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Ethics in Engineering Jerry C. Collins Department of Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics in Engineering Jerry C. Collins Department of Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics in Engineering Jerry C. Collins Department of Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University

2 Overview of Presentation Fundamentals of Ethics Ethics Education in Engineering Codes of Ethics Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology National Society of Professional Engineers IEEE ASME BMES Examples of Ethical Dilemmas Exercise in Ethical Decision Making

3 Ethical issues permeate our world…

4 “I always thought of myself as a man of science.” “Then you’re in a state of conflict.”

5 Definitions of Ethics The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy. The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics.

6 Levels of Technology Development and use of devices and techniques Software Products Gene-transfer vector Effects that come in the wake of new devices and techniques Intensive care unit Living will Radioactive waste Way of relating to the world Enhancement technologies Objects for human manipulation Rejection of given Humanity exerts power Humanity as creator, or created cocreator

7 Attitudes toward Technology “Even using the yardstick of the ancient Greeks, our whole modern existence is nothing but hubris and godlessness…. Hubris today characterizes our whole attitude towards nature, our rape of nature with the help of machines and the completely unscrupulous inventiveness of technicians and engineers.” Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Mortality, Cambridge Press, New York, 1994, 86.

8 What is “hubris?” A Casey Clausen press conference Detritus on the Outer Banks after a hurricane Exaggerated pride or self-confidence

9 What is “hubris?” A Casey Clausen press conference Detritus on the Outer Banks after a hurricane Exaggerated pride or self-confidence

10 Teaching engineering ethics... can achieve at least four desirable outcomes: a) increased ethical sensitivity; b) increased knowledge of relevant standards of conduct; c) improved ethical judgment; and d) improved ethical will-power (that is, a greater ability to act ethically when one wants to). Davis, M. “Teaching ethics across the engineering curriculum.” Proceedings of International Conference on Ethics in Engineering and Computer Science. Available online at:

11 Ethical responsibility...involves more than leading a decent, honest, truthful life.... And it involves something much more than making wise choices when such choices suddenly, unexpectedly present themselves. Our moral obligations must... include a willingness to engage others in the difficult work of defining the crucial choices that confront technological society.... Langdon Winner, “Engineering ethics and political imagination.” Pp in Broad and Narrow Interpretations of Philosophy of Technology: Philosophy and Technology 7, edited by P. Durbin. Boston: Kluwer. Cited in Joseph R. Herkert, “Continuing and Emerging Issues in Engineering Ethics Education,” The Bridge, 32(3), 2002.

12 Professional Codes of Ethics Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)

13 ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) Code of Ethics of Engineers The Fundamental Principles Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor, and dignity of the engineering profession by: I. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare; II. being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers, and their clients; III. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and, IV. supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines.

14 Who are the groups to be benefited in the ABET Code of Ethics?

15 ABET Code of Ethics of Engineers The Fundamental Principles Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor, and dignity of the engineering profession by: I. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare; II. being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers, and their clients; III. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and, IV. supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines.

16 Groups Who Benefit (ABET) The human family Public Employers Clients Profession Professional and technical societies

17 ABET Code of Ethics of Engineers The Fundamental Canons 1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties. 2. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence. 3. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. 4. Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest. 5. Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others. 6. Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the profession. 7. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers and shall provide opportunities for the professional development of those engineers under their supervision.

18 ABET Program Outcomes Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have Ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering Ability to design and conduct expts, analyze and interpret data Ability to design system, component, or process Ability to function on multidisciplinary teams Ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility Ability to communicate effectively Broad education necessary to understand engineering impact in a global and societal context Recognition of need for and ability to engage in life-long learning Knowledge of contemporary issues Ability to use techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

19 Ethics in ABET Program Outcomes Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have Ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering Ability to design and conduct expts, analyze and interpret data Ability to design system, component, or process Ability to function on multidisciplinary teams Ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility Ability to communicate effectively Broad education necessary to understand engineering impact in a global and societal context Recognition of need for and ability to engage in life-long learning Knowledge of contemporary issues Ability to use techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

20 Engineering Ethics Education Current State Awareness of need is increasing –Social issues –ABET accreditation standards 70% of accredited programs have no ethics course requirement (Stephan, 1999) Key concept: "professional responsibility" (moral responsibility based on an individual's special knowledge) (Whitbeck, 1998). Typical concerns: conflicts of interest, integrity of data, whistle-blowing, loyalty, accountability, giving credit where due, trade secrets, gift giving and bribes (Wujek and Johnson, 1992). Herkert, The Bridge, 32(3), 2002

21 Engineering Ethical Education Issues to be Considered Ethical implications of public policy relevant to engineering: Sustainable development Health care Risk and product liability Information technology Culturally embedded engineering practice (institutional and political aspects of engineering, such as contracting, regulation, and technology transfer) Macroethical issues (e.g., overconsumption) Herkert, The Bridge, 32(3), 2002

22 Sustainable Development The guiding principle of sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development recognizes the interdependence of environmental, social and economic systems and promotes equality and justice through people empowerment and a sense of global citizenship. Whilst we cannot be sure what the future may bring, a preferable future is a more sustainable one. Encyclopedia of Sustainable Development

23 National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics. Fundamental Canons Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall: 1. Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public. 2. Perform services only in areas of their competence. 3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. 4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees. 5. Avoid deceptive acts. 6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession. (More extensive Rules of Practice follow in the Code)

24 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 engineering decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment; 2. to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and to disclose them to affected parties when they do exist;

25 IEEE Code of Ethics (cont.) 3. to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data; 4. to reject bribery in all its forms; 5. to improve the understanding of technology, its appropriate application, and potential consequences; 6. to maintain and improve our technical competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations; 7. to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others;

26 IEEE Code of Ethics (concl.) 8. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin; 9. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action; 10. to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development and to support them in following this code of ethics. ath=about/whatis&file=code.xml&xsl=generic.xsl

27 ASME Code of Ethics Code of Ethics of Engineers from The American Society of Mechanical Engineers THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor, and dignity of the Engineering profession by: I.using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare; II.being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients, and III.striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession.

28 ASME Code of Ethics Code of Ethics of Engineers From ASME THE FUNDAMENTAL CANONS 1.Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties. 2.Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence. 3.Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers and shall provide opportunities for the professional development of those engineers under their supervision. 4.Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest. 5.Engineers shall build their professional reputations on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others. 6.Engineers shall associate only with reputable persons or organizations. 7.Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.

29 BMES Code of Ethics Biomedical engineering is a learned profession that combines expertise and responsibilities in engineering, science, technology, and medicine. Mindful that public health and welfare are paramount considerations in each of these areas, the Society identifies in this Code principles of ethical conduct in professional practice, health care, research, and training. This Code reflects voluntary standards of professional and personal practice recommended for biomedical engineers. Biomedical Engineering Professional Obligations Biomedical engineers in the fulfillment of their professional engineering duties shall: 1. Use their knowledge, skills, and abilities to enhance the safety, health, and welfare of the public. 2. Strive by action, example, and influence to increase the competence, prestige, and honor of the biomedical engineering profession. Biomedical Engineering Health Care Obligations Biomedical engineers involved in health care activities shall: 1. Regard responsibility toward and rights of patients, including those of confidentiality and privacy, as a primary concern. 2. Consider the broader consequences of their work in regard to cost, availability, and delivery of health care.

30 BMES Code of Ethics (Cont.) Biomedical Engineering Research Obligations Biomedical engineers involved in research shall: 1. Comply fully with legal, ethical, institutional, governmental, and other applicable research guidelines, respecting the rights of and exercising the responsibilities to human and animal subjects, colleagues, the scientific community and the general public. 2. Publish and/or present properly credited results of research accurately and clearly. Biomedical Engineering Training Obligations Biomedical engineers entrusted with the responsibilities of training others shall: 1. Honor the responsibility not only to train biomedical engineering students in proper professional conduct in performing research and publishing results, but also to model such conduct before them. 2. Keep training methods and content free from inappropriate influence of special interests.

31 THE DILEMMA OF BIOENGINEERING RESEARCH ON HUMAN SUBJECTS “Times are difficult for researchers using human subjects.” The Scientist 14:1, 2000.

32 THE DILEMMA OF BIOENGINEERING RESEARCH ON HUMAN SUBJECTS “Make the rules protecting patients too lax, and subjects will suffer and even die needlessly. Make them too strict, and lifesaving medications won’t make it out of the lab quickly enough to help the people who need them most.” Time, April 22, 2002.

33 1940 – Nazi medical experiments 1950’s – Thalidomide tragedy 1970 – Tuskegee Study exposed 1999 – death of Jesse Gelsinger 1947 – Nurem- berg Code 1964 – Declaration of Helsinki 1974 – National Research Act (OPRR) 1979 – Belmont Report TIMELINE: present 1991 – The Common Rule (OHSR) 2000 – OHRP

34 THE NAZI DOCTORS At a second trial of medical underlings, Dr. Edward Katzenellenbogen, a former member of the faculty of the Harvard Medical School, asked the court for the death sentence. “Any physician who committed the crimes I am charged with deserves to be killed,” he exclaimed. He was given life imprisonment. Shirer WL. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 1960.

35 Nuremberg Code (1947) “ ethical yardstick against which defendants were judged” informed consent risk & benefit (equipoise) subject can terminate her/his involvement experiment should be based upon prior animal studies only scientifically qualified individuals should conduct human experimentation physical and mental suffering and injury should be avoided there should be no expectation that death or disabling injury will occur from the experiment

36 Conditions for Clinical Trial Participation Under what conditions would you participate in a clinical trial of a drug or device or procedure? Under what conditions would you allow a friend or a member of your family to participate in a clinical trial?

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39 USPHS Study of Syphilis 1932: Started as a short study (6-8 months) with syphilitic black males in Macon County Free medical examinations Not told of their disease, not treated Study continued with yearly physicals

40 Conditions for Clinical Trial Participation Under what conditions would you participate in a clinical trial of a drug or device or procedure? Under what conditions would you allow a friend or a member of your family to participate in a clinical trial?

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42 Ethics in ABET Program Outcomes Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have Ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering Ability to design and conduct expts, analyze and interpret data Ability to design system, component, or process Ability to function on multidisciplinary teams Ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility Ability to communicate effectively Broad education necessary to understand engineering impact in a global and societal context Recognition of need for and ability to engage in life-long learning Knowledge of contemporary issues Ability to use techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice


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