Introduction to Ethics and Professionalism

Ethics and Professionalism
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  Overview of Themes Engineering as Social Experimentation. ―To undertake a great work, and especially a work of a novel type, means carrying out an experiment. It means taking up a struggle with the forces of nature without the assurance of emerging as the victor after the first attack. - Louis Marie Henri Navier (1785  –   1836) All products of technology present some potential dangers, and thus engineering is an inherently risky activity. In order to underscore this fact and help in exploring its ethical implications, we suggest that engineering should be viewed as an experimental process. It is not, of course, an experiment conducted solely in a laboratory under controlled conditions. Rather, it is an experiment on a social scale involving human subjects.‖  This model underscores the need for engineers to accept and share responsibilities for their work, exercise due care, imaginatively foresee hazards, conscientiously monitor their  projects when possible and alert others of dangers. Ethics and Excellence: Moral Values are embedded in Engineering ―Moral values are embedded in engineering projects as standards of excellence, not ‗tacked on‘ as external burdens.‖   Martin and Shinzinger, 2010, p. 2 Moral values are embedded at several junctures in engineering projects, including the  basic standards of safety and efficienct, the structure of technological corporations as communities of people engaged in shared activities, the character of engineers who spearheaded technological progress, and the very idea of engineering as a profession that combines advanced skill with commitment to the public good. In engineering as well as in other professions, excellence and ethics go together- for the most part and in the long run.  Engineering is about people as well as products, and the people include engineers who stand in moral (as well as monetary ) relationship with the costumers, colleagues, employers and the general public. Promoting Responsible Conduct and Preventing Wrong-doing. Compliance issues are about making sure that individuals comply to professional standards and avoid wrong doing. Procedures are needed in all corporations to deter fraud,theft,  bribery, incompetence, and a host of other forms of outright immorality. Equally essential are reasonable laws and Government regulations, including penalties for reckless and negligent conduct. Moreover, an important part of engineering ethics is preventing wrong- doing in the first  place. There is a need for what we have referred to as ― preventive ethics‖; ethical reflection and action aimed at preventing moral harm and unnecessary ethical problems. The main emphasis in ethics should be supporting responsible conduct. In fact , the vast majority of engineers are morally commited. So too are most corporations should be ―value - driven‖ rather than simply preoccupied with ―complianced -  based‖ procedures, to invoke terms used in management theory.  Not only do individual engineers have to be conscious of engineering ethics, but also companies. Companies have to be aware of their Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Responsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility is a company‘s responsibi lity to give back to the community that they profit from and to behave ethically so that both they and their community can benefit. Environmental Responsibility is a business‘s initiative to leave the environment (where it is taking its resources from) the same, if not better, that it is found it.  Myriad Moral Reasons Generate Ethical Dilemmas An ethical dilemma is a complex situation that often involves an apparent mental conflict  between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another. The topics of ethics, integrity, compromise and corruption have to become as important as other critical areas of law enforcement training if significant changes can occur (Gilman, 1999). This is also called an ethical paradox since in moral philosophy, paradox often plays a central role in ethics debates. Ethical dilemmas are often cited in an attempt to refute an ethical system or  moral code, as well as the worldview that encompasses or grows from it. The engineer should reject any paper that is intended to harm the general interest, thus avoiding a situation that might be hazardous or threatening to the environment, life, health, or other rights of human beings. In engineering as elsewhere, moral values are myriad and they can come into conflict, requiring good judgment about how to reconcile and integrate them. We emphasize that ethical dilemmas need not be a sign that something has gone wrong, instead , they indicate the presence of moral complexity. That complexity would exist even if we could eliminate all preventable  problems, such as corporate scandals. Micro and Macro Issues Micro issues concern the decisions made by individuals and companies and the internal relations of the engineering profession. Macro issues concern more global issues, such as the directions in technological development, the laws that should or should not be passed, and the collective responsibilities of groups such as engineering professional societies and consumer groups. Both micro and macro issues are important in engineering ethics and often they are interwoven.    Cautious Optimism About Technology The most general macro issues pertain to technology in its entirety, including its overall  promise and perils. Pessimist view advanced technology as ominous and often out of our control. They point to pollution, depletion of natural resources, mass death on highways and in high tech wars, fears of biological and chemical weapons, and the lingering threat of nuclear war. Optimist highlight how technology profoundly improves all our lives. Each of us benefits in some ways from the Top 20 Engineering Experiments in the twentieth century. As engineers, we are cautiously optimistic about technology. Nothing is more central to human progress than sound technology, and no aspect of creative human achievement is less appreciated by the public than engineers‘ ingenuity.  Engineers must be consistent with the social experimentation model, the exuberant confidence and hope  —  so essential to technological progress  –   needs to be accompanied by sober realism about dangers. What is Engineering Ethics? Engineering ethics is the field of  applied ethics and system of moral principles that apply to the practice of  engineering. The field examines and sets the obligations  by engineers to society, to their clients, and to the profession. As a scholarly discipline, it is closely related to subjects such as the philosophy of science, the philosophy of engineering, and the ethics of technology. It is the study of the decisions, policies, and the values that are morally desirable in engineering practice and research. It is the field of applied ethics which examines and sets standards for engineers' obligations to the public, their clients, employers and the profession Engineering Ethics is the set of rules and guidelines that engineers adhere to as a moral obligation to their profession and to the world. Engineering is a professional career that impact lives. When ethics is not followed, disaster often occurs; these disasters not only include huge
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