James Moor – Policy Vacuum Computer technology brought upon many unexpected ethical, social and political issues. Society has yet to learn a lot about how to deal with technology and its after-effects on ethical principles. When discussing about ethics, we need to go over the importance of computers and be able to answer question like: What is the reason for addressing the impact of computers on ethics? In his article “What is computer ethics? ” Dr. James H. Moore analyzed and elaborated the very question.
He addressed important questions like why are computers important, how are they different from other technology, what are some of the problems and challenges that are associated with computer ethics, and why is the field of computer ethics highly important. Dr. James H. Moor begins his article by defining computer ethics. In his words, “computer ethics is the 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” (James Moor, 1985).
He believes that to be able to understand and define ethical rules, we have to fully understand the importance of logical malleability. According to him, logical malleability is what makes computers revolutionary. They are logically malleable in that they can be made to perform any activity that can be characterized in terms of inputs, outputs, and connecting logical operations. My first thought was that it’s the combination of the elements such as affordability, newness, abundance, usability and malleability that makes computers revolutionary. However the other elements, as Dr.
Moor mentioned, only enable for the spread of computer revolution, they are not the main reason for why computers are revolutionary. Before the general public was introduced to computers, computer was already revolutionary. Further, Dr. Moor discusses two important factors that gave way to the rise of computer ethics discussion: policy vacuum and conceptual vacuum. When discussing policy vacuum, Dr. Moore, stated that there is no adequate formulation for what is ethical and for what is not. A policy vacuum is said to exist when there is no sufficiently standard policy to govern a given situation.
The policy vacuum of computer technology tends to revolve around the question of intellectual property. There is ongoing controversy as to whether or not computer software and programs should be considered intellectual property. As long as there are no laws established to cope with this kind of computer situation, policy vacuum can exist everywhere. A conceptual vacuum appears when trials to fix a policy vacuum are not fully researched. Dr. Moore clarified conceptual vacuum by giving example of a software piracy policy. To formulate a software piracy policy, we have to define what a computer program is.
Then we have to answer questions like, is a computer program an “expression of an idea” protected by a copyright, or is it a process protected by a patent. These unanswered questions make issues regarding computer ethics difficult to answer. I agree with Dr. Moor in regards to the existence of policy and conceptual vacuum. However, Dr. Moor suggests that they exist independently of each other. I believe these policies are related and policy vacuum exists because of the existence of conceptual vacuum. In summary, the article “What is computer Ethics” by James H. Moor provides an excellent insight into answering the very question.
Dr. Moor discusses important points on why the reader should care about computers and computer ethics. He mentions that policy vacuum and conceptual vacuum are important factors that should be discussed in computer ethics. As computer technology becomes more sophisticated, it brings new ethical, legal, and social concerns. The creators of new software must understand these concerns and be able to take the responsibility of considering the potential social impact of their creations. Reference James H. Moor. (1985). What is computer ethics? Metaphilosophy, 16:266-75
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