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CSE5PE Professional Environment

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Ethical Analysis and Decision Making Process

Read the case study below and then briefly discuss.

Do the more structured ethical analysis and decision making process (as done in Practice Class week , following the procedures outlined in Kallman and Grillo). Complete this analysis using the headings that follow:

Step I. Understand the Situation

  1. List and number the relevant facts
  1. Which of these raise an ethical issue? What is the potential or resulting harm?
  1. List the stakeholders involved Step II. Isolate the Major Ethical Dilemma Step III. Ethical Analysis


  1. If action in Step II is done, who will be harmed?
  2. If action in Step II is NOT done, who will be harmed?
  3. Which alternative results in the least harm?
  4. If action in Step II is done, who will benefit?
  5. If action in Step II is NOT done, who will benefit?
  6. Which alternative results in the maximum benefit?

Consequentialism Comments (on the choices at C. and F.):

Rights and Duties:

  1. List relevant abridged rights and neglected duties.

Rights and Duties Comments:

Kant’s Categorical Imperative:

  1. If action in Step II is done, who will be treated with disrespect?
  2. If action in Step II is NOT done, who will be treated with disrespect?
  3. Which alternative is preferable?
  4. If action in Step II is done, who will be treated unlike others?
  5. If action in Step II is NOT done, who will be treated unlike others?
  6. Which alternative is preferable?
  7. Are there benefits if everyone did action in Step II?
  8. Are there benefits if nobody did action in Step II?
  9. Which alternative is preferable?

Step III Discussion

Step IV. Making a decision

  1. Make a defensible ethical decision
  2. List the steps needed to implement your defensible ethical decision

Case Study - Transcript

Harry was a bright network programmer working at a private company called Fabio Inc., one of the major graphics software providers in Australia. His job at FABIO included computer security. He had developed a sound reputation both within and external to FABIO for being proactive (always trying to anticipate a problem before it happened) as he tried to provide solutions or preventative measures before any damage could be done to the company’s resources – especially its software and data. He maintained a keen interest in and had an extensive knowledge of all the problems concerned with Fabio’s security procedures.

As Harry was excited by his work, he pursued his interests in security software at home on his own computer. Over a period of time, Harry developed an anti-virus program in which he took great pride. As there were many competitors vying for market share in this lucrative environment, Harry realised that, to make his program stand out from other competitors, he would design it and make it operate in a network environment.

Harry continued developing his program: he purchased extra hardware and software to create his own small network to continue developing his design. As the program neared completion, Harry dreamed of creating a start-up company that would take his prototype and upgrade it to be a commercial distribution: marketed for all users, no matter how complex a network environment was involved.

The basic features of the program, for which Harry was very proud, included:

A sophisticated Graphics User Interface (GUI) Help screens and graphics for every activity

Procedures for backing out of any potentially hazardous activity (a way forward and a way back at every progress point)

It could recognise and destroy both old and new viruses

It described any virus that it found in detail by its type, its source, and its structure

Additionally (one of the features that Harry was most proud of) there was a validation feature. The user could copy each virus to a diskette (or quarantined memory location), and modify the existing virus and then let the program loose on this new, redesigned version of the virus. The program never failed to destroy the new virus every time!

Having completed as many trials as possible at home, Harry then approached his manager, Jill, the Head of IT Security at FABIO, offering his program to FABIO at a discount price, as his first customer about 8 weeks ago. Harry was aware that FABIO had its share of infections and that his program could greatly improve its security.

Jill expressed many misgivings about his program. She told Harry that he had in fact developed an extremely dangerous program. “If FABIO were to make it available on the network it would be like leaving a kid in the candy store. Fabio won’t buy this program! In fact I am sure that FABIO would not touch it - even if it were free! It’s just entirely too dangerous.”

Harry was shocked. He considered his program to be an unquestionable asset. How could Jill take it on herself to refuse it? He decided to give up his dreams of making money and, instead, became a consultant on the internet in his own time by releasing his program (source and executable) on a Bulletin Board System and providing help to prospective users on the program’s features. On deciding to release the program, he published it under the name Safe-T and consulted under the name Lock Smith.

When Jill discovered what Harry had done and that Harry was indeed Lock Smith, she immediately fired him from FABIO and informed her manager Brockley (Smetherton). Harry has now been out of a job for two weeks. But, there is considerable interest from his program on the internet, and Lock Smith receives many new enquiries daily!

Jill’s manager, Brockley (Smetherton), the executive Head of IT at ACE (who had privately considered Harry to be a bit of a “loose cannon”) always had a high opinion of Jill and immediately supported Jill’s decision to sack Harry, when she informed him, with no further review of the case being required. Brockley however has just received an urgent email from Iris Bigg, the owner of the company (FABIO). Iris had just been briefed by an independent head-hunter about an extremely innovative developer on the internet called Lock Smith. In her email, Iris instructed Brockley to quickly find Lock Smith and offer him a position at to bring his expertise to FABIO. Brockley, knowing who Lock Smith is, pours himself a strong cup of coffee and considers the situation.

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