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Implementing Ethics in Information Systems, Presuppositions and Consequences in Ethics and Information Systems

Abstract : This paper focuses on the relationship between information systems and ethics, and in particular, on the complexity of implementing ethics in information systems. Both fields are subject to various presuppositions that have consequences for how they manage the relationship of ethics implementation. Those presuppositions are related to the problem of “the construction of the norm” and the relationship – or absence of it in most governance theories – between norms and context. Ethicists seem to be reluctant to take into account the field of application of the norms created by the procedure it constructs. This is due mainly to a certain closure to elements other than rational argumentation in procedural ethics. Information systems’ professionals, as we have seen in a study undertaken for the IDEGOV project, also have a narrow vision of what is ethics. They often reduce ethics to a constraint that has to be fulfilled. They also have a very stereotypical vision of what are the issues present in the field of information systems – privacy, surveillance, and security – and how to answer these questions, mainly through more information. We will show that these presuppositions on both sides have a huge impact on the manner in which ethics is “done” in technical projects, and more importantly, we will give hints on how to improve the relationship. The term implementation is itself inappropriate, because it supposes that ethics is something external to information systems. This presupposition is shared to some extent by both fields i.e., ethics and information systems: it is the central point where we see the problem, but also the solution. Working on the framings of both ethical and technical communities is for us the way to overcome ethical problems in information system, and to reach appropriate ethical technology development.
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Laurence Masclet, Philippe Goujon. Implementing Ethics in Information Systems, Presuppositions and Consequences in Ethics and Information Systems. 10th International Conference on Human Choice and Computers (HCC), Sep 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands. pp.287-298, ⟨10.1007/978-3-642-33332-3_26⟩. ⟨hal-01525125⟩

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