EDET 724:  Ethics, Technology, and Society

Cadre 11

Spring 2007



Ray Gen, Ed. D.

Email           raygen@earthlink.net  (best at night)
                   rgen@esusd.k12.ca.us  (best during day)

AIM            docraygen
Web Site     www.genconnection.com 
Cell Phone   



Course Design


This course is designed to introduce you to applied ethics. Because this course is part of the Educational Technology doctoral sequence, special emphasis will be given to ethical dilemmas that arise because of technology. You will learn about ethical frameworks and the application of these frameworks to the cases presented. The goal is to help you to develop the ability to make decisions grounded in your personal ethical framework when you are faced with similar dilemmas. The course will also increase your awareness of the ethical dilemmas caused by technology, for which there might not yet be clear moral or legal answers, and enable you to discuss these issues in ways that are less divisive and that lead to more constructive problem-solving.


Course objectives


1.      Develop an understanding of the major ethical frameworks.

2.      Develop an understanding of your own personal ethical framework and its tenability when confronted with conflict and ambiguity.

3.      Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of sound ethical decision-making, both in your personal life as well as in your professional life.

4.      Scrutinize your own ethical position on controversial leadership or management issues and appreciate the point of view of others who disagree.

5.      Demonstrate an ability to analyze ethical dilemmas in a systematic manner.






Ermann, M. D., & Shauf, M.S., eds .  (2003, 3rd ed.). Computers, ethics, and society.  New York: Oxford University Press.


Winston, M. E., &  Edelbach, R. D., eds.  (2006, 3rd ed.) Society, ethics, and technology. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.



Kurzweil, R.  (2005). The singularity is near.  New York:  Viking.



Reading #3: Your selection


In addition, you will be responsible for selecting and reading one additional book plus additional resources on a topic of your choice related to ethics and technology.  The selection of topics from which you might choose is widely varied; you should choose something related to an area of concern for you.  Some examples might be topics such bioengineering of foods, cloning, uses of medical databases, privacy issues, intellectual property rights, equitable digital access, or outsourcing, to name just a few that have been in the news lately. It would be highly desirable for you to choose two books, each with differing points of view on your chosen topic, but that has become increasingly difficult as books in these fields often tend to be composed of edited selections from many points of view. The concept here is for you to explore fully an area where ethical dilemmas are emerging.  You must then be able to develop a scenario that describes a realistic ethical dilemma that presents two equally viable ethical points of view (in other words, points of view that you can document and use quotes from your readings to support) as possibilities for us to consider. 


For many of you, this may be an opportunity to explore a point of view where you are firmly convinced of the basis for your own decision-making, based on your ethical framework, but you realize that others hold equally firm beliefs.  For others, this may be an opportunity to explore the points of view in an emerging area of interest, an area that you know you might face in your field but have not yet come to grips with.


Web Resources


These resources may be helpful to you in finding information about topics we discuss throughout this course.  The content on their sites focus on topics of interest to applied ethics and frequently relate to issues in the news regarding technology and questions raised that cannot be easily resolved by current laws or moral values.   The Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded by Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus (an early software developer) and it focuses on many of the issues raised by technology that the law does not yet handle adequately. 


Ethics Update : http://ethics.acusd.edu/index.asp 


Centre for Applied Ethics : http://www.ethicsweb.ca/resources/


Electronic Frontier Foundation: http://www.eff.org/

Get your daily ethical decision making at http://www.moralbliss.com/   (Thanks Kathleen)




This is my suggested outline for the topics and timing of our use of Blackboard and TappedIn.  Some of this may change as groups sign up for case studies.





Jan. 16

Questions to Ponder

TappedIn (TI)    Transcript in BlackBoard

BlackBoard (BB)

Jan. 23

Ermann & Shauf  pp. 3-20

Ethical Frameworks: What’s yours?

Ethical Perspectives




F2F Week

Winston & Edelbach
pp. 21-151

Ethical Frameworks: (continued)

Ethics & Technology

Intro to Ethical Dilemmas & Ethical Studies






Feb. 6

Ermann & Shauf  pp.23-81

Ethical Issues


Feb. 13
Winston & Edelbach

pp. 153-385 (selections)

Cadre Ethics Resource

Wiki or Web Site Due

Ethical Issues

TI (office hour  6pm–7pm, stop by if you want)


Feb. 20
Ermann & Shauf pp. 137-249 (selections)

Ripped - Group 1  (post night before for discussion in BB on Feb 20)


Feb. 27

Ermann & Shauf pp. 85-133

Ripped – Group 2 (post in BB night before for discussion in TI on Feb 27)

Ethical Issues





March 6
Reading on your own

Case Study Due


TI (office hour  6pm–7pm, stop by if you want)

March 13

Reading on your own

Case Study Discussion
Discuss all case studies in BB


March 20

Reading on your own

Ethical Issues

TI - Transcript in BlackBoard

March 27

Reading on your own

Ripped 3 (post night before for discussion in BB on Mar 27)


April 3
Reading on your own

Ripped 4 (post in BB night before for discussion in TI on Ap 3)


Ethical Issues





April 10

Reading on your own

Work on Ethical Dilemma Paper

No meeting

April 17


Discuss all final projects

Paper Due

TI (6 pm)

BB posted by midnight

Subject to change due to class needs.


Class meetings


TappedIn times will be at 6 pm (Pacific) on Tuesdays. If this does not work for some we can negotiate another time.  Our asynchronous work will be in Blackboard or on a wiki.





Due Date



Throughout course


Cadre Ethics Resource

Wiki or Web Site

Feb 13


Case Study (groups of 4)

March 6


Ripped From the Headlines

Feb 20, 27; Mar 27; Apr 3


Final Paper: Ethical Dilemma Paper

April 17








This is more than just showing up for synchronous sessions and occasionally posting to the forum in Blackboard. To be adequate in your participation you need to demonstrate some deep reflection. Why do you have the ethical belief that you do? How do you defend it? How do you deal with contrary points of view? Make sure you ground your thinking with references to things you are reading. Give complete citations. To be exemplary in your participation you should not only cite the required reading but also other related resources. We are looking for well-reasoned arguments, based in thinking that is grounded in ethical frameworks.


Think of the following in your discussion:


*          Are specific alternative courses of action identified?

*          Do they respond specifically to the issues in the case?

*          Is there adequate ethical evaluation of alternatives?

*          Have ethical principles (frameworks) used in the evaluations been clearly identified?


Cadre Ethics Resource Wiki or Web Site

(Cadre Class Project – each member of the class must participate)

Utilitarianism (consequentialism), Right Action (Deontologism or Categorical Imperative), Virtue Ethics (Aristotle’s cardinal virtues), or Relativism, among others, are some of the key ethical frameworks often considered to be the key ethical frameworks. You may want to include others as well.  For this activity you will develop an evolving resource in a wiki, web site or Blackboard for each of these frameworks (plus any others you wish to add).  The goal is to help you develop a deeper understanding of the concepts behind the frameworks and how the frameworks are applied to contemporary ethical dilemmas.  To do this, you need to think about what a wikipedia-like resource might include.  What resources can you find that help you most….and what might help others also find them useful?


At a minimum, these pieces of information would be helpful in first establishing the basic understanding of these frameworks.

*          What are the key guidelines of this framework?

*          Who was the primary founder of this ethical framework?

*          What are the key books written about this framework?

*          What key quotes can help guide our understanding of this framework?

*          What is the history of this framework?


Using this as the basic information then, you need to, as a larger group, come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of these ethical frameworks as they apply to our lives on a daily basis.  Your understanding of this can develop through your conversations with each other about these frameworks as you come to understand them and understand how they can be used to make decisions when faced with an ethical dilemma. Ethical frameworks are often part of our tacit knowledge.  To make tacit knowledge explicit we have to have dialogue.  So you will need to have some sessions where you use TI, AIM, Skype, or Blackboard itself to talk through your understandings.  The artifacts of this dialogue should also be stored in the forum for others to see who didn't participate.  You can add blogs or podcasts that show your personal reflections as well.  The idea is that we understand more when we work through building our knowledge of these concepts together.


Concurrent with developing your understanding of these frameworks we will be looking at some ethical dilemmas in our TappedIn  and BlackBoard discussions. We will use the ethical frameworks to discuss possible solutions to dealing with the problems that arise in dealing with these ethical dilemmas.  In this way we will be able to see how the application of these ethical frameworks often helps us to deal with dilemmas when existing law or moral guidelines/religion don’t offer guidance or the guidance is ambiguous.


Case Study


In groups of no more than 4, choose an ethical dilemma that you envision being caused by the merging of technology with everyday life, medicine or biology.


In Blackboard, create a case analysis. This analysis should follow this outline:


·                    Problem or Issue:  one or two sentences.  This might be in the form of a question.

·                    Analysis:  Elaborate on the problem or issue.  Give actors, setting and background if important.  Explain why the problem is an ethical dilemma. Be clear in describing the ethical principle or values at stake.  Give all necessary facts.

·                    Alternatives:  Describe two or more reasonable alternatives.  Analyze the alternatives applying the ethical principles you said were at stake.  Put yourself in the actor's shoes and struggle with the dilemma. This should be a personal confrontation with the dilemma

·                    Recommendation:  Give a one sentence description followed by a more detailed elaboration.  Who is to do what, when, how, with what resources, and what cautions.

·                    Rationale:  Give your reasons for the recommendation.  Why is it the ethical thing to do?  Good arguments are critical.  Anticipate reasonable objections.

·                    Implementation:  Explain how your recommendation will be workable.


Post this case to a forum you create in Blackboard. Be succinct; the case should be no more than the equivalent of 2 pages.


Your group will be responsible for leading a class discussion of this case that week in TI or BB.  You also need to determine how best to make these sessions engaging and yet allow all to participate fully and present their viewpoints.  It is your challenge as a group to set up the session in a way that will be creatively engaging, but will also ensure that we are required to demonstrate our understanding of ethics and to ground our discussion in more than just personal intuition about the situation.


Ripped from the Headlines


In groups of 3 create one case analysis based on an ethical dilemma that you find in daily headlines.  To present this case, first create a new thread under Ripped headline in Blackboard.  Then follow the same format outlined for the case study that you will do as a group.  This case analysis does not need to include as many supplementary resources, but otherwise it should follow all the same concepts as the Case Study activity.  Most importantly, be sure that the issue you choose from the headlines is truly an ethical dilemma.  In other words, be sure that there are two equally competing frameworks that might apply…and that this is an area where the law or religion is either ambiguous or silent in telling us how to act.


Please present the case analysis in such a way that we all are challenged to participate in the decision-making as well and to participate in the discussion on the topic. Part of your participation will include participation in these discussions as well.   Post one analysis by the end of March at the latest.


Ethical Dilemma Paper


As a final project you will be responsible for selecting and reading one book on a topic of your choice related to ethics and technology.  The selection of topics in applied ethics that is impacted by technology is widely varied; you should choose something related to an area of concern or where you work.  Some examples might be topics such as bioengineering of foods, cloning, equitable digital access , or outsourcing, to name just a few that have been in the news lately.  (Hint: start researching early to see what is available for topics of interest so that you can get the book(s) and start reading.)


You will prepare an 8 page paper (using APA style) that does the following:


1.                  Creates a scenario for the ethical dilemma as you see it.  This scenario puts us in a real life setting that allows us to see how this ethical dilemma plays out in daily life.


2.                  Indicates why this is an ethical dilemma.  In other words, show us why current laws or religious principles are not adequate to guide us in our decision-making in this instance because they are either conflicting or they simply don't address this issue.  Indicate how the situation you present us with shows us two or more equally compelling possible actions, actions that might be equally acceptable given certain ethical decision-making.


3.                  Indicates your analysis, based on a variety of ethical frameworks and on the reading that you did.  This should include any facts you have uncovered.  It is particularly important that you point us to any laws or religious principles that might apply but are unclear in their application. 


4.                  Outlines your ethical decision and gives the ethical framework for your decision. At the conclusion of your paper you MUST indicate the decision you came to in resolving the dilemma you present in the scenario you open your paper with AND you must give the ethical framework that is the basis of that decision-making.  Further, you must indicate what steps you would take if you were in a position of leadership and had to personally guide the resolution of this ethical dilemma.  Preferably, the paper would be written as if you were responsible for handling the situation and had to deal with the issue so that in the end you are responsible for the resolution.


In addition, add to your wiki/web pages issues that you have come across in your study.  This page is NOT a summary of your paper.  It should give the reader  the resources available to those who might find themselves confronted with a similar dilemma.  In other words, this could be very similar to a resource page from Wikipedia.


GSEP Information


CODE OF CONDUCT:  The Graduate School of Education and Psychology strives to create a learning environment which is respectful of the rights and dignity of all members of our learning community. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a collegial, respectful, and professional manner while participating in all activities associated with this course. Students are expected to exhibit behaviors and attitudes consistent with appropriate ethical-legal standards, and to refrain from any fraudulent, dishonest, or harmful behaviors such as plagiarism, cheating, or harassment, which compromise the integrity of the academic standards of the university and/or impact the safety and security of fellow students, staff, and faculty. Failure to comply with appropriate standards of conduct may result in a grade of “F” in the course and dismissal from the program.


DISABILITY STATEMENT:  Any student with a documented disability (physical, learning, or psychological) needing academic accommodations should contact the Disability Services Office (Malibu Campus, Tyler Campus Center 225, 310.506.6500) as early in the semester as possible.  All discussions will remain confidential.  Please visit http://www.pepperdine.edu/disabilityservices/ for additional information.