Information technology has produced new ethical challenges and concerns in dealing with issues about privacy, security, piracy and professional ethics. Contemporary Issues in Ethics and Information Technology discusses these issues as well as other important ethical issues such as the outsourcing of high-level jobs and the value of IT itself. The main framework for ethical problems used in Contemporary Issues in Ethics and Information Technology is derived from the work of the late philosopher John Rawls. Rawls contribution to ethics was a theory of justice rooted in the social contract theory of the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution. The authors discussion of the value of IT also builds on the views of the philosopher, Martin Heidegger, on modern technology as an independent force in human existence with its own point-of-view. This book provides guidance for IT professionals and users for practical ethical problems.
Being trained in history and philosophy and only involved with information technology as a “power user,” I was feeling both honored and ill-prepared to undertake the task of writing this foreword. I have worked on the edges of information technology as a user of databases and a writer of Web pages for the courses I teach, but I am by no means an information technology professional. I have a bit more experience with the study of ethics, especially social ethics, but I am not by profession an ethicist. Upon further reflection, however, I believe that my position halfway between the two fields that inform this work, as a student of ethical theories and a creator of simple information technology, gives me a unique perspective on Dr. Schultz’s work here. I have written a bit on the ethical and political impact of information technology as it relates to distance education and course structure. I have also been a colleague of Dr. Schultz’ for almost 12 years and have discussed many of the issues here with him before. All of this gives me a good position from which to begin, for the ethical implications of information technology are issues about which all of us ought to be concerned.
About the Author
Robert A. Schultz received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1971. His dissertation in ethics was under the direction of John Rawls. He was a member of the philosophy faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, Cornell University, and the University of Southern California, taught courses and published articles and reviews in the fields of ethics, logic, and aesthetics. In 1980 he assumed the position of Data Processing Manager at A-Mark Precious Metals, a Forbes 500 company, then in Beverly Hills, CA. Since 1989, he has been Professor of Computer Information Systems (recently renamed Information Technology) and Director of Academic Computing at Woodbury University, Burbank, CA. He regularly teaches courses in database applications and design, systems development tools, and the management of information technology. He has numerous publications and has made numerous presentations in the areas of database design, I.T. education, and the philosophy of technology.