Keywords: ethics, ethical theories, information systems, morality, reflective responsibility, risks, software development, risk management
Reflective responsibility for risk: a critical view of software and information systems development risk management
Most ethical theories are based on the assumption that the results of actions are known and are part of the ethical evaluation of moral behaviour. This leads to fundamental problems of the ethical evaluation of future states because the future is by definition unknown. Risks as known uncertainties that result from human action often have morally relevant consequences but they defy easy classification in moral philosophy. As a general idea of how the ethical problems of risk can be addressed, this paper suggests the concept of reflective responsibility. Reflective responsibility is based on the overarching commonalities of all responsibility ascriptions as being open, teleological, and close to action. The concept of reflective responsibility is applied to risk management in software and information systems development. The paper will conclude that successful responsibility ascriptions in risk management are only possible if the socially constructed nature of risk is taken into consideration.