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Professional Ethics in Engineering

Prepared by M.ANNIE FLORA/Lecturer IT Department/PSNCET

UNIT I Engineering Ethics

Unit I

Senses of Engineering Ethics Variety of moral issues Types of inquiry Moral dilemmas Moral Autonomy Kohlbergs theory & Gilligans theory Consensus and Controversy Professions and Professionalism Professional Ideals and Virtues and Uses of Ethical Theories.

The Goal
The course will develop a framework on which professional and ethical issues can be analyzed, and build up an awareness of various views of ethical issues as well as professionals ethical rights and responsibilities.


The study of moral issues and decisions confronting individuals and organizations involved in engineering and The study of related questions about moral ideals, character, policies and relationships of people and organizations involved in technological activity.

TRAINING IN PREVENTIVE ETHICS Stimulating the moral imagination Recognizing ethical issues Developing analytical skills Eliciting a sense of responsibility Tolerating disagreement and ambiguity

IMPEDIMENTS TO RESPONSIBILITY Self-interest. Fear. Self-deception. Ignorance. Egocentric tendencies. Microscopic vision. Groupthink.


Ethics is an activity and area of inquiry. It is the activity of understanding moral values, resolving moral issues and the area of study resulting from that activity. When we speak of ethical problems, issues and controversies, we mean to distinguish them from non moral problems. Ethics is used to refer to the particular set of beliefs, attitudes and habits that a person or group displays concerning moralities. Ethics and its grammatical variants can be used as synonyms for morally correct.

VARIETIES or APPROACHES OF MORAL ISSUES MICRO-ETHICS emphasizes typically everyday problems that can take on significant proportions in an engineers life or entire engineering office. MACRO-ETHICS addresses societal problems that are often shunted aside and are not addressed until they unexpectedly resurface on a regional or national scale.

1. NORMATIVE INQUIRY These are about what ought to be and what is good. These questions identify and also justify the morally desirable norms or standards. Some of the questions are: A. How far engineers are obligated to protect public safety in given situations? B. When should engineers start whistle blowing on dangerous practices of their employers? C. Whose values are primary in taking a moral decision, employee, public or govt? D. Why are engineers obligated to protect public safety? E. When is govt justified in interfering on such issues and why?

2. CONCEPTUAL INQUIRY: These questions should lead to clarifications on concepts, principles and issues in ethics. Examples are: A) What is SAFETY and how is it related to RISK B) Protect the safety, health and welfare of publicWhat does this statement mean? C) What is a bribe? D) What is a profession and who are professionals?

3. FACTUAL (DESCRIPTIVE) INQUIRIES These are inquiries used to uncover information using scientific techniques. These inquiries get to information about business realities, history of engineering profession, procedures used in assessment of risks and engineers psychology.

QUESTIONABLE ENGINEERING PRACTICES Trimming smoothing of irregularities to make data look extremely accurate and precise Cooking retaining only those results that fit the theory and discarding others. Forging inventing some or all of the research data Plagiarism misappropriating intellectual property. Conflicts of interest (such as accepting gifts.)

actual potential apparent

There are three types of complexities. VAGUENESS: This complexity arises due to the fact that it is not clear to individuals as to which moral considerations or principles apply to their situation.

CONFLICTING REASONS: Even when it is perfectly clear as to which moral principle is applicable to ones situation, there could develop a situation where in two or more clearly applicable moral principles come into conflict. DISAGREEMENT: Individuals and groups may disagree how to interpret, apply and balance moral reasons in particular situations.

Steps in confronting MORAL DILEMMAS i) Identify the relevant moral factors and reasons. ii) Gather all available facts that are pertinent to the moral factors involved. iii) Rank the moral considerations in the order of their importance as they apply to the situation. iv) Consider alternative course of action, tracing the full implications of each, as ways of solving dilemma. v) Talk with colleagues, seeking the suggestions and perspectives of the dilemma.


This is viewed as the skill and habit of thinking rationally about ethical issues on the basis of moral concerns independently or by self-determination. Autonomous individuals think for themselves and do not assume that customs are always right. They seek to reason and live by general principles. Their motivation is to do what is morally reasonable for its own sake, maintaining integrity, self-respect, and respect for others

STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT Pre-conventional Level Whatever benefits oneself or avoids punishment. This is the level of development of all young children. -Avoid punishment & Gain Reward Conventional Level Uncritical acceptance of ones family, group or society are accepted as final standard of morality. Most adults do not mature beyond this stage. -1.Gain Approval & Avoid Disapproval & 2. Duty & Guilt Post-conventional Level Motivation to do what is morally reasonable for its own sake, rather than solely from ulterior motives, with also a desire to maintain their moral integrity, selfrespect and the respect of other autonomous individuals. They are Morally autonomous people. -1. Agreed upon rights & 2. Personal moral standards

Lawrence Kohlberg
Author of a three-stage theory on how moral reasoning

develops Moral reasoning is the aspect of cognitive development that has to do with the way an individual reasons about moral decisions Assessed moral reasoning by posing hypothetical moral dilemmas and examining the reasoning behind peoples answers Proposed three distinct levels of moral reasoning: pre conventional, conventional, and post conventional.

Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development

Each level is based on the degree to which a person conforms to conventional standards of society Each level has two stages that represent different degrees of sophistication in moral reasoning.

Kohlbergs Moral Dilemma

In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. the drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $400 for the radium and charged $4,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried every legal means, but he could only get together about $2,000, which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying, and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said, "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So, having tried every legal means, Heinz gets desperate and considers breaking into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife.

Should Heinz steal the drug? Why or why not?

Levels of Moral Reasoning

Preconventionalmoral reasoning is based on external rewards and punishments Conventionallaws and rules are upheld simply because they are laws and rules Postconventionalreasoning based on personal moral standards

1. Preconventional Moral Reasoning

Characterized by the desire to avoid punishment or gain reward Typically children under the age of 10

3. Postconventional Moral Reasoning

Characterized by references to universal ethical principles that represent protecting the rights or of all people Most adults do not reach this level.

Stages 1 & 2

Stage 1: Punishment & Obedience A focus on direct consequences Negative actions will result in punishments EXAMPLE: Heinz shouldnt steal the drug because

hed go to jail if he got caught.

Stage 2: Mutual Benefit

Getting what one wants often requires giving something up in return Right is a fair exchange.
Morals guided by what is fair EXAMPLE: Heinz should steal the drug because the druggist is being greedy by charging so much.

Stages 3 & 4

Stage 3: Interpersonal Expectations

An attempt to live up to the expectations of important others Follow rules or do what others would want so that you win their approval Negative actions will harm those relationships EXAMPLE: Heinz should try to steal the drug because thats what a devoted husband would do.

Stage 4: Law-and-Order
To maintain social order, people must resist personal pressures and follow the laws of the larger society Respect the laws & authority EXAMPLE: Heinz should not steal the drug because that would be against the law and he has duty to uphold the law.

Stages 5 & 6

Stage 5: Legal Principles

Must protect the basic rights of all people by upholding the legal principles of fairness, justice, equality & democracy Laws that fail to promote general welfare or that violate ethical principles can be changed, reinterpreted, or abandoned EXAMPLE: Heinz should steal the drug because his obligation to save his wifes life must take precedence over his obligation to respect the druggists property rights.

Stage 6: Universal Moral Principles Self-chosen ethical principles Profound respect for sanctity of human life, nonviolence, equality & human dignity Moral principles take precedence over laws that might conflict with them, Conscientious objectors refuses to be drafted because they are morally opposed to war. EXAMPLE: Heinz should steal the drug even if the person was a stranger and not his wife. He must follow his conscience and not let the druggists desire for money outweigh the value of a human life.

2. Conventional Moral Reasoning

Primary concern is to fit in and play the role of a good citizen People have a strong desire to follow the rules and laws. Typical of most adults

Criticisms of Kohlbergs theory

Research has not supported Kohlbergs belief that the development of abstract thinking in adolescence invariably leads people to the formation of idealistic moral principles Some cross-cultural psychologists argue that Kohlbergs stories and scoring system reflect a Western emphasis on individual rights, harm, and justice that is not shared in many cultures. Kohlbergs early research was conducted entirely with male subjects, yet it became the basis for a theory applied to both males and females.

Pre-conventional Level

This is the same as Kohlbergs first level in that the person is preoccupied with self centered reasoning, caring for the needs and desires of self. Conventional
Here the thinking is opposite in that, one is preoccupied with not hurting others and a willingness to sacrifice ones own interests in order to help or nurture others (or retain friendship). Post-conventional Level Achieved through context-oriented reasoning, rather than by applying abstract rules ranked in a hierarchy of importance. Here the individual becomes able to strike a reasoned balance between caring about other people and pursuing ones own self-interest while exercising ones rights.

Carol Gilligans Model

Feels Kohlbergs model is based on an ethic of individual rights and justice, which is a more common perspective for males Gilligans model of womens moral development is based on an ethic of care and responsibility. However, when subjects are carefully matched, there do not seem to be systematic gender differences in moral reasoning


All individuals will not arrive at same verdict during their exercising their moral autonomy. Aristotle noted long ago that morality is not as precise and clear-cut as arithmetic. Aim of teaching engineering ethics is not to get unanimous conformity of outlook by indoctrination, authoritarian and dogmatic teaching, hypnotism or any other technique but to improve promotion of tolerance in the exercise of moral autonomy.


The conductor of a music orchestra has authority over the musicians and his authority is respected by them by consensus as otherwise the music performance will suffer. Hence the authority and autonomy are compatible. On the other hand, tension arises between the needs for autonomy and the need for concerns about authority. The difference between the two should be discussed openly to resolve the issue to the common good.

Differing views on Professionals

Only consulting engineers who are basically independent and have freedom from coercion can be called as professionals. -Robert L.Whitelaw Professionals have to meet the expectations of clients and employers. Professional restraints are to be imposed by only laws and government regulations and not by personal conscience. -Samuel Florman


A desire for interesting and challenging work and the pleasure in the act of changing the world. The joy of creative efforts. Where a scientists interest is in discovering new technology, engineers interest is derived from creatively solving practical problems. The engineer shares the scientists job in understanding the laws and riddles of the universe. The sheer magnitude of the nature oceans, rivers, mountains and prairies leads engineers to build engineering marvels like ships, bridges, tunnels, etc., which appeal to human passion.


SAVIOR: The representative engineer is a savior who will redeem society from poverty, inefficiency, waste and the drudgery of manual labor. GUARDIAN: Engineers know, the directions in which and pace at which, technology should develop. BUREAUCRATIC SERVANT: The engineer as the loyal organization person uses special skills to solve problems. SOCIAL SERVANT: Engineers, in co-operation with management, have the task of receiving societys directives and satisfying societys desires.

The Four Main Virtues

Prudence (mind): to think about a moral problem clearly and completely Temperance (emotions): control attraction to positive emotions Fortitude (emotions): control aversion for negative emotions Justice (will): choose according to truth and fairness.

Virtue Ethics Focuses on the type of person we should strive to be Actions which reflect good character traits (virtues) are inherently right Actions which reflect bad character traits (vices) are inherently wrong Virtue ethics are tied more to individual behavior than to that of an organization (e.g. business, government)

This encompasses a wide variety of the more specific virtues grouped as follows: 1. SELF DIRECTION VIRTUES:
Fundamental virtues in exercising our moral autonomy and responsibility. e.g. self understanding, humility, good moral judgment, courage, self discipline, perseverance, commitments, self-respect and dignity 2. PUBLIC SPIRITED VIRTUES: Focusing on the good of the clients and public affected by the engineers work by . not directly and intentionally harming others i.e. normal efficiency. Beneficence, sense of community, generosity are other virtues falling in this category. 3. TEAMWORK VIRTUES:

Enables professionals to work successfully with others. E.g. collegiality, cooperativeness, the ability to communicate, respect for authority, loyalty to employers and leadership qualities. 4. PROFICIENCY VIRTUES: Mastery of ones craft that characterize good engineering practice e.g. competence, diligence, creativity, self-renewal through continuous education

Uses Of Ethical Theories

Ethical theories aid in identifying the moral considerations or reasons that constitute a dilemma. They provide a precise sense of what kinds of information are relevant to solving moral development. They sometimes, offer ways to rank the relevant moral considerations in order of importance and provide a rough guidance in solving moral problems. The theories help us identify the full moral ramifications of alternative courses of action, urging a wide perspective on the moral implications of the options and providing a systematic framework of comparing alternatives. The theories augment the precision with which we use moral terms and they provide frame works for moral reasoning when discussing moral issues with colleagues. By providing frame works for development of moral arguments, the theories strengthen our ability to reach balanced and insightful judgments

Uses of ethics
When students enter the professional world, they will be expected to follow an explicit or implicit ethical code. To responsibly confront moral issues raised by technological activity How to deal with ethical dilemmas in their professional lives? To achieve moral autonomy


Engineering as Experimentation Engineers as responsible Experimenters Research Ethics - Codes of Ethics Industrial Standards - A Balanced Outlook on Law The Challenger Case Study


Experimentation (Preliminary tests or Simulations) plays a vital role in the design of a product or process. In all stages of converting a new engineering concept into a design like, First rough cut design, Usage of different types of materials and processes, Detailed design, Further stages of work design and The finished product, Experiments and tests are conducted to evaluate the product. Modifications are made based on the outcome of these experiments.


Any project is carried out in partial ignorance due to The uncertainties in the abstract model used for the design calculations, The uncertainties in the precise characteristics of the materials purchased, The uncertainties caused by variations in processing and fabrication of materials and The uncertainties about the nature of stresses the finished product will encounter.

The final outcome of engineering projects, like those of experiments, is generally uncertain. Very often, possible outcomes are not even known and great risks may be presented which could never be thought of. Effective Engineering relies upon knowledge gained about products both before and after they leave the factoryknowledge needed for improving current products and creating better ones. That is, ongoing success in engineering depends upon gaining new knowledge.

Responsible engineers in social experimentation

Conscientiousness: A primary obligation to protect the safety of human subjects and respect their right of consent. Relevant information: A constant awareness of the experimental nature of any project, imaginative forecasting of its possible side effects and a reasonable effort to monitor them. Moral autonomy: Autonomous, personal involvement in all steps of the project. Accountability: Accepting accountability for the results of the project.


Conscientious moral commitment means sensitivity to the full range of relevant moral values. Sensitivity to responsibilities that is relevant. Willingness to develop the skill and expend the effort needed to reach the best balance possible among these considerations. Conscientiousness means consciousness because mere intent is not sufficient.


Conscientiousness is blind without relevant factual information. Moral concern involves a commitment to obtain and assess all available pertinent information.

Engineering Codes of Ethics have evolved over time EARLY CODES Codes of personal behavior Codes for honesty in business dealings and fair business practices Employee/employer relations NEWER CODES Emphasize commitments to safety, public health and environmental protection Express the rights, duties and obligations of members of the Profession Do not express new ethical principles, but coherently restate existing standards of responsible engineering practice

Are Engineering Codes Needed? NO: Engineers are capable of fending for themselves Common law is available to defend in ethical disputes Offended public can seek redress through courts Are Engineering Codes Needed? YES: Engineers have few or no resources to defend themselves in an ethical dispute Common law is available in reality only with great difficulty

Importance of the various functions of codes of ethics The perspective of engineering as social experimentation clearly emphasizes the primary role supportive function of the codes of ethics. This is so because, only this support enables engineers, speak out clearly and openly their views, to those affected by engineering projects. The inspiration and guidance and educative functions are also important in promoting mutual understanding and in motivating engineers to act with higher moral standards.

Limitations of Codes of Ethics

Codes are restricted to general and vague wording. They cannot be straightaway applied to all situations. It is impossible to foresee the full range of moral problems that can arise in a complex profession like engineering.

It is easy for different clauses of codes to come into conflict with each other. Usually codes provide no guidance as to which clause should have priority in those cases, creating moral dilemmas.

Industrial Standards

The financial industry has given us countless scandals and front-page news stories about financial professionals who have defrauded investors, employers and their peers. There is no doubt that greed is a powerful emotion, but sometimes unethical behavior boils down to a lack of education on basic principles of financial standards

Balanced Outlook of Law

It is wrong to write off rule-making and rule following as futile. Good laws, effectively enforced, clearly produce benefits. Reasonable minimum standards are ensured of professional conduct. It also provides a self-interested motive for most people and corporations to comply. They also serve as powerful support and defense for those who wish to act ethically in situations where ethical conduct might not be welcome. Viewing engineering as social experimentation provides engineers with a better perspective on laws and regulations

The Challenger Disaster A Case-study in Engineering Ethics

Shuttle Components Orbiter Liquid Rocket Booster Solid Rocket Booster

Shuttle Components

Chronology of the Related Events


NASA contracts Morton Thiokol


NASA accepts the design based on the Titan missiles The joints are sealed by

Two synthetic rubber O-rings, 177 clevis pins, Heat shield putty

The Cause of the Disaster

Early Problems


Tests at Thiokol show O-ring leakage Joint is made stronger by changing sizes
Post-launch investigation showed O-ring erosion due to hot gages.


Early Problems

January of 1985 launch

First cold-weather launch Post-launch investigation showed joint failure Tests showed O-rings inability to fill the gap due to joint rotation at lower temperatures

Early Problems

July 1985

Thiokol redesigns the joints w/o O-rings The design was not ready for Challenger launch

Political Climate

Congress is unhappy with NASA Competition with Russians to be the first to observe Halleys comet. Pressure to launch before President Reagans State of the Union Address

Days before Launch

First launch attempt postponed The next launch date was set and was to be attended by Vice President Bush. The temperature at launch: 29 degrees F.

Days Before Launch

NASA starts an investigation of the effect of low temperatures on the O-ring seals Organization involved

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Morton Thiokol

Engineering Investigation Before Launch

Players at NASA

Larry Mulloy: SRB Project Manager at Marshall

Roger Boisjoly: A SRB engineer Arnie Johnson: A SRB engineer Joe Kilminster: SRB engineering manager Alan McDonald: SRB engineering director Bob Lund: Vice president for engineering Jerald Mason: General manager

Players at Thiokol

Engineering Investigation Before Launch

Boisjoly and Johnson recommend the launch to be postponed. Bob Lund, the VP for engineering agrees and makes a similar recommendation.

Investigation Before Launch

Larry Mulloy, the NASA manager of SRB asks Joe Kilminister, the SRB manager at Thiokol, for his opinion.
Kilminister agrees with other Thiokol engineers and recommends a launch delay.

Investigation Before Launch

After discussion with Mason Lund reverses his decision regarding launch! Thiokol recommend the launch to proceed

The Launch in January 1986

The overnight temperatures drop to 8 F The temperature of SRB at launch is 28 F There is an immediate blow-by of hot gas at launch. The seal fails quickly over an arc of 70 degrees.

The Launch in January 1986

The by-products of combustion forms a glassy oxide that reseals the joint. The brittle oxide is shattered Hot gases quickly burn through the liquid rocket booster

The Aftermath

Causes of the accident are attributed to

Inability of the O-rings to expand and seal at low temperatures. Heat shield putty did not perform at low temperatures Fits and seating of the O-ring was affected by low temperature.

The Aftermath

After all the testimonials

Biosjoly is taken off the project and subtly harassed by Thiokol management.


Unit III Safety and Risk Assessment of Safety and Risk Risk Benefit Analysis Reducing Risk The Government regulators Approach to Risk - Chernobyl Case Studies and Bhopal

Risk increases because engineers are constantly involved in innovation. New machines are created and new compounds synthesized always without full knowledge of their long-term effects on humans or the environment.

SAFETY AND RISK Imagine you are a fresh graduate. You get a job as an engineer in a large atomic power plant. Would you take it or not? Under what conditions would you take it? Under what conditions would you not? Why? People as Consumers: Active Consumers: directly involve themselves e.g., mowing the lawn, washing clothes or toasting bread. Passive Consumers: have less choice and less control e.g., Water, Electricity, Petrol, Bystanders: e.g., exposed to Pollution from unknown sources

How should engineers deal with issues of risk and safety?

Engineering necessarily involves risk. New hazards could be found in products, processes, and chemicals that were once thought to be safe.

RISK is the potential that something unwanted and harmful may occur. We take a risk when we undertake something or use a product that is not safe. Risk in technology could include dangers of bodily harm economic loss environmental degradation

Problems faced by engineers about public concept of safety

The optimistic attitude that things that are familiar, that have not caused harm before and over which we have some control present no risks. The serious shock people feel when an accident kills or maims people in large numbers or harms those we know, even though statistically speaking such accidents might occur infrequently.

Knowledge of risk for better safety

Robert Stephenson writes that all the accidents, the harms caused and the means used to repair the damage should be recorded for the benefit of the younger Members of Profession. A faithful account of those accidents and the damage containment was really more valuable than the description of successful work. Hence it is imperative that knowledge of risks will definitely help to attain better safety

Risk Benefit Analysis Ethical Implications When is someone entitled to impose a risk on another in view of a supposed benefit to others? Consider the worst case scenarios of persons exposed to maximum risks while they are reaping only minimum benefits. Are their rights violated? Are they provided safer alternatives? Engineers should keep in mind that risks to known persons are perceived differently from statistical risks Engineers may have no control over grievance redressal

Conceptual difficulties in Risk-Benefit Analysis Both risks and benefits lie in future Heavy discounting of future because the very low present values of cost/benefits do not give a true picture of future sufferings. Both have related uncertainties but difficult to arrive at expected values What if benefits accrue to one party and risks to another? Can we express risks & benefits in a common set of units? e.g. Risks can be expressed in one set of units (deaths on the highway) and benefits in another (speed of travel)?

Assessing of safety and risk

Difficulties: Individuals are ready to assume voluntary risks than involuntary risks.

The difficulty here is generally in assessing personal risks which are involuntary.
The problem of quantification of risk raises innumerable problems. For example, how to assign a rupee value to ones life. There is no over the counter trade in lives. Even for a sale, it has to be clear under what conditions the sale is to take place. If one buys a kg of rice it matters whether it is just one additional purchase one makes regularly or it is the first rice purchase after quite sometime

Three approaches to acceptable risk

The Experts Approach The Laypersons Approach The Government Regulators Approach

Experts Approach to Acceptable Risk

Identifying risk: Utilitarianism and acceptable risk Risk as maximizing benefit

Identifying risk
concept of risk involves adverse effect or harm. Harm is a limitation of a persons freedom or well being. (physical well being, psychological well being, economical well being) Risk can be defined as: a compound measure of the probability and magnitude of adverse effect (William W. Lowrance) We can add : probability of death or injury

Utilitarianism and Acceptable risk The experts approach to risk is usually utilitarian. That the answer to any moral question is to be found by determining the course of action that maximizes well being. Cost/benefit technique is often called risk/benefit analysis. Cost is measured in terms of risk of deaths, injuries, or other harms associated with a given course of action. (Ex: page145 and 155: is the risk to the workers from the fumes acceptable? ).

Risk as maximizing benefit

An acceptable risk is one of where , given the options available, the risk of harm is at least equaled by the probability of producing benefit. Limitations: (that will yield the cost/benefit approach inconclusive) It might not be possible to anticipate all of the costs and benefits associated with each option It is not always possible to translate all of the risks and benefits into monetary terms. What is the monetary value of human life? The method makes no allowances for the distributions of costs and benefits. The method gives no place for informed consent to the risk imposed by technology.

The Laypersons Approach to Acceptable Risk

Expert and Layperson Public is sometimes mistaken in estimating the probability of death and injury from various activities of technology. Experts and lay person understand risk differently. Informed consent and justice: lay person approach follows more closely the ethics of respect of persons than utilitarianism.

Free and informed consent and compensation Three necessities to give free and informed consent to the risks imposed by technology: A person must not be coerced A person must have the relative information A person must be rational and competent enough to evaluate the information.

Lay criterion of acceptable risk:

An acceptable risk is one in which risk is freely assumed by free and informed consent, or properly compensated, and which is justly distributed.

The Government Regulators Approach to Risk

An acceptable risk is one in which protecting the public from harm has been weighted more heavily than benefiting the public.

Three approaches to acceptable risk

Risk Expert: wants to balance risk and benefit in a way that optimizes overall public well-being. Layperson: wants to protect himself or herself from risk. The government regulator: wants as much assurance as possible that the public is not being exposed to unexpected harm.

Becoming a Responsible Engineer Regarding Risk Includes to be aware that risk is often difficult to estimate that there are different approaches to the determination of acceptable risk of the legal liabilities regarding risk.

(A more general) Principle of Acceptable Risk

People should be protected from the harmful effects of technology, especially when the harms are not consented to or when they are unjustly distributed, accept that this protection must sometimes be balanced against (1) the need to preserve great and irreplaceable benefits and (2) the limitations on our ability to obtain informed consent.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

On December 3, 1984, Union Carbide's pesticidemanufacturing plant in Bhopal, India leaked 40 tons of the deadly gas, methyl isocyanate into a sleeping, impoverished community - killing 2,500 within a few days, 10000 permanently disabled and injuring 100,000 people. Ten years later, it increased to 4000 to 7000 deaths and injuries to 600,000.

Risks taken: Storage tank of Methyl Isocyanate gas was filled to more than 75% capacity as against Union Carbides spec. that it should never be more than 60% full. The companys West Virginia plant was controlling the safety systems and detected leakages thro computers but the Bhopal plant only used manual labour for control and leak detection. The Methyl Isocyanate gas, being highly concentrated, burns parts of body with which it comes into contact, even blinding eyes and destroying lungs.

Causal Factors: Three protective systems out of service Plant was understaffed due to costs. Very high inventory of MIC, an extremely toxic material. The accident occurred in the early morning. Most of the people killed lived in a shanty (poorly built) town located very close to the plant fence.


Unit IV Collegiality and Loyalty Respect for Authority Collective Bargaining Confidentiality Conflicts of Interest Occupational Crime Professional Rights Employee Rights Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Discrimination

Relationship - Professionalism and Loyalty

Acting on professional commitments to the public is more effective to serve a company than just following company orders.

Loyalty to employers may not mean obeying ones immediate supervisor. Professional obligations to both an employer and to the public might strengthen rather than contradict each other.

Respect for Authority

Need for Authority

Authority is needed since Allowing everyone to exercise uncontrolled individual discretion creates chaos (confusion). Clear lines of authority identifies areas of personal responsibility and accountability.

Institutional Authority and Expert Authority Institutional authority

The institutional right given to a person to exercise power based on the resources of the institution. It is acquired, exercised and defined within institutions. It is given to individuals to perform their institutional duties assigned within the organization. There is not always a perfect match between the authority granted and the qualifications needed to exercise it.

Expert authority

The possession of special knowledge, skill or competence to perform some task or to give sound advice. Engineers may have expert authority but their institutional authority, may only be, to provide management with analysis of possible ways to perform a technical task, after which they are restricted to following managements directive about which option to pursue.

Authority Vs Power

Ineffective persons, even if vested with authority by their institution, may not be able to summon the power their position allows them to exercise. On the other hand, people who are effective may be able to wield greater power that goes beyond the authority attached to the positions they hold. Highly respected engineers of proven integrity belong to this class. Authority - Morally justified Observations on authority. An employer who has institutional authority may direct engineers to do something that is not morally justified.

Collective bargaining.

Public Service Argument is an argument against collective bargaining. The paramount duty of engineers is to serve the public. Unions, by definition, promote the interests of their membersand whenever there is a clash of interests, the interest of the general public is ignored by them. Though the argument is a valid one, it looks at the worst possible scenarios with unions and decides that engineering unions act only irresponsibly.

Benefits of Collective Bargaining

Unions have created healthy salaries and high standard of living of employees. They give a sense of participation in company decision making.

Harms Caused by Collective Bargaining

Unions are devastating the economy of a country, being a main source of inflation With unions, there is no congenial (friendly), cooperative decision making.

Confidentiality or confidential information

Information considered desirable to be kept secret. Any information that the employer or client would like to have kept secret in order to compete effectively against business rivals. This information includes how business is run, its products, and suppliers, which directly affects the ability of the company to compete in the market place

Privileged information: Information available only on the basis of special privilege such as granted to an employee working on a special assignment. Proprietary information: Information that a company owns or is the proprietor of. This is primarily used in legal sense. Also called Trade Secret. A trade secret can be virtually any type of information that has not become public and which an employer has taken steps to keep secret.


Differ from trade secrets. Legally protect specific products from being manufactured and sold by competitors without the express permission of the patent holder. They have the drawback of being public and competitors may easily work around them by creating alternate designs

Obligation of Confidentiality

Based on ordinary moral considerations:

I. Respect for autonomy: Recognizing the legitimate control over private information (individuals or corporations). This control is required to maintain their privacy and protect their self-interest.

Respect for Promise

Respecting promises in terms of employment contracts not to divulge certain information considered sensitive by the employer

Regard for public well being

Only when there is a confidence that the physician will not reveal information, the patient will have the trust to confide in him. Similarly only when companies maintain some degree of confidentiality concerning their products, the benefits of competitiveness within a free market are promoted.

Effect of Change of Job on Confidentiality

Employees are obliged to protect confidential information regarding former employment, after a change of job. The confidentiality trust between employer and employee continues beyond the period of employment.

Conflict of Interest
Conflict of Interest arises when two conditions are met The professional is in a relationship or a role that requires exercising good judgment on behalf of the interests of an employer or client and

The professional has some additional or side interest that could threaten good judgment in serving the interests of the employee or client. E.g. When an engineer is paid based on a percentage of the cost of the design and there is no incentive for him to cut costs- The distrust caused by this situation compromises the engineers ability to cut costs and calls into question his judgment.

Conflict of Interest created by Interest in other companies

When one works actually for the competitor or subcontractor as an employee or consultant. Having partial ownership or substantial stock holdings in the competitors business. It may not arise by merely having a spouse working for subcontractor to ones company, but it will arise if ones job also includes granting contracts to that subcontractor

Conflicts of Interest created by Insider information

Using inside information to set-up a business opportunity for oneself or family or friends. Buying stock in the company for which one works is not objectionable but it should be based on the same information available to the public.

Avoiding Conflicts Of Interests

Taking guidance from Company Policy In the absence of such a policy taking a second opinion from a coworker or manager. This gives an impression that there no intension on the part of the engineer to hide anything

Types Of Crime Domestic crime Non-accidental crime committed by members of the family Professional Crime When crime is pursued as a profession or day to day occupation Blue collar crime (or) Street crime Crime against person, property (theft, assault on a person, rape) Victimless crime Person who commits the crime is the victim of the crime. E.g. Drug addiction

Hate crime Crime done on the banner of religion, community, linguistics

Occupational Crime

Occupational crimes are illegal acts made possible through ones lawful employment. It is the secretive violation of laws regulating work activities. When committed by office workers or professionals, occupational crime is called white collar crime

People Committing Occupational Crimes

Usually have high standard of education From a non-criminal family background Middle class male around 27 years of age (70% of the time) with no previous history No involvement in drug or alcohol abuse Those who had troublesome life experience in the childhood (Blum)

Professional rights:

The right to form and express ones professional judgment freely The right to refuse to carry out illegal and unethical activity The right to talk publicly about ones work within bounds set by confidentiality obligation The right to engage in the activities of professional societies The right to protect the clients and the public from the dangers that might arise from ones work The right to professional recognition of ones services.

Right of Professional Conscience

There is one basic and generic professional right of engineers, the moral right to exercise responsible professional judgment in pursuing professional responsibilities. Pursuing these responsibilities involves exercising both technical judgment and reasoned moral convictions.

Right of Conscientious Refusal

The right of Conscientious refusal is the right to refuse to engage in unethical behavior and to refuse to do so solely because one views it as unethical.

Two situations to be considered. Where there is widely shared agreement in profession as to whether an act is unethical Here, professionals have a moral right to refuse to participate in such activities. Where there is room for disagreement among reasonable people over whether an act is unethical.

Professional Rights & Ethical Theories

Rights Ethics The most basic human right, which needs no justification, as per A.I.Meldon, is to pursue ones legitimate (those that do not violate others rights) interests. o The right to pursue legitimate interests gives a person right to pursue professional moral obligations. o This may be viewed as a human right of conscience directly derived from the basic human right.

Duty Ethics o I have a right to something only because others have duties or obligations to allow me (and not interfere) to do so. o If we derive the meaning of others as employers, then the basic professional right is justified by reference to others duties to support or not interfere with the work related exercise of conscience by professionals.


Public good can be served by allowing professionals to meet their obligations to the public. These obligations arise due to the professionals role in promoting public good.

Whistle-blowing and Its Features

Whistle blowing is an act of conveying information about a significant moral problem by a present or former employee, outside approved channels (or against strong pressure) to someone, in a position to take action on the problem.

The features of Whistle blowing are:

Act of Disclosure: Intentionally conveying information outside approved organizational channels when the person is under pressure not to do so from higher-ups. Topic: The information is believed to concern a significant moral problem for the organization. Agent: The person disclosing the information is an employee or former employee. Recipient: The information is conveyed to a person or organization who can act on it.

Types of Whistle Blowing

External Whistle blowing: The act of passing on information outside the organization. Internal Whistle blowing: The act of passing on information to someone within the organization but outside the approved channels. Either type is likely to be considered as disloyalty, but the second one is often seen as less serious than the latter. From corporations point of view both are serious because it leads to distrust, disharmony, and inability of the employees to work together. Open Whistle blowing: Individuals openly revealing their identity as they convey the information. Anonymous Whistle blowing: Individual conveying the information conceals his/her identity.

Procedures to be followed before Whistle Blowing

Except for extreme emergencies, always try working through normal organizational channels. Be prompt in expressing objections. Proceed in a tactful manner with due consideration to the feelings of others involved. As much as possible, keep supervisors informed of your actions, both informally and formally. Be accurate in observations and claims and keep all formal records documenting relevant events. Consult colleagues for advice and also to avoid isolation. Consult the ethics committee of your professional society before going outside the organization. Consult a lawyer regarding potential legal liabilities

Conditions to be satisfied before Whistle Blowing

Richard T. De George suggests the following: The harm that will be done by the product to the public is serious and considerable.

The individual makes his/her concern known to his/her superiors If one does not get any proper response from immediate superiors, then one should exhaust the channels that are available within the organization including the board of directors. One must have documented evidence that would convince a reasonable and impartial observer that ones view of the situation is correct and the company policy is wrong.

Prevention of Whistle Blowing

The following actions will prevent/reduce whistle blowing:

Giving direct access to higher levels of management by announcing open door policies with guarantee that there wont be retaliation. Instead such employees should be rewarded for fostering ethical behavior in the company. This gives greater freedom and promotes open communication within the organization. Creation of an Ethics Review Committee with freedom to investigate complaints and make independent recommendations to top management. Top priority should be given to promote ethical conduct in the organization by top management.

Employee Rights
Employee rights are any rights, moral or legal, that involve the status of being an employee. Employee rights are: There should be no discrimination against an employee for criticizing ethical, moral or legal policies and practices of the organization. The organization will not also discriminate against an employee for engaging in outside activities or for objecting to an organization directive that violates common norms of morality.


Discrimination generally means preference on the grounds of sex, race, skin color, age or religious outlook. In everyday speech, it has come to mean morally unjustified treatment of people on arbitrary or irrelevant grounds. Therefore to call something Discrimination is to condemn it. But when the question of justification arises, we will call it Preferential Treatment

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property is a product of the human intellect that has commercial value

Many of the rights of the ownership common to real and personal property are also common to Intellectual Property Intellectual Property can be bought, sold, and licensed Similarly it can be protected against theft and infringement by others

Patent, Design & Trademark together with Copyright form TOTAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Patent Derived from the Latin word LITTERAE PATENTES which means Open Letters or Open Documents to confer rights and privileges. A contract between an Inventor and the Government


Meant for beautifying an industrial product to attract the consumer public Shaping, Configuration or Ornamentation of a vendible Industrial product

TRADE MARK Trade Mark is a name or symbol adopted for identifying goods Public can identify from the Trade Mark from whom the product is emanating Trade Marks protection is given for an industrial product by the Government.

COPY RIGHTS The right to original literary and artistic works

Literary, written material Dramatic, musical or artistic works Films and audio-visual materials Sound recordings Computer Programmes/software

Need For A Patent System Encourages an inventor to disclose his invention Encourages R & D activities as the industries can make use of the technology, & avoids redundant research Provides reasonable assurance for commercialization. Provides an inducement to invest capital in the new lines of production and thus , help for technical development and up gradation. One may get a very good return of income through Patent Right on the investment made in R & D.

Effect of Patent A patentee gets the exclusive monopoly right against the public at large to use, sell or manufacture his patented device. A patentee can enforce his monopoly right against any infringement in the court of law for suitable damages or profit of account.

Unit v Global issues

Unit V

Globalization Multinational

Corporations Environmental Ethics Computer Ethics Weapons Development Engineers as Managers Engineers as Expert witnesses Engineers as Advisers Moral leadership Sample code of conduct

Means integration of countries thro commerce, transfer of technology and exchange of information and culture. Includes acting together and interacting economies through trade, investment, loan, development schemes and capital across countries.

Multinational corporations
Organizations who have established business in more than one country are called multinational corporations. The headquarters are in the home country and the business is extended in many host countries. The western organizations doing business in the lesseconomically developed countries gain the advantage of inexpensive labor, availability of natural resources, conducive-tax atmosphere. The developing countries are also benefited by fresh job opportunities, jobs with higher remuneration and challenges.

Threats of globalization
Loss of jobs for the home country. Loss or exploitation of natural resources. Political instability for the host countries.

Senses of relative values

Ethical Relativism
Actions are morally right within a particular society when they are approved by law, custom or other conventions of that society.

Descriptive Relativism
As a matter of fact, value beliefs and attitudes differ from culture to culture.

Moral Rationalism or Contextualism

Moral judgments should be made in relation to factors that vary from case to case, usually making it impossible to formulate rules that are both simple and absolute.

International rights
To know what are the moral responsibilities and obligations of the multinational corporations operating in the host countries, let us discuss with the frame of work of rights ethics. Common minimal rights are to be followed to smoothen the transactions when engineers and employers of MNCs have to interact at official, social, economic and sometimes political levels.

Ten international rights

The right to freedom of physical movement. The right to ownership of property. The right to freedom from torture. The right to fair trial. The right to nondiscriminatory treatment. The right to physical security. The right to freedom of speech and association. The right to minimal education. The right to political participation The right to subsistence

Promoting morally just measures

A few principles to maintain the morality by MNCs are enlisted here: MNC should respect human rights of the people of the host countries. The activities of the MNC should give economic and transfer technical benefits and implement welfare measures of the workers of the host countries. The business practices of the multinational organizations should improve and promote morally justified institutions in the host countries. The multinationals must respect the laws and political set up, besides culture and promote the culture of the host countries.

Promoting morally just measures

The multinational organizations should provide a fair remuneration to the employees of the host countries. Multinational organizations should provide necessary safety for the workers when they are engaged in hazardous activities and informed consent should be obtained from them. Adequate compensation should be given to them for the additional risks undertaken.

Technology transfer

It is a process of moving technology to a new setting and implementing it there. Technology includes hardware and the techniques. It may mean moving the technology applications from laboratory use to field/factory or from one country to another. This transfer is effected by governments, organizations, universities and MNCs.

Appropriate technology
It refers to identification of most suitable technology for a set of new situations. Factors such as economic, social and engineering constraints are the causes for the modification of technology. Depending on the availability of resources, physical conditions, social acceptability which includes their traditions, beliefs and religion, the appropriateness is to be determined.

Appropriate technology-examples

Small farmers in our country prefer to own and the power tillers, rather than the high-powered tractors. On the other hand, the latest technological device, the cell phones have found their way into remote villages than the landline telephone connections. The term appropriate is value based and it should ensure fulfillment of the human needs and protection of the environment.

Environmental ethics
It is the study of moral issues concerning the environment moral perspectives, beliefs or attitudes concerning those issues. Engineers in the past are known for their negligence of environment, in their activities. It has become important that engineers design ecofriendly tools, machines, sustainable products, processes and projects. There are essential now to Ensure protection of environment. Slow down the exploitation of natural resources.

Environmental ethics

The American Society of Civil Engineers(ASCE) code of ethics, has specifically requires that engineers shall hold paramount safety, health and welfare of the public and shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of professional societies. The term sustainable development emphasizes on the investment, orientation of technology, development and functioning of an organization to meet the present needs of the people and at the same time ensuring the future generations to meet their needs.

Case studies

Acid rain Large emissions of sulphur oxides and nitrous oxides are being released into the air from the thermal power stations using the fossil fuels and several processing industries. These gases form compounds with water in the air and precipitates as rain or snow on to the earth. The acid rain in some parts of the world has caused sufficient damage to the fertility of the land and to the human beings.

Case studies

Depletion of Ozone Layer The ozone layer protects the entire planet from the ill-effects of ultraviolet radiation and is vital for all living organisms in this world. It is eaten away by the chloro-floro carbons(CFC) such as freon emanating from the refrigerators, air conditioners. This has caused also skin cancer to sun-bathers in the western countries. Further NO and NO2 gases were also found to react with ozone. Apart from engineers, the organizations, laws of the country and local administration, mechanisms are required to take up concerted efforts to protect the environment.

Philosophical views of nature

Philosophers have explored a wide range of moral perspectives concerning the environment. The most fundamental issue is whether ethical theories need to be rethought by widening the circle of things that have inherent worth. That is , value in themselves, independent of human desires and appraisals. Traditional theories were exclusively human-centered or anthropocentric. They recognized only persons as having inherent worth and regarded nature as a mere source for humanity.

Philosophical views of nature

While examining the philosophers views of environmental ethics, we should bear in mind that the worlds great religions have invariably given the nature a prominent role in their prescriptions for moral living.

Sentient-centered ethics

It recognizes all sentient animals as having inherent worth. Sentient animals are those that feel pain and pleasure and have desires. Some utilitarians extend their theory to sentient animals as well as humans. Peter Singer developed a utilitarian perspective in his influential book ,Animal Liberation. Singer insists that moral judgments must take into account the effects of our action on sentient animals. Failure to do so is a form discrimination what he labels speciesism.

Biocentric ethics

A life-centered ethics regards all living organisms as having inherent worth. Albert schweitzer set forth a pioneering version of this perspective under the name of reverence for life. He argued that the most fundamental feature of us is our will to live, by which he meant both a will to survive and a will to develop according to our inherent tendencies. All organisms share these instinctive tendencies to survive and develop, and hence consistency requires that we affirm the inherent worth of all life

Ecocentric ethics

A frequent criticism of sentient-centered and bio centered ethics is that they are too individualistic. Ecocentric ethics locates inherent value in ecological systems. The naturalist Aldo Leopold who urged that we have an obligation to promote the health of ecosystems. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Human-centered environmental ethics

This approach assumes that only human beings have inherent moral worth duly to be taken care of. Other living being and ecosystems are only instrumental in nature. Utlitarianism aims to maximize good consequences for human beings. Most of the goods are engineered products made out natural resources

Human-centered environmental ethics

Human beings have also recreational interests (enjoy leisure thro sports and past times) aesthetics interests (enjoy nature as from seeing water falls and snow-clad mountains) scientific interests to explore into nature or process. a basic interest to survive, by preservation as well as conservation of nature and natural resources. Right ethicists favor the basic rights to live and right to liberty, to realize the right to a in supportive environment. Virtue ethics stresses importance of humility, appreciation of natural beauty and gratitude to the mother nature that provides everything

Computer ethics

It is defined as a study of nature and social impact of computer technology formulation and justification of policies, for ethical use of computers. The use of computers have raised a host of moral concerns such as free speech, privacy, intellectual property right and physical as well as mental harm.

Power relationships

The development and proliferation of microcomputers became increasingly powerful and economically competitive with larger models. Remote access and time sharing allowed computer users in distant locations to share the resources of large computer systems. These changes opened new possibilities for decentralized computer power. Computers are power tools which do not by themselves generate power shifts. They contribute to greater centralization or decentralization insofar as human decision-makers so direct them.

Few Moral issues in computer ethics

Job Elimination Customer Relations Biased Software

The most troublesome issues about property and computers fall under two general headings. The first is the use of computers in embezzlement and other forms of stealing money or financial assets.


Computers are only incidentally involved when extortion is attempted via a phone that is part of a computerized telephone system. Two factors make computers especially troublesome: their speed and geographical coverage, which allows the large number of people to be victimized. the difficulty of tracing the underlying transactions to apprehend the thieves.


Common cases of computer abuse

Stealing or cheating by employees at work. stealing by non-employees or former employees. Stealing from or cheating clients and consumers Violating contracts for computer sales or service. Conspiring to use computer networks to engage in widespread fraud.

Protection against criminal abuse

It has become a major constraint for effective and successful design of many computer systems an programs. Engineers predict not only the intended context in the computer will be used , but both likely and possible abuses. For some time, secret computer passwords have been used as a security feature. Now, data encryption technique is widely employed to prevent theft from funds transfers systems.

Data and software

Data refers to information stored in a computer whether the information expresses facts or falsehoods. Software refers to programs that direct an electronic machine to perform certain tasks, typically tasks involving problem solving. Programs have several aspects: an algorithm a source code an object code Computer hardware is protected by patent laws. Software can be protected by trade secrets and copyrights.

By making more data available to more people with more ease, computers make privacy more difficult to protect. Privacy issues

Inappropriate access Data Bank Errors Hackers Legal responses

Professional issues
Computer Failures Computer Implementation Health conditions

Weapons development

Military activities including the world wars have stimulated the growth of technology. The growth of internet illustrates this fact amply. The development of warfare and the involvement of engineers bring out many ethical issues concerned with engineers such as the issue of integrity in experiments as well as expenditure in defense research and development ,issue of personal commitment and conscience and the issues of social justice and social health.

Engineers involvement in weapons development

Engineers involve in weapon development because of the following reasons:

It gives one job with high salary. One takes pride and honor in participating in the activities towards the defense of the nation. One believes that he fights a war on terrorism and thereby contribute to peace and stability of the country. Ironically, the wars have never won peace, only peace can own peace. By research and development, the engineer is reducing or eliminating the risk from enemy weapons and saving ones country from disaster. By building-up arsenals and show of force, a country can for the rouge country towards regulation.

Engineers as managers

Engineers undergo the most intensive technical training of any professionals. Many companies prefer engineers as managers because their technical understanding is essential to managing technological corporations. Engineers find management inviting because of an array of corporate incentives. Some corporations have instituted a dual-ladder system that allows engineers to advance in their careers along either administrative or technological tracks.

Managers as professionals

Managers require expanded knowledge about finances and scheduling. They require strengthened skills in coordinating and motivating other people They should have ability to make risk-taking decisions involving wider range of factors than purely technical considerations. The ultimate goal of managers and engineers alike should be to make valuable products that are also profitable. Two responsibilities of engineer-managers are: Promoting an ethical climate. Resolving conflicts

Managing conflicts

In solving conflicts, force should not be resorted. In fact the conflict situations should be tolerated, understood and resolved by participation by all the concerned. The conflicts in the case of project managers arise in the following manners: Conflicts based on schedules. Conflict based on the availability of personnel. Conflict over expenditure and its deviations

Resolving conflicts
Following principles are widely used for resolving conflicts: People:Seperate the people from the problem. Interests: Focus on interests, not positions. Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do. Criteria: Insist that the result of conflict resolution be based on objective standard.

Consulting engineers
The consulting engineers work in private. There is no salary from employers. They charge fees from the sponsor and they have more freedom to decide on their projects

Responsibilities of Consulting engineers-advertising

Consulting engineers are directly responsible for advertising their services, even when they hire consultants to them. They are allowed to advertise but to avoid deceptive ones. Deceptive advertising can be done in many ways including : By outright lies. By half-truths. Thro exaggeration Making false suggestions Thro vague wordings

Responsibilities of Consulting engineers-competitive bidding

It means offering a price and get something in return for the service offered. The organizations have a pool of engineers The expertise can be shared and the bidding is made more realistic. Individual consultants have to develop creative designs and build their reputation steadily and carefully over a period of time.

Responsibilities of Consulting engineers-contingency fee

This is the fee or commission paid to the consultant when one is successful in saving the expenses for the client. A sense of fairness and honesty is required in fixing this fee. The fee may be either as an agreed amount or a fixed percentage of the savings realized.

Responsibilities of Consulting engineers-safety and client needs

The greater freedom for the consulting engineers in decision making on safety aspects and difficulties concerning the truthfulness are matters to be given attention. E.g. in design-only projects, the consulting engineers may design something and have no role in the construction. Some times, difficulties may crop up during construction due to non-availability of materials. Properly trained supervision is needed. The contractor may not understand and be willing to modify the original design to serve the clients best.

Engineers as expert witness

gives expert view on the facts in their area of their expertise. interprets the facts in terms of the cause and effect relationship. comments on the view of opposite side. reports on the professional standards, especially on the precautions when the product is made or the service is provided.

Engineers as expert witnesses-abuse

Hired Guns Violate the standards of honest and due care in conducting investigations. Forward white lies and distortions. Finance Bias Consultants may be influenced for monetary considerations.

Engineers as expert witnesses-abuse

Ego Bias The assumption that the own side is innocent and the other side is guilty, is responsible for this behavior. Sympathy Bias Sympathy for the victim on the opposite side may upset the testimony. The integrity of the consultant will keep these biases away from the justice.

Engineers as advisers in planning and policy making

Technology is always involved in decisions about policymaking and public planning. In policy making, public officials and the general public need objective studies about the costs and benefits of alternative transportation, housing , energy use, land use and national defense. In public planning, they need expert advice about the feasibility , risks and benefits of particular technological projects that affect local communities.

Normative models of advisers

Hired Guns This model makes the obligation to clients paramount if not exclusive. Facts favorable to the client are dramatically highlighted an unfavorable facts down played. The minimal level of interest is shown for public welfare.

Value neutral analysts

This assumes an impartial engineer. They exhibit conscientious decisions, impartiality.

Value guided advocates

The consulting engineers remain honest and autonomous in judgment and show paramount importance to the public.

Moral leadership

It means adopting reasonable means to motivate the groups to achieve morally desirable goals. Moral leader are individuals who direct, motivate, organize, creatively manage or in other ways move groups toward morally valuable goals. Moral leaders are morally creative. Moral creativity consists in identifying the most important values that apply in particular situation, bringing them into focus thro effective communication within groups and forming workable commitments to implementing them.

Participation in professional societies

Moral leadership within engineering is often manifested in leadership within professional societies. Professional societies do more than promote continuing education for their members. Professional societies provide a forum for communicating, organizing and mobilizing change within and by large groups. Many of the current tensions in professional societies exist because of uncertainties about their involvement in moral issues.

Leadership in communities

This is another platform for engineers to exhibit their moral leadership. The engineers can help in guiding , organizing and stimulating the community towards morally and environmentally desirable goals. E.g. The corporate organizations have come forward to adopt villages and execute many welfare schemes towards this objective.

Ideals of voluntary service

Promoting services without fee or at reduced fees to the needy groups. Voluntarism of this sort has long been encouraged in medicine, law and education. By sharp contrast, ABET code was revised during 1960s to state: Engineers shall not undertake nor agree to perform any engineering service on a free basis.

Sample code of conduct

National Society of Professional Engineers(NSPE).

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers(IEEE).

Four Sections of the Code of Ethics for Engineers

Preamble Answers the question Why have a Code of Ethics?

Fundamental Canons Describes the bedrock principles or fundamental obligations of Professional Engineers

How the Code of Ethics for Engineers is structured

Rules of Practice Describes the fundamental rules that govern the professional practice of engineering
Professional Obligations Describes the standards of professional conduct for Professional Engineers

I. Fundamental Canons
Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:

2. 3.

4. 5.


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. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

Rules of Practice
II. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.

Engineering judgment overruled under circumstances that endanger life or property must be reported to their employer, client and other authority as appropriate. Only approve work that is in conformance with applicable standards. Engineers shall not reveal confidential information except as required by law or Code. Engineers shall not associate in fraudulent or dishonest enterprise. Engineers shall not aid unlawful practice of engineering Engineers shall report violations of the Code.

Rules of Practice
II. Engineers shall perform services only in the area of their competence.

Only accept assignments you are qualified for. Dont stamp documents that you are not qualified to stamp. Dont stamp documents not prepared under your direction and control. Engineers can assume responsibility for coordination of an entire project and sign and seal the documents, provided that each technical segment is signed and sealed only by the qualified engineers who prepared the segment.

II. Rules of Practice

II. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.

Be objective and truthful (factual) in reports, statements and testimony. Include all relevant information. Engineers may express technical opinions that are founded on knowledge of the facts. Engineers shall make no statements, criticisms or arguments on technical matters that are inspired or paid for by interested parties, without first divulging the interest.

Rules of Practice
II. Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.

Engineers shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest. Engineers shall not accept compensation from more than one party for services on the same project. Engineers shall not solicit or accept consideration from outside agents in connection with the work for which they are responsible. Engineers in public service shall not participate in decisions with respect to services solicited or provided by them in their public or private practice. Engineers shall not accept a contract from a governmental body on which a principle or officer of their organization serves as a member.

Rules of Practice

Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts.

Engineers shall not falsify their qualifications or permit misrepresentation of their or their associates qualifications. Engineers shall not offer, give, solicit or receive any contribution to influence the award of a contract by public authority. Engineers shall not offer gifts to secure work. Engineers shall not pay a commission or brokerage fee to secure work, except to a bona fide employee or established commercial or marketing agencies retained by them.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall be guided in all relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and not distort facts. Engineers shall advise their employer and client if they feel a project will not be successful. Engineers shall not accept outside employment that is detrimental to their regular work or interest. Engineers shall not attempt to attract engineers from other employers by false or misleading premises. Engineers shall not promote their interests at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the profession.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest.

Engineers are encouraged to participate in civic affairs and work for the advancement of the safety, health and well-being of their community. Engineers shall not complete, sign or seal plans and/or specifications that are not in conformity with applicable engineering standards. Engineers are encouraged to extend public knowledge and promote engineering and its achievements. Engineers are encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable development(1) in order to protect the environment for future generations.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.

Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a material misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact. Consistent with the foregoing, engineers may advertise for recruitment of personnel. 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 Obligations
III. 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.

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 a particular specialized knowledge. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, participate 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 Obligations
III. Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests.

Engineers shall not accept financial or other considerations, including free engineering designs, from material or equipment suppliers for specifying their product. 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 the work for which the engineer is responsible.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagement by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods.

Engineers shall not request, propose or accept a commission on contingent basis under circumstances in which their judgment may be compromised. Engineers in salaried positions shall accept part-time engineering work only to the extent consistent with the policies of the employer and in accordance with ethical considerations. Engineers shall not, without consent, use equipment, supplies, laboratory or office facilities of an employer to carry on outside private practice.

Professional Obligations III. 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.

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. Engineers in government, industrial, or educational employ are entitled to review and evaluate the work or other engineers when so required by their employment duties.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall notto the proper authority for action. (continued from previous page)

Engineers in sales or industrial employ are entitled to make engineering comparisons of represented products with products of other suppliers.

Professional Obligations
III. 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 engineers interests cannot otherwise be protected.

Engineers shall conform with state registration laws in the practice of engineering. Engineers shall not use association with a non-engineer, a corporation or partnership as a cloak for unethical acts.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the propriety interests of others.

Engineers shall name the person or persons who may be individually responsible for designs, inventions, writings, or other accomplishments. Engineers using designs supplied by a client recognize that the designs remain the property of the client and may not be duplicated by engineer for others without express permission. Engineers, before undertaking workthat may justify copyrights or patents, should enter into a positive agreement concerning ownership.

Professional Obligations
III. Engineers shall givepropriety interests of others. (continued from previous page)

Engineers designs, data records, and notes referring exclusively to an employers work are the employers property. The employer should indemnify the engineer for use of the information for any purpose other than the original purpose. 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.

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; 2. to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and to disclose them to affected parties when they do exist; 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;

IEEE Code of Ethics


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; 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.


Text Book

Mike Martin and Roland Schinzinger, Ethics in Engineering, Mcgraw Hill, New York, 1996.

Reference Books
M.Govindarajan, S.Natarajan, V.S.SenthilKumar, Engineering Ethics, PHI, 2004. Charles D.Fleddermann, Engineering Ethics, Prentice Hall, New Mexico, 1999. R.S.Naagarazan, Professional Ethics and Human Values, New Age International Publishers, 2006.

Review questions
List the features of international human rights. Define technology transfer. Give reasons for an engineer to involve in weapons development. List various abuses of expert witnesses. Define moral leadership What is the meaning of the statement, When in Rome do as Romans do?