Our purpose is to show the different ways in which ethical issues in software development have manifested themselves, been thought of, and dealt with.

This will give software engineers the opportunity to examine ethical issues they may be confronted with in the present or in the future: our intention is to help present and future members of our profession develop their own ethical positions, rather than promulgate allegiance to a specific code of ethics.

Our profession encounters novel ethical challenges on a regular basis, and there is therefore a need for a living document that registers these challenges and their surrounding discussions. An open-source, version-controlled website naturally serves this purpose better than a paper book. What’s more, it can be easily iterated on via contributions from the community (i.e. pull requests), and can benefit from a dynamic and completely transparent revision process. We welcome your edits via pull requests to this site’s source.


This site is written and built using Jekyll, a powerful, well-known, and easy-to-use static site generator. Follow these instructions to install Jekyll if it is not already installed on your machine. Run the following commands to build and preview the Casebook:

git clone https://github.com/software-ethics-casebook/source.git
cd casebook
bundle exec jekyll serve

# if you use Sublime Text:
subl casebook.sublime-project

What we collect

  • Cases: real-world manifestations of ethical issues in software development practice. General ethical issues which are not directly relevant to software development practice.
  • Discussions: discussions by software engineers of ethical issues in software development. These should provide background for the cases, as well as show how the actors involved justified their positions.

Content policies

Neutral point of view

This website strives to avoid advocacy of any particular ethical position, and contributors must therefore characterize cases and positions, and report the surrounding discussion, rather than directly attack or defend the inherent ethics. Contributors should conform to this content policy to the standard set by Wikipedia’s Neutral point of view content policy.

If you believe that an ethical position or moral norm is underrepresented, overrepresented, or misrepresented on this website, we invite you to add or amend relevant entries by submitting a pull request.


Readers must be able to check that facts reported here about real-world cases came from a reliable source. Content pertaining to facts about real-world cases or discussions must be verifiable to the standard set by Wikipedia’s Verifiability content policy. Contributors may not add entries about cases for which no reliable, published sources exist.


We welcome contributions via pull requests to this site’s source.

Content Licensing

Creative Commons License
All original content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.