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Ethics in Computer Science
homework assignment 1
Each problem is worth 12 points.
1. Compose an argument either for or against the following:
While there exist many operating systems for personal computers, it would be best if
the government chose one standard operating system for everybody, which would be the
only one commercially available for consumers and businesses, and its development
coordinated by a federal agency.
Identify which parts of your argument are grounds, warrants, backings, and conclusion.
2. In The Portrait of Dorian Gray Oscar Wild wrote: “Conscience and cowardice are
really the same things.” What it says, roughly speaking, is that the fear of getting
caught is the only thing that stops people from doing bad things.
(a) Reformulate the quotation as a statement you think is equivalent and states the
purpose or lack of purpose of morals. The dictionary meaning of “conscience” is
an inner feeling acting as a guide, and “cowardice” means lack of bravery.
(b) State your opinion on this issue: do you agree or disagree that the quotation
correctly captures the origins and role of morals?
(c) Justify your position, referring to your reformulation.
3. If everyone agreed to take the ethical point of view by respecting others and their core
values, would there be less need for a rigorous study of ethics or more need?
4. Suppose you had to choose only one of the ethical theories we discussed and use it for
all your personal ethical decision making.
(a) Which theory would you choose?
(b) Why does this theory appeal to you?
(c) How would you respond to the arguments raised against the theory you have chosen?