64-644 Business, Technology and Ethics, WiSe 17/18


dr. Pak-Hang Wong (pak-hang.wong@uni-hamburg.de)

Course Description:

Technology has transformative impacts on business, economy, and society. Introduction and use of new technology offer new opportunities to companies and consumers, but it also leads to important ethical challenges. This course explore these challenges in detail. They key ethical concepts and major approaches in business ethics will be introduced in the first part of the course, and the second part of the course explores specific ethical issues brought by new technology, e.g.

  • Personal Data,
  • Financial Technology,
  • Corporate Moral Responsibility,
  • Automation and Employment,
  • Other related issues.

Learning objectives:

Students will (i) be acquainted with key ethical concepts and major theoretical approaches in business ethics, and acquire a general understanding of technological impacts on business, economy, and society; (ii) be able to apply the knowledge in recognising and analysing the ethical issues in the business context, particularly those related to the use of new technology; and (iii) acquire the skills to formulate and articulate responses to these ethical challenges.


  • Presentation
  • Essay


  • There is no textbook for the course. All required readings will be provided.

Tentative Weekly Schedule and Readings:

1. Introduction:review course outline; introduce yourself; readings—Moriarty (2016) “Business Ethics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)”; Martin & Freeman (2004) “The Separation of Technology and Business in Business Ethics”; discussion—”how does (information) technology transform business, and what are the new ethical issues it raises?”

2. Ethical Theories: readings—Snoeyenbos & Humber (1999) “Utilitarianism and Business Ethics”; Bowie (2002) “Kantian Approach to Business Ethics”; Solomon (1992) “Corporate Roles, Personal Virtues”

3. Business Ethics and Political Philosophy:readings—Heath (2010) “Business Ethics and (or as) Political Philosophy”; Selections from Rawls and Nozick

4. Shareholder, Stakeholder, or Market Failure: readings—Milton Friedman (1970) “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”; Freeman (2001) “A Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation”; Heath (2006) “Business Ethics without Stakeholder”

5. Online Service Providers: readings—Taddeo & Floridi (2016) “The Debate on the Moral Responsibilities of Online Service Providers”

6. Cryptocurrencies: readings—Dierksmeier & Seele (2016) “Cryptocurrencies and Business Ethics”; scenario-building exercises, no slides.

7. Blockchain and Smart Contracts:readings—Werbach (2017) “Trust But Verify”, “Contract Ex Machina”; Murck (2017) “Who Controls the Blockchain”

8Algorithms, Biases, and Discrimination:readings—Friedman & Nissenbaum (1996) “Bias in Computer Systems”; Zarsky (2016) “The Trouble with Algorithmic Decisions”

9, 10. Platform Economy: I. Overview readings—Kenny & Zysman (2016) “The Rise of the Platform Economy”; Frenken & Schor (2017) “Putting the Sharing Economy into Perspective”. II. Labour. readings—McCall & Werhane (2009) “Employment at Will and Employee Rights”; Rogers (2016) “Employment Rights in the Platform Economy”

11. Automation, (Un)Employment, and Work: readings—Floridi (2014) “Technological Unemployment, Leisure Occupation, and the Human Project”; Danaher (2017) “Will Life Be Worth Living in a World Without Work?”

12 & 13. Student Presentations

Course Materials



*This is the course website for 64-644 Business, Technology and Ethics (WiSe 17/18). It will be updated regularly, and you will find course topics, required readings (and optional readings), instructions for assignment, and other related materials on this page.