Embedded Ethics

As part of the Mozilla Responsible CS Challenge grant, Ethics Lab's philosophers and designers partner with Computer Science faculty to create and run creative ethical exercises, tailored to their courses. 

Embedded Ethics seeks to infuse ethics in computer science curricula. This semester, I am working with Dr. Ray Essick to bring four ethics engagements to his Advanced Programming class: Uncovering Ethical Concerns, Networked Systems, Human Computer Interaction, and Data Privacy. Dr. Essick and I have been collaborating on ethics homework to accompany his programming assignments for the course.

Truth, Fake News, and Ignorance 

As “fake news” and “alternative facts” become larger and larger parts of our epistemic landscape, some of the classic philosophical questions about truth, knowledge, justification, and responsible belief take on new, and increasingly pressing, forms. For example, if our information landscape involves deception and false advertising, how do we form beliefs in a responsible way? Who, and what, should we trust as sources of evidence? What is the difference between lying, misleading, and fake news? Should we care about truth for its own sake, or only insofar as it gets us what we want? How is ignorance related to racial inequality? Do factors like race and gender influence how likely someone is to believe your word?


This course will discuss the epistemological, ethical, and political problems that emerge as changes in technology impact how we share knowledge. We will do so with a focus on developing our skills of argumentation, and our clarity and precision in writing.

Ethics, Information, and Technology

Tech companies now play an influential role in shaping many aspects of our lives. According to the Pew Center for Research, for example, nearly two-thirds of adult Americans use Facebook. This course will explore the philosophical dimensions of these advancements in technology, paying close attention to how decisions about technology constrain and shape our moral and political lives. Questions we will think about include (but are not limited to): how does technology shape our social lives? What are the moral consequences of the technology we use, and should engineers have to consider the ethical dimensions of the technology they develop? Should social media companies be able to shape how users think of privacy? How does inequality across race and gender appear in online spaces?


This course will organized into three main units: privacy, racism and bias in technology, and friendship and flourishing in social media. We will also consider material not related to these three units. All of the material will be approached with a focus on improving our argumentation and writing skills.