Presentation on theme: "1. Ethics and ethical reasoning are vitally important in engineering. 2."— Presentation transcript:
Ethics and ethical reasoning are vitally important in engineering. 2
Decisions made by engineers usually have serious consequences to people -- often to multitudes of people. Ethics and ethical reasoning guide decision-making. 3
Consider the results of the March 11, magnitude earthquake near Sendai, Japan. 4
The damage to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima Dai-ichi) has led people worldwide to rethink the ethics of nuclear power. 5
ISSUE #1: HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS: Danger to current and future generations from leakage of radio- isotopes used in nuclear power. A particularly toxic radio-isotope is Plutonium-239 (half-life = 24,110 yrs) Normally, 10 half lives are required before a Pu-239 contaminated area is considered safe again, in the case of plutonium, roughly 250,000 years. So if Pu leaked, -- say, due to an earthquake -- it would cause a health risk for roughly 8000 generations!! 6 Notice the issues that come up in these discussions:
ISSUE #1: HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS, FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS: a) The possibility of medical science discovering a cure for cancer sometime in the current or next centuries qualifies the long- term health risks of leakages of radio-active isotopes. 7
Notice the issues that come up in these discussions: ISSUE #1: HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS, FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS: b) The use of nuclear power may increase our knowledge of radioisotopes used for medical purposes. 8
Notice the issues that come up in these discussions: CONSEQUENCES OF ALTERNATIVES TO NUCLEAR POWER. ISSUE #2: DEPLETION OF RESOURCES: Fossil fuels, oil, natural gas and coal, are non-renewable. These sources also affect the goal of health through pollution and climate changes. 9
CONSEQUENCES OF ALTERNATIVES TO NUCLEAR POWER. ISSUE #3: COMPARATIVE ECONOMIC COSTS OF RENEWABLE SOURCES. Renewable sources such as hydro-electric- power, wind power, solar power, geo- thermal heat, agricultural biomass and tides do not cause the environmental hazards that fossil-fuels do. But renewable sources must be balanced with the amount of energy needed to produce and maintain them and consequent environmental hazards. Currently, for example, the energy required to manufacture and install solar energy systems comes from fossil fuels. 10 Notice the issues that come up in these discussions:
If you look carefully at the kind of reasoning that goes on in such discussions, you’ll find that it involves certain goals such as, in this case, health, safety and bio-diversity. The reasoning then focuses on finding the best – or at least the reasonably better -- means for obtaining those goals. 11
This type of reasoning is often called practical reason. It uses different methods from mathematics and the sciences. Ethical reasoning is a type of practical reasoning which concerns in particular certain societal or life-form goals, such as justice, equality, freedom, health and safety. 12
Let’s consider further the difference between theoretical and practical reasoning. 13
An example of mathematical reasoning: What is the slope of y = x 2 at y=1 and x=1? 14 A graph of y = x 2, a parabola. Y=1 x=1 x axis Answer: 2
Why is the answer: 2 (and y´ = 2x for any value of x)? Notice how we offer an overriding principle, law or rule to answer the question ‘Why?’ in mathematical and scientific reasoning. 15
Consider how practical reasoning operates differently from theoretical (scientific and mathematical) reasoning. 16
Take a simple case: Say you have a cold. You have some hot chicken soup? 17 What do you do?
Notice that there is not an overriding principle or theory involved, but a goal, in this case health and a means, chicken soup. Specifically, we have no overriding theory that explains exactly how the chemistry of chicken soup effects the enzymes and anti-bodies so as to speed up the recovery from a cold. 18 But nonetheless chicken soup speeds up the recovery from colds.
Again, the lack of an overriding principle, law or rule that provides an exact and unique answer doesn’t mean that there is 19 reasoning involved.
First we need distinguish between law and ethics. Law, as ethics, is also based on practical reason, but the justification for law is different from ethics. Laws sometimes remain enforced when they are not ethically justifiable. 20
As a result law and ethics may conflict. Legal & Moral Legal & Immoral Illegal & Moral Illegal & Immoral
Legal & MoralHaving a Child. Legal & ImmoralOwning a slave pre-civil war in the US. Illegal & MoralSmoking Marijuana? Illegal & ImmoralKilling an innocent person.
Consider again nuclear power. The ends generally remain the same -- in this case health, safety and bio-diversity -- but the means will change as resources, knowledge and technologies change. Suppose an effective medical treatment is discovered for radioactive poisoning. Such a medical breakthrough would change profoundly the means-goal reasoning regarding nuclear power. 25
Cases – and the case method – is elemental to ethics (and law) because the means, and to a lesser extent, the goals, change historically. Cases call upon the means and goals that are relevant to the present day. 26
You’re an engineer who works for the Santa Cruz County Road Commission 27 Your job centers on: maintaining the safety of the roads going through the Los Gatos Mountains. This case is adapted from Harris, Pritchard, and Rabins. (2005) Case #57, “Trees.” In Engineering Ethics, 3rd Ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth p Let’s look at a concrete case involving civil engineering
A. The traffic on roads and highways through the Los Gatos mountains continues to increase. 28 Factors to consider: B. In the past five years there has been a growing increase in the number of accidents. (Particularly bad accidents involve motorists crashing into to trees which are close to the pavement)
C.Some of the worst accidents have occurred on a three mile stretch on Highway 9 where a stand of ancient redwoods closely lines the highway. 29 Factors to consider (cont.):
D. Two law suits have been filed against the “road commission” for not maintaining road safety. But both law suits were dismissed because the drivers were well in excess of the 35-mph speed limit. 30 Given the increase in traffic, the Santa Cruz County Road Commission keeps on pressing you, the engineer, to come up with a plan to make the roads more safe. Factors to consider (cont.):
31 What do you do? traffic increases increase in accidents. redwoods close to highway. law suits You the Engineer
You devise such a plan: It involves cutting down 5 ancient redwoods that stand dangerously close to the pavement of Highway 9. Your plan is accepted by the Santa Cruz County Road Commission. 32 No sooner does the plan become public, than angry s, telephone calls and letters pour in from local citizens concerned about the environment
Jessica Rodriguez, a spokesperson for a citizens’ environmental group, says: … “These accidents are the faults of careless drivers. Sue the drivers if they don’t drive safely.” 33 …“ Let’s preserve natural beauty and ecological integrity around us while we can.” 1 1. This case is adapted from Harris, Pritchard, and Rabins. (2005) Case #57, “Trees.” In Engineering Ethics, 3rd Ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth p. 344.
What do you do? You need to practice ethical reasoning You the Engineer
Ethical practical reasoning, recall, is about finding the best – or at least the better -- means to a goal. But often we find ourselves in a situation when more than one goal applies. It’s in such situations that we usually find ourselves in an ethical quandary. So what do we do when goals conflict? 35 Ref 7
Good ethical practical reasoning arrives at solutions to conflicting goals. 36 Ref 7
1. The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of ethics**. 2. The Engr. Professional Organizations for all engineering disciplines have their own code of ethics (IEEE, ASCE, ASME, ASQC, etc) 37 In general, your goals as engineers are spelled out in engineering professional codes, such as ** 8
Since your problem is a case in civil engineering, let’s say you review the fundamental principles in the “Code of Ethics of the American Society of Civil Engineers”. (ASCE) 38
Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by: 1. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare and the environment; 2. being honest and impartial and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients; 3. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and 4. supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines. 39 The Code declares:
40 The code spells out your general professional goals. But, it can’t tell you what to do in any particular case, such as the problem with vehicle/tree collisions on Highway 9. The code, in fact, underlines the conflict you’re trying to resolve. Ref 9
Fundamental principle #1 of the CE Code, says you should use your skill and knowledge to enhance “human welfare and the environment.” --- So, then you should preserve the trees. But fundamental principle #2 of the CE Code says you should “honestly and impartially” serve the public, your employer and clients So you should serve the motorists and widen the road and chop down the trees. 41 Ref 10 Ref 11
Preserve trees? Cut down trees? An ethical decision must be made 4
An age-old technique involves making analogies with paradigm cases which are understood as ethical and then examining and altering the features until a creative solution is found. The technique is traditionally known as analogical reasoning. 43 How can you apply practical ethical reasoning?
It would have: 44 You start with a paradigm case. What is a paradigm case, (an ideal case), of a good highway for Highway 9? a. minimal obstacles to traffic flow. b. grading to offset centrifugal force at turns. c. texture to minimize slippage during rain. d. postings of clear signage. e. protection against collisions through medians and guardrails.
45 Then you move from the paradigm case to problematic cases that fall short of the ideal to different degrees. Paradigm Case: “minimal obstacles to traffic flow” Problematic Case: “towering redwood trees border highway on the 3 mile stretch” Moves to
Are there any analogies, or similar features, that emerge from some of the features of the paradigm case that would move towards resolving the conflicting goals? 46 Now you think ‘analogically.’
You think about analogies to guardrails. 47 What about the last feature in the paradigm case: (e) “protection against collisions through medians and guardrails”?
What about stone wall guard rails? 48 If such stone walls were properly contoured, they could both guide the motorists away from colliding with the trees and at the same time leave openings for the living trees.
Maybe you’ll need to propose a feasibility study and test the proposal, perhaps through models, but it does satisfy both conflicting goals. It’ll make the three mile stretch on Highway 9 safer from tree collisions and at the same time preserve the rustic character of the redwoods— -- and the trees themselves 49 You have a possible solution to this ethical dilemma.
Clicker Question #1 Which of the following depends primarily upon theoretical, that is, mathematical/scientific reasoning? A. Picking a spouse or romantic partner. B. Determining the safest way to drive home during a hail storm. C. Deciding whether to major in computer science or electrical engineering? D. Predicting how long you’ll live if you smoke one-half pack of cigarettes a day. 50
Clicker Question #2 Which of the following relies primarily on practical ethical reasoning? A. Deciding who to vote for SJSU student body president. B. Deciding whether to complain about a your lab group’s members copying another students’ work. C. Deciding whether to spend part of Christmas vacation with your parents or at the beach. D. All of the above. 51
Let’s go back to the Santa Cruz County road safety case: 52 You could start with the other side of the of the ethical dilemma: “your goal to preserve the environment.” You consider the stand of ancient redwood trees alongside the three mile stretch of Highway 9.
The ideal treatment of the forest would likely involve: 53 Again you’d consider a paradigm case. In this instance it would be the paradigm case (ideal case) of an ecologically well-managed redwood forest in Santa Cruz County. No cutting down of the redwoods. Protecting trees from toxic or contaminant human emissions. Permitting human access to the forest through trails, and, as the saying goes, enforcing that visitors “take only pictures and leave only footprints.”
You came to your first problematic case: 54 Then, as before, you move from the paradigm case to problematic cases that fall short of the ideal to different degrees. One feature of paradigm case was: “No cutting down of the redwoods.” Obviously, in your first plan this feature was “problematic,” because you were going to cut down five ancient redwoods.
Are there any analogies, or similar features, that emerge from the features of the paradigm case that would move towards resolving the conflicting goals? 55 So, again, you think ‘analogically.’
Now think about analogies to the ways people can access the forest. 56 What about the last feature in the paradigm case: “Permitting human access to the forest through trails, and, as the saying goes, enforcing that visitors ‘take only pictures and leave only footprints.’”
What if the five trees were removed but done so to a. create a public facility for visitors to study and learn about the redwood forest and b. to provide better access to forest trails.
This second solution would clearly be more expensive than the first. (and likely would require a ballot measure appearing in Santa Cruz County elections) but it would respond to both goals: 1 st : the motorists’ safety; 2 nd : the environmental concerns. 58
Now let’s go over what we have covered so far. There are certain kinds of problems that are treated by practical reasoning. For engineers they come up very often and can have very serious consequences. 59
There are two main parts to handling ethical problems: 2 nd. Considering paradigm cases that apply to each goal 60 1 st. Understanding the conflicting goals that make up the ethical dilemma.
61 Let’s remember that as in every ethical problem, there’s a conflict of goals involved. In this case they are: Loyalty to your friend; Attending to your own self-improvement. An example of a very simple personal ethical problem (1 st part): A friend calls you and says s/he is desperate and needs you to “help her/him get through the night.” Say, you also have final exam tomorrow. Your performance on the final exam will weigh heavily on your future job prospects.
In the Santa Cruz County motorist safety case, the conflict was between: 62 The goal of ensuring the safety of motorists on highways and roads in Santa Cruz County The goal of preserving ancient Redwood trees.
The 2 nd main part of ethical problem-solving consists in considering paradigm cases that apply to each goal, such as: 63 the paradigm case of the safe road in Highway 9 the paradigm case of forest preservation in Santa Cruz County.
In fact the method of analogy in ethical problem-solving has much in common with creative product design. 64 A highly successful design firm in Palo Alto is called Ideo Product Development
The problem to be solved at Ideo Product Development was devising a better shopping cart. 65
In fact, the final product was developed by considering functional similarities with other carts and containers. At one point it was useful to consider the openness of tricycle as a paradigm. At another point, it helped to consider a mobile file rack. Thinking analogically about the tricycle and mobile file rack suggested features of the future shopping cart. 66 ~ ~
Similarly in the problem-solving, you seek a creative solution drawing on analogies to paradigm cases that satisfy both goals. 67 main part of ethical
--The less successful solutions to ethical problems will be simple compromises. --In the Santa Cruz motorist case, for example, you might make a simple compromise between the conflicting goals. --For example, you propose to cut down only three Redwoods and “live with” the protests coming from the environmental group. --This is an obvious (but poorer) solution. 68
Ethical problem solving is a skill. As you take on engineering assignments, you’ll increasingly will become aware of where ethical problems arise. Your ethical problem-solving will get easier with practice. But working through “case studies” can prepare you to deal with real situations more effectively. 69 That is why in the lectures on engineering ethics that follow we’ll continue to deal with real situation case studies.
A Question Why do you think that ethical-problem solving begins with paradigm cases? 70
One More Question Why does relying on paradigmatic cases imply that ethical reasoning can never be fully handled by scientific/mathematical reasoning? 71
For next class: Read the case study, “The Forklift” (Lecture#2) HW : Refer to the Class web for due dates. 72