Campus Cyberspace Fairness.
This system is analyzed from Justice and Fairness by John Rawls. Procedures used to prepare the term paper and to analyze the student elections are briefly analyzed in the context of allocation of computer resources and the attainment of grades or vote count as wealth. Dearborn is a commuting campus. Students work and go to school, and return home. Students have internet access. This means that the students can access the computer on the Dearborn campus (Ann Arbor is not considered, although students can access the language computer laboratory on that campus). All students pay their tuition. However, how they use the resources are based upon their knowledge.
The students on campus can access computers through various computer laboratories, the computer wing, or Library has the most up to date computer network. The social studies, psychology, mathematics or language laboratory also have less current computers. The philosophy computer was donated to the school. Books in the library can also be accessed by using a computer system. the books can then be checked out for a month.
Most students have been taught how to use a computer in the public schools. Most also have access to a home computer, owned by themselves or by their parents. The home computer can be used to do a term paper or to vote in student elections. Using the "veil of ignorance" we assume students know only basic internet computer communications. We assume none work in computer field.
First Case - Student Term Papers. The reference material for the paper is available in the text, and the library (netlibrary is not discussed). Reading the material and transferring the material to the ctools.umich.educ, or student disk space on drive h, is not a publicized option. The standard procedure for doing the research paper is to complete the paper and turn it in to the professor. Using various computers and the home computer, and consolidating the material from various computer disk space locations is possible, but not practical because of the the lack of knowledge about the computer network. Word Processors are updated. The older versions are not able to read material from newer versions unless the material is converted to the older version when it is saved.
Gathering information and transferring the material to a computer folder is a key process to presenting the information. Material may be added, deleted, or updated on a folder. Ctools has the ability to save material on the folder b0d00dc1-8f12-43ed-8086-bcd8906af6b8 on ctools.umich.edu, and make it available to any computer. A separate network places allows the material to be accessed with a simple log on using an Internet portal (IP). A new file added to the folder can be cut and pasted to the home computer. The premise is that all students do not have the same resources to write a term paper.
Material is prepared and sent to the ctool website. The philosophy, and possibly the social science computer, is not, at present, able to copy and paste material from ctools onto the student site. A new word is invented to explain this phenomenon. Students use trial and error. The justice and fairness to all students in allocating computer resorces to prepare research papers is not be achieved because of the lack of information to the student preparer. All students have 1 giga byte of computer disk space. Some of this disk is cyberspace html. This is documented, but not well read or implemented.
Second Case - Computer Elections. The current elections are under dispute. The ability of one student to influence another student's voting preferences is being questioned. What are the rules to establish the voters privacy? The Michigan Journal shows a photograph of one student influencing the voting of another. One student with more computer knowledge is influencing another. This goes against the rules of election campaigning.
The rules are set up prior to the election and written in the By-Laws of the student government. The rules are printed and given to the candidates who are on the ballot.
The rules are a product of cooperation between the students and the administration. The communication between the Computer department, Called Information Technology (IT), is not perfect. A means should be established to verify these rules. According to Rawls an equilibrium point must be reached.
"The method of wide reflection equilibrium".
Conception of the person and the freedoms of social institutions as well as principles of economic theory may be brought to bear on this set of moral judgments.(1)
Ballots must be validated. Only one vote is allowed by student. This is done by analyzing the IP
internet access point.
Grades are considered as the end results of working on the term papers. When a student graduates, he or she can participate in a job fair and try to locate the best opportunity for a career. The grades are in this sense wealth. They are posted to a secure web site.
Can the student grades be considered wealth? Grades benefit students by providing job opportunities according to the all university average. Is taking more classes in how to a reduction in the student's freedom?
According to Rawls an equilibrium point must be reached. The administration of justice according to the principals of liberty and property is a complex problem. The concept of virtue based knowledge would imply that the physical world would present itself in a clear light. Rawls concept of justice and fairness is a liberal egalitarian view. It ignores "the coercive activities of public authorities" according to Brighouse.(2) 2. The anti-perfectionist theories assign moral primacy to the individual. He distinguishes between individual, social, distributive and retribution understandings of justice.
Thus, the problem is one of presenting the students with enough information to use the computer system. The administration must prepare the documents, and the students must be willing to learn. A major problem with this solution is that the hand written material may also be accepted. In this case no rules may be needed.
The student elections at the university of Michigan was based on electronic voting using home computer access to the Dearborn campus. To use Barry's (3) analysis of justice by Rawls, the computer resources available to students at the University of Michigan, Dearborn for course work an other activities, such as student elections, should be accessed according to the following two principles.
The first principle of justice.
Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties comparable with a similar system of liberty for all. Access to the main computer server should not be a problem.
The second principle of justice.
Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both:
On the status of the current UMD elections: While this process gets underway the election results
posted on Wednesday, March 29th and then confirmed / certified by the 2006 Election Board will
stand until determined otherwise. This decision will be made by a committee, not the students
running in the election.
1. Common Sense, Noah Lewis, Cambridge U. Press, 2004
2. Justice by Harry Bridgehouse The Philosophical Quarterly vol 55 No 221, Oct 2005 Cambridge Press 2004
3. . The liberal Theory of Justice, Barry, Brian, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1973