Week 12 | Ethics Versus Framed Value Systems
Digital technology is rapidly developing, and people are struggling to keep up with its rate of change and effect on society. Katz and Rhodes have developed frames that define what levels people have adopted technology, but the authors are confusing ethics with value systems. The authors have failed to discuss the impact of digital communications in terms of what is ethical (good or bad), but instead discuss value systems in a range of frames that guide peoples’ behaviors (such as whether people adopt technology or not). Whether people adopt technology or not is not an ethical decision in itself. How people decide to use the technology deals with ethics.
Technology is not new. For instance, a fountain pen is technology, and it has been around for over a thousand years. Fountain pens replaced writing with quills. Fountain pens were replaced by typewriters, and typewriters were replaced by computers. A person cannot call a computer ethical or not ethical, just as they would not call a hammer ethical or unethical. Technology is not advancing itself. It is people behind it that are driving it. People who make a website may try to achieve certain results, like increase visitor traffic. A computer isn’t the means to this end, but the people behind it are.
The Katz and Rhodes article also misses the point of technology, which is to improve the quality life for humans. The introduction of digital technology has not changed ethics. Ethics is fundamentally the same. I agree with the authors that technology’s impact is greater than it was in the past (p. 231), but this does not necessarily change how we determine what is ethical. For example, if a student decides to cheat on an exam, is it any more or less ethical if the student cheats on the exam with a smartphone than with notes written on the palm of his hand? Both are ethically wrong. The only difference is one involves digital technology.