Journal of Business Ethics 160 (4):835-850 (2018)

Algorithms silently structure our lives. Algorithms can determine whether someone is hired, promoted, offered a loan, or provided housing as well as determine which political ads and news articles consumers see. Yet, the responsibility for algorithms in these important decisions is not clear. This article identifies whether developers have a responsibility for their algorithms later in use, what those firms are responsible for, and the normative grounding for that responsibility. I conceptualize algorithms as value-laden, rather than neutral, in that algorithms create moral consequences, reinforce or undercut ethical principles, and enable or diminish stakeholder rights and dignity. In addition, algorithms are an important actor in ethical decisions and influence the delegation of roles and responsibilities within these decisions. As such, firms should be responsible not only for the value-laden-ness of an algorithm but also for designing who-does-what within the algorithmic decision. As such, firms developing algorithms are accountable for designing how large a role individual will be permitted to take in the subsequent algorithmic decision. Counter to current arguments, I find that if an algorithm is designed to preclude individuals from taking responsibility within a decision, then the designer of the algorithm should be held accountable for the ethical implications of the algorithm in use.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1007/s10551-018-3921-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,410
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Scientist Qua Scientist Makes Value Judgments.Richard Rudner - 1953 - Philosophy of Science 20 (1):1-6.
Do Artifacts Have Politics?Langdon Winner - 1980 - Daedalus 109 (1):121--136.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 40 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Is There an Ethics of Algorithms?Martin Peterson - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (3):251-260.
How to Think About Algorithms.Jeff Edmonds - 2008 - Cambridge University Press.
On Logic of Complex Algorithms.Helena Rasiowa - 1981 - Studia Logica 40 (3):289 - 310.
Classes of Markov-Like K-ALGORITHMS.Zdzislaw Grodzki & Jerzy Mycka - 1996 - Reports on Mathematical Logic:83-99.
Selected Papers on Design of Algorithms.Donald Ervin Knuth - 2010 - Center for the Study of Language and Information.
Algorithmic Accountability and Public Reason.Reuben Binns - 2018 - Philosophy and Technology 31 (4):543-556.
Algo-Rhythms and the Beat of the Legal Drum.Ugo Pagallo - 2018 - Philosophy and Technology 31 (4):507-524.


Added to PP index

Total views
79 ( #148,281 of 2,519,807 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #88,472 of 2,519,807 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes