375 Syllabus


Computing technology has been and continues to be a major transformative factor in contemporary society.  As with any social institution, computing technology does not exist in an ethical vacuum.  This course is designed to identify and evaluate computing technology and its uses and effects from the moral point of view.  By the end of the course, students should be able to look at issues from the moral point of view, should be familiar with several large scale moral issues that deal with computing technology, and should be able to articulate moral viewpoints concerning those issues.

Instructor information:

Brandon Gillette

Office: 3100 Wescoe

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 10:00-11:30, and by appointment

Email: bsg@bgillette.com

Important: There is more than one Brandon Gillette at KU. If you look up my email on the KU web page instead of the syllabus or course website, be sure to select the right one! The other Brandon Gillette has standing permission from me to play whatever joke he likes on students who email him instead of me.

Note: Email is the best way to contact me. A distant second is the department mailbox (if you can even find it). Also, sometimes I am just in my office during the day. Feel free to stop by at any time. You may also talk to me or email to set up an appointment if you are unable to see me during office hours.



Exam 1 (In-class exam): 20% of the total grade

Exam 2 : (Final exam, cumulative): 30% of the total grade

Written assignments:

1 Long (1200 word): 20% of the total grade

4 Short (300 word): 20% of the total grade


10% of the total grade

The assignment schedule is available at www.bgillette.com

Grading Scale:

I will abide by the standards of quality as described in University Senate Rules and Regulations.

The numerical scores corresponding with the letter grades will be as follows. When final scores are calculated, I will round to the nearest whole number.

  • 100-90 A
  • 89-80 B
  • 79-70 C
  • 69-60 D
  • 59-0 F

Lateness/Make-up Policy:

I do not accept work outside of class, except in extreme circumstances (i.e. hospitalization). I realize that unexpected things occur, and that some of these things are even out of your control. If you are absent on a day that work is collected or scored, then you will not receive credit for that assignment (barring aforementioned extreme circumstances). Make-up exams will be permitted in extreme circumstances at the discretion of the instructor, and may be offered for reduced credit. The earlier I am notified about an absence on an exam day, the more likely it is that a make-up exam will be allowed. Written assignments will lose 10% of their original value each day that they are late.

Course Texts:

There are two books that we will utilize for this course:

“Ethics and Technology: Controversies, Questions, and Strategies for Ethical Computing” by Herman Tavani. (Wiley; 4th edition, 2012) ISBN 978-1118281727

“Moral Machines” by Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen (Oxford University Press, June 3, 2010) ISBN-10: 0199737975; ISBN-13: 978-0199737970

Each of these texts is available at several local bookstores, including the KU bookstore. They are available used and new at various online bookstores.

I will also make use of material from other sources which I will post on the course website. Some of this material is copyrighted, and is not for further dissemination.

Academic Honesty:

I will abide very strictly to the University’s policies on academic honesty. Violations of academic honesty policies can result in loss of credit for exams or assignments, and in some circumstances can result in loss of credit for the course. As ironic as cheating in an ethics course might sound, do try to resist the temptation.

Important Dates:

  • No Class: March 19, March 21
  • Final Class Day: May 9
  • Final Exam Date/Time: May 16, 7:30