Phil. 103

Prof. Justin

Case Study 3

This case study pertains to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Code of Ethics. 

Procedure:         (1) Read the ACM Code of Ethics in the Philosophy 103 Reader

(2) Read the following scenario:

A software development company has just produced a new software package that incorporates the new tax laws and figures taxes for both individuals and small businesses. The president of the company knows that the program has a number of bugs. He also believes the first firm to put this kind of software on the market is likely to capture the largest market share. The company widely advertises the program. Just before the company starts procedures to ship the disks to distributors, the president authorizes the insertion of a disclaimer of responsibility for errors in incorrect tax returns that may result from the use of the program. The president expects that complaints and queries from customers will result in modification of the program.

Howard, one of the designers of the program, feels strongly, however, that the software should not be shipped to distributors until the company has done everything it can do to debug the product. He shows the ACM code of ethics to the president and argues that shipping the program in its present state is a clear violation of the code of ethics.

(The scenario is adopted from ones contained in M.D. Ermann and M.S. Shauf, Computers, Ethics, and Society, pp. 23-41). 

(3) State THREE principles of the ACM Code of Ethics that Howard should show to the company president in order to persuade the president to authorize additional work on debugging before the program is shipped to distributors. (Use ONLY the number of the principle and the phrase in bold type which immediately follows the number to state the principle.)