engineering ethics assignment 1

Questions

1.Codes of Ethics. Present one argument that a professional engineering code of ethics for is necessary, and one argument that a professional code of ethics is either unnecessary or undesirable. Which of these two arguments do you find more persuasive? Explain why.

2. Conflicts of Interest. Describe a conflict of interest that an engineer in your field could encounter in professional practice. (Be sure that the two main elements of a conflict of interest are clear in your description.) What course of action do you this engineer should take, and why? Reflect on the intuitions behind your answer. Which of the three major ethical perspectives — consequentialism, deontology, or virtue ethics — does your answer most closely match? Explain.

3. Confidentiality. Describe a situation in which an engineer in your field could encounter some pressure or temptation to divulge confidential information of a present or past employer (for reasons other than whistleblowing on that employer). Drawing from class discussions, lectures, and reading, summarize one consequentialist argument against divulging confidential information in professional engineering practice, and summarize one deontological argument against doing so. Do you find either of these arguments persuasive in your case? Why or why not?

4. Risk and Safety. Describe a decision that an engineer in your field might face that has the potential to pose a safety risk to the public. What do you think is the right thing to do in this situation? Drawing upon information from class, what is one psychological factor that might influence the public’s perspective of whether this risk is acceptable? What is one social or institutional factor that could impact the engineer’s perception? Explain.

5. Whistleblowing. Describe a situation in which an engineer in your field might be faced with a decision concerning whether or not to blow the whistle on an employer. What should that engineer do according to Richard DeGeorge’s harm-prevention view? Do you agree? Why or why not? Do your intuitions about this case fit better with either of the other two ethical perspectives on whistleblowing discussed in class? Explain.

6. Designing for Values. Describe an example in which the idea of “benign by design” could be applied in your field of engineering. In addition to safety, are there other values of direct or indirect stakeholders that could be affected by the design? Explain how additional values might be incorporated into the design, and whether you think this is overall a good approach to design.

7. Engineering for the Environment. Describe a way in which the goal of sustainable development could influence work in your field (making sure your answer clearly illustrates the concept). Describe what you believe is the strongest moral argument for an engineer to strive for sustainable design. Is this argument anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric? Explain.

8. Identifying Ethical Issues. Think of other scenarios or decision problems an engineer might encounter on the job that fall outside of the major types of ethical issues discussed in class. Describe one that is morally relevant according to at least one of the following ethical theories: utilitarianism; the Principle of Universalizability; the Principle of Humanity. Choose one of these theories, and explain why this theory entails that the situation described is indeed a matter of morality. Be sure that your answer displays a clear understanding of the theory.

9. Interviewing an Engineer. Contact a practicing engineer (or retired engineer) and interview them about what they consider to be the most important ethical issues they face in their work. Summarize the main takeaway lessons from the interview. What lessons from Phil 1332 are most relevant to this engineer’s real-life ethical issues?