Ethics and software engineering


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Relating Software Engineering to Ethics

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Ethics and software engineering

  1. 1. GROUP3 Ethics and Software Engineering.
  2. 2. Scenario Company Y contracts Company X to help develop a software to help them fix a security hole in their fire wall. Company Y over anticipates the delivery of the software there by putting company X on pressure of delivering the software prematurely due to a penalty clause that was put in the contract, Company X delivers the software but with key functionality missing. When the systems administrator at Company Y installs the software he finds that he was now able to access all the personal files of the computers on the network and as he was looking through them he found child pornography on one of the computers, when he brought this forward before the concerned authorities he was ignored
  3. 3. Analysis Looking over the list of eight principles of the code of Ethics for software engineers, we find these to be most relevant to our scenario: ● Public ● Client and employer ● Product ● Judgment ● Colleagues
  4. 4. We examine the lists of clauses associated with these principles and identify those which are most relevant: Somebody has misused the company's PC by using it to store images of pornography. By this principle the systems administrator has an obligation to report what he discovered. 1.04. Disclose to appropriate persons or authorities any actual or potential danger to the user, the public, or the environment, that they reasonably believe to be associated with software or related documents.
  5. 5. While revealing the existence of the pornography may harm the employee, possessing child is illegal. Applying this principle would lead the systems administrator to disclose what he discovered 6.05. Not promote their own interest at the expense of the profession,client, or employer/employee.
  6. 6. Analysis continued Simply because a person had these files on his computer does not necessarily mean he/she is guilty. Perhaps someone else broke into their computer and stored the files there. 7.07. Not unfairly intervene in the career of any colleague; however, concern for the employer, the client, or public interest may compel software engineers, in good faith,to question the competence of a colleague.
  7. 7. The systems administrator discovered the pornography by violating the company's policy against examining files on personal computers used by employees.
  8. 8. Our analysis is more complicated because the systems administrator violated company policy to uncover the pornography on someone's Pc. Once he has this knowledge, however, the remaining principles guide the systems administrator to reveal what he has discovered to the relevant authorities within the corporation, even though management may punish the systems administrator for breaking the privacy policy. There is the possibility that person that had pornographic material is a victim.
  9. 9. Someone else may be trying to frame that person or use his computer as a safe stash for their collection of images. The systems administrator should be discreet until a complete investigation is completed and the person has had the opportunity to defend himself
  10. 10. Looking over the different software Dilemmas We found the one below to be the most relevant to our scenario ● Mea culpa The mea culpa dilemma occurs when staff members must deliver a product that still lacks key functionality or has known software defects. So from our scenario company X was required to release the product prematurely, before contractual obligations associated with a penalty clause come due.And this led to delivering of software lacking some key functionality.
  11. 11. Whistle-blowing A whistleblower is someone who breaks ranks with an organization in order to make an unauthorized disclosure of information about a harmful situation after attempts to report the concerns through authorized organizational channels have been ignored or rebuffed [1]. Sometimes employees become whistleblowers out of fear that actions taken by their employer may harm the public; other times they have identified fraudulent use of tax [2].
  12. 12. The systems administrator could be the whistleblower since he disclosed the findings to the relevant authorities but he was ignored. While it is fair to say that all whistleblowers are trying to bring an end to wrongdoing, they may well have other reasons for publicizing a problem. We can evaluate the morality of whistleblowing by considering whether the whistleblower is motivated by a desire to help others or to harm them. So it would be ethical if the systems administrator's desire is to help rather than harm.
  13. 13. Schools of Ethics Virtue ethics This ethical school holds that a person's character or essential moral identity is the chief ethical issue. By this judgment. The Systems administrator was in a right principle to conduct himself in a sense that would be expected of as far as the company's morals are concerned.
  14. 14. Common Good and Public interest. Common Good and Public interest. Common good includes the distinctive and critical perspective the various professions have to offer on basic human values, and on facets of the human good. The common good, therefore,refers to that which constitutes the well-being of the community-its safety, the integrity of its basic institutions and practices,the preservation of its core values. The systems administrator had to disclose his findings just for the sake of the common good since pornography is one of the things that the community does not stand for.
  15. 15. Public interest: To promote the public interest is to maximize the collective realization of individual interests, and to protect the integrity and functioning of those social arrangements,institutions,and values that make peaceful, orderly social life possible and mutually advantageous. Company X did not preserve the integrity and functioning of those social arrangement of company Y since they developed software that did not meet the required specification.
  16. 16. References [1] Irena Blonder. "Blowing the Whistle." In Codes of Ethics and the Professions, pages 166~ 190. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, Australia, 1996. [2] Kevin W. Bowyer. "Goodearl and Aldred versus Hughes Aircraft: A Whistle- Blowing Case Study;' In Frontiers in Education, pages S2F2-S2F7. October 2000.