Computers, Information Technology, the Internet, Ethics, Society and Human Values

Philip Pecorino, Ph.D.

Queensborough Community College,  CUNY

Chapter 3 Ethics


You are offered a copy of a software program that you want to use.  You know that the program is offered for sale in many ways.  You know that the copy being offered to you was made by the person making the offer.  It will cost you nothing.

Should you accept the offer and  make use of a copied software program or not?

What makes that a question in the first place?  Many people are aware that it is illegal to make copies of software that has a copyright and is offered for sale.  Sometimes there is even a notice or warning that it is illegal to make copies.  But is it a violation of some ethical principle?  Is using illegal software copies morally incorrect?  If so, why?  What is the basis for anyone reaching the moral judgment that any human act is morally right or wrong?


Computer programmers and information system managers are to install a system for insuring the safe and secure operation of an email system for a college.  To what degree do they monitor the content of the messages?  How does the value of an efficient and secure email system relate to the value of Privacy?  What is the morally correct thing to do in designing and operating the email system?

 In thinking about this dilemma is the approach to be a balancing of the values of the institution and its systems with the values of human beings or is it better to set a priority to how the values are to be held and applied in the moral decision making?

What is the GOOD here?

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Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.                @copyright 2006 Philip A. Pecorino                       

Last updated 8-2006                                                              Return to Table of Contents