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An Introduction to Engineering Ethics

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Title: An Introduction to Engineering Ethics


1
An Introduction to Engineering Ethics
  • for
  • Mechanical,
  • Industrial, and Manufacturing
  • Engineers

2
Objectives
  • Provide motivation for the topic.
  • Introduce terms, concepts, principles.
  • Give examples.
  • Present basic skills of ethical decision making.
  • Provide practice in confronting ethical dilemmas.

3
Engineering Ethics Overview
  • Engineering Ethics Cases
  • Basic Terms and Concepts of Engineering Ethics
  • Some Ethical Principles
  • Codes of Engineering Ethics
  • Confronting Ethical Dilemmas
  • In-Class Exercise
  • Some Philosophical Questions

4
Engineering Ethics Cases
  • How some engineers made ethical choices
  • and what resulted.

5
A. Ernest Fitzgerald Blowing the Whistle on
Government Waste
  • IE consultant
  • Hired in 1965 as deputy to assistant secretary of
    USAF for financial management
  • Projects
  • Minuteman missiles
  • F-111 fighter/bomber
  • C-5A transport
  • Found and reported widespread
  • Waste
  • Failure to meet specifications
  • Failure to meet deadlines by contractors

6
Fitzgerald (continued)
  • Came to be shunned by associates
  • Reassigned to trivial tasks
  • Personal life investigated to discredit him
  • RIF-ed in 1969
  • Unable to find work as consultant.
  • Finally exonerated and reinstated in 1973 with
    help of influential senator
  • Continued his work into the 1980s
  • 286.75 for a simple plastic toilet pan
  • 8,832 for a 30 pulley puller
  • etc.

7
William LeMessurier Citigroup Tower
  • Structural engineer
  • Participated in design of Citicorp Tower, New
    York City
  • 5th highest building in NYC
  • Innovative design
  • Cantilevered on 9-story stilts over rebuilt St.
    Peter's Lutheran Church
  • Incorporated mass damper
  • Designed to code requirements to withstand
    perpendicular winds
  • Built with bracing structure bolted joints
    (instead of welded, as designed)

Images from Wikimedia Commons
8
LeMessurier (continued)
  • Engineering student asked about quartering winds.
  • LeMessurier
  • turned to consultants
  • did calculations
  • found load limit would be exceeded by quartering
    winds occurring every 16 years
  • Met with associates, insurers, lawyers, owners,
    NYC building department
  • Settled out of court
  • Critical joints welded at cost of 12.5 M
    (exceeded insurance coverage)

9
Other Cases
  • Convair/DC-10 (swallowing the whistle)
  • Ford Pinto
  • Challenger disaster
  • Bhopal
  • Common Situations
  • Falsify data?
  • Accept bribes, gifts, kickbacks?
  • Take credit for anothers work?
  • Work on military projects?
  • Work for a company or on projects that harm the
    environment?
  • Work for an unethical organization?

10
Summary
  • Not a question of engineers technical
    competence.
  • Not a question of technical accuracy.
  • Ethical dilemma involving the conflict of ethical
    principles, conflict of goods.
  • Engineers made ethical decisions.
  • But they were vulnerable and some suffered
    greatly.

11
Basic Terms and Concepts of Engineering Ethics
  • Some ethics definitions and principles.

12
Moral - adj. -
  • Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness
    and badness of human action and character
    pertaining to the discernment of good and evil
    ...
  • Being or acting in accordance with standards of
    goodness or with established codes of behavior,
    especially with regard to sexual conduct.
    (American Heritage, 1976)
  • seeking the good, avoiding the bad

13
Morals - n. -
  • Rules of habit or conduct ... (American
    Heritage, 1976)

14
Ethical - adj. -
  • Of, pertaining to, or dealing with ethics ...
  • In accordance with the accepted principles of
    right and wrong ... (American Heritage, 1976)
  • Synonyms moral, virtuous, righteous

15
Ethics - n. -
  • The study of the general nature of morals ...
  • The rules or standards governing the conduct of
    members of a profession ... (American Heritage,
    1976)
  • or those of an any individual or group.
  • May also extend to the general nature of value,
    whether moral or non-moral (in which case, it may
    be called axiology).

16
Value - n. -
  • "... that which makes anything worth possessing
    or realizing. (Mead, Types and Problems of
    Philosophy)
  • Types of value
  • moral/ethical ( right, - wrong)
  • non-moral, natural, metaphysical ( good, - evil)
  • Classifications of non-moral value
  • intrinsic (ends)
  • extrinsic, instrumental (means)

17
Ethical Principle
  • A rule, law, or standard of goodness or morality
    (i.e., of value) against which action, or the
    result of action, is to be judged.
  • A basis for ethical (moral) decision making.
  • An ethic.
  • A maxim.
  • Ethical principles are sometimes loosely referred
    to as values.

18
Teleological Ethical PrinciplesSome Ends That
Are Candidates for the Highest Good
  • pleasure
  • happiness
  • self-realization, self actualization
  • nature
  • beauty
  • truth
  • knowledge
  • human welfare
  • communion with God

19
Deontological Ethical Principles Some Possible
Rules to Live By
  • Do not kill.
  • Do not steal.
  • Tell the truth.
  • To thine own self be true. (Polonius to Laertes
    in Hamlet, I,iii)
  • In duty believe, not in the hope for results
    (Bhagavad Gita)
  • Act as if the maxim from which you act were to
    become the universal law of nature. (Kants maxim
    of universality)
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you.
    (Jesus, Sermon on the Mount)

20
Principles of VirtueSome Candidate Virtues
  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Self-control, Temperance, Prudence
  • Justice, fairness
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Honesty, Truthfulness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Loyalty
  • Tolerance
  • Competence

21
Engineering Ethics - n. -
  • The examination of ethical issues in engineering.
  • The field of study which results from that
    examination.

22
Goals of Engineering Ethics
  • Help foster moral autonomy.
  • Ability to arrive at reasoned moral (ethical)
    views.
  • Based on responsiveness to ethical principles
    (i.e., principled).
  • Help individuals to reason more effectively about
    ethical issues.
  • Help engineers do what is right.

23
Ethical (Moral) Dilemma
  • A situation in which
  • either
  • two or more ethical principles (or applications
    of a single principle) come into conflict
  • or the applications of ethical principles are
    unclear
  • and it is not immediately obvious what should be
    done.

24
Confronting Ethical Dilemmas
  • Summarize the apparent dilemma.
  • Gather the relevant facts, including technical
    ones.
  • Identify the ethical principles or applications
    in conflict.
  • Rank or weight the ethical principles by
    importance.
  • Identify/develop alternative courses of action.
  • Evaluate the alternative courses of action with
    respect to the principles.
  • Talk with others.
  • Choose the best course of action.
  • An engineering code of ethics may be helpful.
  • Keep a written record in a secure place.

Note the parallel with engineering analysis and
design!
25
Codes of Engineering Ethics
26
Rationale for Engineering Ethics Codes
  • Inspiration and guidance.
  • Support
  • Deterrence discipline
  • Education and understanding
  • Notice to others
  • Protection of the status quo
  • Promotion of business interests (?)

27
Scope and Form
  • Purpose
  • inspire
  • encourage
  • support
  • not a basis for punishment
  • Based on small set of commonly held principles.
  • Short enough so that
  • people will read.
  • omissions don't promote loopholes.
  • important points not buried in details.
  • Long and detailed enough to offer real assistance.

28
Typical Engineering Ethics Code Principles
  • Truth, honesty, trustworthiness
  • Respect for human life, welfare
  • Fair play (justice)
  • Openness
  • Competence
  • Community
  • Respect for environment
  • Respect for democratic process

29
Engineering Code Of EthicsEndorsed by IIE (and
formerly by ASME)
  • The Fundamental Principles
  • Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor
    and dignity of the engineering profession by
  • Using their knowledge and skill for the
    enhancement of human welfare
  • Being honest and impartial, and serving with
    fidelity the public, their employers and clients
  • Striving to increase the competence and prestige
    of the engineering profession and
  • Supporting the professional and technical
    societies of their disciplines. ASMEs code of
    ethics omits this one.

30
Engineering Code of Ethics(continued)
  • The Fundamental Canons
  • Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health
    and welfare of the public in the performance of
    their professional duties.
  • Engineers shall perform services only in the
    areas of their competence.
  • Engineers shall issue public statements only in
    an objective and truthful manner.
  • Engineers shall act in professional matters for
    each employer or client as faithful agents or
    trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Engineers shall build their professional
    reputation on the merit of their services and
    shall not compete unfairly with others.
  • Engineers shall associate only with reputable
    persons or organizations.
  • Engineers shall continue their professional
    development throughout their careers and shall
    provide opportunities for the professional
    development of those engineers under their
    supervision.

31
Questionable Elements of a Code of Ethics
  • Matters of professional courtesy.
  • Matters of public image.
  • Standards of compensation.
  • Constraints on criticism of other engineers.
  • Constraints on association with "disreputable"
    persons or organizations.

32
Application of Ethics Codes
  • Can't tell what to do in specific situations.
  • Even if the engineer chooses not to follow the
    ethical course, awareness helps because
  • admission helps preserve personal integrity.
  • in the long run, ethical behavior may prevail.

33
Limitations to Ethics Codes
  • Vague, general language.
  • Conflicting principles.
  • Unclear priorities.
  • Cannot serve as final moral authority.

34
Confronting Ethical Dilemmas
  • Summarize the apparent dilemma.
  • Gather the relevant facts, including technical
    ones.
  • Identify the ethical principles or applications
    in conflict.
  • Rank or weight the ethical principles by
    importance.
  • Identify/develop alternative courses of action.
  • Evaluate the alternative courses of action with
    respect to the principles.
  • Talk with others.
  • Choose the best course of action.

35
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Summarize the apparent dilemma. e.g.,
  • Tough assignment Bill, an engineering student,
    is struggling to pass a course and now the
    instructor has made a difficult, time-consuming
    assignment. Bills grade in the course and, in
    fact, his success in completing his degree,
    depend on doing well on this assignment. The
    instructor expects the students to work
    independently, but Bill is aware that many of his
    classmates are working in small groups, dividing
    up portions of the assignment among themselves,
    and sharing answers. Bill doesn't think he can
    complete the assignment correctly on time by
    himself.
  • But for the exercise, use your own dilemma.

36
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Gather the relevant facts, including technical
    ones. e.g.,
  • Bill has a low C in the course, so far.
  • If he does poorly on this assignment, he will
    likely get a C- or worse in the course.
  • Prior to this, Bill has done all his own work in
    this course.
  • But in other courses, he has a regular study
    group.
  • His study group is pressuring him to share in
    this work.
  • The instructor has explicitly stated that she
    expects the students to work individually on the
    assignment.
  • The syllabus has a statement of academic honesty,
    including the prohibition of turning in another's
    work as one's own.
  • Not all students are working on the assignment in
    groups.
  • etc.

37
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Identify the ethical principles or applications
    in conflict. e.g.,
  • human welfare (especially that of Bill and his
    group)
  • loyalty (e.g., to the group)
  • honesty, truth
  • respect for elders, respect for authority
  • justice
  • courage
  • Do not steal.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • Engineers shall build their professional
    reputation on the merit of their services and
    shall not compete unfairly with others.

38
Summary of Some Ethical Principles
  • pleasure
  • happiness
  • self-realization, self actualization
  • the greatest good for the greatest number
  • nature
  • human welfare
  • communion with God
  • Do not kill.
  • Do not steal.
  • Tell the truth.
  • To thine own self be true.
  • In duty believe, not in the hope for results
  • Act as if the maxim from which you act were to
    become the universal law of nature.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Self-control, Temperance, Prudence
  • Justice, fairness
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Honesty, Truthfulness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Loyalty
  • Tolerance

39
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Rank or weight the ethical principles by
    importance. e.g.,
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • justice
  • Engineers shall build their professional
    reputation on the merit of their services and
    shall not compete unfairly with others.
  • honesty, truth
  • Do not steal.
  • respect for elders, respect for authority
  • human welfare (especially that of Bill and his
    group)
  • loyalty
  • courage

40
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Identify/develop alternative courses of action.
    e.g.,
  • Work with the group, do part of the assignment,
    and turn in the whole assignment under Bill's
    name.
  • Work with the group, do part of the assignment,
    and turn in the whole assignment, but indicate
    which parts Bill did and which others did (but
    don't identify them by name).
  • Do as much of the assignment as possible and turn
    that in under Bill's name.
  • etc.

41
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Evaluate the alternative courses of action with
    respect to the principles. e.g.,
  • Alternative
  • (a) Work with the group, do part of the
    assignment, and turn in the whole assignment
    under Bill's name.
  • Considered with respect to the principle
  • (1) Do to others as you would have them do to
    you.
  • If Bill tried to do the whole assignment himself
    (like some are doing), he would not want to be
    penalized for doing poorly when other students
    who only do part of the assignment and turn in
    others' work get full credit.

42
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Talk with others. e.g.,
  • friends in the class
  • friends not in the class
  • other professors
  • academic advisor
  • parents, other relatives
  • pastor, priest, rabbi, ...

43
In-Class Exercise Confronting An Ethical Dilemma
  • Choose the best course of action. e.g.,
  • (c) Do as much of the assignment as possible and
    turn that in under Bill's name.

44
IE 380The Responsible Engineer (3)
  • The idea of responsibility and the ethical
    responsibilities of the engineer. Introduction to
    value, ethics, and ethical systems. Engineering
    as value creation and the ethical ramifications
    of engineering. Codes of engineering ethics.
    Recognizing and addressing ethical dilemmas in
    engineering. Examination of the individual,
    social, and environmental effects of engineering
    and technology.
  • Baccalaureate Core Course (Synthesis,
    Sci/Tech/Soc)
  • Spring term 2011, TR 1400-1520

45
Some Philosophical Questions With Practical
Implications
  • What decisions do we make that do not involve
    value judgment?
  • Is value (good/evil, right/wrong) objective or
    subjective?
  • Is value (good/evil, right/wrong) absolute or
    relative?
  • Does ought or obligation have any basis in
    reality? Where does obligation come from?
  • Is there such a thing as unconditional obligation?
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