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Paper 1

Paper 1
Student Name –
Student Number –
The world is evolving, with rapid technological advances, internet has become a global network.
The huge number of emails that are exchanged includes unwanted solicited email’s called
‘spam’. Although companies and firms use different anti-spam software, people still receive
spams. The question is whether such an act be considered as deception and who should be held
accountable for it?
Using the Social-Contract-Theory Analysis we can conclude that what Ann did, did not cause
any sort of deception. She didn’t disguise her identity, if anyone was bothered by her email, she
could have been confronted upfront or through email. However, spammers do disguise their
identity and keeps on sending the emails repeatedly. Ann could have been held accountable for
her emails, but spammers cannot be held accountable as their identity is not known. They don’t
receive the frustration of the angry recipients. According to the second formulation of the
Kantian analysis, we should always respect the autonomy of other people, treating them as
ends in themselves and never only as the means to an end.1 Sadly, spammers don’t respect the
autonomy of other people, they mispresent what they are doing only in getting to achieve their
end. Therefore, it would be justified to say that in most cases spamming is ethically wrong. In
the case of Ann, she sent the email once to her co-workers, however if she continuously sent
emails for different advertisements, she would be using her co-workers as ends in themselves.
Therefore, she would be doing something wrong. Similarly, spammers are doing something
wrong as they don’t give the recipients an option whether to receive the emails.
According to the Rule-Utilitarian Analysis, spammers are causing people harm by wasting their
time to read and delete the spams. Sometimes recipients become a victim because of these
spams which include false advertisements. Moreover, recipients believe the false
advertisements and lose their money. Recipients respect their privacy very much, but spams
include products and services in which the recipients are not interested in, and they consider it
as invasion of their privacy. It also diminishes the usefulness of the email system, if everyone
started advertising to all the emails they have, email would be so clogged that people would
stop using it. This is very unethical and can be considered deceptious.
Act-Utilitarianism is the ethical theory that an action is good if its net effect is to produce more
happiness than unhappiness.1 Using the Act-Utilitarian analysis we can determine the positive
and negative consequences of spam. Ann’s action turned out be more beneficial, but that’s not
the case most of the time. For about $10, a company can send an advertisement to a million
different email addresses.1 We can consider that roughly around 10 people respond with a
purchase. The entrepreneur who made the sale is very happy however, the remaining
recipients are annoyed with the spam. The total time wasted by the remaining recipients
looking at the email and ignoring it means they reduced their productivity. Not only time is
wasted, but recipients’ money is also wasted. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that spamming is
unethical as the cost outweighs the benefits.
Although Ann’s action concluded with different conclusions using the ethical theories, all the
above-mentioned theories concluded with the same answer. That spamming can be considered
unethical and deceptious. In terms of accountability, since spammers don’t disclose their
identity, they cannot be held accountable. We can only hope that with new innovations the
spike of spam will reduce as most of the effects are negative.
[1] Michael J. Quinn, “Ethics for the Information Age” , 8th Edition