Free When Making Decisions, I Normally Do Not Consider Whether I Would Willingly Permit Others To Act In The Same Manner. Essay Sample
Discussion Questions: Software Engineering Ethics
Mike has suffered several kinds of harm due to the software glitch at his bank. He has been saving for a long time since his kids were born just to pay for their college tuition. But when the time comes to transfer the payment, the money suddenly disappears. This disappointment will affect Mike psychologically and rob him off the joy of sending his daughter to college. Mike will also have to handle the unpleasant situation of telling his daughter that she won’t be joining college in the fall. He has to watch his daughter get disappointed, which will sadden him further.
Sarah will suffer for missing the opportunity of joining the Ivy-League school. This means she might have to forego the good life associated with a good education. Furthermore, she has to wait till the following year when the money will be available in her father’s bank account. There is also a possibility that she might not get the same opportunity again after wasting a year of her life.
The problem with Mike’s bank account was caused by lack of due diligence by the software engineer. The system should not allow the balance in an account to be changed without the authorization of the account holder. Also, when there is a change in the bank’s balance, the account holder should be notified by a text message to prevent loss of money through fraudulent means.
The most plausible explanation in this situation is that the engineers have manipulated the system so that they can pick money in dormant accounts, trade with it, and then return it back before the owner can notice. In this case, they didn’t count on Mike withdrawing his money on a short notice. The other scenario is where engineers voluntarily left loopholes in the system so that they can remotely steal money from the bank customer’s account without detection. Finally, the engineers might not have tested the system comprehensively and some crooks discovered loopholes in the system and took advantage to steal money from bank customers.
The situation whereby thieves use loopholes in the banking system to steal money from people’s accounts present a case of ethical failure by an engineer. It was the system engineer’s obligation to ensure that the system was fully secure and by failing to test the system fully, the engineer neglected his duty and his mandate.
Karen will lose her privacy if the information collected by the application becomes public. Private details of her life like her financial status, personal preferences and tastes could be made public which would adversely affect her personal life. The app collects information on where she lives and works and the routes she takes on her shopping trips. If the information landed on the wrong hands, she could be an easy target for stalkers or rapists because they know where she will be and at what time.
The developers of the Errand Whiz app failed ethically when they decided to store personal data collected by the app in their own server. They also failed when they schemed to trade the information with third party advertisers. By doing so, they infringed on their subscribers’ rights to privacy and personal space.
The developers or Errand Whiz can shield the users from harm by storing the information collected on the phone in which the app has been installed rather than on their own server. Also, they should not trade personal information to third party advertisers. The app developers are ethically obligated to protect the privacy of the users. This is because privacy is an inherent right that every individual is entitled to.
Software engineers can contribute to the good life by creating applications which solve common every-day problems. Such applications could for example make banking easy and convenient through automation, solving traffic congestion, improve security through creation of communication channels, and connecting and informing people through social media services.
People who contribute to the good life are selfless, empathetic, generous, and have the best interests of others at heart. They are not blinded by ambition and always consider the plight of others while conducting their business.
The stakeholders are the engineer, the employer, and the citizens in the country which has awarded the contract to the employer. The engineer will be haunted by his conscious if he proceeds with the project. Also, if he does not proceed with the project, he might lose his new job and be unable to support his young family. The employer stands to lose profits from the proceeds of the project if he drops the contract. If he executes the project, he will fall into disrepute and lose potential customers. The oppressed citizens stand to lose the fight for a fair government if the company proceeds with the contract.
The engineer’s ethical obligation is to the oppressed citizens and their right to a just government. An excellent software engineer would approach the boss and tell him that proceeding with such a project is ethically wrong. Ethical obligation and excellence are two different things. Ethics is influenced by the impact of the project on the stakeholders while excellence depends on the abilities and reasoning of the engineer
Engineering contributions which relate to vital pubic goods mentioned in question 2.1 are easing of traffic congestion and improvement of security. Other vital public goods would be the creation of software for use in the healthcare sector such as blood sugar level detection apps for diabetes patients.
Constantly thinking on how to be a better human can help a person acquire and develop virtues. Thinking gives one time to carefully consider actions and weigh them carefully through the principles of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics are not based on rules that define right and wrong, but the qualities of a morally upright person.
The specific character traits that I need to improve for me to become a better person are patience, temper control, and empathy.
People generally do not make enough effort to improve their characters or counter their shortcomings. Everyone ought to make an effort to improve themselves into better human beings. This is because humans have an ethical obligation to each other and the whole society.
I view moral excellence manifested in individuals who put the interest of others before their own selfish gains. They consider how their actions are going to impact on others and the needs of others before proceeding with a certain line of action or process. I would like my children to grow up to be such individuals who consider the welfare of others in everything that they do.
The hardest part of living in a utilitarian society is the sacrifice of personal rights for the greater good. The most rewarding aspect of a utilitarian society realizing that the sacrifices that were made helped in alleviating more pain and suffering for thousands of people.
There are three kinds of pleasure; emotional, physical, and intellectual. Emotional and physical types of pleasure are more important than intellectual pleasure. This is because physical or emotional pain can cause great suffering and even death while lack of intellectual endowment is not life threatening.
I agree with this statement. This is because the main purpose that we live, work and perform all our lives undertaking is to enjoy the pleasures of life. The best life that one can enjoy is one devoid of pain and full of pleasure. Therefore, these should be the highest goods that we should seek for ourselves and others.
I agree with the utilitarian principle that a ‘good life’ should be measured by the happiness that it brings to the world. This is because causing pain and suffering to others is unlikely to contribute to one’s pleasure.
Other examples of people used as mere means to an end are: (i) When politicians lie to their constituents so that they can be voted into office with no intention of helping them, and (ii) When big multinational companies conduct their production activities in poor countries and pay them poor wages in order to reduce production costs.
I agree that human life does not have a fixed price. The society at large does not hold the same view because people get killed over material things. Justice subscribes to this principle because murder is considered a capital crime.
The utilitarian theory captures the good life aspect by stating that every action should lead to, and contributes to a greater good. The Deontological theory is based on obligation that one has to others. In fulfilling that obligation, one contributes to the good life of others. The virtue ethics theory, which advocates for personal characters for excellent morality, describes the good life as a result of personal traits.
The moral habits that I’m best at are: keeping the company of moral people and acknowledgment of my moral strength. The habits that I need to improve on are: self-reflection and exercising moral imagination.
Adopting self-examination helps people understand themselves better and therefore be in a position to correct moral weaknesses. Also, keeping moral friends is beneficial as they can point you in the right direction and offer encouragement to act morally right.
The end goals of a software engineer is to make sure that he makes products that do not cause harm to the end user in any way possible. An engineer who conducts his business ethically will create trust among his clients and thus get more business. On a personal level, such an engineer will find pleasure and contentment knowing that he contributed into someone’s ‘good life’.
than one party for services on the same project, or for services pertaining to the same project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to by all interested parties.
Engineers shall not solicit or accept a contract from a governmental body on
which a principal or officer of their organization serves as a member.
In the first item, the engineers might fall victim when the other concerned parties are not in agreement on the terms of a contract. The second code would restrict engineers from getting government contracts.
Contentious codes from appendix B:
Assign work only after taking into account appropriate contributions of
education and experience tempered with a desire to further that education and experience.
Ensure proper and achievable goals and objectives for any project on which
they work or propose.
The first code would hinder inexperienced engineers from getting jobs while the second code is impractical because clients set the goals and objectives of a project design.
A ‘super professional’ engineer will easily apply the code of ethics in his career because he feels he is ethically obligated to be responsible and honest to his clients and the society at large. Therefore he will conduct himself according to the directions of the codes even if he is not obligated to do so.
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