problems. Michael Quinn’s book does a great job in starting out slow with a history of a computers and introduction to ethics, and then gradually moving into some ethical issues surrounding computers.
As stated, this book starts off with a good chronological history of the computer. The book first mentions Blaise Pascal and Gottfried von Leibniz constructing unreliable mechanical adding machines in the seventeenth century. This mechanical era of computing continued into the nineteenth century with Charles Babbage’s creation of an analytical engine which many believe was the first modern computer. The first system to have all of the essential functions of a computer was the Small-Scale Experimental Machine created in England. The advent of the World Wide Web was brought about by Tim Berners-Lee, who used something called “hypertext” to share files between different computers.
Next, the book introduces ethics and some different ethical theories. First, relativistic theories are based on the idea that people invent morality, which means there would be no set of moral guidelines that is better than the other. This theory makes studying ethics extremely hard, and as such it shouldn’t be used. Conversely, objectivism is based on the idea that people discover morality. An example of an objectivist theory is divine command theory which is based on the idea that God provides us with moral guidelines to promote our well-being. Another objectivist theory is known as Kantianism, which is based on the idea that we have moral obligations to withhold. The last ethical theory discussed is called social contract theory. This theory states that certain rules can come about through rational analysis.
Next, the book introduces several topics regarding the importance of several applications and some of their pitfalls. First, email provides a means of...