June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
This paper explores some limitations of professional codes of ethics in engineering. While codes are perhaps adequate guides for action in well-defined and familiar moral situations, they are less than helpful when circumstances are novel or unique. We propose that being reasonable in moral matters consists of more than simply following what the official rules dictate. If this is true, and if it is also the true that engineers find themselves presented with novel or ambiguous moral situations, then we should seek alternative ground for engineers’ moral conduct. An engineer who operates reasonably and intelligently in accordance with rules does not passively follow them, but instead actively applies or modifies the rules according to the problem at hand. We conclude that while codes play an important role in professional engineering, engineers also need to be well equipped to proactively and creatively analyze unique moral considerations and contexts.
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