Week 6 Technology and Its Ethical Implications

Week 6 Technology and Its Ethical Implications - Technology...

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Technology and Its Ethical Implications Two Schools of Thought Utilitarian Ethics Deontological Ethics Justice, Freedom, and Technology Study Tools Two Schools of Thought Ian Barbour, in his seminal essay “Philosophy and Human Values,” provides a concise summary of the two major ethical positions advanced today. The two main schools of thought are the utilitarian or consequentialist view and the deontological or non-consequentialist view. Barbour then explores concepts of justice, equality, and freedom as ways of discussing the impact of technology on modern life. Utilitarian Ethics Ethical Egoism Universal ethical egoism is the ethical theory that states that everyone should always act in his or her own self interest, regardless of the interest of others, unless their interests also serve his or hers. This theory was first proposed by the Roman philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) but is mostly associated with the late Ayn Rand (1905- 1982). Novelist and philosopher, Rand was the author of numerous best-selling books, including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Rand argued that rational human beings’ interests would never conflict. The Libertarian Party was founded based on her theories. The main objection to this theory is that there is no consistent way of resolving conflicts of self-interests. The study of ethics is one of the three main branches of philosophy. The question “what is the good life?” has evoked a variety of answers from Socrates to Sartre. Two main philosophical approaches have evolved over the past three centuries. The utilitarian (or consequentialist) theory argues that “the good” is whatever brings about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. We can determine what is good for society and ourselves by simply adding up the pluses and minuses, and almost instantly, we have the answer! The founder of utilitarianism as a distinct ethical theory was Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Bentham was a lawyer by trade, but his goal was to rid England of a mishmash of laws that often hanged its citizens for mere misdemeanors. Bentham argued that the best way to determine good laws was to judge it by its utility. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation , Bentham argued: Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure…By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question… I say not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government. By utility is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness or to prevent the happening
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