Internet Security and Ethics
Revised: August, 2018
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:
- Students will formulate focused questions and hypotheses that address appropriately
the topic at hand, as well as identify and explain a method of inquiry.
- Students will identify appropriate information sources and evaluate critically the
credibility of those sources for relevance, legitimacy, and bias.
- Students will evaluate evidence, context, and multiple perspectives as a means of
analyzing complex issues.
- Students will apply appropriate disciplinary methodologies to answer questions and
propose solutions to problems within the human and natural worlds.
- Students will craft written and/or oral communication demonstrating organization,
clarity, logic, and skill for various audiences.
- Students will recognize behaviors and define choices that affect their lifelong well-being.
- Students will examine critically various cultures through historical and contemporary
contexts at the local, national, and/or global levels.
- Students will evaluate the impact of their own and others’ actions on the human and
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
- 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 procedures and factors influencing course grade are left to the discretion
of individual instructors, subject to general university policy.
Attendance policy is left to the discretion of individual instructors, subject to
general university policy.
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- trojan horses
- denial-of-service attacks
- online voting.