Question Princess Business & Management

Ethical Assessment of the Programming of Google Cars

Using your knowledge of deontological and utilitarian ethics, compare and contrast how each ethical approach would handle the programming algorithm of google cars.

Did you know that we write custom assignments? We have experts in each specific subject area with vast experience. Get a complete answer and find out more about our writing services.

Answer Expert #27149

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that discusses whether or not an action is morally acceptable (Fisher and Lovell, 2008). There have been several kinds of ethics developed focusing on different aspects behind a human action (Fisher and Lovell, 2008). Therefore, different conclusions can be drawn, depending on the kind of ethics applied, regarding the programming algorithm of Google cars.

Utilitarianism accepts that a behaviour is ethical if the consequence of the particular behaviour results in the greatest good to the greatest number of people (Holmgren and Geirsson, 2010). If this basic requirement of a decision consequence is satisfied, any harm caused during the exhibition of the behaviour to reach the goal would not lower the ethical performance of the action. As such, there have been several allegations that Google cars can be potential threats to public safety (BBC, 2015), however, the aim of these experiments is to provide people with an advanced transportation solution. Therefore, where Google cars (and as a matter of fact, any early technology) could harm some entities, according to Utilitarianism, Google cars will eventually benefit society at large, so it is an ethical action.

Google’s action is far from being ethical if it is viewed from the perspective of deontological ethics (Holmgren and Geirsson, 2010). Deontological ethics maintains that it is rather the morality of an action that matters instead of the consequences. In this sense, because it is probable that Google autonomous cars will cause some accidents, the action is unethical even if Google’s experiment with driverless cars could later serve the interest of society.


BBC (2015) What may be self-driving cars’ biggest problem. Available at: (Accessed: 31 October 2016).

Fisher, C. M. and Lovell, A. (2008) Business ethics and values: Individual, corporate and international perspectives. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall Financial Times.

Holmgren, M. R. and Geirsson, H. / (eds.) (2010) Ethical theory, second edition: A concise anthology. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press