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Technology, Ethics and Society: Reflection on 18 Key Questions

Question 1: Examples of how social conditions influenced new technology

1. Give four examples from the book of how a social condition influenced the development of a new technology.


2. Give four examples from the book of a social change brought about by the adoption of a new technology.


3. According to the author, why is there good reason to say we are living in the Information Age?


4. Think about the last piece of consumer electronics you purchased. How did you first learn about it? What factors (features, price, ease of use, etc.) did you weigh before you purchased it? Which of these factors were most influential in your purchase decision? Are you still happy with your purchase? (Discuss in your own words)


5. Have you ever gone camping or had another experience where you went for at least a few days without access to a phone, radio, television, or computer? (In other words, there was no communication between you and the outside world.) What did you learn from your experience?


6. Martin Carnoy writes, “Thanks to a communications and software revolution, we are more ‘connected’ than ever before—by cell phone, email, and video conferencing—yet more disconnected than in the past from social interaction” [49]. Do you agree?


7. Use four different search engines (,,, to perform a search on the phrase “Information Technology.” Create a table that compares the top 10 Web pages returned by each search engine. Which engines were the most similar?


8. Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volvo, and other automobile manufacturers are currently offering collision mitigation systems on some of their vehicles. A collision mitigation system uses radar to sense when the distance between the car and the vehicle in front of it is rapidly decreasing. The system provides audio and visual warnings to the driver when dangerous situations are detected. It also retightens the seat belts. If the driver fails to respond, the system brakes the car and tightens the seat belt further to reduce the impact of the collision.


9. Debate the following proposition: “Every new car should be equipped with a collision mitigation system.” Read about “Star Wars Kid” and “The Bus Uncle” on Wikipedia, then debate the following proposition: “It is wrong to post a photo or video of someone else on the Internet without their permission.” What are the advantages of using an ethical theory in which all humans are treated equally and guidelines are developed through a process of logical reasoning?


10. Two people are debating the morality of a particular action. Person A explains why he believes the action is wrong. Person B disagrees with person A. Her response to him is, “That’s your opinion.” Person B has not made a strong ethical argument. Why not?


11. What is the difference between relativism and objectivism?


12. What is the difference between morality and ethics?


13. Give three examples of a situation in which your action would be primarily motivated by a sense of duty or obligation. Give three examples of a situation in which your action would be primarily motivated by its expected consequences.


14. If you had to choose only one of the ethical theories presented in this chapter and use it for all of your personal ethical decision making, which theory would you choose? Why? How would you respond to the arguments raised against the theory you have chosen?


15. Students in a history class are asked to take a quiz posted on the course Web site. The instructor has explained the following rules to the students: First, they are supposed to do their own work. Second, they are free to consult their lecture notes and the textbook while taking the quiz. Third, in order to get credit for the quiz, they must correctly answer at least 80 percent of the questions. If they do not get a score of 80 percent, they may retake the quiz as many times as they wish.


16. Suppose a society holds that it is wrong for one individual to eavesdrop on the telephone conversations of another citizen. Should that society also prohibit the government from listening in on its citizens’ telephone conversations?


17. Describe similarities and differences between following

Divine command theory and Kantianism

Subjective Relativism and act utilitarianism


18. What is plagiarism? Describe four different ways that a person can commit plagiarism.

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