June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Engineering endeavors require professional engineers to face and resolve myriad ethical conflicts. Several of those conflicts are related to monetization of life. The design and definition of safety features in products and the definition of reliability targets for an airplane are just a few examples of engineering situations in which monetizing life is necessary. However, placing a monetary value on life can feel uneasy to many people. It is almost as if linking dollars with life and death is “bad,” and should not even be discussed. Yet, because impossibility of failure and undefeatable safety cannot be achieved, monetizing life is an unavoidable activity in contemporary engineering work. In fact, contrary to the visceral reaction that some people have, we will show in this paper that monetizing life is the only ethical thing to do in engineering projects and what this may mean for engineering education. In this paper, we will present students’ solutions to engineering assignments that lead to ethical dilemmas in an industrial engineering class at the senior level. These student responses display a general unpreparedness to handle such conflicts effectively or with any ideological consistency. In addition, the results suggest that students’ lack of techniques and tools to approach these problems may have a more detrimental consequence. Specifically, engineering students with strong ethical principles end up making decisions that are completely misaligned and contradictory with their ethical preferences. In fact, many students are not even aware of the unethical consequences their decisions have; they actually think that they have a high ethical standard yet fail to recognize the counterintuitive implications of the position they support on the presumed moral high ground. Finally, we will show how using engineering modeling and monetization of life results in properly tackling the ethical conflict and enable engineering students to align their decisions with their ethical preferences.
Salado, A., & Katz, A. (2019, June), Monetizing Life May Be the Ethical Thing to Do Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33119
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