Ethics, Technology, and Values

  • Joseph Migga Kizza
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Computer Science book series (UTCS)


Robert C. Solomon in Morality and the Good Life (1) gives a traditional philosophical definition of ethics as a set of “theories of value, virtue, or of right (valuable) action.” Johnson elaborates Solomon’s definition by defining ethics as a set of theories “that provide general rules or principles to be used in making moral decisions and, unlike ordinary intuitions, provides a justification for those rules” (2). The word “ethics” comes from an ancient Greek word eché (1), which means character. Every human society, whether civilized or primitive, practices ethics because every society attaches a value, on a continuum of good to bad, right to wrong, to an individual’s actions according to where that individual’s actions fall within the domain of that society’s rules and canons. An individual’s actions collectively define that individual’s character and thus a set of good actions denotes good character and vice versa. There are many different kinds of ethical theories, and within each theory there may be different versions of that theory.


Ethical Theory Professional Work Functional Definition Computer Ethic Computer Professional 
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  1. 1.
    Solomon, R. Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics Through Classical Sources ( 2nd ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Johnson, D. J. Computer Ethics ( 2nd ed. ). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available:
  4. 4.
    Rubin, Richard. “Moral Distancing and the Use of Information Technology: The Seven Temptations.” In J. M. Kizza (ed.), Social and Ethical Effects of the Computer Revolution. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1996.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Edel, A., Elizabeth Flower, and Finarr W. O’Connor. Morality, Philosophy, and Practice: Histori- cal and Contemporary Readings and Studies ( 3rd ed. ). New York: Random House, 1989.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Migga Kizza
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of Tennessee at ChattanoogaChattanoogaUSA

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