SOFTWARE ENGINEERING ETHICS


Computer, June 2009, pp. 66–73

Lady Justice and the scales

The Public Is the Priority: Making Decisions Using the Software Engineering Code of Ethics

by Donald Gotterbarn and Keith W. Miller

Codes of ethics are often viewed as a way to regulate the behavior of members of a profession. The Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice emphasizes self-regulation as well, offering practical advice, fundamental principles, and methods for applying its guidelines in difficult situations.

An important challenge is using the Code to balance multiple factors when deciding on the best course of action. The Code can help a software engineer make complex technical and ethical decisions that are better for the public, the profession, and the engineer. We present three cases—one fictional and two based on news reports—that illustrate how a software professional can use the Code as a decision-making aid when ethical conflicts arise.

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This month's theme: PROFESSIONAL ETHICS

Computing professionals deal with ethical challenges daily, and their responses to these challenges have ramifications that go beyond personal responsibility. Read more

More articles on Professional Ethics:

Software Engineering Ethics in a Digital World
Ethics are increasingly important in the digital world. Ethics-aware software engineering takes ethics into account across the software development life cycle.

Ensuring Trust, Privacy, and Etiquette in Web 2.0 Applications
Learn about the most important ethics-related requirements in Web 2.0 applications and how to develop features that support these requirements.

The Public is the Priority: Making Decisions Using the Software Engineering Code of Ethics
The Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice encourages software engineers to undertake positive actions and to resist pressures to act unethically.

Professional and Ethical Dilemmas in Software Engineering
Placing ethical dilemmas in the context of the IEEE code of conduct can increase awareness and decrease the frequency with which such dilemmas occur.

Professional Essence
The key to being accepted as a professional by the public is to consistently demonstrate your trustworthiness.

The Ethical Software Engineer
What is the value of ethical behavior to a practicing software engineer? What are the implications of complying with a professional society’s code of ethics?

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