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Ethics in Engineering or Engineering in Ethics?

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Reimagining Engineering Ethics

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

19

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34590

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/34590

Download Count

139

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Paper Authors

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Grant A. Fore Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5432-0726

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Grant Fore is a Research Associate in the STEM Education Innovation and Research Institute (SEIRI) at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. As a SEIRI staff member, Grant is involved in research development, qualitative and mixed methods research, and programmatic assessment and evaluation. His research interests include ethics and equity in STEM education, the intersubjective experience of the instructor/student encounter, secondary STEM teacher professional development, and issues of power in STEM education discourse. He is also an Anthropology doctoral candidate at the University of Cape Town, where he was previously awarded a Master's degree. His dissertation research is focused on exploring the ethical becoming of architecture students within courses utilizing community-engaged pedagogies.

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Justin L. Hess Purdue University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1210-9535

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Dr. Justin L Hess is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Hess’s research interests include exploring empathy’s functional role in engineering; advancing the state of the art of engineering ethics instruction; and evaluating learning in the spaces of design, ethics, and sustainability. Justin received his PhD from Purdue University's School of Engineering Education, as well as a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science from Purdue University's School of Civil Engineering. Justin is the 2020 program chair for the ASEE LEES division.

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Andrew Katz Virginia Tech

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Andrew Katz is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.

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Abstract

This paper explores how the relationship between ethics and engineering has been and could be framed. Specifically, two distinct framings will be conceptualized and explored: ethics in engineering and engineering in ethics. As with other disciplines, engineering typically subsumes ethics, appropriating it as its own unique subfield. As a framing, ethics in engineering produces specialized standards, codes, values, perspectives, and problems distinct to engineering thought and practice. These form an engineering education discourse with which engineers engage. It is epistemological in its focus, meaning that this framing constructs knowledge of proper disciplinary conduct. On the other hand, engineering in ethics as a framing device insists that engineering become a specialized articulation of ethical thought and action. Here, “engineer” and “engineering” are not nouns but verbs, referring to particular processes and technologies for transformation. One is not an “engineer;” rather, one “engineers.” One is first an ethical subject – an historical aggregate of continuous experiences/becomings – concerned with the pursuit of “the good” in the present; then, when contextually relevant, such a subject’s engineering knowledge and skills may be employed as powerful means for the becoming-good of shared worlds.

In this paper, engineering in ethics is further conceptualized through a playful intermingling of an ethic of care, via the scholarship of Joan Tronto, and a Deweyian approach to ethical inquiry. Tronto’s four elements of care – attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness – are joined with what are arguably four key components of Dewey’s process of ethical inquiry: awareness, judgment, experimentation, and iteration. This paper argues that 1) being attentive is required to achieve awareness of a given need or problem, 2) taking responsibility is a necessary practice for making and acting on one’s judgements related to the need at hand, 3) competence in a relevant skill is needed to experiment with one’s judgements, and 4) careful consideration of how others respond to how one has addressed a need is essential for the purposes of iteration. While all four contribute to the notion of engineering in ethics, the relationship between competence and experimentation is where engineering is most evidently seized as an ethical expression. How one competently wields engineering knowledge and skillfully performs disciplinary techniques is, here, foremost about actively inquiring into how to provide care for a specific need and, in doing so, creating a world aligned with one’s vision of “the good.” This paper will close with a brief consideration of the educational implications of engineering in ethics.

Fore, G. A., & Hess, J. L., & Katz, A. (2020, June), Ethics in Engineering or Engineering in Ethics? Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34590

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015