Introduction to Ethics
By the end of this topic you should be able to:
• Define key terms related to ethics
• Discuss at least 3 reasons for exploring ethics
• Identify your personal core values
Note: Make sure that you discuss question 7 in this tutorial.
1. Define the terms ethics and values. Indicate what they mean to you.
2. Why do we need to study ethics? How is ethics important in the different roles we play in life?
3. Study the following list of values and identify five values that best represent you as an individual. Share your list with others in your group, and the class.
life compassion freedom dedication
creativity accountability work religion
humor cooperation trustworthiness advancement
loyalty wealth security recognition
beauty professionalism morality patience
spirituality success responsibility power
respect honesty empathy integrity
justice health love faith
helpfulness knowledge wisdom independence
4. Classify your values into two lists. Indicate those that would be considered “ethical” and those that would be considered “non ethical”. For example health and wealth would be considered non-ethical values and integrity and honesty would be considered ethical values.
5. Select the value you feel needs the most work, the one that you could improve upon the most, and indicate why. Repeat for the value you believe is your strongest, the one you feel you possess most of the time. Discuss these with others in your group.
6. Select one value from your list that represents your core value. Indicate why this is the most important to you. Share this with your group and the class. Collate all the values from the class these will become part of the ethical code for the course.
7. Details of part of your assessed weekly task are in Moodle. Your response should be submitted to the Q&A forum icon. You are encouraged to negotiate with one or two other students in order to give and receive peer feedback. This one of the most effective learning strategies that students can engage in. If you make this arrangement with another student, you are entering into an informal contract not supported by law (nor by marks gained or lost). It is thus voluntary. Some questions to consider:
• What value would each party expect to gain from this contract?
• Is it ethical to receive feedback from another student but not give it in return? Justify your answer using the contract-based ethical theory.
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By the end of this topic you should be able to:
• Apply an ethical decision-making model
• Analyse an ethical situation relating to the IT workplace
Nirmal’s Ethical Dilemma
Nirmal is the IT manager in a government department with more than 500 staff members and six branches across Australia. His department has decided to acquire an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. An RFT for the procurement of the software was advertised in a number of Australian newspapers. Two local companies responded to the advertisement and sent their offers to the department.
When Nirmal opened the envelopes and examined the offers he found that company A’s offer is slightly better than company B’s offer. To his surprise, company B’s offer was made by his best friend Devraj, who is the general manager of company B. Company A’s software appeared to be easier to use and easier to modify compared to company B’s software. Although the initial cost of company B’ software appeared to be less than that of company’s A, the former may require some ‘tools consultants’ to modify it and some ‘business consultants’ to assist in running it, which might eventually raise the total cost.
To complicate matters more, Nirmal received a phone call from Devraj, who urged him to favour his offer, as he is quite desperate to get this deal. He also reminded him that the ‘tools and business consultants’ who might be needed in the project will be recruited from his home country which means more jobs for his countrymen and in turn more money sent home. Nirmal is indeed in a difficult position (ACS, 2004).
Question 1. Apply the first 4 steps of the 5-step ethical decision making model presented in this topic to the case study using the four philosophical theories you are studying.
Step 1. Identify the ethical dilemma
Step 2. List the facts of the case
Step 3a. Using utilitarian ethical theory (consequence based):
i. Identify who benefits or suffers (and how) from the consequences (whether as an individual or as a member of a group of people) if Nirmal decides to accept the tender from company A?
ii. Identify who benefits or suffers (and how) from the consequences if Nirmal decides to accept the tender from company B?
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iii. Apply utilitarianism using your answers to parts i and ii, and decide which path Nirmal should take to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people and give the main reasons for your decision.
Step 3b. Using deontological ethical theory (duty based):
i. What duties does Nirmal have in this situation to company A, company B, his own organisation, his professional association, his religious community, his friend and the country of his birth?
ii. Apply deontology using the list of duties compiled in your answer to part i, and decide which path Nirmal should take. Give your reasons. Mention the categorical imperative, and concepts of universality and impartiality in your answer.
Step 3c. Using a contracts-based (rights) approach:
i. Whose rights does Nirmal have to take into consideration? In each case indicate whether these rights are legal (L) or moral (M).
ii. Using the list of legal rights prepared in part i, state the constraints placed on Nirmal by the law.
iii. Apply contractarianism (social contract theory), using the list of moral rights prepared in part i, and decide, how Nirmal should resolve this ethical dilemma? Give your reasons.
Step 3d. Using a character-based (virtue) approach:
i. What virtues should Nirmal be calling upon in this dilemma? A list of virtues can be viewed at http://www.virtuescience.com/virtuelist.html
ii. Imagine you are in Nirmal’s position. What does your character/intuition/gut feeling say to you about how Nirmal should decide? What are the important factors in your decision?
Step 4. Compare approaches:
i. Compare your answers for Steps 3 a-d (inclusive). In particular, identify the differences in the ways your decisions were made.
ii. On the balance of your comparison in part i, what, in your opinion, is the ethical approach that Nirmal should take? Why?
Question 2. Apply an integrated ethical decision making approach to this case and provide an answer to Nirmal’s ethical dilemma. Mention a regard for consequences, the categorical imperative and possession of a caring character in your response.
ACS. (2004). Case study 27. Retrieved October 11, 2009, from http://www.acs.org.au/publication/docs/ACS_CaseStudiesFinal.pdf
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By the end of this topic you should be able to:
• apply the ACS Code of Ethics to make judgments on professional activity
Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG)
A year before the start of the Sydney Olympic Games, a complaint was made by a vision-impaired person that the SOCOG website was not accessible to people using screen readers. Screen readers translate design and text input into sound or Braille output. The complaint was not dealt with appropriately and so the issue was unresolved. The original software flaw was identified but not otherwise addressed (cost was perceived as one factor).
People relying on screen readers could not access ticketing information, event schedules or postings of event results. Accessibility to websites is a public requirement. A complaint eventually was made to the Human Rights Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) of the Australian government. The commissioner hearing the case found that SOCOG had acted in a discriminatory and unlawful manner (Adapted from McDermid, 2008).
1. Discuss the differences between ethical obligations and legal obligations?
2. In the case above what legal obligation of SOCOG is identified?
3. In terms of ethical obligations, what elements of the ACS Code of Professional Conduct are relevant to the SOCOG case? See http://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/4901/Code-of-ProfessionalConduct.pdf,
• The primacy of public interest
• Enhancement of quality of life
• Professional development
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4. From the previous question, for each element of the ACS Code of Professional Conduct explain:
a. the relevance to the case, if you selected it
b. the lack of relevance to the case, if you did not
ACS Code Relevance
The primacy of public interest
Enhancement of quality of life
5. Explain how, if observed, the ACS Code of Professional Conduct:
a. could result in good consequences
b. considers the duties of its members
c. recognises rights of others
d. encourages virtuous actions
6. How important is it for IT professionals to have a professional society (for example ACS, PMI, IEEE)?
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Written and Oral Communication
By the end of this topic you should be able to:
• utilise presentation and communication approaches in a range of IT workplace settings
It is suggested that this week the questions should be attempted on an individual basis and once completed, the answers discussed with peers either face-to-face or by means of the tutorial forum.
1. “Creating a knew system requires many activities and involved many people. One of most importnat activities is choosing the rite problem to solve, proposing a feasible way to solve it, and describing this solution in a system specification. The chosen system must also fir into the existing environment and must be vary easy to use. Alternatively the system maintenance could be outsourced. It is often necessary to spend considerable tame gaining a through understanding of the system and their problems. It is only after developing a good understanding that it becomes possible to propose changes that will produce a better system without causing unforeseen affects.
Once changes are proposed, ....”
(Adapted from Hawryszkiewycz, I. 1998. Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design.)
a) Edit the given paragraph, correcting spelling and grammar.
b) Comment on how well the paragraph follows the structure of topic sentence, supporting sentences, concluding sentence and transitional sentence.
2. Write simple user documentation for the benefit of a student with very little knowledge of IT how to contribute to a Moodle general forum i) responding to a previous entry & ii) starting a new thread
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3. The following quote is taken from page 167 of the book Communication as Professionals by Terry Mohan, Helen McGregor, Shirley Saunders and Ray Archee. This is the second edition of the book and was published in 2008 by Cengage Learning in South Melbourne, Australia.
“Since listening requires physical energy we need to be prepared both mentally and physically to listen efficiently. We all need sufficient rest and sleep in order to function properly so that we can participate more effectively and be more involved. In most Western cultural contexts we need to show a speaker that we are attentive by establishing eye contact and maintaining alert posture and facial expression. Such expressions of interest on our part will have a positive impact on speakers and will enable them to express themselves more effectively.”
a) Add an entry in APA format to the reference list of an academic paper that uses this quote.
b) i) Paraphrase the quote keeping the author’s meaning but using different and fewer words.
ii) Add an appropriate in-text citation (APA) at the end of your paraphrasing.
c) Use the quote to find one example each of:
i) Active or passive voice ii) Past, present or future tense iii) 1st, 2nd or 3rd person
4. Suppose that you have been set a report to write on the topic, “Communicating techniques in the IT workplace”. Consider the 5W strategy (who, what, when, where, why) and demonstrate this planning strategy by writing 5 questions related to this essay topic.
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Topic Learning Outcomes
S2. Utilise professional presentation and communication approaches in a range of IT workplace settings.
Part A: Workshop Activities (allow 50 mins)
1. Role-Play: Assertive communication style, using I-messages (15 mins)
Break the class into groups of 4 (or 3 or 5 if necessary)
In each group, need 2 students acting in the role-play plus 2 (or 1 or 3) observers giving peer feedback.
Roles: Team leader, team member
Problem: The team leader is raising with a team member a performance concern, such as: i) the team member is frequently late to meetings or ii) the team member is frequently absent from meetings or iii) the team member is not pulling his weight or iv) some other issue that the team leader has.
Remind students of 3 parts of I-message
2. Active Listening (15 mins)
This can be a whole class exercise with most observing and giving peer feedback.
Role-play: Bobs problem – details of scenario in a separate, hidden file.
Roles: Bob and Mike. It is possible for the player with Mike’s role to be changed at least twice during the scenario. The tutor should decide if and when it is appropriate.
Select 2 students to play the roles of Bob and Mike. Bob only is to be given the details of the whole scenario.
Remind students to listen for feelings as well as thoughts and reflect both.
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3. Communication within a team (20 mins)
Team exercise with peer feedback – there is a task to be achieved but individual needs should not be ignored – try to get the balance right.
Divide the class into groups of approx.10. Half participate in the team talk, the other half observe then swap over and repeat.
Each team member should observe non-verbal signals from other team members as well as listen to what is being said; be aware of members who are being ignored by the rest of the team and cannot break in.
Observers should report how well the team achieved its task, how well the team members supported each other and were aware of the dynamics as well as the agenda.
Timing: 2 lots of team interactions (5 mins each); peer feedback (2 x 5 mins)
Topic: Start the discussion of question 1 below. The second team can continue the discussion on question 1 or start on question 2.
Part B: Discussion Questions
1. In active listening, it is important to reflect both thoughts and feelings. Which one would you start with and why?
2. Make a list of the things which motivate you at work. Categorise each item as internal or external. Which category contains items that motivate you more strongly. Share your lists with the rest of your group and provide an argument supporting your choice of category as the better motivator.
3. Describe a conflict that you have been involved in. Choose a work situation (preferably) or one arising as a student. What emotions were involved on either side? Was the conflict able to be resolved. If so, what were the important factors in being able to resolve it; if not, why not?
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