REVIEW: "Computer Ethics", Deborah Johnson

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BKCMPETH.RVW  20080922

"Computer Ethics", Deborah Johnson, 2001, 0-13-083699-0
%A   Deborah Johnson
%C   113 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ   07632
%D   2001
%G   0-13-083699-0
%I   Prentice Hall
%O   (515) 284-6751 FAX (515) 284-2607
%O  ( product link shortened)
  ( product link shortened)
%O   Audience n+ Tech 1 Writing 3 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P   240 p.
%T   "Computer Ethics, Third Edition"

Unlike the famous quote about life in the state of nature being nasty,
dull, brutish and short, Johnson's examination of the state of ethics
in computing is readable, interesting, discerning--and short.

The usual treatment of ethics is done as proof by exhaustion.  In
opposition, Johnson does a complete and reasonable job.  Without
recourse to mounds of collected work (of dubious merit), the major
points of professionalism, property rights, privacy, crime, and
responsibility are addressed.  Even in this brief space, ethics are
studied more rigorously than in more weighty tomes.  Not content with
the usual reliance on relativism and utilitarianism, Johnson points
out the flaws in each.

"Complete" is, I suppose, an overstatement.  Although it is difficult
to imagine a scenario that the book does not touch upon at some point,
and even though Johnson continues to expand the text as the online
world expands, ultimately this volume is a good primer and discussion
starter.  While possibly the definitive work in the field to date, it
does not, in the final analysis, get us much closer to a computer

Highly recommended.  Tavani's "Ethics and Technology" (cf.
BKETHTCH.RVW) is practical and a good structural examination, but
Johnson is the classic, as the oldest and most complete work in the
fewest words, and should be required reading for all computer science
students.  Exposure wouldn't hurt any number of professionals and
executives, either.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 1994, 2008   BKCMPETH.RVW  20080922

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