chapter  3
Information Ethics, Law, and Policy for Spatial Databases: Roles for the Research Community
ByHarlan Onsrud
Pages 6

Ethical conduct may be defined from a practical perspective as conduct that we wish all members in society to aspire to but which is unenforceable by law or undesirable to enforce by law. Legal conduct is typically defined by the documented and recorded findings of our legislatures and courts. Ethical conduct is involved in the choices users make in applying geographic information system technologies on a day to day basis. However, ethical conduct is also involved in the choices scientists and researchers make in determining which aspects of the knowledge base they help advance. For instance, should researchers put their time and effort into expanding the knowledge base that will help advance systems for allowing stricter control over digital information or should we put our efforts into expanding the knowledge base for systems that will allow greater access to information by larger segments of society? Moral stances may be taken in support of either of these as well as many other propositions. The science of ethics helps us sort out which moral arguments have greater validity than others.