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Analogy between design and ethics problem-solving
Design Problem Ethical Problem
Construct a prototype that optimizes (or satisfices) designated specifications Construct a solution that integrates and realizes ethical values (justice, responsibility, reasonableness, respect, andsafety)
Resolve conflicts between different specifications by means of integration Resolve conflicts between values (moral vs. moral or moral vs. non-moral) by integration
Test prototype over the different specifications Test solution over different ethical considerations encapsulated in ethics tests
Implement tested design over background constraints Implement ethically tested solution over resource, interest, and technical constraints

Software development cycle: four stages

(1) problem specification, (2) solution generation, (3) solutiontesting, and (4) solution implementation.

Problem specification

Problem specification involves exercising moral imagination to specify thesocio-technical system (including the stakeholders) that will influence and will be influenced by the decision we are about to make. Stating the problem clearly and concisely is essential to design problems; getting the problem right helps structure and channel the process of designing and implementing the solution. There is no algorithm available to crank out effective problem specification. Instead, we offer a series of guidelines or rules of thumb to get you started in a process that is accomplished by the skillful exercise of moral imagination.

For a broader problem framing model see Harris, Pritchard, and Rabins, Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases, 2nd Edition, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2000, pp. 30-56. See also Cynthia Brincat and Victoria Wike, Morality and Professional Life: Values at Work , New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999.

    Different ways of specifying the problem

  • Many problems can be specified as disagreements. For example, you disagree with your supervisor over the safety of the manufacturing environment. Disagreements over facts can be resolved by gathering more information. Disagreements over concepts (you and your supervisor have different ideas of what safety means) require working toward a common definition.
  • Other problems involve conflicting values. You advocate installing pollution control technology because you value environmental quality and safety. Your supervisor resists this course of action because she values maintaining a solid profit margin. This is a conflict between a moral value (safety and environmental quality) and a nonmoral value (solid profits). Moral values can also conflict with one another in a given situation. Using John Doe lawsuits to force Internet Service Providers to reveal the real identities of defamers certainly protects the privacy and reputations of potential targets of defamation. But it also places restrictions on legitimate free speech by making it possible for powerful wrongdoers to intimidate those who would publicize their wrongdoing. Here the moral values of privacy and free speech are in conflict. Value conflicts can be addressed by harmonizing the conflicting values, compromising on conflicting values by partially realizing them, or setting one value aside while realizing the other (=value trade offs).
  • If you specify your problem as a disagreement, you need to describe the facts or concepts about which there is disagreement.
  • If you specify your problem as a conflict, you need to describe the values that conflict in the situation.
  • One useful way of specifying a problem is to carry out a stakeholder analysis. A stakeholder is any group or individual that has a vital interest at risk in the situation. Stakeholder interests frequently come into conflict and solving these conflicts requires developing strategies to reconcile and realize the conflicting stakes.
  • Another way of identifying and specifying problems is to carry out a socio-technical analysis. Socio-technical systems (STS) embody values. Problems can be anticipated and prevented by specifying possible value conflicts. Integrating a new technology, procedure, or policy into a socio-technical system can create three kinds of problem. (1) Conflict between values in the technology and those in the STS. For example, when an attempt is made to integrate an information system into the STS of a small business, the values present in an information system can conflict with those in the socio-technical system. (Workers may feel that the new information system invades their privacy.) (2) Amplification of existing value conflicts in the STS. The introduction of a new technology may magnify an existing value conflict. Digitalizing textbooks may undermine copyrights because digital media is easy to copy and disseminate on the Internet. (3) Harmful consequences. Introducing something new into a socio-technical system may set in motion a chain of events that will eventually harm stakeholders in the socio-technical system. For example, giving laptop computers to public school students may produce long term environmental harm when careless disposal of spent laptops releases toxic materials into the environment.
  • The following table helps summarize some of these problem categories and then outlines generic solutions.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
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Source:  OpenStax, Collection of ethics modules for civis. OpenStax CNX. Feb 26, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11493/1.1
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