A Definition Cheat Sheet developed by DOLCE 2001 Workshop Participants.


traditional account

taking traditional moral norms and principles on which these norms are based and apply them to new situations

computer ethics

"analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology. "Ή


computer ethics

"a dynamic and complex field of study that considers the relationships among facts, conceptualizations, policies, and values with regard to constantly changing computer technology." Ή

Philosophical Ethics

dialectic – steps in philosophical analysis

The process of philosophical analysis – expressing a claim, putting forward reasons for the claim, critical examination of the argument, possible reformulation of the argument and re-examination


the iterative, critical examination of a logical position or argument to ascertain its consequences, strengths and flaws


statements that describe how a situation ought to be


philosophical ethics is normative - it deals with establishing from basic principles and logical arguments the norms that should be accepted as a moral foundation and why


an ethical theory which is based on the ideas that there is not a single standards for all people, and that right and wrong are relative to a particular society


an ethical theory based on the principle that individuals should act to bring about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people


an ethical theory claiming that what makes behavior right or wrong depends entirely on the consequences of the behavior

descriptive statement

this describes a state of affairs in the world.  It is an empirical claim that is verifiable by sampling the world

Maner's example

must provide IT to the handicapped because unique malleability of machine makes it possible to deliver to them its benefits.  Johnson says that the argument is not unique, but it does represents an example of a new species of a known genus of ethical situations

moral relativism

ethical norms are relative to the situation or environment, typically the "society".  Johnson argues that this philosophical position is untenable.  If the claim is accepted as descriptive, then it is redundant because observing the world provides descriptive, supporting data.  Taken as a normative claim, it is inconsistent with itself.  That is, as a normative claim it becomes a statement of a universal moral principle, and therefore, not is relative

instrumental goods

goods that are valued because they lead to something else

intrinsic goods

goods that are valued for their own sake

rule utilitarianism

adopt and follow rules that would, in the long run, maximize happiness

act utilitarianism

emphasize individual actions – individuals should attempt to anticipate the consequences of actions

deontological theory

actions are right or wrong based on the principle inherent in the action – humans are creatures with goals who engage in activities directed toward achieving these goals, and they use their rationality to formulate their goals and figure out what kind of life to live

categorical imperative

Never treat another human being merely as a means but always as an end

positive and negative rights

negative rights require restraint by others

positive rights imply others have a duty to do something for the right holder

Rawlsian justice

1.        1.        Each person should have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others

2.        2.        Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all

virtue ethics

ethics concerned with excellences of human character, addressing the question of moral character (rather than primarily action/decision making)

Professional Ethics

strongly differentiated roles

roles that give the role-holder powers and/or responsibilities that are exceptions to ordinary morality

characteristics of professions

1. mastery of an esoteric body of knowledge; 2. autonomy; 3. formal organization; 4. code of ethics; 5. social function

agency model

professional acts as agent of client, and implements what client requests

paternalistic model

client transfers all decision-making authority to the professional


clients retain decision-making authority, but make decisions based on information provided by the professional



A prison in which cells are arranged in a circle, with glass walls on the side facing the circle interior. The guard is in the center of the circle, and can see into each cell, but the cell occupant cannot see the guard.

Property Rights in Computer Software


expressions can be owned, not ideas – others are not permitted to reproduce, distribute, display, or perform without author's permission

trade secrecy

the right to keep certain kinds of info secret – info must have novelty, represent an economic investment, have involved some effort in development, have some effort made to keep the info a secret


gives holder right to exclude others from making, selling, or using the invention, and the right to license others to do so


software is not sold, but the use of the software (right to use) is sold

Accountability and Computer and Information Technology


what individuals are expected to do in virtue of one of their social roles

causal responsibility

individual does (or fails to do) something that causes an untoward event


an individual does something wrong and the wrong-doing led to an untoward event or circumstance

strict liability

liability "without fault" – imposed when


Ή Moor, Jim  “What is Computer Ethics?”, Metaphilosophy, Vol. 16, No. 4, 1985