Introducing ethics in Information and Computer Sciences
Introducing ethics in Information and Computer Sciences

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Introducing ethics in Information and Computer Sciences

1.10 The story so far

Ethics is about ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but these terms are indefinable. In practice, there are alternative forms of justifications that can cause differences and disagreements. Other causes of differences are the terms in the final vocabulary of different individuals, and these final vocabularies have two aspects. Some terms that have wider use, terms related to ‘good’ and ‘bad’, like ‘optimal’, ‘beneficial’, ‘detrimental’ and ‘useless’. Others are more parochial substitutes, terms like ‘modern’, ‘digital, ‘low-power’, perhaps more related to technology. Effectively there are things that we value and label with these terms from our final vocabulary, and combined them in ethical arguments to support ethical claims. In this manner we can have statements with complicated implications, like ‘nuclear power is good’ or ‘nuclear power is bad’, that might be analysed to ultimately, connect up with a parochial final vocabulary. So another way of looking at ethics is to say that it's about this kind of analysis, it's a way of evaluating things and providing justifications, or reasons, for the values we attribute. However, in many cases we have feelings about how valuable things are and those feelings will precede or even override any rationale. Importantly, emotions play an essential part in our ethical considerations, for instance, they play a role in determining the value we place on personal relationships and hence, in an ethical context, who we might accept as an authority in particular situations.

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