You are here: Home Contents V3 N1 V3N1_Angell.html
Personal tools

Ethics and Morality - a business opportunity for the Amoral?



Full text

Journal of Information System Security
Volume 3, Number 1 (2007)
Pages 318
ISSN 1551-0123
Ian O. Angell — London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Information Institute Publishing, Washington DC, USA




It is common for speakers at computer security conferences to tell audiences that 'they should do' this, and 'should do' that. The word 'should' is regularly thrown about as some jumbled-up mixture of efficiency and ethics, without any justification of the imperative.

This paper will concentrate on the ethical issues, and so it will quickly dispose of 'efficiency,' leaving detailed argument for another time. Then, taking the devil's advocate position, it will focus on demolishing the certainty behind the ethical obligation, by questioning the role of ethics in society in general, but specifically in computer security. Indeed this paper will claim that an unsuspected morality and ritual lies behind many real-world security choices and much so-called 'objective' academic analysis. Furthermore, it will propose that such moralistic positions are highly problematic, and that all recommendations phrased in terms of virtue rather than pragmatism be treated as highly suspect.




Ethics, Morality, Computer Security




Anderson, B. (1983), Imagined Communities, Verso, New York. 

Angell, I.O. (2000), The New Barbarian Manifesto, Kogan Page, London.

Angell, I.O. (2005), No more leaning on Lamp-posts, Villa Publishing, London.

Barthes, R. (1953), Le Degré zéro de l'écriture, Editions du Seuil, Paris.

Carr, E.H. (1990), What is History?, Penguin, London.

Dante (2006), The Divine Comedy I: Inferno, Penguin Classics, London.

Darwin, C. (2003), The Origin of Species, Signet Classics, Penguin, London.

Demetis, D. and Angell, I.O. (2006), AML-related technologies: a Systemic Risk, Journal of Money Laundering Control,Vol.9, No.2, Emerald Group.

Douglas, M. (1984), Purity and Danger: an Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, ARK Paperbacks, London.

Foucault, M. (1977), 'Two Lectures', in Gordon C (ed.), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, Pantheon Books, New York.

Hayek, F.A. (1972), The Road to Serfdom, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Heidegger, M. (1999), Contributions to Philosophy, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana.

Marcuse, H. (1991), One-dimensional Man, Routledge, London. 

Nietzsche, F. (1968), The Will to Power, translated by Kaufmann, W., and Hollingdale, R.J., Vintage Books, New York.

Nietzsche, F. (1969), Thus Spake Zarathustra, translated by Hollingdale, R.J., Penguin Books, London.

Nietzsche, F. (1990), Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Hollingdale, R.J., Penguin Books, London.

Orwell, G. (1996), Animal Farm, Penguin Books, London.

Orwell, G. (2004), Nineteen Eighty-four, Penguin Books, London.

The Oxford English Dictionary (1933), Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK.

Parkinson, C. Northcote (1986), Parkinson's Law, Penguin, London.

Presley, E. (1964), Viva Las Vegas, BMG Music, New York.

Rand, A. (1957), Atlas Shrugged, Signet, New York.

Taylor, F.W. (1911), The Principles of Scientific Management, Harper Bros., New York.