Ethics and Values in Engineering Profession | ESE General Studies
Every day we encounter a lot of decisions in which we have to make out which is right or wrong, especially in our jobs. Ethics is simply the study of what is right or wrong in human conduct.
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We can say that ethics is the philosophical study of what is right or wrong in human conduct. There are certain rules and principle which governs these ethics. We have certain rules and principles for ethics because if we have a rule book it would be easier to follow.
There is also another term, morality, which is very closely related to ethics. Morality is nothing but standards of moral conduct. Morality is always used along with the term ethics. More or less both these terms are similar and thus both are used interchangeably.
What are the important topics in Engineering Ethics ?
Ethics in general.
Moral framework: Ethical theories for making reasonable choices, conflict of interest and moral rights.
Ethical dilemmas: Situations when moral reasons come into conflict, code of Ethics.
Human values like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, etc.
Responsibility of engineer and organization.
Miscellaneous topics like environment, computer ethics, and terminologies.
Ethics and law
Certain things are illegal to do it, that you can be punished by the government, but when it comes to moral terms it is right to do it. For example:
If we are having a cable TV connection and we decide to share it with our neighbor. Sharing it is illegal but we see it as moral to do it.
There some other things which are legal to do it, but when it comes to moral terms it is not right to do it, which means these are immoral but legal. For example:
We are promising something to someone to something secret but then we do not stand by our promise. Here promising someone is legal but breaking their trust and not standing by your promise is not moral. It is a very immoral thing to do.
Marco issues and Micro issues
When we deal with ethics we usually have to deal with macro issues as well as micro issues. We can understand micro and macro issues using a case study. For case study we can take the case of Sports Utility Vehicles or commonly known as SUVs involving Ford and Bridgestone in the 1990s;
Micro issue: When they made SUVs in the 1990s they had a very flawed tire design and it was poor of poor design. And at a particular manufacturing unit, the quality control was very poor and because of this, the accident rate of SUVs increased.
Macro issue: these SUVs are excessively polluting and it has height and because of this height there is instability and it increases the chances of rollovers.
Until now we discussed ethics in general. So if we apply this same thing in engineering it is known as engineering ethics. Engineering ethics is the ethics that is applied in engineering. In our day to day engineering practice and research, we would have many decisions to make regarding the design and other things.
This study of the decisions, policies, and values that are morally desirable in engineering practice and research. In engineering ethics, we would be studying the responsibility, right, and commitments of an engineer. The most important use of studying engineering ethics is that it helps us to make more safe and useful products if we follow up all the ethics.
Values and Moral Autonomy
The study of ethics also increases our moral autonomy and strengthens our values.
Moral autonomy is the individual idea about what is right or wrong in conduct. Thus it helps us to strengthen our ability to reason out clearly.
Values are the individual belief that motivates people to act one way or another. The values act as a guide for human behaviour. Values differ from person to person and the way one is brought up.
Core Ethical Values are
Respect, fairness and caring.
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