ETHICS & POWER

Papers on ethics, ethical issues and power relationships

Updated and edited on 21 March 2017

Wigan, M.R. (2017) Ethics and Brain Implants in the Military. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 36 (1), pp 65-68

Wigan, M.R. (2014) Uberveillance and faith-based organisations: a renewed moral imperative. Final Chapter: Ch 17, pp 408-416. Michael, M., & Michael, K. (2014). Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies (pp. 509). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-4582-0

Uberveillance extends the responsibilities of faith-based organisations to the power imbalances now emerging. This is not solely a matter of governance and strategy, but more one of the core values of faith-based organisations. These might be regarded from an ethical or moral standpoint, but the approach taken is to focus on the constituencies of faith-based organisations, and the imperatives that have been woven into their aims and values. The specific ways in which such disempowerments emerge, and the functional importance of making organisational responses are considered. Acknowledgement is made the Science and Society Council of the Churches of Scotland, who catalysed the expression and articulation of these issues


Wigan, M. R. (2010). Identity, contestability and ethics of unified virtualisation. Paper presented at the Panel Presentation to the ‘Moral Maze on Virtualisation and Society’ Forum Meeting 121 George St Edinburgh Scotland, 21 January 2010.

Wigan, M. R. (2010). Identity, contestability and ethics of unified virtualisation of society. In K. Michael (Ed.), IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) 7-9 June  2010. Wollongong. 10 0607 IEEE ISTAS Virtualisation Wigan.ppt.pdf

Marcus WIgan ISTAS 2010.dmg


Wigan, M. R., & Fisher, A. (1998). Evaluating research supervision: differing perspectives on power. Paper presented at the 2nd International Evaluation Conference, Melbourne Australia.

Wigan, M. R. (1998). Power relationships in graduate degree supervision. Minor Thesis, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne Australia.

Marcus WIgan ISTAS 2010.dmg

Supervision of graduate students has been well-studied from many different angles, but the power relationships have been the subject of only a few investigations. This thesis reports on a survey of the power relationship perceptions of Victoria University graduate students and supervising staff. A US instrument (Aguinis, Nesler, Quigley, Lee & Tedeschi, 1996) was used in a modified to obtain power relationship factors based on French and Raven’s categorisation of power relationships. These Victoria university power instrument (VUPI) scales were those of Aguinis, modified for Australian intitutions. Item analysis showed that the new scales to be well behaved and to replicate and extend the US findings. The VUPI scales provide a basis for further Australian work. Coercive power was confirmed to be negatively related to the perceived Trustworthiness of the supervisor. Compliance with and Credibility of supervisors were both positively correlated to expert and referent power. The extended VUPI scales were also used to assess the students view of supervisors, and to estimate what supervisors thought themselves - and what they thought were the students perceptions. This considerably extended the range of power perceptions under study from the basic student views recorded in the US study. Supervisors were found to systematically overestimate both the degree of coercive power that they are seen to exert and the Expert and Referent power that they are seen to have. A full scale survey using the VUPI scales would be cost effective to undertake, and yield useful results.

Wigan, M. R. (1992). Mutual expectations: Cultural issues in responses to disability. In S. Haskell (Ed.), Perspectives on special education (pp. 31-33). Canberra: ACROD.

Wigan, M. R. (1987). Legal and ethical issues in expert systems used in planning. Environment and Planning B, 14, 305-321

Increasing specialisation and the growth of automated advice delivery systems are creating new problems in legal responsibility and ethical behaviour. Engineering, planning, legal and medical workers can expect early encounters with these difficulties, which are essentially concerned with a new interpretation of 'due care' and of 'professional liability'. The precipitating factor in this debate is the emergence of usable 'expert' systems, which embody judgmental and operational knowledge, and are often designed to mimic the behaviour (if not the public pronouncements) of acknowledged experts in the field. The task of the knowledge engineer and of the professional worker using - or expecting others to use - such automated advisory systems raises ethical problems both for individuals and for professional and learned societies. Some of these are considered in this paper with special reference to the arms length delivery of engineering, planning, and regulatory advice

Wigan, M. R. (1986). Ethical considerations in automated decision support delivery (Internal Report No. AIR 1148-1). Vermont, Victoria: Australian Road Research Board

Wigan, M. R. (1986). Bringing nutrition information to the user. Transactions of the Menzies Foundation(11), 205-214.

An evaluation of the professional, legal and ethical problems emerging as a consequence of expert system growth in application, with parallels between the civil engineering and medical/health fields