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Do Engineers Have Social Responsibilities?

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1 Do Engineers Have Social Responsibilities?
“People enjoy what technology can do for them while often ignoring what it can do to them” --Edward Wenk

2 What does “having” social responsibilities mean?
It means a commitment from the engineering profession, and, by proxy, the individual engineers who belong to the profession, to place the public safety and interest ahead of all other considerations and obligations (with certain caveats to be explained later). It means that engineers take into account and show due regard for the consequences of their conduct for the well-being of others as well as for the impact of their work on society and the citizenry. This requires the engineer to make determined efforts to discover all of the relevant facts concerning the design, development, and deployment and all of the possible outcomes of the choices available that may positively and negatively affect/impact society and the citizenry

3 Social Responsibilities of Engineers (Some Examples)
Ensure the safety and well-being of the public Ensure that society’s funds and resources concerning technology are well used Refusing to work on a particular project or for a particular company Speaking out publicly against a proposed project Blowing the whistle on illegality or wrong-doing Professional Societies’ obligation to provide protection for whistleblowers Individual and organizational concern about the impact of engineering projects on society Contributing one’s services to worthy, non-profit groups and projects Engineering schools’ commitment to educating future engineers about their social responsibilities

4 Social Responsibilities of Engineers (Some Examples)
Commitment of engineering professions and organizations to principles of social responsibility Commitment of risk assessment experts to ethical risk/safety assessments Actively promote the ethical development and use of technology Voluntarily assume the task of educating the public about important consequences of various technological and scientific developments Commitment of engineers to design and develop sustainable technologies Provide expert advice to non-experts Take part in democratic procedures for technology decision making and policy management Social activism of engineers in the public Interest Explicit care and concern about technology’s impact on Nature and the Environment Abiding by the principles of sustainable development when thinking about engineering designs Abiding by the “precautionary principle” when thinking about engineering designs In engineering design, engineers have practiced social responsibility by applying factors of safety to their designs and by building in redundancy

5 Engineering Social Responsibility
Why do engineers have the responsibility to think about the interaction of technology and society? One reason: Because engineers are the ones who create all of the technology Responsible moral beings are supposed to think about the effects of their own actions and creations especially if they impact others Possible response: “but engineers and scientists, like professionals in general, are supposed to implement the goals of their employers and clients, not decide what those goals should be”

6 The nature of engineer-manager relations in large organizations
Arguments that Engineers Don’t (Shouldn’t/Couldn’t) Have Social Responsibilities Engineering is not a true profession so society should not expect that engineers have social responsibilities like the other “true” professions Engineering is a value-free enterprise that deals only in objective facts Engineers are not qualified to make ethical judgments on behalf of society so it is unfair to think they should or could The nature of engineer-manager relations in large organizations Engineers lack decision-making autonomy and power

7 Arguments that Engineers Don’t (Shouldn’t/Couldn’t) Have Social Responsibilities (Argument One)
Engineering is not a true profession and so society shouldn’t hold the profession of engineering, or individual engineers, to higher ethical standards as it does other true professions such as medicine, law, and university professors Professions have social responsibilities but engineering is not a profession like medicine and law and so it does not have the same, higher, social responsibilities Engineering does not serve a crucial social need and high ends that is the basis of an implicit social contract Engineering is not given the same privileges other professionals so there is not a social contract that promotes engineering social responsibility

8 Engineers Don’t (Shouldn’t/Couldn’t) Have Social Responsibilities: Argument One
Differences between engineers and other professionals such as medicine, law, university professors, etc. Such professions serve crucial social needs and high ends such as Health (Doctors), Truth and Knowledge (Professors), Social Justice (Lawyers) Society grants special privileges to such groups for socially recognized essential needs Engineering lacks such ends, privileges, and protections Engineers lack legal and quasi-legal protections to do or refrain from performing certain actions: for example, professors (academic freedom), journalists (sources), and clergy and psychiatrists (confidentiality) Counterargument The professionalization of engineering Engineering does serve crucial social needs Material well-being through technological systems and artifacts

9 Engineers Don’t (Shouldn’t/Couldn’t) Have Social Responsibilities: Argument Two
Engineers maintain a value-free objectivity following a scientific methodology absent of any subjectivity To make individual engineers socially responsible is to inject a radical, arbitrary, and precarious subjectivity based on the “whims” of individual engineers " ethics is not, or should not be a medium for expressing one’’s personal opinions about life. " "Engineers do not have the responsibility, much less the right, to establish goals for society." (Florman, p. 95) Counterargument Engineers, because they know the technology at the most intimate level, are aware of its risks and limits as well as its benefits Engineers could be educated to become more aware of their ethical responsibilities and how to make ethically responsible decisions regarding its design, development, and deployment

10 Engineers Don’t (Shouldn’t/Couldn’t) Have Social Responsibilities: Argument Three
The individual engineer is not qualified to make judgments as to the ethical acceptability or unacceptability of technology The choices as to which technology should be designed or built can only be made on the basis of systems of human values incapable of validation by the scientific and/or the engineering method “It is not the engineer's job, in his or her daily work, to second-guess prevailing standards of safety or pollution control, nor to challenge democratically established public policy." (Florman) Counterargument Is this a subterfuge for inaction?” Engineers cannot escape social responsibilities for choice of action by alleging some kind of objectivity not possessed by the layperson or lay citizenry or by claiming incompetence and/or ignorance as to the social impact of his/her design, and the corresponding public sentiment about it. Whose interests does it serve? Does it serve corporate interests at the expense of the interests of the public when it comes to risk or harm to the citizenry? Is this an abdication of responsibility?

11 Engineer-Manager Relations in Large Corporations or Organizations: Argument Four
The “Received View”: The corporate engineer lacks the sufficient autonomy necessary to be responsible and ethical The engineer is in constant conflict with management who often ends up overriding engineering judgment concerning engineering designs because of their incessant pursuit of the bottom line Lack of professional autonomy leaves scant room for ethical decision making (but not ethical judgment)

12 Engineers identify options, test them, and report the work to managers
Engineer-Manager Relations in Large Corporations or Organizations: Argument Four (cont.) Engineers are a captive profession in a highly compartmentalized work environment. Managers choose what to do, divide work up into small groups, and assign each engineer to a particular one Communication between engineers and managers is kept to a minimum to assure management control Engineers identify options, test them, and report the work to managers Managers combine these reports with business information they alone have. Managers decide, engineers merely advise

13 Engineers are not independent professionals—They are employees
Engineer-Manager Relations in Large Corporations or Organizations : Argument Four (cont.) Corporate engineers are used as “hired hands” who develop technology with the sole purpose of advancing the economic demands of the corporation or client Engineers are not independent professionals—They are employees Emerging from the canal and railway building enterprises of the nineteenth century American engineering is a creature of large bureaucratic organizations—individual engineers were the original “organization man”

14 The concept of “Organization Man”
This term was coined in the 1960s when sociological analyses of bureaucracies were conducted An “organization man” is someone who represses or suppresses his or her individual desires and values and molds their personal behavior to conform to the demands of the organization he or she works for; a conformist Another definition is a employee of large corporations who has adapted so completely to what is expected in attitudes, ideas, and behaviors of the corporation so that they lose a sense of personal identity or independence Someone who so fully adapts that their personal identity and values are absorbed by organizational objectives and values Someone who sacrifices his or her own individuality for what is perceived as the good of the organization

15 Engineer-Manager Relations in Large Corporations or Organizations: Counterargument
Recent research: The Received View is False Instead of rigid hierarchical and compartmentalized decision making process of the received view There exists a highly fluid process depending heavily on meetings and less formal exchange of information across departmental boundaries Managers seemed to have little control over what information would reach the engineers Managers are anxious to get engineers to hook up with one another for collaboration

16 Arguments/rationales for the Social Responsibility of Engineers
Codes of Ethics Professionalism Social Contract Model Engineering Societies Principle of Proportionate Care Engineering as Social Experimentation The Intrinsic Purpose of Engineering Itself The Impacts of Technology on Society

17 Rationales for Social Responsibility of Engineers
Fundamental Canons (NSPE) Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public Perform services only in areas of their competence Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees Avoid deceptive acts

18 Rationales for Social Responsibility of Engineers
IEEE Code of Ethics We, the members of the IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, its members and the communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to the highest ethical and professional conduct and agree: 1. to accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment; 5. to improve the understanding of technology, its appropriate application, and potential consequences

19 Engineering Codes of Ethics
ASCE Code of Ethics Fundamental Canon 1.Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties. Software Engineering Code of Ethics Principle1.03. Approve software only if they have a well-founded belief that it is safe, meets specifications, passes appropriate tests, and does not diminish quality of life, diminish privacy or harm the environment. The ultimate effect of the work should be to the public good.

20 IEEE Code of Ethics for Engineers
ARTICLE IV  Engineers shall, in fulfilling their responsibilities to the community: Protect the safety, health and welfare of the public and speak out against abuses in these areas affecting the public interest; Contribute professional advice, as appropriate, to civic, charitable or other non-profit organizations; Seek to extend public knowledge and appreciation of the engineering profession and its achievements

21 Professionalism WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL? Originally, one who professed adherence to monastic vows of a religious order. * a free act of commitment to a specific way of life * allegiance to high moral standards * skill, knowledge, practice of an art Today, it is one who is “duly qualified” in a specific field * special theoretical knowledge or education * appropriate experience * knowledge and skills vital to the well-being of a large potion of society * Professional organization and a code of ethic * special social sanction

22 Models of Professionalism
Business Model * professional status provides economic gain * monopoly provides for high pay * self-regulation avoids government regulation

Social Contract Model Professionals are guardians of the public trust Professions are social institutions—they are organized by some act of society and are granted special powers in return for socially beneficial goods and services (Licensure) An implicit, unstated agreement exists between professional and society Society may subsidize training of professionals

24 The Implicit Contract Between Society and the Engineering Profession
Society agrees to: * allow a certain autonomy - freedom of self-regulation - freedom to choose clients * social status - respect from society, titles * high remuneration - reward for services - attract competent individuals Society grants the professions the autonomy to define their own norms of behavior and action because it values their knowledge and the discretion to use it towards some socially recognized ends Society gives professions and professionals special powers not granted to ordinary citizens to perform their socially defined roles

25 The Implicit Contract Between Society and the Engineering Profession
Professionals agree to: * provide a service - for the public well-being - promote public welfare, even at own expense * self-regulation - enforce competence - enforce ethical standards

26 The Implicit Contract Between Society and the Engineering Profession
Clients place their trust not only in individual professionals but also in the professional organization and they trust professionals because the exercise of professional discretion at the individual level is governed by rules which are prescribed and enforced by the group By developing codes of professional ethics a profession can be said to have acknowledged an organizational responsibility to evaluate individual behavior according to group norms (BER of NSPE) The professions’ presumptive preference for self-regulation as an alternative to increased public control requires that they assume greater internal control over their affairs. This means that the profession of engineering has a strong responsibility to make sure that technology is produced that is good and beneficial to society, and technological goods should be distributed fairly and justly among all members of our society

27 The Implicit Contract Between Society and the Engineering Profession
Self regulation places the burden of proof collectively on the organization to ensure that individual members are technically competent to perform their duties according to high ethical standards and that engineers have genuine concern for how technology impacts society, both negatively as well as positively To voluntarily claim the benefits of a profession a member of that profession is obligated to follow the rules and norms of that profession—If not, they would be taking unfair advantage of a voluntary cooperative practice

28 Principle of Proportionate Care
Principle of Due Care: “All things being equal, one should exercise due care to avoid contributing to significantly harming others” Principle of Proportionate Care “When one is in a position to contribute to greater harm or when one is in a position to play a more critical part in producing harm than is another person, one must exercise greater care to avoid so doing” If doctors fail to do their job with technical competency or ethical commitment, an individual may be harmed or killed If engineers fail to do their job with technical competency or commitment to ethics, dozens, hundreds, even thousands may be harmed or killed

29 Principle of Proportionate Care
To the extent that the engineers, due to their special knowledge of technology, and the fact that technology could be risky and dangerous, could harm society, they must exercise due care in the practice of their profession. The more engineers are in a position to harm society, the more they should be held to a higher ethical standard Society requires this in order to ensure the safe and reliable design, development, and deployment of technological systems and artifacts

30 Principle of Proportionate Care
There is a direct relationship between their ability to cause harm and the need to hold engineers to the highest of ethical standards High Level of Harm High Level of Ethics Potential to cause harm Level of Ethical Standard

31 The Separatist Thesis: The Special Obligations of Professional Engineers
A good starting point for deciding whether anyone has a special moral obligation to others is to ask whether s/he is especially well placed to benefit or harm them…The outcome of scientific work can often have great impact for good or ill on other people. Quite frequently scientists can predict this outcome earlier and more accurately than others. Sometimes they can even modify the results. One could claim therefore, that engineers are in one of those special positions which give them special obligations”) Examples: Columbia Tragedy, Challenger Disaster, DC-10 Crashes, Ford Pinto Rear End Collisions. Example: Physicians and nurses have a special obligation to use their knowledge and skills to improve the health of their patients

32 The Intrinsic Nature of Engineering
There are two general types of definitions of engineering: The Narrow Definition and the Broad Definition The Narrow Definition Engineering is the application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economic structures, machines, processes, and systems Engineering is the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics, chemistry, biology, etc. --Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary Engineering is the science and art of efficient dealing with materials and forces ... it involves the most economic design and execution ... assuring, when properly performed, the most advantageous combination of accuracy, safety, durability, speed, simplicity, efficiency, and economy possible for the conditions of design and service. Engineering is the practical application of science to commerce or industry "Engineering design is the systematic, intelligent generation and evaluation of specifications for artifacts whose form and function achieve stated objectives and satisfy specified constraints."

33 The Intrinsic Nature of Engineering
The Broad Definition The engineer is one who is claimed to possess specialized knowledge, esp. as regards the treating of human problems by scientific or technical means. "Engineering is the professional art of applying science to the optimum conversion of natural resources to the benefit of man.“ Engineering is the profession that puts power and materials to work for the benefit of mankind

34 The Intrinsic Nature of Engineering
The Broad Definition Engineering is the application of science to the common purpose of life. Engineering is the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man. Engineering is the art of organizing and directing men and controlling the forces and materials of nature for the benefit of the human race. Engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind. --Engineers Council for Professional Development (1961/1979)

35 The Intrinsic Nature of Engineering
The Broad Definition The engineer is the key figure in the material progress of the world. It is his engineering that makes a reality of the potential value of science by translating scientific knowledge into tools, resources, energy and labor to bring them into the service of man ... To make contributions of this kind the engineer requires the imagination to visualize the needs of society and to appreciate what is possible as well as the technological and broad social…understanding to bring his vision to reality.

36 Engineering and Society
“Engineering is a great profession. There is a fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge, through the aid of science, to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs home to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comfort of life. That is the engineer's high privilege….To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope…” --Herbert Hoover (US mining engineer & 3ist President of the US) ( )

37 Defining Engineering “Engineering is that profession in which knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.” (The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology – ABET, 1992) “Engineering is the application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems.” “Engineering is the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and the convenience of people. In its modern form engineering involves people, money, materials, machines, and energy. It is differentiated from science because it is primarily concerned with how to direct to useful and economical ends the natural phenomena which scientists discover and formulate into acceptable theories. Engineering therefore requires above all the creative imagination to innovate useful applications of natural phenomena. It seeks newer, cheaper, better means of using natural sources of energy and materials.” (Science and Technology Encyclopedia, McGraw Hill) Engineering is the professional art of applying science to the optimum conversion of the resources of nature to the uses of humankind. (Encyclopedia Britannica) Engineering is the application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

38 Defining Engineering “ Scientist discovers that which exists. An engineer creates that which never was” Theodore von Karman ( )

39 Engineering and Ethics
If we accept these definitions of engineering, it is crucial to realize the centrality of ethical concerns at the core of the engineering enterprise Concern for social well being and humanity are part of the very definition of engineering Assuming the intellectual rigor of these definitions, the need of ethics in engineering id nothing superfluous or added, but it is the essence of the engineering profession

40 Engineering and Social Values
Today the consequences of human creativity in the areas of engineering, technology, and science have reached measures that only a few decades ago were unimaginable (e.g., genetic engineering, biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technologies, artificial intelligence) This capacity and development mean an enormous amount of Power “Knowledge is Power” (Francis Bacon, 16??) With Power comes Responsibility Knowledge implies responsibility – the obligations of the engineer must be commensurate with the level of his or her knowledge and power With Responsibility comes Obligation and Accountability The fact of living in a complex, global, and intercultural world coupled with the unquestionable technological power wielded by governments and societies Makes it necessary that engineers amplify the horizon of their technical knowledge with humanistic values and harmonize their specialized formation and development with knowledge of the norms, principles, and ideals of ethics

41 Engineering and Social Values
In view of the enormous power of technology and science and the enormous potential risks they pose, it is indispensable to stimulate and develop the consciousness of the moral responsibility of engineers There exists an urgent need to complement technical knowledge with the development of values, attitudes, and knowledge that facilitate professional and ethical excellence It is necessary to develop social skills and team work based in the respect for the proper values of civic and social ethics

42 Engineering Ethics Engineering ethics is derived from the awesome power of modern technology The institutionalization of engineering ethics is a social necessity due to the fact that the actions of engineers can have such enormous impact on the lives of individuals, states, cultures, the environment, and the entire planet An engineer is a professional who uses technologies—and the knowledge that he possesses of diverse technical systems: objects of all kinds, and in particular, machines, tools and systems—to create other technical systems that satisfy human needs and well-being It is necessary to develop with rigor and depth a concept of ethics and responsibility commensurate with our immense technological powers in order to advance to a safer and more just world

43 I take the vision which comes from dreams
SONG OF THE ENGINEER I take the vision which comes from dreams And apply the magic of science and mathematics Adding the heritage of my profession And my knowledge of Nature’s materials To create a design. I organize the efforts and skills of my fellow workers Employing the capital of the thrifty And the products of many industries And together we work toward our goal Undaunted by hazards and obstacles. And when we have completed our task All can see That the dreams and plans have materialized For the comfort and welfare for all. I am an Engineer. I serve mankind By making dreams come true. (Unknown Author)

44 Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century
The National Academy of Engineering published a list of the 20th century's most notable engineering achievements. Some of the top achievements include: electrification automobile airplane water supply and distribution electronics radio and television Computers agricultural mechanization Spacecraft --household appliances internet; telephone --highways; imaging health technologies --petroleum technologies high-performance materials.

45 Definitions of Engineering Ethics
“The study of the cases and moral decisions that face individuals and organizations in the field of engineering; as well as the study of questions relative to the moral ideals, character, and political relations between persons and corporations involved in technolgocial activities” (Lenk, 1997)

46 The Purpose of Engineering Ethics
The subject matter of engineering ethics can neither consist of a set of procedures or concrete values that are applied mechanically in problematic situations nor the inculcation into a certain set of beliefs The purpose of engineering ethics is to increase the skill of moral judgment and to develop the moral autonomy of the engineer To improve the skills necessary to think critically about the ethical aspects and consequences of engineering design and work

47 Why Engineering Ethics?
Stressing the role of ethics in the study and practice of engineering has at least three important consequences: It stimulates the recognition of the complexity of ethical issues in engineering It generates better skills at responding to and solving moral problems It shows that society considers ethics as essential to the formation of excellent and outstanding professionals

48 Objectives of Engineering Ethics
To compliment the technical knowledge derived from engineering education with the development of moral values and the capacity for sound moral judgment To compliment the technical perspective with ethical analysis that leads to more responsible decision making Develop ethical decision making in engineering that will attend to the exigency of universal moral principles and not only to the force of legislation, the law, or fear of punishment To increase knowledge about the duties, obligations and moral responsibilities of engineers in the practice of their professional labor To promote the knowledge and development of professional virtues in order to produce excellent engineers that are committed to, and contribute to, social progress and social justice

49 Reintegrating Engineering and Philosophy
“…Today's conflicts between the views that the humanities hold of science and engineering and the views science and engineering hold of the humanities weaken the very core of our culture. Their cause is lack of integration in today's education among subjects…A new…[multidisciplinary model]…is needed to provide every educated person with a basic understanding of the endeavors and instruments that help us address our world and shape a new morality-the humanities, in the noblest sense of the word, to civilize, science to understand nature, and engineering, broadly defined, to encompass the kindred activities that modify nature. Integration of these endeavors is urgent…No domain can any longer be considered and learned in isolation...” George Bugliarello,

50 The Segregation of Academic Disciplines/Fields of Study
Engineering Science Humanities The Segregation of Academic Disciplines/Fields of Study Natural Science Humanities Where should we put the academic study of Engineering on this continuum?

51 Engineering as a Humanity
Is Engineering more like Natural Science or more like a field of studies in the Humanities? If you look at the very definition of engineering, you will see that engineering is intimately connected to the humanities because it is the application of scientific theory to solve certain problems of humanity—namely it’s need for technology

52 Some Remarks on the History of the Engineering Profession
Engineering was defined originally as the art of managing engines; in its modern and extended sense, the art and science by which the mechanical properties of matter are made useful to man in structures and machines (Webster’s Abridged Dictionary) Until the Industrial Revolution there were only two kinds of engineers. The military engineer built such things as fortifications, catapults, and, later, cannons. The civil engineer built bridges, harbors, aqueducts, buildings, and other structures. During the early 19th Century in England mechanical engineering developed as a separate field to provide manufacturing machines and the engines to power them. The first British professional society of civil engineers was formed in 1818; that for mechanical engineers followed in In the United States, the order of growth of the different branches of engineering, measured by the date a professional society was formed, is civil engineering (1852), mining and metallurgical engineering (1871), mechanical engineering (1880), electrical engineering (1884), and chemical engineering (1908). Aeronautical engineering, industrial engineering, and genetic engineering are more modern developments. The first schools in the United States to offer an engineering education were the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1817, an institution now known as Norwich Univ. in 1819, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1825.

53 Limitations of Paramountcy Clause
The “paramountcy clause” in engineering codes of ethics obligates engineers to “hold paramount” (i.e., above all) the health, safety, and welfare of individuals, groups, and societies that may be impacted by technological innovation and the implementation of technological systems “The ‘paramountcy’ principle [in the engineering codes of ethics] imposes an impossible burden of responsibility on individual engineers.” (Baum, 1990) Most decisions involving complex technologies in our society cannot be made by one individual or one individual group alone and there is no defensible justification for engineers—individually or collectively—to take the decision-making responsibility onto themselves. The only morally justifiable procedure for making decisions in such complex cases is for all affected parties or their delegated representatives to be provided with all of the available information relevant to the decision and for them to have an equitable say in the final decision

54 Limitations of Paramountcy Clause
“To promote the health, welfare, and safety of society…” They are not required to promote the good but they are morally obligated to exercise reasonable care that their activities do not contribute to the bringing about of harm such as death, pain, disability, loss of opportunity or loss of overall happiness. The social responsibilities of engineers according to the risk and public consent model are: Recognize the right of each individual potentially affected by a project to participate to an appropriate degree in the making of decisions concerning the project Do everything in their power to provide complete, accurate, and understandable information to all potentially affected parties

55 Limitations of Paramountcy Clause
Engineers have an obligation to make reasonable efforts to find out what the client or company intends to do with their invention, research, or design, or product The primary social responsibility of engineers and scientists is to avoid causing harm “The most meaningful question that can be asked concerning engineering ethics is ‘What can reasonably be done to minimize the risks associated with the work of engineers’?” Critics claim that it is too much to ask of engineering to honor the “principle of beneficence,” that is, the principle that asks engineers to not only make sure that their innovations do not harm society, but that their designs and inventions actively help and benefit society

56 The Social and Professional Responsibilities of Engineers
by Deborah Johnson I. “Guns for Hire” Engineers should provide their skills to anyone irrespective of moral convictions (within limits of law) II. Personal and Professional Values Engineers should refuse to work on projects they deem to conflict with their (personal) morals III. Risk and Public Consent Engineers should refuse to work on projects that increase societal risk or degrade public safety unless the public is informed and consents

57 The Social and Professional Responsibilities of Engineers
by Deborah Johnson “Guns for Hire” Engineers should provide their skills to anyone irrespective of moral convictions (within limits of law) PRINCIPLES Suggests that engineers can and should act amorally It is not fair or useful to have engineers impose their personal views on society PROBLEMS Contradicts very idea of a profession Assumes market and regulation will properly filter out bad projects and give the public what it wants or is best for it The “system” bears all the responsibilities

58 Engineers as “Guns for Hire”
The “guns for hire” attitude is a rationalization which allows engineering to avoid social responsibilities

59 The Social and Professional Responsibilities of Engineers
by Deborah Johnson Personal and Professional Values Engineers should refuse to work on projects they deem to conflict with their (personal) morals PRINCIPLES Individual conscience used to make professional judgments Engineers should direct their skills only for projects of positive value to humanity Matters of conscience, and matters of safety and welfare of society inextricably linked PROBLEMS Principle empty of content (what does “positive” mean?) Fails to draw the line between personal and professional ethics (too much reliance on personal choices to decide what is ethical) Fails to provide ethical guidelines for engineers to follow

60 The Social and Professional Responsibilities of Engineers
by Deborah Johnson Risk and Public Consent Engineers should refuse to work on projects that increase societal risk or degrade public safety unless the public is informed and consents PRINCIPLES Engineers views are not imposed on society Engineers can be assured the public has consented to “acceptable risks” PROBLEMS Impractical to obtain consent of public or implement in some situations (how to deal with non- unanimous consent; what if people disagree?; who makes the decisions?) Engineers are not assigned the responsibility to determine whether or not adequate consent is given

61 Military Research Questions:
The Social and Professional Responsibilities of Engineers What do social responsibilities of engineers require for military research? “Guns for Hire” Personal and Professional Values Risk and Public Consent Military Research Questions: (1) Is it “good” for humanity? (2) Are those affected informed about it? (3) The logic of secrecy? Conclusions: Provides a framework for analysis (not a solution) about issues of military research Engineers should not abdicate their responsibilities (cannot justify : GFH view) Ethical issues in military research are matters of both personal conscience and professional judgment

62 Do Engineers Have Social Responsibilities?
By Deborah Johnson The Concept of Responsibility Role Responsibility Engineering Practice Deducing the Social Responsibilities of Engineers Three Levels of Analysis Ordinary Morality Social Contract 1. Individual role responsibility 2. Rules of the profession 3. Highest goods and Principles Comparison To other Professions Social Responsibility Questions: (1) Does the American engineering system assign responsibility to engineers? (2) Should society assign special social responsibilities to engineers? (3) If so, on what ethical foundations?

63 Deducing the Social Responsibilities of Engineers
(Understanding the logical foundations of an Engineer’s duty towards social responsibility) I. Social Contract Theories Society grants a profession special benefits in return for a promise of certain standards of behavior Rights and responsibilities of individual professionals arise from social arrangements hypothetically agreed because they are in the rational self interest of both parties II. Theories of “Ordinary Morality” The “Due No Harm” Principle Other things being equal, it is wrong to harm others Other things being equal, one should exercise due care to avoid contributing to significantly harming others The Principle of Proportionate Care: “When one is in a position to contribute greater harms or when one is in a position to play a more critical part in producing harm than is another person, one must exercise greater care to avoid so doing”

64 Deducing the Social Responsibilities of Engineers
I. Social Contract Theories Engineers Society Autonomy (1) promise to design and produce safe and Funding and educational opportunities reliable technologies Control over licensing and entry requirements (2) promise to regulate themselves in High prestige and economic standing providing their services Problems: 1. The rights to do engineering work is not reserved for engineers (counterpoint): The rights only apply to “licensed” engineers (P.E.s)—a small number or practicing engineers 2. Engineers do not exercise sufficient autonomy or power to protect society (counterpoint): the “profession” of engineering, in instituting mechanisms for regulating its members, receives “contractual” rights and therefore bears collective (professional) responsibility

65 Deducing the Social Responsibilities of Engineers
II. Theories of “Ordinary Morality” Principles: 1. Proportionate care: “When one is in a position to contribute greater harms or when one is in a position to play a more critical part in producing harm than is another person, one must exercise greater care to avoid so doing” 2. A direct connection between one’s power to affect a situation and one’s responsibility to take care 3. Engineers have special expertise and engineering projects do pose potentially grave social harms (risks) Problems: 1. Does not apply just to engineers (managers have the power; engineers lack autonomy) 2. The concept “exercising due care” is vague (whistle blowing, other acts of dissent) 3. The focus on “harm” shifts attention from what engineering projects do: pose RISKS 4. The issue is not: “Will I contribute to significant harm?; rather it is “How much risk will there be?” “Is the risk worth the benefit?” “What is an acceptable degree of risk?” 5. Engineer-Management relations (Ford Pinto; Challenger; DC-10): Engineers acted responsibly; Managers acted irresponsibly)

66 Three Levels of Analysis
1. Individuals, roles, and responsibilities 2. Institutions, Rules, Practices, Corporate Culture, Professional Organizations 3. The Ultimate Ends the Profession should serve (Highest goods and Principles) Individual actions in a role are justified by appealing to the rights and responsibilities attached to the role (rules and practices of an institution), and we justify the system or rights and responsibilities of the institution (professional organization) by a appealing to an ultimate principle). Hence, all three of these levels are interrelated and should be more meaningfully integrated Example: Doctor refuses to assist in euthanasia (action), justified by a set of role responsibilities such as doctor should never intentionally harm a patient (role responsibility), justified by appeal to a system of medical practice such a Hippocratic Oath (Rules of Profession), which is justified by an ultimate principle—Human Health “In seeking an account of the social responsibilities or a profession or its members, we must work at the middle level. We must seek an understanding of a profession as a set of social arrangements which must be justified by something higher, but not completely determined by the higher good or principle. We must also understand that such a system might require members to do things not expected or required of non-members.”

67 The Ultimate Purpose of Engineering
Does the profession of engineering serve a higher purpose, like the professions of medicine (health), law (justice), professors (education)? Serving a higher purpose means that it serves a crucial social value This value is crucial to society because it is deemed necessary for social existence and social flourishment

68 Do Engineers have Special Social Responsibilities?
Does the system of engineering in America assign special responsibilities to engineers? Should we assign stronger, special social responsibilities to American engineers? Answer to the first question: ambiguous. Engineering Codes require social responsibility, but large corporations in which engineers work require company loyalty and not commitment to human well-being Public attitudes toward ethical engineers also ambiguous: whistle blowers not properly protected Answer to the second question: not yet formulated Would have to determine the “ends” of engineering and then show how assigning stronger social responsibilities to engineer would further these “ends” What are the “ends” of engineering—Human well-being and Safety Definitions of engineering: The application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people in structures, machines, products, systems, and processes (Webster’s Ninth Collegiate) The application of science in order to solve human problems Applying science for the benefit of humanity

69 The Impacts of Technology on Society: Engineering, Technology, and Society
All technologies trigger side effects; many being harmful to some groups of people (set of stakeholders) All technologies pose risks from accidents triggered by technical, human factors, organizational systems, or socio-cultural factors. Some of these risks are of an unprecedented scale and geographical distribution Therefore, disaster prevention must be integrated at the first stages of engineering design Some technologies trigger unintended consequences, many being harmful to some groups of people (set of stakeholders) Thesis: It is part of the professional responsibility of engineers to be aware of the ways in which technology interacts with the larger society and its citizens, especially as this interaction involves Values

70 Three Theories of the Technology- Society Relationship
Technological Optimism – All technology is good (“you can’t stop progress”) Technological Pessimism – Luddite rejection of the excesses of technology (Luddites were English crafts workers in the nineteenth who destroyed the new machines that were taking their jobs) Technological Democratism – Value-Laden Technology must be controlled democratically

71 Technological Optimism
Thesis: Technology gives rise to powerful enabling factors which greatly enhance human powers and helps maximize human freedom, decreases human disease, and creates abundant material wealth and well-being which heightens improved social standards

72 Technological Pessimism
Antithesis: Technological Determinism Technology can have a life of its own It exhibits an inner logic or momentum of development that makes it autonomous and beyond human control Technological development takes place without a plan and without regard to values and to the final “ends” and purposes of technology The influence of technology is all-pervasive The level of technology in any period in history determines the way in which the majority of people can earn their living and spend the majority of their time The comforts and advantages of technology are like addictions that “hook” us Those who try to rebel are rendered ineffective and ultimately destroyed

73 Technological Democratism
Synthesis: Technology is mediated, both acting on and acted upon by society. Technology is so powerful that philosophical thought about its development and use is seriously needed Responsibility of being accountable for the effects of technology on our lives and the ways in which technology may involve values and possible hidden social agendas Responsibility for engineers, corporations, and society to deliberate together about how technology can best be developed and used to promote the social and human good

74 Professional Dilemma On the one hand, professionals like engineers may sometimes do things for clients/employers with which they do not completely agree with morally Lawyers – defend a client’s foreclosure of a poor family Doctors – contraception; abortion Engineers – military; environment On the other hand, professionals are supposed to be independent moral agents and not just guns for hire As possessors of expert knowledge, professionals of expert knowledge, they have a special obligation to the public welfare

75 Technology can be used to implement political and social values
Solution – Engineers Must Think Philosophically and Ethically About Technology and Social Values: Five Theses Technology can be used to implement political and social values Technology can change our life world. It produces “forms of life” Technology can change our relationship to nature Technology can require a certain type of political or social organization Technology can have embedded values

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