This work concerns ethics applied to computer technology, emphasizing the use of this technology within organizations. Computer technology has created the possibility to do things not possible before, for good and bad. Ethical reasoning can be used as a tool to provide guidance, in order to create Computerized Information Systems (CIS) that are sustainable with respect to the ethical demands that can be put upon them.
If one wants to integrate ethical considerations into a CIS, it is reasonable that ethical issues should be taken account of in systems development. As a general methodology for developing a CIS, the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) will be examined. The SDLC is the place and moment when it is possible to integrate ethical considerations into a CIS.
This work will focus on, and try to explain, what characteristics are necessary in order to be able to apply ethical considerations to a methodology. This is done by examining five methodologies adopting the SDLC. It will also be examined how the three major ethical theories utilitarianism, deontologism and rights ethics will affect the SDLC, and thus eventually a CIS being implemented.
The outcome of this work are that there are limited possibilities of integrating ethical considerations into methodologies adopting a hard system approach, compared to those adopting a soft one. The ethical standards of a CIS must be established early on in the SDLC. Integration of ethical issues requires a system approach to be applied in the SDLC. Participation becomes an important feature of systems development in order to adopt ethical reasoning. The different ethical theories will put different emphasis on the group or the individual in systems development.
Source: University of Skövde
Author: Larsson, Göran