Asee peer logo

Toward a More Caring Code of Engineering Ethics

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Elisa Warford University of Southern California

visit author page

Elisa Warford is a senior lecturer in the Engineering Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in written and oral engineering communication and the ethics of science and technology. Her current research interests include the rhetoric of science and portrayals of engineering and technology in American literature. She is also a professional technical editor specializing in engineering writing for academia and industry. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Despite recent scholarly work that emphasizes the importance of the ethic of care in engineering practice, care ethics are not reflected in most engineering codes of ethics. Rather, the canons of these codes more often reflect traditional “universal” moral principles. Since despite their limitations, the codes of ethics are important aspirational and normative value statements for the profession—and are frequently used to teach engineering ethics—this paper proposes that the codes should include canons that reflect the ethic of care. The paper will first summarize the theory of care ethics as developed by Carol Gilligan and Nel Noddings and address critiques of care ethics as they relate to engineering. Next, it will apply care virtues to engineering to suggest that care ethics are appropriate values for engineering practice. It will propose that care ethics could be incorporated in canons that are based on virtue ethics and suggest revisions and additions to the NSPE code of ethics that would reflect care ethics. The paper will conclude by suggesting that a stronger integration of care ethics into the codes of ethics may foster a more widespread inclusion of care ethics in engineering ethics instruction.

Warford, E. (2018, June), Toward a More Caring Code of Engineering Ethics Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31147

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: © 2018 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