MATH/CMSC 350:  ETHICAL ISSUES IN MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE

 

 

Professor, office, and hours:

 

Dr. Robert P. Webber

East Ruffner 332, MTF 2 – 3:30 and by appointment or coincidence.  I am in class almost all Wednesday, and I am not normally on campus on Thursdays.

Phone 395-2192

Email webberrp@longwood.edu

 

 

Text:  Tavani, Ethics & Technology, Third Edition.  Wiley, 2011.

 

 

Goals for the course:

·         Understand major ethical theories

·         Be able to identify and analyze ethical dilemmas that arise in applications of technology

·         Be able to describe and analyze the ethical implications of applying one’s academic knowledge of technology in professional situations

·         Be able to lead a class analysis and discussion about an ethical dilemma

 

 

Description of the course:  The course description is given in the college catalog.  This is a writing and a speaking intensive course.

 

 

Tentative outline and schedule:  All chapter references are to Tavani’s book.

 

Week

Dates

Sections and topics

 

 

 

1

Jan 18 – 20

Chapters 1,2:  Introduction; ethics and morality

2

Jan 23 – 27

Chapter 2:  Major ethical theories

3

Jan 30 – Feb 3

Chapter 3:  Logical arguments and critical thinking skills

4

Feb 6 – 10

Chapter 4:  Professional ethics

5

Feb 13 –17

Chapters 5, 6:  Privacy issues; security

6

Feb 20 – 24

Chapters 6, 7:  Security; cybercrime

7

Feb 27 – Mar 2

Chapter 8:  Property issues (copyrights, patents)

8

Mar 5 – 9

Chapter 8:  Property issues (copyleft, patenting algorithms)

 

 

Spring break

9

Mar 19 – 23

Chapter 9:  Commerce and speech issues

10

Mar 26 – 30

Chapters 10, 11:  Social issues

11

Apr 2 – 6

Chapters 11, 12:  New technologies

12

Apr 9 – 13

Notes:  Uses and misuses of statistics; education issues

13

Apr 16 – 20

Student presentations of ethical cases to the class

14

Apr 23 – 27

Student presentations of ethical cases to the class

 

M April 30

8:00 – 10:30 a.m. Final exam

 

 

Course requirements:

 

Three papers @15% . . . . . . .  45%

Quizzes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%

Presentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15%

Class participation . . . . . . . . . 10%

Final exam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20%

 

 

Class presentation:  Each student will present an ethical dilemma and lead the class in a discussion and analysis of it according to guidelines presented in class.  Scenarios may be taken from books, from web sites suggested by the teacher, or students may develop their own.  Presentations will last approximately 25 minutes per student, and we will count on doing two presentations per period.

 

Each student will sign up in advance for a date and time slot.  The student is responsible for distributing an announcement of the topic and a short reading list to the entire class the class day before the scheduled presentation.  The reading list should give a text page describing the scenario and/or articles, newspaper clippings, and the like about the topic.  The rest of the students are responsible for reading the items on the list before the class presentation.  The teacher will assist you with duplicating and putting items on reserve in the library as needed.  A grading rubric for your class presentation will be distributed.

 

 

Quizzes:  These will be brief and will be given at the beginning of class on the first day scheduled for the chapter.  The quizzes are designed to test whether you have read the chapter before we discuss it.

 

 

Class participation:  You are expected to actively participate in the discussions during class.  This will not be a lecture course.  Much of the material will be taught through the class discussions.

 

 

Papers:  Three papers will be assigned in this course.  Each paper will be given a due date.  Your paper will be due by the beginning of class on the assigned day.  A paper that is late for any reason will be penalized  25%  for each class day it is late. 

 

The first paper will be on the major ethical theories and will be assigned at the end of Chapter 2.  The second paper will concern property rights and will be assigned at the end of Chapter 8.  The third paper will be a writeup of your class presentation, describing the scenario and your analysis of it.  You should include your thoughts about what went right and what went wrong in your presentation.  It will be due by the beginning of class in the period after your presentation.

 

For a grading rubric, click here.  For the departmental style sheet, showing how to do citations, click here.

 

 

Attendance:  Expected at all classes.  Class discussion is a very important part of this course, and good discussion is not possible with participants.  Your attendance is important for the success of the entire class, as well as for your success.

 

 

Honor code:  The teacher subscribes to the Longwood honor code and assumes that you do, too.  Any infraction of the honor code will be dealt with harshly.  In particular, conviction of an honor offense involving this course will mean an automatic course grade of ‘F’, in addition to any penalties imposed by the Honor Court.