Learning and Teaching Engineering Ethics: Workshop for Vanderbilt Faculty Nancy Tuana, Director, The Rock Ethics Institute Andy Lau, Associate Professor, College of Engineering
Day 1: “The Basics” • Introductions / Overview • Intro to Ethics and Engineering Ethics • What do we mean by ethics? • Motivating students to think about ethics, and to think ethically • Importance of ethics in engineering • Moral imagination • Tools for teaching and learning ethics • Applying ethics materials • Output: • Application of tools to sample cases
Introductions Please introduce yourself with the following information: • Name • Department • Course that you will be working on and how ethics relates to that course.
/ 1 Activity • Please take a few moments to reflect on the following question and jot down your thoughts on the worksheet. • How do you hope to be able to enhance your course as a result of your participation in this workshop? • Discuss the answers with your neighbors.
Our Goals for You • Understand: • How to integrate ethics-related activities • How to obtain, develop, and use case studies • How to design a course to meet learning objectives related to ethics and how to assess related student work • Apply this understanding to design ethics-related activities for one of your courses • Integrate ethics-related activities into a course and influence your peers to do the same.
/ 2 Warm-up: Cases to Consider • Take-Home Exam • video
“Ethics”: Broadly Defined Ethics: the positive guidelines for our behavior and the systematic study of those guidelines.
Ethics Should Be Distinguished From… • Mere Prudence • self-interest narrowly defined • sometimes doing the right thing hurts • Mere Legality • following the letter of the law • ethics is broader than legality • Professional Guidelines and Codes • ethics provides the underlying principles and values and provides resources for addressing ethical dilemmas
Minimalist and Maximalist Ethics • Minimalist Ethics • Following the letter of the law • e.g., codes of ethics • do one’s duty and that’s all • Maximalist Ethics • Doing everything possible to make the world a better place • Embracing social responsibility • Searching for the middle ground…
Motivating Students to Think Ethically • Codes of ethics are incomplete • Foreseeing (and so avoiding) problems • Becoming an ethically aware professional With what we know today, engineers are “socially responsible for ensuring progress and the benevolence of technological change.” (Edward Layton, The Revolt of the Engineers)
Codes of Ethics Are Incomplete • Tenets conflict • Stated in (purposefully) vague terms • Often are not self-explanatory • Do not cover all cases • Do not provide a procedure for resolving ethical dilemmas
NSPE Code of Ethics Fundamentals Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall: 1. Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public. 2. Perform services only in areas of their competence. 3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. 4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees. 5. Avoid deceptive acts. 6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession. National Society of Professional Engineers www.nspe.org/ethics
Codes of Ethics Are Incomplete • Conflict Between • “Hold Paramount….” (1) and • “Act…as faithful agents…” (1) • Ethical judgment needed to fill in the gaps
Foreseeing DisasterRevenge of Unintended Consequences Ford Pinto Case • … today’s routine decision may be tomorrow’s embarrassment (or shame)
Becoming an Ethically Aware Professional Intrinsic Value of Personal Integrity • Difference between just doing my job and being proud of who I am and my work as an engineer. • What would my family or friends think? • Could I defend my action (publicly) to all affected? • Do I fully embrace the values underlying my decisions? • Could my company use my behavior in an ad?
The New Engineer • Social context • Long-term impacts • Ethics • Economics • Politics • Human interaction • Communication skills • Leadership skills Evolving from occupation for technical advice, to profession serving community in socially & environmentally responsible way From Sharon Beder, The New Engineer, 1998
Recognizing Ethical Problems • Does the situation “smell”? • Is there something that someone wants to keep quiet? • Would you tell your someone you revere? • How would you feel if story was on TV? • Would you use your behavior as a marketing tool? Ernest A. Kallman & John P. Grillo, Ethical Decision Making and Information Technology, McGraw-Hill, 1996.
Sidebar: Is it all relative? The Relativist Bogeyman • “Ethics is irrelevant since there is no universal ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – it’s all relative!” • Variation: “You can’t teach me ethics – that’s just your opinion!”
Answering the Relativist Bogeyman 1. Being relative does not mean a standard is not valid • e.g. speed limits 2. Relativists can’t complain • if you think something is unfair, you’re not a complete relativist 3. Certain moral values and basic principles are nearly universal
Answering the Relativist Bogeyman Further discussion of Relativism: http://ethics.acusd.edu/theories/relativism/
/ 3 Shared Moral Valuesfrom Rushworth Kidder, Shared Values for a Troubled World
Shared Principles • To hurt no one • “First Do No Harm” • Give each their due • Live honorably Justinian’s Institutes (533AD)
Developing the Moral Imagination • What is moral imagination? • “an ability to imaginatively discern various possibilities for acting in a given situation and to envision the potential help and harm that are likely to result from a given action.”1 • Ability to sense ethically relevant aspects of all situations • Johnson, M., Moral Imagination, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1993).
Moral Imagination • Disengaging from and becoming aware of one's situation, understanding the mental model or script dominating that situation, and envisioning possible moral conflicts or dilemmas that might arise in that context or as outcomes of the dominating scheme. • The ability to imagine new possibilities. These possibilities include those that are not context-dependent and that might involve another mental model. • Evaluating from a moral point of view both the original context and its dominating mental models, and the new possibilities one has envisioned. Gorman, M., Mehalik, M., and Werhane, P., Ethical and Environmental Challenges to Engineering , New Jersey: Prentice Hall (2000).
Thinking outside the (moral) box • Before you criticize someone you should first walk a mile in their shoes. • That way when you do criticize them you’re a mile away from them, and you have their shoes!
Pump Design Example • A pumping system designed by consultant needs 95 hp pump • Ethical implications? i.e. So what? • Depletes nonrenewable resource for electricity • Produces pollution • Adds to climate change • Redesigned system uses a 7 hp pump – how? • Larger D • Less fittings • Shorter, straighter runs • What’s the point? • Develop moral imagination • Understand connections – ecology, economics, global issues Example from Cradle to Cradle by McDonough & Braungart
Frameworks for Ethical Thinking • Orientations to organize & guide one’s judgment in making (ethical) decisions • Basic frameworks • Consequences • Duties • Integrity • Care or Relationality • Making value considerations salient
Frameworks for Ethical Thinking 1. What will the effects of my actions be (for each of my choices)? (consequence-based thinking) 2. Are there any universal rules that apply here? (duty-based thinking) 3. What would a person with integrity do here? (virtue-based thinking) 4. What do the relationships (professional, personal) demand? (care-based thinking)
Frameworks for Ethical Thinking Stated Positively 1. Do what’s best for the greatest number of people. (consequence-based thinking) 2. Follow the applicable universal principle, e.g., do not lie. (duty/rights/justice-based thinking) 3. Do what a good (virtuous) person with integrity would do. (virtue-based thinking) 4. Consider what relationships demand (care-based thinking)
Overview of Ethical Frameworks • Consider consequences of one’s actions • what will produce the most overall good or at least minimize harms? • Consider general ethical duties which apply • what if everyone did that?
Overview of Ethical Frameworks • Would a virtuous person do this? • is it the honest (generous, etc.) thing to do? • How does this affect valued relations with others? • what are the relational aspects of the situation?
Overview of Ethical Frameworks • Always keep in mind “limitations” of each framework • is this a case where consequence-based thinking (duty-based, etc.) often goes wrong?
Overarching Ethical Rule of Thumb Shorthand Principle which combines elements of all frameworks: • Can I reasonably justify my actions and their consequences to all affected in a way that is consistent with my integrity and my relations with others? • If not, can I responsibly justify my action?
General Guide to Ethical Thinking use moral imagination reflect, choose, revisit decision gather facts Thinking/Acting Ethically how will relations be affected? identify stakeholders formulate options (creatively) what virtues/ values apply? consult others identify relevant duties consider consequences -identify optimal option
A Process for Ethical Thinking use moral imagination am I missing something? reflect, choose, revisit decision gather facts Thinking/Acting Ethically how will relations be affected? identify stakeholders formulate options (creatively) what virtues/ values apply? consult others identify relevant duties consider consequences -identify optimal option
A Process for Ethical Thinking use moral imagination reflect, choose, revisit decision gather facts Thinking/Acting Ethically how will relations be affected? identify stakeholders formulate options (creatively) what virtues/ values apply? consult others identify relevant duties consider consequences -identify optimal option think through ethical frameworks carefully
A Process for Ethical Thinking redo other steps use moral imagination reflect, choose, revisit decision gather facts Thinking/Acting Ethically how will relations be affected? identify stakeholders formulate options (creatively) what virtues/ values apply? consult others identify relevant duties consider consequences -identify optimal option
A Process for Ethical Thinking Engage Stakeholders -as appropriate use moral imagination reflect, choose, revisit decision gather facts Thinking/Acting Ethically how will relations be affected? identify stakeholders formulate options (creatively) what virtues/ values apply? consult others identify relevant duties consider consequences -identify optimal option
Extending Ethics to Broader Contexts • Social and Political Issues • engineering practice meets social policy • Global and Environmental Factors • measuring consequences • identifying “stakeholders” • ecological / restorative ethic • Inter-Cultural Communication • sensitivity to other values • relativism revisited?
Closing “Developing this process is, at best, difficult, …. But not to do so, …, risks moral and technological bankruptcy, threatens ecological sustainability in some cases, and prevents engineers from exercising their talents in ways that will benefit all of us.” Gorman, M., Mehalik, M., and Werhane, P., Ethical and Environmental Challenges to Engineering , New Jersey: Prentice Hall (2000).
Afternoon Activities • Applications of frameworks and guidelines to ethical thinking • through case studies/ ethics game and discussion • Tips on Using Case Studies in Classroom
Using Case Studies in the Classroom • Choosing Cases • Use NSPE or other cases with “expert” opinions • Open-ended vs. closed cases • Dilemmas vs. obvious answers • Cases with obviously unethical behavior • Using timely cases to stimulate interest • Use ordinary situations that may not be obvious as ethical (material choices, energy use, cultural impact) • Develop case from personal experience
Using Case Studies in the Classroom • Discussing Cases • Guided Discussions • Group work • Other Activities • Response papers • Constructing original cases • Class presentations
Using Case Studies in the Classroom • Identify all ethical issues • Delineate relevant facts • Identify all stakeholders • Apply frameworks • Consequences of actions • Relevant duties and rights • Relevant virtues and values • Relational impact of choices • Propose and justify actions
Using Case Studies in the Classroom • Goals • Developing moral imagination in students • Better understanding ethical frameworks through applying them to cases • Honing moral reasoning skills
Using Case Studies in the Classroom • Pedagogical techniques • Have a list of “answers” that you want covered in the discussion/assignment, but be open to additional input from students • Construct alternate scenarios that might help students evaluate their responses • Provide a closing summary of the analysis which includes a discussion of clearly wrong choices
Further Information • http://www.engr.psu.edu/ethics/