Professional Engineering Ethics Lecture Notes The Goal The course will develop a framework on which professional and ethical issues can be analyzed, and build up an awareness of various views of ethical issues as well as professionals ethical rights and responsibilities.
Course Outline Ethic and professionalism Scope, responsibility, professionalism Moral reasoning Professionalism
and code of ethics Ethical dilemma, moral choices, Code of Professional ethics Moral
framework Stages of Moral Development Utilitiarism, duty ethics, vitue ethics, right ethics Course Outline (Continued) Engineering as social experimentation Engineering experimentation
Engineers as responsible experimenters: Consciousness, Comprehensive perspectives, Moral autonomy , Accountability, Commitment to safety Safety and risk Assessing and reducing risk Course Outline (continued) Workplace responsibility and right
Teamwork Confidential and Conflict of interest Rights of engineers, Whistleblowing Honesty Thrutfulness, truthworthiness, integrity Consulting engineers Expert witness Course Outline (continued) Environmental ethics Engineering, Ecology and Economics Ethical frameworks Global Issues
Multinational corporations Computer ethics and the internet Weapon development Course Outline (continued) Engineers and technological concept Cautious optimism Moral leadership Case study (group assignment) Ford pinto DC 10 Challenger Bhopal
Etc Morality and Ethics Concerns the goodness of voluntary human conduct that affects the self or other living things Morality (Latin mores) usually refers to any aspect of human action Ethics (Greek ethos) commonly refers only to professional behavior
Why study ethics? When students enter the professional world, they will be expected to follow an explicit or implicit ethical code. To responsibly confront moral issues raised by technological activity How to deal with ethical dilemmas in their professional lives? To achieve moral autonomy Moral Dilemmas Situations
in which two or more moral obligations, duties, rights, or ideals come into conflict. To resolve we must identify the factors, gather facts, rank moral considerations, consider alternative courses of actions, and arrive at a judgement. What Is Ethics? Josephson Institute of Ethics Ethics refers to standards of conduct . . . that indicate how one should
behave based on . . .principles of right and wrong. As a practical matter, ethics is about how we meet the challenge of doing the right thing Stages of Moral Development Pre-conventional Level Whatever benefits oneself or avoids punishment Conventional Level
Uncritical acceptance of societys rules Post-conventional Level Moral autonomy Moral Autonomy Autonomous individuals think for themselves and do not assume that customs are always right. They seek to reason and live by general principles. Their motivation is to do what is morally
reasonable for its own sake, maintaining integrity, self-respect, and respect for others. An example: One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in
Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963. The Existence of Right and Wrong Principle: Certain aspects of right and wrong exist objectively, independent of culture or personal opinion. Accepting this principle is essential for ethics to discern an objective reality rather than just define a subjective standard. The Four Main Virtues
Prudence (mind): to think about a moral problem clearly and completely Temperance (emotions): control attraction to positive emotions Fortitude (emotions): control aversion for negative emotions Justice (will): choose according to truth and fairness.
A fundamental principle of morality: People should try insofar as possible to continue to progress in the moral life The obligation to avoid what is bad outweighs the obligation to do what is good. Or, the end does not justify the means.
Moral Responsibility Morality concerns the goodness of voluntary human activity that impacts the self or other living beings. Assuming we have not deliberately allowed ourselves to remain ignorant, powerless, or indifferent, we have complete moral responsibility for what we do with adequate knowledge, freedom, and approval.
Professional Ethics What is a profession? What is ethics? What is professional ethics? Ethical theories Thinking about professional ethics Professional values Codes of Ethics Do you agree? It
is always wrong to intentionally take an innocent life? The right course of action is to weigh the consequences of action and choose the action that leads to the greatest good for the greatest number? Two Valid Moral Positions The first is Kantianism Kant: Right or wrong regardless of consequences The second is Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism: Right or wrong depending on consequences Most people agree with both positions Dilemma The hijacked plane with 200 people is approaching a building with 50,000 people Vote! Will you shoot down the plane? You cannot subscribe to both principles in the case. A true moral dilemma Which position has the greatest weight in
the circumstances? Orientation Aim to show several different ways to think through a problem in professional ethics, rather than merely describe what professionals say are their problems (sociology of ethics). Profession
Ethics Professional Ethics Profession All professions are occupations, but not all occupations are professions Can take a broad or narrow view of what is a profession A self-regulated occupational group capable of legally prohibiting others (including incompetent or unethical members) from practising is a narrow view
Profession Group identity Shared education, training -requirements for admission Special uncommon knowledge Knowledge used in the service of others
positive social need Involves individual judgment, (some) autonomy in decisions Adherence to certain values Penalties for substandard performance Profession Matter of degree there are many emerging professions. Obstacle in the way of the OHS professional is the diverse nature of practice with competing coprofessionals. You are not a professional until you are a member of a group of colleagues who have articulated a set of standards and values and can enforce
them, at the very least, by exclusion from the group. What is a professional? Possesses specialized knowledge and skills Belongs to and abides by the standards of a society Serves an important aspect of the public good
What is a professional engineer? Has a bachelors degree in engineering from an accredited school Performs engineering work Is a registered P.E. Acts in a morally responsible way
while practicing engineering Other definitions Must be independent (Whitelaw) Must serve employer (Florman) Must satisfy two general criteria (1) Attain high standards of achievement in education, job performance, and creativity.
(2) Accept moral responsibilities to the public, their employers, clients, colleagues, and subordinates. Professionalism Skill, competency in work Relational element work will be beneficial to others Work itself doesnt have moral status Execution of work has moral status Recognizing when Were in the Realm of Ethics
Watch the language: Right and wrong -- Actions Good and bad -- Motives, methods, goals The Engineering Profession How we view ourselves: Problem-solvers Engineering is enjoyable; esprit de corps Engineering benefits people, provides a public
service Engineering provides the most freedom of all professions (Florman, 1976) Engineering is an honorable profession The Engineering Profession How the public views engineering: The Engineers Role Engineers as Utilitarians Engineers as Positivists Applied Physical Scientists This role does not mesh well with an
overarching social science bias of the public. The Engineering Profession Rational, pragmatic, logical and systematic approaches to problem solving tend to alienate the engineer from the public Only a 50% Very High or High rating on honesty Consistently behind medical field and teachers A public relations problem, not an ethics issue
per se. Best Practices to include applied social science Professional Ethics Purpose Helps professional decide when faced with a problem that raises a moral issue Complexity Can be many people, with many issues involved may be involved history to the issues may be an issue WHO decides, not just WHAT decided.
Why the Interest in Professional Ethics? As occupations become more specialized, the ethical issues become more specialized Professional societies have increased efforts to establish ethical codes to guide members Increasing public scrutiny, lack of traditional deference
Regulatory oversight, public protection What is Engineering Ethics* The study of the moral issues and decisions confronting individuals and organizations engaged in engineering The study of related questions about the moral ideals, character, policies, and relationships of people and corporations involved in technological activity. * from Martin. M. & Schinzinger, R. Ethics in Engineering (3rd Ed.) (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1996, pp. 2-3. Ethics and Engineering Where the ethical issues can arise: Conceptualization, Design, Manufacturing, Sales, Service Supervision and Project Teams Project timelines and budgets Expectations, opinions, or judgments
Products: Unsafe or Less than Useful Designed for obsolescence Inferior materials or components Unforeseen harmful effects to society Testing, Ethics and Engineering
Other fields where ethics are critical Medical Ethics, Legal Ethics Business Ethics (closest to Engineering Ethics) Scientific Ethics An applied ethics domain (rather than a theoretical analysis of philosophy) Engineering occurs at the confluence of technology, social science, and business Engineering is done by people and for people
Engineers decisions have a impact on all three areas in the confluence The public nature of an engineers work ensures that ethics will always play a role Ethics and Engineering Impacts of decisions:
an engineers ethical The Products & Services (safety and utility) The Company and its Stockholders The Public and Society (benefits to the people)
Environment (Earth and beyond) The Profession (how the public views it) The Law (how legislation affects the profession and industry) Personal Position (job, internal moral conflict) Ethics and Engineering Typically, may good ethical decisions be just that: good, but rarely great or ideal
will not always be in the best interest (irrespective of the timeline) of all stakeholders are not automatic but require thought, consideration, evaluation, and communication (much like the design process) Ethics and Morality Morality making choices with reasons
Ethics the study of HOW the choices are made, ie ethics is the study of morality Often use ethics and morality interchangeably General vs Professional, Morality and Ethics General Ethics individual as member of community, broader range of issues, top down principles Professional Ethics moral expectations specific to the occupational group, tend to focus on concrete bottom up cases
Professional Morality what we do in our occupational lives Professional Ethics the study of what we do in our professional lives Ethics and Law Law the authority is external Ethics the authority is internal Much of law, but not all, is based in
morality Sometimes law is unethical Much of what is ethical is unaddressed by legal rules Professional Ethics and Law There is a moral duty to obey the law (with some caveats) Professional ethics covers more issues than the law One can be unethical without behaving illegally
Rare ethically must resist the law Professional Ethics and Law Be very careful not to embark in an exercise in ethical analysis when there is a clear legal rule in the situation that trumps the entire process of ethical analysis. Be very careful not to assume that there is a legal rule for every situation. Often the gaps between legal rules require one to switch to an ethical analysis. Ethics Descriptive
ethics What IS Prescriptive ethics What OUGHT to be We do not seek to study professional ethics as a sociologist would, but to assist with choices about what one ought to do. 2002 British study by Burgess and Mullen: 77% of hygienists had witnessed ethical misconduct by colleagues within last 5 years. Descriptive Ethics Burgess and Mullen study Most common cases:
Plagiarism Confidentiality of data Faked data Criticizing colleagues for gain Holding back, disguising data Destruction of data Not reporting incident deliberately
Descriptive Ethics Patricia Logan 2001, USA. Reported reasons for misbehavior, hygienists: Economic pressure Transition from employee to consultant results in compromises Working in foreign countries Lack of legal standards Working on contingency basis Decrease in job security Descriptive to Prescriptive Two very different ways of reasoning.
Descriptive, or scientific, studies of professional ethics help us identify issues that need to be included in Code of Ethics and in educational programs. Gives us our case studies. Prescriptive Ethics What OUGHT to be The words used are different good-bad, right-wrong, just-unjust Thought processes use values, goods, virtues, rules, ethical theories, moral
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