June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Engineering Ethics, and Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering
26.1723.1 - 26.1723.16
What is gained by articulating non-canonical engineering ethics canons? As organizers of the special session on non-canonical canons in engineering ethics, weexplore in this paper the processes by which professional societies develop Codes of Ethics, andhow institutional power shapes both processes and outcomes. In analyzing specific episodes ofcanon formation, such as the process that resulted in the omission of sustainability from theASEE Code of Ethics (despite a separate ASEE board statement on sustainable development in1999), and the process that resulted in the recent addition of sexual orientation, gender identity,and gender expression in the IEEE Code of Ethics, we hope to reveal the ways in which ethicalwork in engineering (as in other settings) is always preceded by demarcation of boundaries. Whocounts as a moral agent? Who is subject to the code? Does the code imply collective as well asindividual responsibility? Who has standing to raise concerns? Who has clout to shape the code? Moving from analysis to action, this paper explores what it means to create an alternative,a “shadow code” that lives outside the canonical articulation of engineering ethics byprofessional societies. Such an alternative or non-canonical list might directly reframe existingpriorities (say, inserting health or sustainability concerns across a wide range of ethicalinstructions for engineers) or introduce entirely new, previously unspeakable priorities (say, thenotion that in any given case of engineering practice, the most ethical action may be to choosenot to undertake an engineering project in that time or place). While we might count it a victory for some of the non-canonical canons to move, in time,into the accepted professional society codes, that is the not the primary purpose of creating thisalternative stream of ideals in engineering ethics. Rather we hope to illuminate the politicalnature of the process, the ways insider-outsider dynamics play out in professional societies, andthe contestation of what counts and does not count as engineering.
Riley, D. M., & Slaton, A. E., & Herkert, J. R. (2015, June), What is Gained by Articulating Non-canonical Engineering Ethics Canons? Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25059
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