Recent Question/Assignment

Specific guidance for the 201860 exam
As a teaching panel we have decided to narrow the range of things that students need to focus on. From our point of view this approach to exam preparation ensures that students engage deeply with the subject matter, by having the motivation to explore particular cases and in great depth. From your point of view it should give you greater peace of mind going into the exam, because if you have prepared good answers to each of these restricted questions, then you can be sure to not only pass, but in all likelihood do well. However, we do put a caveat on this approach. That is, we will not give any students assistance with the particular cases and question examples listed here. For example, should a student come to one of us for help in applying the DET to a case study, we will gladly do so, except that we will not do so for any of the three cases listed here.
As seen in the sample exam, Part 1 asks the following of you ...
Part 1 - Question 1 – Doing Ethics Technique
This session we have restricted the cases to the following three (3). One of these will appear in the exam. We encourage you to prepare all three.
i. In May 2013, Edward Snowden, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked sensitive national security-related material both to Washington Post and The Guardian. The leaked reports revealed that the NSA used at least three Internet surveillance programs, known internally as Tempora, PRISM, and XKeyscore. The reports also revealed that the NSA collected “metadata” from telephone communications that it had intercepted both in the United States and Europe. Many of Snowden’s critics have since claimed that the sheer scale of the material involved in this incident makes it the “most significant leak” in U.S. history. Whereas some of Snowden’s critics have described him as a dissident and a “traitor” (who has also caused grave damage to U.S. intelligence capabilities), at least some of his defenders view him as a “hero” and a “patriot” (in part, at least, because they believe that Snowden’s disclosure showed how the U.S. government had gone too far in its surveillance practices on its own citizens as well as on many of the leaders of closely allied nations).
ii. In April 2014, Donald Sterling, then owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s San Diego Clippers, was accused of making racist remarks about African Americans. It turns out that Sterling’s then (girl) friend, V. Stiviano, had recorded those remarks on an electronic device and then later decided to make them available to a wider audience. This incident received extensive media coverage in the United States and beyond. Many people were appalled by Sterling’s remarks, and some also pointed out the irony in this incident, given that the majority of the players on his basketball team (who were largely responsible for generating income for Sterling) were African Americans. Shortly following the fallout from this controversy, Sterling was forced by the NBA to sell his team to a new owner. While most people agreed that Sterling should resign and be required to relinquish his NBA franchise, some were nevertheless troubled by the manner in which his remarks, which were made in confidence to a close friend, were secretly recorded via a digital device and then (eventually) made available to the public. The practice of secretly recording someone’s private conversations is not exactly new; after all, law enforcement authorities have used “wiring” devices to trap suspected criminals into disclosing information that can lead to their arrests. But the idea that ordinary people, especially those in intimate relationships, can now so easily record conversations in deceptive ways via their tiny digital devices can seem chilling. For example, would this practice influence what intimate friends would be willing (or not willing) to say to each other in (supposed) confidence? Would it also alter our privacy expectations in the future with respect to conversations with romantic partners?
iii. You are a computer programmer working for a small business that provides specialized financial services to local, mostly small businesses. You have been working for company X for about six months. Recently X has been occupied with reengineering the inventory system of a local hardware chain, ABC Hardware. The objective is to enable ABC to keep better track of their inventory, to be more responsive to changes in customer demand, and to adopt a “just in time” strategy to reduce inventory. Your supervisor calls you into his office. “Do you know of any existing software products to help ABC keep better track of its inventory?” You mention a particular product that you have worked with in another job and point out that ABC could use it without any modification. The only drawback, you point out, is that this software is somewhat expensive. Your supervisor leans back in his chair, puffs on his cigar and says, “That’s no problem. We have that software. Why don’t you just install it on ABC’s computers?” You diplomatically indicate that this would violate the licensing agreement X has with the developers of the software. “Do it anyway,” your supervisor says. “Nobody’s going to find out, and ABC is a very important client. We need to do all we can to keep them happy.”
Part 1 - Question 1 – Doing Ethics Technique (20 marks)
Analyse the above case study using the Doing Ethics Technique.
Part 1 - Question 2 - Ethical Theory question (10 marks)
We ask the students to analyse the above case study using either two or four classical ethical theories. So, it is always from the four classical ethical theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue and contract.
These will be four questions covering anything in the syllabus. In every topic that had review questions from the text we encouraged students to do them.
PART 3: ESSAY (30 marks)
This session we have restricted the essay topics to the following three (3). One of these will appear in the exam. We encourage you to prepare all three.
i. Over the years a number of systems have been developed which record coded information across a range of factors about disabilities in ethnic communities. A new coding convention has been developed to rationalise the inconsistent coding conventions of these legacy systems. The new coding convention uses codes which had different meanings in the legacy systems. This means that time series analysis gives inconsistent results, particularly showing both under and over reporting of numbers of particular disability categories. This is significant when making policies for people based on the size of the communities. To fix this would take a lot of work and expense, and management has decreed that historical systems will not be fixed, but new systems will all adopt the new coding convention.
ii. Using currently available online tools and search facilities, ordinary users can easily acquire personal information about others. In fact, anyone who has Internet access can, via a search engine such as Google, find information about us that we ourselves might have had no idea is publicly available there. Does this use of online tools threaten the privacy of ordinary people?
iii. Elsevier Press is a prestigious academic publisher, headquartered in the Netherlands. Noted for its quality publications in science and mathematics, Elsevier publishes approximately 2,000 journals and roughly 20,000 books. Some of its journals, such as The Lancet and Cell, are highly regarded. However, many scientists and mathematicians have been displeased with Elsevier’s pricing and policy practices, which they believe restrict access to important information. In 2011, distinguished mathematician Timothy Gowers (of the University of Cambridge) organized a formal boycott of Elsevier Press. As of August 2015, the boycott has collected close to 16,000 signatures from scholars around the world; they have signed a petition pledging not to publish in or review manuscripts for Elsevier. The boycott has come to be called “The Cost of Knowledge.”