Information Technology and Ethics/Software Engineering Ethics and Professional Practices

Software Engineering Ethics and Professional PracticesEdit

Software engineering conceives of itself primarily as a technical discipline that develops software. But billions of people depend on software systems to effectively conduct their daily lives, this has led many in computing to give more attention to the nontechnical aspects and to wrestle with the ethical impact of their daily decisions and the values imbedded therein. The relationship between computers and ethics can be described as occurring when humans make decisions about computers, and those decisions affect people's lives.[1] Because of the implications computers and software can have on the daily lives of people there then stands to say that there should be some governing force behind the software which is being produced. This brings about the field of software engineering ethics. It has been defined as the application of both computer science and engineering philosophy, principles, and practices to the design and development of software systems.[2] A software engineer has a certain responsibility to their profession, the software they produce should be reliable, as well as economical. But even more than producing reliable, working software, a software engineer has more responsibilities to their colleagues, their clients, and all involved.

These responsibilities formulated in the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct[3] were summarized as: Software engineers shall commit themselves to making the analysis, specification, design, development, testing and maintenance of software a beneficial and respected profession. In accordance with their commitment to the health, safety and welfare of the public, software engineers shall adhere to the following Eight Principles:

  1. PUBLIC - Software engineers shall act consistently with the public interest.
  2. CLIENT AND EMPLOYER - Software engineers shall act in a manner that is in the best interests of their client or employer and that is consistent with the public interest.
  3. PRODUCT - Software engineers shall ensure that their products and related modifications meet the highest professional standards possible.
  4. JUDGMENT - Software engineers shall maintain integrity and independence in their professional judgment.
  5. MANAGEMENT - Software engineering managers and leaders shall subscribe to and promote an ethical approach to the management of software development and maintenance.
  6. PROFESSION - Software engineers shall advance the integrity and reputation of the profession consistent with the public interest.
  7. COLLEAGUES - Software engineers shall be fair to and supportive of their colleagues.
  8. SELF - Software engineers shall participate in lifelong learning regarding the practice of their profession and promote an ethical approach to the practice of the
  9. Profession. [3]

This set of principles, developed and reviewed by software engineers from every continent expresses the software engineers commitment to a level of professional care


  1. Gotterbarn, D. (2002). SOFTWARE ENGINEERING ETHICS.
  2. Software engineering professionalism
  3. Code of Ethics | IEEE Computer Society.

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