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Case 1: Was Google wrong?</o:p> Adapted from “Was Google wrong to fire James Damore after memo controversy?”, BBC News, August 9, 2017 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world XXXXXXXXXX)</o:p>...

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Case 1: Was Google wrong?

Adapted from “Was Google wrong to fire James Damore after memo controversy?”, BBC News, August 9, 2017 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world XXXXXXXXXX)

Google has fired an employee who wrote a controversial memo opposed to diversity programmes and hiring practices. The company's chief executive said the “offensive” text advanced “harmful gender stereotypes”. Did Google do the right thing?

First things first: What did the memo say?

A senior Google employee, James Damore, argued in an internal memo that perhaps tech companies that try diversity programmes to get more women into the industry are looking at things the wrong way. It's not just because of recruitment practices or education or discrimination that more men than women work in the tech industry, he argued, but because of biological differences.

Women are “on average more interested in people” as opposed to things, he said, “more co-operative” and “more prone to anxiety” - all things that stop them going in to the tech industry or rising to the top of it. And he said this couldn't usually be said by people who worked for Google, because of an “ideological echo chamber” and a “shaming culture and the possibility of being fired”.

After the memo received a few days of international attention,Mr Damore was fired. He is reported to be considering legal action. The memo and now his sacking have been much discussed on social media, with some agreeing with him, some offering him jobs, and others aghast at his views.

Google was wrong to fire him, say some

“I think it's wrong for a company to fire someone for simply expressing their opinion,” said Jodie Ginsberg of the Index on Censorship pressure group. Asked whether Mr Damore being fired was censorship, she said yes. “Yes, in that the message it's sending is that people are not free to express their beliefs and opinions. The message is we should just shut down the views with which we disagree … A much better way is to discuss those opinions openly.”

Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, said Google had gone down in his estimation when it fired Mr Damore. “It was reasonable of this author to expect that his argument would be respected, that he would be able to air it with some safety,” he said. “It's just embarrassing for Google,” he continued. “I used to think Google was one of the coolest companies on earth. I use a lot of their software of all kinds and now I just feel like I'm supporting this ideological juggernaut … If the reaction to being told that you are an ideological echo chamber is that kind of defensiveness, to me it's pretty strong evidence that it probably is biased.”

Google was right to fire him, say others

On the other hand, says technology writer and broadcaster Kate Bevan, the memo created a hostile environment for female staff. “I'm not very keen on the mob going for people to get the sack,” she said. “But in this case he was acting in a way that was detrimental to his colleagues … If you stand up and declare in public that you think a large number of your colleagues are unfit to do the job because of their chromosomes, you're telling your colleagues 'I don't think you're good enough'.”

That echoes the argument made by Google's CEO Sundar Pichai in a letter to staff: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

Ms Bevan continued: “The best engineers are not necessarily male. If you continue to restrict your hiring pool to one type of people you're going to get some mediocre people in there.” She argued that a more diverse workplace would be better for business, too, saying: “If you've got a limited workforce you're going to limit the products you make.”

So the science he cited - was it legit?

Geoffrey Miller, the evolutionary psychologist, told the BBC that Mr Damore got “most of the science right” and showed “pretty good judgment about what we know and what we don't know”. Hewrotethat the memo “would get at least an A- in any Masters psychology course”. But Gina Rippon, the chair of cognitive brain imaging at Aston University in Birmingham, England, disagreed. She told the BBC: “The key thing for me is that he's got quite a lot of the science wrong … The basis of his argument is wrong. I don't know who he's been reading.”

Just20% of Google's technical rolesare filled by women, according to the company's own figures. Nearly half of non-technical staff are female, but the fact remains that there are many more men than women working in tech companies like Google. A2016 studyof women in Silicon Valley found that half of the women asked had repeatedly been told they were too aggressive, and nearly half had been asked to do low-level jobs their male colleagues weren't asked to do, like taking notes or ordering food.

If you wish, you can read the full memo at:

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/08/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-circulating-internally-at-google/

(a) Explain how the issues raised in this media report reflect descriptive and normative approaches to understanding ethics.

(4 marks)

(b) Explain how the issues raised in this media report can be related to Moral Rights.

(5 marks)

(c) Imagine you were the CEO of Google Inc., deciding whether or not to fire James Damore. Using Utilitarianism, determine whether firing James Damore is a moral act.

(10 marks)

(Total = 19 marks)

[approx. 700 words]


Case 2: Belle Gibson

Adapted from “Belle Gibson, fake wellness blogger, fined $410,000 over false cancer claims”, ABC News, September 28, 2017 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/ XXXXXXXXXX/disgraced-wellness-blogger-belle-gibson-fined/8995500)

Fake wellness blogger Belle Gibson has been ordered to pay a fine of $410,000 after being found guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct earlier this year. The Federal Court in Melbourne found she misled her readers when she claimed her brain cancer was cured through alternative therapies and nutrition. It was later revealed she never had the disease.

Ms Gibson made $420,000 after building a social media empire and releasing The Whole Pantry cookbook and app, based on the claims. Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) launched an investigation, and in June 2016 brought a civil case against Ms Gibson and her company Inkerman Road Nominees, which has been shut down. The court heard Ms Gibson made false claims about donating a large portion of her profits to charities. Ms Gibson has been fined for five separate contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law Act.

The fine includes:

§ $90,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the sale of The Whole Pantry app, as publicly advertised

§ $50,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the launch of The Whole Pantry app

§ $30,000 for failing to donate proceeds from a 2014 Mother’s Day event

§ $90,000 for failing to donate other company profits

§ $150,000 for failing to donate 100 per cent of one week's app sales to the family of Joshua Schwarz, a boy who had an inoperable brain tumour

Justice Mortimer described the failure to donate to the Schwarz family as the “most serious” contravention of the law, stating that “Ms Gibson expressly compared the terrible circumstances of young Joshua to her own, asserting she had the same kind of tumour as he did; a statement which was completely false”.

Justice Mortimer said that, despite significant publicity surrounding Ms Gibson's charitable pledges, she made only three donations totalling $10,800. She said that if Ms Gibson managed to pay the fine, it would be good to see the money donated to those who had been falsely promised donations.

She refused CAV's request for the court to order Ms Gibson to pay for full-page apology advertisements in newspapers, saying most of Ms Gibson's contravening conduct occurred on social media. She said CAV could have instead asked the court to order Ms Gibson to undertake community service caring for people who really do have cancer, but it did not. “It [would have been] more likely to have brought home to Ms Gibson the impact of her conduct, and its offensiveness to members of the Australian community who really are struggling with cancer and its effects,” Justice Mortimer wrote.

The judge was critical of Ms Gibson's absence from the proceedings, saying she had “elected not to take any responsibility for her conduct … She has chosen not to explain her conduct. She has chosen not to apologise for it,” Justice Mortimer said. “It appears she has put her own interests before those of anyone else … If there is one theme or pattern which emerges through her conduct, it is her relentless obsession with herself and what best serves her interests.”

Justice Mortimer noted that she was not asked to make any findings about the “efficacy or otherwise of the treatments publicised by Ms Gibson, including her so-called dietary advice”. But Cancer Council Victoria said the fine sent a strong message to those who preyed on vulnerable people by making misleading claims about cancer treatment.

Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz said Ms Gibson deserved the harsh penalty. “I think she carefully planned for this,” Ms Kairouz said. “She knew exactly what she was doing and thankfully there aren't many people out there like Belle Gibson.”

(a) Describe how virtue ethics can be applied to this case. (As the report does not include any information about developing virtues/excellences, you can ignore that aspect.)

(9 marks)

(b) Describe how Kohlberg’s theory of moral development can be applied to this case

(4 marks)

(Total = 13 marks)

[approx. 550 words]

Written communication

Spelling, accurate abbreviations, formatting (including following the submission requirements), referencing

(3 marks)

Reading difficulty, grammar, logic and flow of the argument, links between sentences

(5 marks)

(Total = 8 marks)

Grand total = 40 marks

[1,250 words]


Criteria

Grade

Marks

7 (85% and above)

6 (75%-84%)

5 (65%-74%)

4 (50%-64%)

Case 1 (a)

Descriptive and normative ethics

(SE5.1)

Excellent understanding and application of basic ethical concepts to the case. This includes clear, concise, well-expressed and well-thought out use of information provided in the case to illustrate these concepts. Both the explanation and application complement each other to form a convincing and coherent answer.

A good answer that includes a clear demonstration of basic ethical concepts. Use of information in the case is appropriate and relevant, complementing the conceptual content well.

A sound answer that clearly demonstrates understanding of basic ethical concepts and makes effective use of information in the case to illustrate these concepts.

An adequate answer, but which displays only a basic understanding of ethical concepts. Use of information provided in the case is limited and/or not clearly related to ethical concepts.

An inadequate answer that reflects a poor understanding of basic ethical concepts and limited or erroneous use of information from the case.

/4

Case 1 (b)

Moral rights

(SE5.1)

Excellent understanding and application of moral rights to the case. The answer clearly demonstrates a thorough understanding of relevant moral rights, that is supported by a well-thought out use of information provided in the case to illustrate how they can be applied.

A good answer that demonstrates understanding of moral rights. Use of information in the case is appropriate and relevant, complementing the conceptual content well.

A sound answer that demonstrates some understanding of moral rights and effectively uses information in the case to illustrate these rights.

An adequate answer, that displays a basic understanding of moral rights. Use of information provided in the case is limited and/or not clearly related to moral rights.

An inadequate answer that reflects a poor understanding of moral rights and limited or erroneous use of information from the case.

/5

Case 1 (c)

Utilitarianism

(SE5.1)

Excellent application of utilitarianism. The answer demonstrates that the theory is well understood by identifying a range of relevant stakeholders, discussing the potential positive and negative consequences for each stakeholder’s happiness and quantifying these consequences. A clear conclusion regarding whether the action is considered ethical is provided and this is consistent with the analysis and discussion of consequences. Overall, explanation of the theory and application to the case is strong and convincing.

A good application of utilitarianism but with minor flaws in identifying stakeholders and/or analysing and quantifying the consequences for stakeholder happiness. A conclusion is provided regarding whether the action is moral but due to the minor errors this conclusion is either not fully justified or not entirely convincing.

A sound application of utilitarianism but which displays a number of flaws in the understanding of the theory. This could be reflected in a limited identification of stakeholder and/or limited analysis of the consequences for stakeholder happiness (e.g. only positive consequences included). A conclusion is provided regarding whether the action is moral but due to the flaws in application, this conclusion is only somewhat justified.

Adequate application of utilitarianism, but which displays only a basic understanding of the theory. This could be reflected in poor identification of stakeholders and/or rudimentary analysis of the consequences for stakeholder happiness. An attempt is made at providing a conclusion regarding whether the action is moral, but the justification for this conclusion is unclear.

Some attempt at applying the theory but the answer shows a lack of understanding of utilitarianism and/or is substantially incorrect. For example inadequate identification of stakeholders, no genuine discussion of the consequences or the answer shows confusion as to which theory is being applied (using a deontological approach rather than a consequentialist approach). The conclusion is unclear or not justified or no conclusion provided.

/10

Case 2

(a) Ethical agents: Virtue ethics

(SE5.1)

Excellent application of virtue ethics. Answer demonstrates the theory is well understood by correctly identifying and applying relevant virtues and vices. The answer also clearly indicates why the virtues and vices are relevant to the case. Other aspects of virtue ethics (function, goals, and flourishing) are also clearly applied, using information from the case where appropriate. Overall the application of the theory and the explanation to support the answer is strong and convincing.

A good application of Virtue ethics but with minor flaws in applying particular virtues or vices to the case (e.g. the facts provided in the case are not used). This could also include minor confusions or a lack of clarity regarding other aspects of virtue ethics (function, goals, and flourishing).

A sound application of Virtue ethics but which displays a number of flaws in the understanding of the theory. This could be reflected in a confused application of how particular virtues and vices could be applied to the case, and/or limited consideration of other aspects of virtue ethics (function, goals, and flourishing).

Adequate application of Virtue ethics, but which displays only a basic understanding of the theory. This could be reflected in a poor consideration of the context (function, goals, and flourishing) and/or a poor analysis of which virtues and vices may be applicable to this case.

Some attempt at applying the theory but the answer is substantially incorrect showing a lack of understanding of Virtue ethics. For example, the answer includes deontological or consequentialist analyses, or neglects significant aspects of the virtue ethics approach (e.g. it fails to identify appropriate virtues or vices).

/9

(b) Ethical agents: Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development (SE5.1)

Excellent application of Kohlberg’s theory. The answer demonstrates the theory is well understood by correctly articulating and applying appropriate stages, and clearly justifying these with reference to facts in the case. Overall the application of the theory and the explanation to support the answer is strong and convincing.

A good application of Kohlberg’s theory but with minor flaws in applying stages to the case. For example, while appropriate stages are chosen, they may not be clearly justified using the facts provided in the case. This could also reflect a lack of clarity in explanation.

A sound application of Kohlberg’s theory but which displays a number of flaws in understanding. This could be reflected in insufficient justification for why a particular stage is appropriate.

Adequate application of Kohlberg’s theory, but which displays only a basic understanding. This could be reflected in confusion regarding the stage(s) and/or what the stage(s) actually represent.

Some attempt at applying the theory but the answer is substantially incorrect showing a lack of understanding of Kohlberg’s theory. For example, the answer does not clearly apply the stages of moral development, or the application of a particular stage reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the theory.

/4

Written Communication

Written Communication

(PC3.1)

The Ethics Case Study is written in a clear, well-structured, and convincing manner. The argument is easy to follow and understand. Spelling, punctuation, formatting and/or referencing is appropriate and accurate. All formatting, submission and referencing guidelines are followed.

The Ethics Case Study is well written. Any difficulties related to grammar, structure and the logic of the argument are minor. There may be some minor errors relating to spelling, punctuation, formatting and/or referencing. Most formatting, submission and referencing guidelines are followed.

The Ethics Case Study is reasonably well written, although there may be grammatical errors. The structure of the case study and logic of the argument are adequate but may not always be clear. There are some errors relating to spelling, punctuation, formatting and/or referencing. Some formatting, submission and referencing guidelines are followed.

Although the Ethics Case Study is understandable, there are limitations in grammar and structure that make it difficult to read. The logic of the argument may also be hard to follow. There are also a number of errors relating to spelling, punctuation, formatting and/or referencing. Formatting, submission and referencing guidelines may not have been followed.

Due to poor grammar and structure the Ethics Case Study is difficult to understand and the logic of the argument is hard to follow. There are also significant errors relating to spelling, punctuation, formatting and/or referencing. Formatting, submission and referencing guidelines may not have been followed.

/8

Total

/40

Answered Same DayMar 12, 2020Swinburne University of Technology

Solution

Sangeeta answered on Mar 14 2020
53 Votes
Case 1(a)                                             (4 marks)
Normative ethics revolves around intrinsic value, wrong and right and/or virtues (Slote, 2015). In the provided case it can be stated that it is completely wrong for an organization to fire somebody for just putting forward their views. James Damore stood up for the discrimination that is prevalent in the IT industry so that the situation could get better. He intended to do some good for the female employees and the society as a whole (Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp, Albermarle Paper Co. v. Moody).
Descriptive ethics basically revolves around what encourages pro-social behavior, the way individuals reason of ethics, what individuals actually believe to hold ove
iding significance and the way in which societies control behaviour (like through punishing individuals for ca
ying out particular actions) (Singer, 2011). In the provided case of Google James Damore was fired from job for arguing in an internal memo that tech corporations that employ diversity programmes for getting more females into the sector are seeing at things in the inco
ect manner. The company believed that the “offensive” text led to “harmful gender stereotypes.
Case 1(b)                                            (5 marks)
As per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the below articles are appropriate in the case of Google.
Article 19
Everybody holds the right to freedom of expression and opinion; this right involves freedom of having thoughts without any interference and seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas via any media and i
espective of frontiers (Brown, 2016). In the provided case of Google a senior Google employee, James Damore, argued in an internal memo that perhaps tech companies that try diversity programmes to get more women into the industry are looking at things the wrong way. He has just stated his views and has the full freedom of expression and opinion of doing so.
Article 23
Everyone holds the right of working, to free choice of employment, to favourable and just work conditions and safety against unemployment (Brown, 2016). Every person, without any discrimination, holds the right of being equal paid for equal work. Likewise, in the provided case it has been observed that more men as compared to women are working within the tech sector chiefly due to biological differences (Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp, Albermarle Paper Co. v. Moody). Even after having the required expertise and knowledge, females are not offered equal opportunities as men (Phillips...
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