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Engineering Based On Love

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Topics in Engineering Ethics IV

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.543.1 - 14.543.11



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Paper Authors

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George Catalano State University of New York, Binghamton

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Caroline Baillie Queens University, Kingston

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Engineering Based on Love


A recent death of a beloved member of one of our immediate families has served as a catalyst for our reflection on not only the nature of our work but also upon our approach to the issue of reforms in engineering and engineering education which are desperately needed. In engineering we often speak of development and now of sustainability. Far too often it seems that the model used in engineering in general and in engineering education specifically is based upon profit making. The ultimate goal is economic growth with little if any interest in peace, social or environmental justice or wealth distribution. Such a model ignores inequalities, has contempt for the arts and literature, promotes group think, needs docile students and de-emphasizes critical thinking. We would like to offer a different paradigm, one which has as its priority the development of not only the human species but also the rest of the natural world. We would like to offer a new paradigm for engineering based upon a new ethic, linked to our capacity to love. Using such a paradigm, each and every being matters, groups are disaggregated into individuals and equal respect exists for each individual. Such an ethic calls upon us to transcend our own particular situations and imagine a global society which is based upon equality, to honor individual dissent and to develop our own individual narrative of moral imagination, that is, to develop the ability to be in another’s shoes, to cultivate our inner eye of seeing and knowing and to overcome the blindness that we have all become far too accustomed.

I. Introduction

Morals were too essential to the happiness of man, to be risked on the uncertain combinations of the head. [Nature] laid their foundation, therefore, in sentiment, not in science. Thomas Jefferson1

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue. Dalai Lama2

What exactly is meant by an engineering based on love? As engineers and engineering educators, some of us have encountered traditional applied ethics theories including Utilitarianism,3 rights-based ethics4 and virtue ethics5 to name a few. As a starting point for the present work, a brief description of each of these applied ethical theories shall be presented. Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely

Catalano, G., & Baillie, C. (2009, June), Engineering Based On Love Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5244

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