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Introducing Ethics In Bioengineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics I

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.799.1 - 13.799.12



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Paper Authors

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George Catalano State University of New York-Binghamton

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


Engineering applies technical knowledge to solve human problems. More completely, engineering is a technological activity that uses professional imagination, judgment, integrity, and intellectual discipline in the application of science, technology, mathematics, and practical experience to design, produce, and operate useful objects or processes that meet the needs and desires of a client. Today engineering is seen as a profession which refers specifically to fields that require extensive study and mastery of specialized knowledge and a voluntary and abiding commitment to a code of conduct which prescribes ethical behavior.

A response of the engineering profession to the challenges of security, poverty and under- development, and environmental sustainability is described. Ethical codes, which govern the behavior of engineers, are examined from a historical perspective linking the prevailing codes to models of the natural world. A new ethical code based on a recently introduced model of Nature as an integral community is provided and discussed. Applications of the new code are described using a case study approach. With the ethical code based on an integral community in place, a new design algorithm is developed and also explored using case studies. Implications of the proposed changes in ethics and design on engineering education are considered.

To speak of a profession, particularly the profession of engineering implies the following five characteristics, which are useful in distinguishing professions form nonprofessional occupations.i First, entrance into a profession requires a mastery of some set body of knowledge and thus involves an extensive period of intellectual training. Second, the professionals’ knowledge and skills are seen as vital to the well being of the larger society. Third, professions typically have a monopoly or near monopoly on the provisions of their particular set of professional services. Fourth, professionals routinely have an unusual degree of autonomy in the workplace. Fifth, professionals claim to be regulated by ethical standards, usually embodied in a code of ethics. It is this last characteristic, the existence of ethical standards set forth in a code of conduct which is the focus of the present work.

A one credit hour course has been developed as part of the professional skills portion of the undergraduate bioengineering program at Binghamton University. By the end of the course, students are able to: • Identify the three challenges the modern world faces • Describe the value laden dimension of the engineering profession • Understand the importance of an ethical code • Understand the connections between ethics and philosophy • Explain the present day engineering codes of ethics • Explore various models of the natural world • Explore the significance of a morally deep world • Explore the implications of a morally deep world in engineering

Catalano, G. (2008, June), Introducing Ethics In Bioengineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3483

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