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CS 210 Syllabus


Internet Security and Ethics

Revised: August, 2018

Course Description

This course satisfies the P4 humanities perspectives of the Liberal Science Studies program. Several landmark texts in Western ethics and morals will be read and discussed, including Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Ethics by Immanuel Kant and Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill. The key concepts of moral theory will be covered followed by a study of applied ethics in the area of Internet-related topics.


3 credit hours.


Liberal Studies Objectives (for the entire Liberal Studies program)
This course is a Liberal Studies course. The learning goals of the Liberal Studies Program are for students to:

  1. Students will formulate focused questions and hypotheses that address appropriately the topic at hand, as well as identify and explain a method of inquiry.
  2. Students will identify appropriate information sources and evaluate critically the credibility of those sources for relevance, legitimacy, and bias.
  3. Students will evaluate evidence, context, and multiple perspectives as a means of analyzing complex issues.
  4. Students will apply appropriate disciplinary methodologies to answer questions and propose solutions to problems within the human and natural worlds.
  5. Students will craft written and/or oral communication demonstrating organization, clarity, logic, and skill for various audiences.
  6. Students will recognize behaviors and define choices that affect their lifelong well-being.
  7. Students will examine critically various cultures through historical and contemporary contexts at the local, national, and/or global levels.
  8. Students will evaluate the impact of their own and others’ actions on the human and natural worlds.

P4: Humanities
This course satisfies the P4 Perspective requirement of the Liberal Studies Program. In it, you will be exposed to landmark texts that embody the traditional Western heritage of humanity¿s attempt to understand the human condition and that engage you in the exploration of the significance of human modes of being, thought, and values in your life. As in all Liberal Studies Perspective offerings, this course will emphasize reading, writing, and the use of information, as well as one or more of the following: critical analysis, oral communication, service learning, moral reflection, and cultural diversity.

Course-Specific Objectives

  • Diligent Reading: Proficiency at reading texts for their core arguments, learning to separate central from peripheral details.
  • Critical Reasoning: Recognition of the validity or invalidity of premises and conclusions of arguments and theories about morality.
  • Logical Argument Construction: Proficiency at constructing a well-reasoned and logical argument in defense of a position involving a moral issue.
  • Articulate Presentation: Proficiency at expressing and discussing an argument on a moral problem in oral and written form.
  • Thoughtful Application: Proficiency at applying the above-mentioned skills in reading, reasoning, argument construction, and presentation to the applied ethics issues that involve internet security.


  • Book Rental Text:
    • Michael J. Quinn, Ethics for the Information Age, Seventh Edition, Pearson, 2017.
  • Primary Sources:
    • Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals, (John Bennett translation).
    • John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1863 edition)
    • Other primary sources may be identified as required readings.

Grading Procedure

Grading procedures and factors influencing course grade are left to the discretion of individual instructors, subject to general university policy.

Attendance Policy

Attendance policy is left to the discretion of individual instructors, subject to general university policy.

Course Outline

  • History of Computing
  • Broad overview on the history of computing. Including computer hardware, networking, and data storage and retrieval.
  • Importance of ethical theories and ethical reasoning to guide the discussion of real-life moral issues.
  • Two main types of ethical theories: 1) relativism and 2) objectivist.
  • Types of ethical relativism: subjective relativism and cultural relativism.
  • Overview of objectivist ethical theories covered in Quinn: divine command theory, Kantianism, utilitarianism, and social contract theory. Kantianism (deontology): the ethics of duty, Immanuel Kant and the two formulations of the Categorical Imperative.
  • Utilitarianism and Deontology: Utilitarianism: act utilitarianism (Bentham) and rule utilitarianism (John Stuart Mill). Social Contract Theory: Hobbes, Rousseaun, John Rawl's Theory of Justice. Overview of objectivist theories
  • ethical theories not covered in Quinn: natural law theory (Aquinas), rights-based ethics (Locke, Declaration of Indepedence, Ayn Rand and rational/ethical egoism), virtue ethics (Plato, Aristotle, MacIntyre).
  • Selection of topics possibly including:
    • email and spam
    • government control of the web
    • internet pornography
    • internet censorship
    • freedom of expression on the internet
    • children and the web
    • identity theft
    • Internet addiction
    • fake news
  • intellectual property rights and their protection (trade secrets, trademarks, patents, and copyrights)
  • fair use
  • peer-to-peer networks
  • protection for software
  • open-source software.
  • Primary source reading and discussion of selections from Immanual Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals
  • Primary source reading and discussion of selections from John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism.
  • Internet Privacy
  • public information (RFIDs, cookies, biometrics, spyware, body scanners)
  • U.S. Legislation
  • covert government surveillance, wiretapping, data mining, identity theft, encryption.
  • Internet Security
    • viruses
    • worms
    • trojan horses
    • hackers
    • denial-of-service attacks
    • online voting.
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