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Comm Ethics Final

Final Exam

Communication Ethics (COM 380)

First, you don't have to take this exam. You can accept the grade you would have from your other assignments up to now. If you take the exam, the result will be averaged in. As a result it can either raise or lower your grade.

We discussed at least 22 Ethical philosophies in class. Principle among them are those associated with the following people:

  1. Abulard
  2. Aquinas
  3. Aristotle
  4. Bacon
  5. Baudrilliard
  6. Dirkheim
  7. Foucault
  8. Gilligan
  9. Hobbes
  10. Kant
  11. Kohlberg
  12. Machiavelli
  13. Mill
  14. Persig
  15. Plato
  16. Rand
  17. Rokeach
  18. Rousseau
  19. Sartre
  20. Schopenhauer
  21. Spinoza
  22. Voltaire


In this exam, as in the last, you will use ethical philosophies as ethical decision tools. This time, however, you get to pick which ones (from those listed above) are used with which question. The only rule is that each philosopher can only be used once (e.g. as a part of the answer to one question). The exam will require that you discuss 19 of the 22 philosophers listed above. You'll probably want to decide who you are going to use for each question before you start.

This exam is due no later than Wednesday, December 18 at 2PM.

Part 1: Answer all of the following:

  1. Widgicorp is a large diversified company specializing in widgets and widget related services. As a part of its corporate productivity program it has decided to engage in passive surveillance of employee use of the Internet, including monitoring of e-mail, instant messenger, web, and streaming audio transactions. How justified is Widgicorp's intrusion on employee privacy? Select two of the ethical philosophers we studied in class in justifying your answer?
  2. Widgicorp doesn't tell its employees about this surveillance. Indeed, it publically advertizes an employee policy of "productivity through individual freedom". How ethical is this publicity campaign? What should the public relations company responsible for this campaign do if they discover the survellance? Does this change your answer to question one in any way? Select two of the ethical philosophers we studied in class in justifying your answer.
  3. An employee of Widgicorp, upon discovering that his personal transactions are being monitored while at work, sets up a Virtual Private Network to bypass the system. In his new work setup, his non-work related e-mail, instant messenger, and web transactions are securely routed through his home computer, and therefore cannot be directly monitored at work. All they can see is a VPN connection to an external computer. How justified is this attempt to bypass company policy? Use two of the ethical philosophers we studied in class to justify your answer.
  4. Widgicorp network security notices the VPN connection through the corporate firewall and tracks it to the employees machine. The employee is fired on the spot and is escorted to the door without even taking the time to turn off his machine. The employee, on arrival home, notices that the VPN connection is still live, copies several sensitive documents to his home PC. He anonymously sends one, which reputedly shows that the company is cheating the government on a contract, to a reporter at a local newspaper. Discuss the ethics of this "whistle-blowing" activity. Use two of the ethical philosophers we studied in class to justify your answer.
  5. The reporter at the local newspaper, having received the article, contacts the company in an attempt to confirm the documents veracity. He is put in touch with a public relations professional who attempts to learn more about the allegation from company executives. In hastily organized meetings he is told that there is nothing to it, and that he should tell the press that the document must be a fake. The professional suspects that he isn't being told everything. How should the relations professional handle the reporters question? Use two of the ethical philosophers we studied in class to justify your answer.
  6. The corporate line is that "the document is a fake", but the reporter is able to learn, through a confidential source, that it might be real and approaches his editors with a story that details the allegations. The editor looks the story over and responds that he's received a call from the company and since there can't be anything to it, the story won't be published. Widgicorp is a large advertiser in the paper. What should the reporter do at this point? Use two of the ethical philosophers we studied in class to justify your answer.

Part 2: Select One of the following two questions:

7 - Given your long term career goal (say what it is), talk about how four of the ethical philosophers we studied in class will inform your professional behavior?

8 - On the assumption that you will eventually have a family, pick four of the ethical philosophers we studied in class and talk about how they will inform the lessons you teach your children?

Part 3: Answer one of the following two questions:

9 - Are ethical standards in media stronger, weaker, about the same, or just different than they were twenty years ago? Use the tools of three of the ethical philosophers we studied in class to justify your answer.

10 - What role should mass media (television, radio, books, newspapers, records, etc) play in promoting ethical behavior in society? Use the tools of three of the ethical philosophers we studied in class to justify your answer.


-- Last edited September 18, 2015

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Unless otherwise noted, the contents of this page were written by participants on the Media Space Wiki, operated by Davis Foulger, and should be cited accordingly. For example (APA):
Foulger, D. and other participants. (September 18, 2015). Comm Ethics Final. MediaSpaceWiki. Retrieved on from http://evolutionarymedia.com/wiki.htm?CommEthicsFinal
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