Wirtschaftsinformatik und Gesellschaft

IEEE P7000 Standard

IEEE P7000 Ethical System Engineering Standard

Since 2016 the Institute for IS & Society supports the IEEE P7000 effort; that is the world’s first ethical system engineering standard.This standard establishes a process model by which engineers and technologists can address ethical considerations throughout the various stages of system initiation, analysis and design. Expected process requirements include management and engineering views of new IT product development, computer ethics and IT system design, value-sensitive design, and, stakeholder involvement in ethical IT system design.

Prof. Spiekermann has been the co-chair of this standard since its initiation and has philosophically grounded it in material value ethics; that is the phenomenology of values developed by Max Scheler (1), Nikolai Hartmann (2) and others (3). The approach chosen in P7000 is called “Value based system design”; early descriptions of which can be found in the textbook “Ethical IT Innovation” (4). Value based System Design builds on and extends two decades of applied research called Value Sensitive Design (5). Although being a virtue ethical approach towards ethics, Value based System Design embraces a broad spectrum of other ethical theories (utilitarianism, duty ethics and other global ethics) to elicit corporate system values.

Prof. Spiekermann has co-initiated the IEEE P7000 set-up, served as subgroup-chair for the ethical sections in this standard (together with Jake Metcalf, Centre for Data & Society, New York), was the first technical editor on this project until 2017 and drafted the initial standard document that served as the basis for further development. Over 80 international calls have taken place between 2016 and 2019 including 60+ experts from around the world to develop the P7000 standard’s content.

Ph.D students of the Institute for IS & Society, namely Till Winkler and Kathrin Bednar have supported the standardization process as well. In particular they helped the set-up and analyze a real-world case-study accompanying this standardization effort. Both have published various research papers in parallel with the standard’s development.

Most importantly a real world case-study has been conducted on some of the core methodological components of Value based System Design, which investigate the feasibility of various sections of IEEE P7000 (in its second D2 draft version). The details of this case study can be retrieved <here>.


  1. Scheler, M. (1921 (1973)). Formalism in Ethics and Non-formal Ethics of Values: A New Attempt Toward the Foundation of an Ethical Personalism. USA, Northwestern University Press.

  2. Hartmann, N. (1932). Ethics. London, George Allen & Unwin.

  3. Kelly, E. (2011). Material Ethics of Value: Max Scheler and Nikolai Hartmann. Heidelberg London New York, Springer.

  4. Spiekermann, S. (2016). Ethical IT Innovation - A Value-based System Design Approach New York, London and Boca Raton CRC Press, Taylor & Francis.

  5. Friedman, B. and P. Kahn (2003). Human values, ethics, and design. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. J. Jacko and A. Sears. Mahwah: NY, USA, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  6. Spiekermann, S., Winkler, T., Bednar K. “A  Telemedicine Case Study for the early phases of Value based Engineering”, WU Working Paper, September 3rd 2019