Hacking into Harvard
Read Case 2.1 “Hacking into Harvard” on page 83 of the text. Write a two page paper answering the following question: Suppose that you had been one of the MBA applicants who stumbled across an opportunity to learn your results early. What would you have done, and why? Would you have considered it a moral decision? If so, on what basis would you have made it?
CASE 2.1: Hacking into Harvard
Although many argue that the right or wrong of an action depends on the situation, there are moral principles that guide our day to day actions. Business ethics, on the other hand, focuses on moral principles and relationships between various organizations and their stakeholders. In the case of “Hacking into Harvard,” various personalities would argue for or against hacking into Schools’ systems and accessing the verdict on their applications, based on their perception. For me, however, I would not try to hack into Harvard’s systems to view the verdict on my application.
It is the perception of many that persons seeking to pursue MBAs in various business fields are morally upright and would not indulge themselves in unethical acts. Although powerfully compelled by strong desire and curiosity to know whether my ambitions to join the school have been fulfilled, I would take a deep look into the issue before making a final decision. According to Immanuel Kant’s deontological moral theory, the consequences of actions do not determine their rightness or wrongness. Instead, Kant’s theory argues that right or wrong of actions is based on whether the actions fulfill our duty (White 1-6). As such, before deciding to act on the hacking issue at hand, I would have first evaluated whether my actions would be for my own personal gains or they respect University’s interests. Sneaking into the account is definitely a selfish action that would be strongly condemned by the university and other stakeholders. It would also be in violation of the institution’s privacy limits, an action that could lead to legal action being taken by the university against the perpetrators.
Having all the aforementioned in mind, I would refrain from following the guidelines of the hacker from the online source and wait for the official release of the results from the institution. Having seen the vulnerability of the institutions IT systems to intruders and the risk it poses to the institution’s private data, I would have alerted the school on the same. According to Ross’s Moral Theory, human beings have a moral duty that stems from the possible application of intelligence, virtue or pleasure to improve the conditions of another party.
It is indeed a moral decision for me not to hack into the institution’s system to check on the verdict of my MBA application. In this case, ethics are fully employed to determine the right and wrong action and subsequently embark on the right action. By hacking into the school’s IT systems, I would be ethically corrupt by knowingly breaching an organizations IT security and privacy. According to Ethical egoism moral theory, an action is only right if it supports the long term interests of the performer (Österberg 156-177). With my long term interest being securing a place at Harvard, hacking into the system to check the verdict on my application would be wrong. It goes without saying that if discovered by the institution of having tried to hack into their system, my chances of pursuing an MBA would dwindle and thus kill my long-term interests.
Österberg, Jan. Self and Others: A Study of Ethical Egoism. illustrated. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
White, Mark. Kantian Ethics and Economics: Autonomy, Dignity, and Character. Stanford University Press, 2011.