Why Ethics? (... Why Spirituality? ...Why Philosophy?)

I remember signing up for Computers, Ethics, and Society with no small measure of enthusiasm. The course title promised an environment of lively debate on ethics and their function in society and technology, a debate I strongly desired to engage in with my peers and professors. However, my excitement was quickly dampened upon reading the opening chapter of the first assigned reading, CyberEthics by Richard A. Spinello.

Know Data, No Freedom; No Data, Know Freedom

Is it okay to gather and store information about friends and strangers? It seems reasonable - even unavoidable - that personal data is collected and stored in the memory of persons interacting with each other in normal, daily activities. One might note that a check out clerk has a nice smile, though she wears too much makeup, or that a co-worker tends to arrive at work late. Businesses and organizations find themselves in exactly the same situation. Is it in any way immoral for individuals to share their observations with others?

Cutting the Monkey

It is morally and ethically wrong to perform invasive, damaging, or deadly experimentation on any creature without first receiving its express permission to do so. Any creature proffering consent to participate in an experiment should be fully informed as to the ramifications of the actions that will be taken so that an informed and reasoned decision may be made. Having said that, the multitude of unjust cruelties perpetrated by one animal against another goes beyond counting, be it against members of the same species or be it cross-species brutality.

Francisco d’Anconia on Money

(an excerpt from "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand ~ Source Page: [link now dead]

Ayn RandRearden heard Bertram Scudder, outside the group, say to a girl who made some sound of indignation, "Don't let him disturb you. You know, money is the root of all evil - and he's the typical product of money." Rearden did not think that Francisco could have heard it, but he saw Francisco turning to them with a gravely courteous smile.

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Aconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

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