Universal Code of Software Ethics

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Universal Code of Software Ethics


Software organizations are growing along with the international businesses they service. Driven by universalism, the world is becoming a single workplace and marketplace. Like all professionals, Software professionals who work within these organizations regularly face problems of an ethical and moral nature. In making decisions, what cultural, social and ethical norms should apply - those of the professionals’ home culture or those of the culture in which they are working, and indeed, are these two choices necessarily different? [6]

"Each Nation has many customs and practices which are not only unknown to another nation but barbarous and a cause of wonder," says Michel de Montaigne.

The field of computing is generating many difficult ethical questions and the variation in the ethical and social norms across the globe merely adds to the level of complexity in finding answers to these questions. How can issues be answered if the "rules" are not fixed? How, for example, can an ethical or moral question about the content of a web site be considered when a hypertext link in that web page may not only take the user to a different part of that site, but to "a site in another part of the world" where different ethical values may prevail? [6]

Professions have adopted ethical codes and codes of conduct. Physicians, lawyers, and engineers have moral responsibilities and know to whom they are responsible. Professionals in the information systems field need similar guidance. Unfortunately, multiple professional standards in the field are offered by individual organizations. Many of the precepts in these codes are similar, but some are not. This paper presents the principles of f...

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... 15 Jun 2000, [Online], Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/world_lectures/mazrui_lect.shtml.

[9] Oz, Effy Ethical Standards for Information Systems Professionals: A Case for a Unified Code 1992, [Online], Available: http://www.misq.org/archivist/vol/no16/issue4/effyoz.pdf.

[10] Pohl, Karl-Heinz [1999] Beyond Universalism and Relativism – Reflections on an East-West Intercultural Dialogue. Paper to the International Conference on Universal Ethics and Asian Values, 4-6 Oct 1999, Seoul, South Korea, [Online], Available: http://www.unesco.or.kr/kor/science/project/universal_ethics/asianvalues/pohl.htm.

[11] Rosenfeld, Jack [1997] IFIP Publishes Book on Ethics of Computing from an International Perspective. ACM SIGCHI Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1, Jan 1997, [Online], Available: http://www.acm.org/sigchi/bulletin/1997.1/international.html.

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