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I think ethical guidelines by definition are not enforced per se. They're just that, guidelines. However, as mentioned by GP there are boards of ethics at universities and medical/engineering organizations and such that might be able to dole out a modicum of justice.

For instance, not following those guidelines would conceivably end one's membership of the ACM, and many companies have their own ethical guidelines (I would argue there is not much difference between professions for what is truly considered "ethical") which when breached would result in disciplinary action. Theoretically?

Perhaps not in the case of FB...




Exactly. Nothing is done and the code of ethics is not enforced.

Let's say I'm a structural engineer or a lawyer and I act legally but unethically: I can be censured by my professional association/college, because law and engineering are professions and thus are self-regulating.

Can the same be said of software development? Certainly not. The cult of the amateur, self-taught basement coder and the entirety of startup culture are antithetical to professional ethics.


Professional ethics aside, how about plain old personal ethics? Do programmers have a higher incidence of unethical behavior in general than the rest of the population? I agree with you that it seems like there could be a more rigorous professional standard for enforcing ethics in coding/CS, but I like playing devil's advocate.


No idea, but a lot of developers and other tech people suffer from hubris, believing that since their cognitive skills make them effective programmers, they are in turn equally insightful in other domains because all thought depends on logic.

The problem is that it's very easy (and socially acceptable, even desirable) to build elaborate towers of logic on an unexamined premise.


TBH making the ethical choice may not even be the logical one. That's why it helps to have some education on the topic, as it inevitably involves making the less 'obvious' choice.


> I think ethical guidelines by definition are not enforced per se. They're just that, guidelines. However, as mentioned by GP there are boards of ethics at universities and medical/engineering organizations and such that might be able to dole out a modicum of justice.

Might be more than a modicum. If a lawyer or a doctor violates medical ethics, they could get their licenses revoked and be unable to practice their profession legally.




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