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Teaching The Art Of Act Utilitarianism: Ethical Decision Making In The Design Stage

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Nontechnical Skills for Engineering Technology Students

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1199.1 - 9.1199.13



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Paper Authors

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Hamid Khan

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

Session 1348

Teaching the Art of Act-Utilitarianism: Ethical Decision Making in the Design Stage

Hamid Khan Our Lady of the Lake University Graduate School of Business Administration

Abstract-- Students in an engineering design and ethics class started with the testing of a student’s “cynicism quotient” of engineering business practice. Then they were tested with an Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) instrument for their perceptual validation.

After examining some design failures and ethical dilemma cases in the semester, the students felt that they have learned something of importance— economics, morality, virtue ethics, Kantian theory, Deontological theory and Teleological theory. They, then, evaluated their own professional competence using theories of “ethics and the individual,” “ethics and the technical manager,” “ethics and the organization,” and ethics of the global business. Then they tested different theories of “ethical displacements” as it worked in different levels: individual, department, organization, and industry levels.

In this paper we are going to show significant improvement in student attitudes and ethical understanding through philosophical examination of a business case study. We will take formal measures of student attitudes before and after modular interventions.

Assessing Student Attitudes toward Business An integrated concept in ethics was discussed for student’s individual and professional development of business ethics. Students exposed to such ethics courses with stimulating ethics cases faced hard questions to answer, when placed in an ethical dilemma. They learned one thing important: “Deciding what’s right: a prescriptive approach.” The outline of the class discussion will be presented in thirteen ethics development modules and they will be integrated by a comprehensive case study to address the ethical dilemma of engineers and managers faced at the very design implementation stage. Under condition of simulated input via a case study, their behavioral reactions will be monitored.

With the introduction of a Business Cynicism questionnaire at the outset it was expected that students would be ready to experience business ethics and practices and they would learn ethical constructs in the following domains: financial gain and profit motive, ethical standards in business, financially successful business, relevance of moral values, rules of business, and the

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education.

Khan, H. (2004, June), Teaching The Art Of Act Utilitarianism: Ethical Decision Making In The Design Stage Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13765

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