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03 - Engineering Ethics - Moral Reasoning and Code of Ethics - Lecture 3

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Moral Reasoning & Code of Ethics

Moral and Ethics : whats the differenceMoral values refer to peoples fundamental beliefs regarding what is right or wrong, good or bad. Ethics refer to standards of conduct that guide peoples decisions and behaviors. Moral values provide the basis for ethics. Ethical stadardds influence both decisions and behaviors in the workplace, which are affected by host

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MORAL VALUES AND ETHICSMoral Values(Fundamental beliefs about what is good or bad, right or wrong) E-g : It is wrong to harm another person

Ethics(Standards of conduct in keeping with ones moral values) E-g : I should not steal

Decision( Plan for behaving in ethical fashion ) E-g : I decide not to steal money from a co-worker even though I need the money

Behavior(Action taken following from the decision made)

E-g I do Not steal

Religious background, beliefs, training Level of cognitive moral development


Organizational and group norms

articulated ethical standards Training in recognizing and applying ethical standards

Culture of the organization Observation of leaders behavior External stressors

Settling Conflicts

A conflict is a result of a Moral Issue if it can only be resolved by appealing to moral principle.

Conceptual Issue if the morality of an action is agreed upon, but there is no written definition of the company rule or law

Application Issue if it is unclear if a act violates a written rule or law.

Factual Issue if more data is needed.


Engineering disasters draw our attention and caution us about compromising safety beyond the level of acceptable risk.. Examples: Challenger explosion, the accident sat the nuclear plants at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and the chemical plant at Bhopal k, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, natural disasters earthquakes in Gujarat, Iran, and indiscriminate uses of asbestos.


Problems that can take on significant proportions in an engineers life of an entire engineering office (micro-ethics), the other addresses societal problems that are often ignored and are not addressed until they unexpectedly resurface on a regional or national scale (macro-ethics).

Neither approach covers the entire spectrum of ethical problems engineers might encounter. Ongoing attention is needed to understand how one may affect the other in an engineers professional and personal life.


A junior engineer on a building site was given the task of developing plans, which should be checked by a senior. It soon became apparent that the plans were not being checked but simply stamped and sent on for work. Where should he go from here? A civil engineer frequently walked past a building site for which he had no responsibility and over time noted several problems with safety and with the quality of work. A senior consultant engineer who had followed the correct procedures in the development of a major city centre building had it pointed out to him by one of the undergraduates with whom he worked in a university link, that there were serious design faults in the foundation of the building. What should he do?


Whose responsibility is it to report in these situations? Should it only be the professional who is directly involved? Are there any alternatives to such reporting? What will the effects be on the professional, his family and career, on the organization, etc?

The principal features of such unusual reporting are as follows: The information is conveyed outside approved organizational channels, or in situations where the person conveying it is under pressure from supervisors or others not to report it. The information is new to, or is not fully known by, the person or group to whom it is being sent.

MAJOR ETHICAL ISSUESThe information is believed to represent a significant moral problem concerning the organization. Examples of such significant problems would be : criciminal behavior; unethical practices; injustices to workers within the organization; threats to public safety; breaches of local customs. The method of reporting may depend upon the potential effects of the action on the organization, the professional, the public, and any other relevant body. Reporting requires a moral decision, an estimate of the extent of the problem, the nature of the professional responsibility, and the probable consequences of the various options.


A first step in solving any ethical problem is to completely understand all of the issues involved. Once these issues are determined,frequently a solution to the problem becomes apparent. The issues involved in understanding ethical problems can be split into three categories: factual, conceptual, and moral.


Normative inquiries, which are most central, seek to identify the values that should guide individuals and groups Conceptual inquiries seek to clarify important concepts or ideas, whether the ideas are expressed by single words or by statements and questions. Factual, descriptive inquiries seek to provide facts needed for understanding and resolving value issues.


First, and foremost, engineering ethics involves normative inquiries aimed at identifying and justifying the morally desirable norms or standards that ought to guide individuals or groups. Normative questions are about what ought to be and what is good (bearing in mind that here our concern is with moral values). Some examples of normative questions: What are the reasons engineering have obligations to their employers, their clients, and the general public? How can professional ideals be justified in terms of more fundamental moral ideals? When and why is government justified in interfering with a free enterprise?


Second, conceptual inquiries are directed toward clarifying the meaning of concepts, principles, and issues in engineering ethics. For example, what does safety mean and how is it related to the idea of risk? What is a bribe? What is a profession and what defines professionals? For example, conceptually it must be determined if the gift of tickets to a sporting event by a potential supplier of parts for your project is meant to influence your decision or is just a nice gesture between friends. Of course, like factual issues, conceptual issues are not always clear-cut and will often result in controversy.


Third, factual inquiries- also called descriptive inquiries seek to uncover information bearing upon value issues. Where possible, researchers attempt to conduct factual inquiries using proven scientific techniques. In engineering, there are controversies over facts as well. For example, global warming is of great concern to society as we continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, trap heat in the atmosphere. This is thought to lead to a generalized warming of the atmosphere as emissions from automobiles and industrials plants increase the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. If it were known exactly what the effects of emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere would b e, the engineers role in reducing this problem would be

ETHICAL DECISION MAKINGStep 1: Identify the ethical issue(s) Step 2: Identify he relevant stakeholders Step 3: Interpret the facts Step 4: Evaluate the information Step 5: Set realistic objectivesStep 6: Identify options for meeting your objectives Step 7: Evaluate your options Step 8: Justify your decision

ENGINEERING AND MANAGEMENT DECISION There are two separate areas of decision, engineering and management. The engineering decision is dominated by technical matters and by ethical concerns for safety. The management decision is different, focusing on

responsibilities to the work force, the shareholders, the local

community, the customer, and thus upon economic, legal andpublic image matters. Apart from those frequent situations where the role of manager









responsibilities by delegating them to a manager. All major projects involve teamwork, and collective responsibility

is more often the case than individual responsibility.

ENGINEERING AND MANAGEMENT DECISION His particular expertise may place the engineer in a better position to understand the risks involved. In such a case, he has a duty to inform his colleagues that the risk or hazard exists, and should his colleagues ignore such advice, then he has a clear duty to report the facts to some

other effective authority. A checklist of actions which the engineer should consider if he thinks there is a problem and that external

reporting is called for, might include the following : Confirming that the risk to the public or to fellow This requires a careful workers warrants some action.

sifting of the evidence to assess if the harm to the public is


Motives, personal and corporate, should be carefully examined at an early stage. A colleague may be able to help in the assessment of the decision-making process. The evidence should b e verified and well documented , with records kept. Once more this may mean consulting with other colleagues in gathering or analyzing data.

Determining the area of concern and identifying the appropriate referral agency. Establishing which agencies may have the authority to enforce rules and laws related to health and safety, race relations, etc. At this point the professional body might be asked to help clarify the issues.Stating objections clearly. Avoiding confrontation if at all possible. Being assertive rather than aggressive. Sticking to the facts and reasserting them if need be.

All standard procedures should be followed. Supervisors and management should be kept informed at all times.


Before standard procedures are bypassed, the issue should be presented to the person most concerned with the matter. If it is clear that the evidential material is on record and has been verified and confirmed by independent sources, it may be possible to obtain a positive response. This may involve working through the decision-making process with those concerned. Anticipating and documenting any retaliation the likelihood of some retaliation may be high. The procedures should stipulate the steps to be taken after the reporter has been unable to take the matter further with his immediate senior manager.


Recognition that matters are not limited to the individual's own area of responsibility. This provides a reminder that the responsibility of a professional to the safety and well being of society go beyond particular role responsibilities. An initial review of the data by competent professionals in the organization. This may be supplemented by the appointment of an independent reviewer, or a panel of reviewers to determine if there is cause for concern and if any more data is required.

Written records of all transactions should be kept for internal audit, or where a government body might be involved for public inspection, the record should document the concern, the initial response and the assessment of the consequences if this concern is not addressed.


assure any originators that the matter is being taken

seriously, there must be a mechanism for a right of appeal to

another authority if the finding does not meet the concerns ofthe reporters.There

should be the greatest possible transparency at all

stages, including prompt feedback to the complainant.This

entire protocol should be clearly set out in the staff


whole process should be reviewed periodically so that

the effects of good practice can be seen and any bad practice modified.


Engineering responsibilities for the environment are currently governed by laws controlling environmental matters. Stringent regulations now exist at local, national and international levels. These are designed to ensure that the industry conducts its business in an environmentally friendly fashion. More importantly, these regulations have begun to form a culture in the industry where environmental awareness is at the heart of the project, rather than a late add-on They may be part of an organization which intends to pay the fine rather than attempt to use resources on environmental protection considerations. It may alternatively be part of an organization that adopts government restrictions as a cost of doing business but complies without enthusiasm or commitment.


may be part of an enlightened and responsible organization with a wish to incorporate the best environmental considerations. must assume a responsibility for the effects of their work and Endeavour to make a substantial contribution to the protection of the environment.



must not participate in projects that are unnecessarily destructive to the environment even if these projects do not endanger physical life or health.should express their professional opinions on environmental matters based on sound knowledge and analysis. They must see to it that personal protests do not overtly conflict with their clients wishes since this would invite public disrespect and mistrust for the profession.



no national guidelines exist, the engineer has the

responsibility to set appropriate standards to communicate these to others and to work in accordance with these selfgenerated regulations.









unnecessarily harmful to the environment, then he shouldattempt to explain the situation to his clients. In the event of his opinion being disregarded, the engineer has the right to

withdraw from the project, with the right to make his concernsknown to the relevant authorities.

Settling Conflicts in Business Final Thoughts Consider the Golden Rule Get a Second Opinion Keep a Cool Head Be a Professional


The Engineering Code of EthicsThe Engineering Code of Ethics has three components: The

Fundamental Canons: which articulate the basic components of ethical engineering. Rules of Practice: which clarify and specify in detail the fundamental canons of ethics in engineering. Obligations: which elaborate the obligations that engineers have.



The Fundamental Cannons

CODE OF ETHICS FOR ENGINEERSTHE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLESEngineers 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; 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.

Fundamental Canons1.

2. 3. 4.


Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest. Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others.

Fundamental CanonsEngineers 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.6.

Try it yourselfYou

are supervising a product with specifications that only U.S. made parts may be used. Late in the project you discover a subcontractor has supplied a part with foreign-made bolts. They arent very noticeable and would function identically to U.S.-made bolts. Your customer urgently needs the finished product. What should you do?

Clicker QuestionShould you: A. Say nothing and deliver the product with the foreign bolts, hoping the customer wont notice. B. Find some roughly equivalent violation of the contract/specs for which the customer is responsible and tell them you will ignore their violation if they ignore yours. C. Tell the customer about the problem, and let them decide what you should do next. D. Find legal loopholes in the original specifications so that your company doesnt appear to have violated the

Clicker QuestionC

(tell the customer) is the correct answer because it lets the customer decide what is in their best interest given new information.


may be tough, because your job may be on the line and your companys reputation may be at stake.

Avoid deceptive acts Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees

Rules of Practice

Rules of Practice1.

Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the publicIf engineers' judgment is overruled under circumstances that endanger life or property, they shall notify their employer or client and such other authority as may be appropriate. Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are in conformity with applicable standards. Engineers shall not reveal facts, data, or information without the prior consent of the client or employer except as authorized or required by law or this Code. Engineers shall not permit the use of their name or associate in business ventures with any person or firm that they believe are engaged in fraudulent or dishonest enterprise.


b) c)


Rules of Practicee)


Engineers shall not aid or abet the unlawful practice of engineering by a person or firm. Engineers having knowledge of any alleged violation of this Code shall report thereon to appropriate professional bodies and, when relevant, also to public authorities, and cooperate with the proper authorities in furnishing such information or assistance as may be

Rules of Practice2.a)

Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competenceEngineers shall undertake assignments only when qualified by education or experience in the specific technical fields involved. Engineers shall not affix their signatures to any plans or documents dealing with subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to any plan or document not prepared under their direction and control. Engineers may accept assignments and assume responsibility for coordination of an entire project and sign and seal the engineering documents for the entire project, provided that each technical segment is signed and sealed only by the qualified engineers who prepared the segment.



Rules of Practice3.a)

Engineers shall issue public statements only In an objective and truthful mannerEngineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current. Engineers may express publicly technical opinions that are founded upon knowledge of the facts and competence in the subject matter. Engineers shall issue no statements, criticisms, or arguments on technical matters that are inspired or paid for by interested parties, unless they have prefaced their comments by explicitly identifying the interested parties on whose behalf they are speaking, and by revealing the existence of any interest the engineers may have in the matters.



Rules of Practice4.a)

Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trusteesEngineers shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that could influence or appear to influence their judgment or the quality of their services. Engineers shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services on the same project, or for services pertaining to the same project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to by all interested parties. Engineers shall not solicit or accept financial or other valuable consideration, directly or indirectly, from outside agents in connection with the work for which they are responsible. Engineers in public service as members, advisors, or employees of a governmental or quasigovernmental body or department shall not participate in decisions with respect to services solicited or provided by them or their organizations in private or public engineering practice. Engineers shall not solicit or accept a contract from a governmental body on which a principal or officer of their organization serves as a





Rules of Practice5.a)

Engineers shall avoid deceptive actsEngineers shall not falsify their qualifications or permit misrepresentation of their or their associates' qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments. Brochures or other presentations incident to the solicitation of employment shall not misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees, associates, joint venturers, or past accomplishments. Engineers shall not offer, give, solicit or receive, either directly or indirectly, any contribution to influence the award of a contract by public authority, or which may be reasonably construed by the public as having the effect of intent to influencing the awarding of a contract. They shall not offer any gift or other valuable consideration in order to secure work. They shall not pay a commission, percentage, or brokerage fee in order to secure work, except to a bona fide


Professional Obligations

Professional Obligations1. Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity. a. Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter the facts. b. Engineers shall advise their clients or employers when they believe a project will not be successful. c. Engineers shall not accept outside employment to the detriment of their regular work or interest. Before accepting any outside engineering employment they will notify their employers.

Professional Obligationsd. Engineers shall not attempt to attract an engineer from another employer by false or misleading pretenses. e. Engineers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the profession.

Professional Obligations2. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest. a. Engineers shall seek opportunities to participate in civic affairs; career guidance for youths; and work for the advancement of the safety, health, and wellbeing of their community. b. Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are not in conformity with applicable engineering standards. If the client or employer insists on such unprofessional conduct, they shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from further service on the project. c. Engineers shall endeavor to extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering and its

Professional Obligations3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public. a. Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a material misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact. b. Consistent with the foregoing, engineers may advertise for recruitment of personnel. c. Consistent with the foregoing, engineers may prepare articles for the lay or technical press, but such articles shall not imply credit to the author for work performed by others.

Professional Obligations4. Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer, or public body on which they serve. a. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, promote or arrange for new employment or practice in connection with a specific project for which the engineer has gained particular and specialized knowledge.

Professional Obligationsb. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, participate in or represent an adversary interest in connection with a specific project or proceeding in which the engineer has gained particular specialized knowledge on behalf of a former client or employer.

Professional Obligations5. Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests. a. Engineers shall not accept financial or other considerations, including free engineering designs, from material or equipment suppliers for specifying their product. b. Engineers shall not accept commissions or allowances, directly or indirectly, from contractors or other parties dealing with clients or employers of the engineer in connection with work for which the engineer is responsible.

Professional Obligations6. Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods. a. Engineers shall not request, propose, or accept a commission on a contingent basis under circumstances in which their judgment may be compromised.

Professional Obligationsb. Engineers in salaried positions shall accept part-time engineering work only to the extent consistent with policies of the employer and in accordance with ethical considerations. c. Engineers shall not, without consent, use equipment, supplies, laboratory, or office facilities of an employer to carry on outside private practice.

Professional Obligations7. Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other engineers. Engineers who believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the proper authority for action. a. Engineers in private practice shall not review the work of another engineer for the same client, except with the knowledge of such engineer, or unless the connection of such engineer with the work has been terminated.

Professional Obligationsb. Engineers in governmental, industrial, or educational employ are entitled to review and evaluate the work of other engineers when so required by their employment duties. c. Engineers in sales or industrial employ are entitle d to make engineering comparisons of represented products with products of other suppliers.

Professional Obligations8. Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional activities, provided, however, that engineers may seek indemnification for services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the engineer's interests cannot otherwise be protected. a. Engineers shall conform with state registration laws in the practice of engineering. b. Engineers shall not use association with a nonengineer, a corporation, or partnership as a "cloak" for unethical acts.

Professional Obligations9. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others. a. Engineers shall, whenever possible, name the person or persons who may be individually responsible for designs, inventions, writings, or other accomplishments. b. Engineers using designs supplied by a client recognize that the designs remain the property of the client and may not be duplicated by the engineer for others without express permission.

Professional Obligationsc. Engineers, before undertaking work for others in connection with which the engineer may make improvements, plans, designs, inventions, or other records that may justify copyrights or patents, should enter into a positive agreement regarding ownership. d. Engineers' designs, data, records, and notes referring exclusively to an employer's work are the employer's property. The employer should indemnify the engineer for use of the information for any purpose other than the original purpose.

Professional Obligationse. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers and should keep current in their specialty fields by engaging in professional practice, participating in continuing education courses, reading in the technical literature, and attending professional meetings and seminars.

What is important about the Code of EthicsThe code of ethics is not something that we want (or need) engineers to memorize. The code of ethics is something we want engineers to understand and be able to live by as engineers. However, in the beginning knowing the code is a guide to understanding how to apply it.

Robots vs. HumansRobots run on algorithms their actions are a direct consequence of the program under which they operate. As a consequence, for any input into the program, the output is determined. Humans do not run on algorithms. We have freewill. At least some of our actions come from our ability to will to do something. Humans, unlike robots, are responsible for their actions because humans are free agents.

Ethical Knowledge vs. BehaviorUnlike robots, no one can just program you to be an ethical engineer that follows the codes. It is possible to know the code of ethics for engineering, yet fail to follow them. Ethical behavior is about practice and virtue. It is about going beyond the codes, and practicing behavior that leads to an ethical life.

The Example of IntegrityA building has structural integrity when it is designed in way such that it appropriately responds to the stresses and loads that it is designed to act under. Just as a building can have poor integrity or good integrity. A person can also. A person has integrity when she/he can follow the codes he/she is supposed to follow under the stresses and loads of his/her role.

Law vs. Morality: Dont Confuse the TwoLegal & Moral Legal & Immoral

Illegal & Moral

Illegal & Immoral

Examples of the CategoriesLegal & MoralLegal & Immoral Illegal & Moral

Designing a system to be safe.Owning a slave pre-civil war in the US. Smoking Marijuana?

Illegal & Immoral

Killing an innocent person.


When you leave this Lecture Hall today you must leave with the knowledge and conviction that you have a professional and moral responsibility to yourselves and to your fellow human beings to defend the truth and expose any questionable practice that will lead to an unsafe product or process