Engineering Ethics. An Introduction to Ethics and its Relevance to the Profession of Engineering. Module 0 in the “Teaching Engineering Ethics” Series. Outline of Material. What are ethics and morals? Ethical theories Professional Ethics What is the engineering profession?
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An Introduction to Ethics and its Relevance to the Profession of Engineering
Module 0 in the “Teaching Engineering Ethics” Series
Classification of Actions:
Unethical but Legal
Ethical but Illegal
Consequences of action determine future behavior
Actions rewarded are “right” and are repeated
Actions punished are “wrong” and are avoided
Punishment avoidance is primary motivator
Stage 2: Quid pro quo
Good behavior results in others’ actions that satisfy one’s own personal needs
Rewards are primary motivators
Interpersonal interaction is important only to the extent that the situation can be manipulated for personal benefit— “When I do something good, I get something good”Level 1: Pre-conventional
“Good Boy – Nice Girl” orientation
Approval seeking behavior drives moral reasoning
Stage 4: Law & Order
Obey the letter of the law
Social system is stable and predictable
Conformation to laws is construed as “moral” and correct
Avoidance of guilt and or censure is primary motivatorLevel 2: Conventional
Consensus of the majority (the democratic process) results in “good laws”
“Good laws” are followed to the extent they do not interfere with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (individual rights).
Use of “due process” to change laws
Stage 6: Principled
Universal principles are recognized and accepted.
When principles are in conflict with the law, however, the principle is the guide in determining moral reasoning.
Conscience-basedLevel 3: Principled
LEVEL 2 Professional
LEVEL 3Principled Professional
Stage 1: Concern is for the gain of the individual (not the company, client, or profession)
Stage 3: Loyalty to company is primary focus. Team-player behavior precludes concern for society and environment.
Stage 5: Service to human welfare is paramount. Societal rules, morays and values may trump professional standards and corporate loyalty.
Stage 2: Corporate loyalty, client confidence, proper conduct are pursued but again only for personal gain and advancement.
Stage 4: Loyalty to company is connected to loyalty to the profession. Good engineering is good for the profession, but the societal concerns are not emphasized.
Stage 6: Professional conduct is guided solely by a sense of fairness and genuine concern for society, individuals, and the environment. Decisions are based only on well-established personal principles and may contradict professional codes and even social rules.McCuen’s Ethical Dimensions
McCuen’s Six Categories of Professional Engineering Morality (McCuen, R. H. (1979). "The Ethical Dimensions of Professionalism." Issues in Engineering105(E12): 89-105.)
* from Martin. M. & Schinzinger, R. Ethics in Engineering (3rd Ed.) (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, pp. 2-3.