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Fordham College at Lincoln Center

Department of Computer & Information Sciences


 Semester:  Fall, 2008
 Course Number:  CSLV 4650
 Course Title:  Cyberspace: Ethics and Issues
 Instructor:  Dr. Robert K. Moniot
    Office LL 821-A, Phone (212) 636-6302
    Office hours: TF 2:30-3:30 PM
    Other office hours by appointment (I am in most anytime)
 Class Hours:  TF 1:00-2:15 PM, Room LL 417
 Required Text:  Computer Ethics, 3rd ed., by Deborah G. Johnson ISBN 0-13-083699-0

Course Outline: We will explore issues of personal and social morality in the context of the new technological developments related to the use of computers. The first part of the course will be devoted to constructing a framework within which these issues can be analyzed: the basis of ethical theories, and their application to practical decisions in life. The remainder of the course will be organized around a series of seminar discussions of student-presented papers. In the papers, the students will be expected to analyze the ethical issues raised by the use of computers and information technology.

The topics of the papers to be presented by students may be selected from areas such as the following: intellectual property, software piracy, music and video piracy, privacy and information access, defective software, misuse of software, computer crime, viruses and hacking, cryptography and national security, and computer communication and freedom of expression. This list is not intended to be definitive, and students are encouraged to find other relevant topics of interest.

Most of the resources for this class are on the Blackboard web site. For convenience, the syllabus, due dates, and schedule of presentations are also available on the publicly accessible web page:

It will not be necessary for the students to have any specialized training in computer or information science. Most of the issues can be understood without any detailed knowledge of the workings of the underlying technology. In any case, the analysis of these issues from a moral perspective is not dependent on their technological basis.

This course fulfills the core requirement of a Senior Values Seminar. It is not applicable toward the major in Computer Science.

Protocol: Attendance is mandatory, and is graded. Attendance grades are posted on the Blackboard grade book and updated within a day or two of each class meeting. The attendance grade for a given day is on a scale of 5 points. Students get 3 points for mere presence. Points are added, up to a maximum grade of 5 points, depending on the amount of contribution to class discussion: a score of 4 is for participating a little, and 5 for participating a lot. Students who give a presentation automatically receive a score of 5 for that day. Points may be deducted for lateness or for anything else that interferes with the conduct of the class, so grades below 3 are also possible. An unexcused absence or extreme lateness receives a grade of 0. Students may request in advance to be excused from class for a valid reason. (Excused absences appear in the Blackboard grade book as an ``x'' and are not counted in the total grade.) However, because interaction and discussion are key elements of the course, no student will pass the course who has not attended at least $2\over 3$ of the class meetings, whether the absences were excused or not.

Students are expected to arrive on time for class. If you do arrive late, please enter the classroom quietly so as not to disrupt the class in session. If you are expecting to receive papers back, wait and ask me at the end of class.

Students are expected to remain until the end of class, barring a true emergency. If you know in advance that you will need to leave early, inform me before the start of class, and sit near the door so that you can leave without causing a disruption.

Please turn off all cell phones, beepers, etc. during class. Laptops are permitted if used only to take notes. Tape recorders are not permitted unless as an accommodation approved by the Office of Disability Services.

Course grade is based on class participation (15%), an in-class presentation (20%), a midterm paper (20%), a final exam (20%), and a final term paper (25%).

The midterm and final papers are to be based on research and written in proper scholarly style, with references for all sources consulted. See the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, The Chicago Manual of Style, or similar work for guidelines on proper citation style. Academic integrity is very important to the mission of the university. Plagiarism or failure to properly cite sources will result in an F on the paper and may result in an F for the course. I request an outline (or proposal) and rough draft of each paper, four weeks and two weeks, respectively, before the due date of the paper itself. The outline and draft are requested so that I can give feedback to improve the final product. They are not graded, but failure to provide them on time will reduce the grade for the final draft of the paper. Late papers will be accepted, but with a penalty that increases with time. Papers may be handed in early, but this does not excuse you from providing the outline/proposal and rough draft.

If you believe that you have a disabling condition that may interfere with your ability to participate in the activities, coursework, or assessment of the object of this course, you may be entitled to accommodations. If so, please schedule an appointment to speak with me immediately or you may go to the Office of Disability Services (Room LL-207, x6282).

Schedule of Topics, Readings and Assignments:

F Sep. 5:
Course overview.
T Sep. 9:
Ethical principles.

Read Johnson, ch. 2.

F Sep. 12:
Ethical principles.
T Sep. 16:
Ethical theories.

Read Johnson, ch. 1.

F Sep. 19:
Ethical theories.
T Sep. 23:
Professional ethics.

Read Johnson, ch. 3.

Outline/proposal for Midterm Paper due.

F Sep. 26:
Professional ethics.
T Sep. 30:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 4.

F Oct. 3:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 7:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 5.

First draft of Midterm Paper due.

F Oct. 10:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 14:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 6.

F Oct. 17:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 21:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 7.

Midterm Research Paper due.

F Oct. 24:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 28:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 8.

F Oct. 31:
Student Presentation.
T Nov. 4:
***No class*** (Election Day).
F Nov. 7:
Student Presentation.
T Nov. 11:
Student Presentation.
F Nov. 14:
Student Presentation.
T Nov. 18:
Student Presentation.

Outline/proposal for Final Paper due.

F Nov. 21:
Student Presentation.
T Nov. 25:
Student Presentation.
F Nov. 28:
***No class*** (Thanksgiving Recess)
T Dec. 2:
Student Presentation.
F Dec. 5:
Student Presentation.

First draft of Final Paper due.

T Dec. 9:
Conclusion, review.
F Dec. 19:
Final Exam.

Final Research Paper due.

(Note that this schedule may need to be adjusted slightly as the course progresses. Any changes will be announced in class and posted on the Blackboard web site.)

Robert Moniot 2008-09-01