Response to commentators of “a critique of positive responsibility”

Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (1):11-18 (2009)
It has been claimed that (1) computer professionals should be held responsible for an undisclosed list of “undesirable events” associated with their work and (2) most if not all computer disasters can be avoided by truly understanding responsibility. Commentators of “A Critique of Positive Responsibility in Computing” argue that this is not Donald Gotterbarn’s view (Gotterbarn, JSEE 14(2):235–239, 2008) but that a critique of the view nevertheless raises significant moral issues within computing such as the ethical goals of a computing profession, the appropriate ethical stance toward bugs, and the public good with respect to computing (Miller, JSEE 14(2):245–249, 2008). Commentators also argue that “A Critique”’s “profitable misreading” demonstrates the “moral ecology” of organizations “dedicated narrowly to financial success” and that other “moral ecologies” that are customer or quality driven can be shown to be more important or preeminent (Huff, JSEE 14(2):241–244, 2008). It is argued here that (1) the hyper-inflated reading of Gotterbarn’s and Ladd’s views on positive responsibility persists despite Gotterbarn’s explicit rejection of it, and that (2) such a reading of positive responsibility cannot be placed within a single moral ecology, nor can a single moral ecology be shown to be any more important or preeminent than others.
Keywords Altruism  Computer Ethics  Positive Responsibility  Professionalism  Responsibility
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-008-9101-6
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James Fieser, Ethics. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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