As I’m going through the literature review process of my Master’s thesis, I’m reviewing the ethical parts of software and technology. It has given some things to think about that I never considered before.
Now, let me say that I don’t think of myself as anyone qualified to discuss ethics; it’s not something that I considered studying. But after reading a bit, I think I need to start.
We often do things and not consider the ethical implications.
- Repeating something to someone that was told to you in confidence.
- Downloading that book from the Internet other than paying for it.
- Accepting incorrect change from someone when it’s more than it should.
Yeah, I’ve done these all. But have you considered the ethical implications?
Now ethics are slightly different from morality, although they are often used interchangeably.
Morals refer mainly to guiding principles, while ethics refer to specific rules and actions, or behaviours. While morals are shaped by upbringing, environment and a desire to be good, ethics are more like a set of rules that people have agreed to follow.
Morality is a belief. Ethics is a choice.
Most people don’t consider the study of ethics or morality for that matter. This is mostly due to the Fatal Premise:
- Evil is done by evil people
- I am not an evil person
- Therefore I cannot do evil
Cognitive dissonance at it’s finest; we tend to rationalise the bad things we do in life. If we are not evil, then why do we need to learn or study ethics?
But it’s a fact that we are all imperfect beings, and are all capable of doing evil things. Once we realise that, then we are able and free to question our actions.
When we take the time to analyse and question our actions to ensure that they are right, even those based on morals, then we can choose to be ethical.
“Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”
― Isaac Asimov