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									EECS 690

February 1
    Law as distinct from Ethics
• DeGeorge contends that (especially in the
  business world) the MACIT takes the form
  of assuming that the ethics of Computing
  and IT design, use, and support is entirely
  determined by what is legal.
• Each of the next several slides will briefly
  discuss a different reason why ethics and
  the law are not necessarily co-extensive.
      Law lags behind ethics
• In general, criminal laws are drafted in
  order to add the sanction of the law to
  what society deems harmful or unethical.
• Many laws in the C&IT area have been
  made without this pause for examination
  at the behest of businesses whose primary
  interests have been financial. These laws
  may or may not persist in the legal code.
 Any law can be evaluated from an
        ethical perspective
• Some laws are perfectly good laws, some laws
  are themselves unethical.
• Civil disobedience is generally the ethical way to
  deal with unjust or unethical laws. Civil
  disobedience has the following constraints:
  –   must be public
  –   must be non-destructive
  –   must accept legal punishment
  –   must make other reasonable attempts to change the
      law first.
Not everything that is unethical can
    or should be made illegal.
• Not all lies are policed by the legal system,
  rather, only lies in particular situations in
  which harm might be caused are illegal.
• Trying to make the law apply too
  universally may have negative
  consequences to the integrity of the legal
  Some actions are unethical only
         because illegal
• Which side of the road to drive on is a
  morally neutral topic. When there is a law
  in place demanding one or the other, it is
  no longer ethically neutral.
   Disentangling Ethical and Legal
• In general, the presumption is to follow the law.
• If the legislated action is not in itself unethical,
  the legal obligation should hold up.
• For these morally neutral actions, whatever legal
  code holds is binding. When different legal
  jurisdictions have different laws, some
  compromise and negotiation is necessary.
• A third level of obligation is in company policy,
  which is binding whenever such policy is not
  unethical or illegal.

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