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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

what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
learn
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
learn
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
Hafiz
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
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, Using the ethics bowl to integrate ethics into the business and professional curriculum. OpenStax CNX. Dec 20, 2009 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10411/1.2
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