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Unformatted text preview: SES100 Engineering Ethics Srikanth Saripalli 1 Engineering Ethics
“Technology can have no legitimacy unless it inflicts no harm”, Adm H.G. Rickover, father of the US nuclear navy. • What does Adm. Rickover mean by this? • Should engineers avoid technology that has the potential for [______] inflicting harm on a society or its members? Possibly? likely? • Engineers have an ethical and social responsibility to themselves, their clients, and to society. • Practically (although there is much debate about this), engineering ethics is about balancing cost, schedule, and risk. Engineering Ethics
• Engineering ethics is: • the study of moral issues and decisions confronting individuals and organizations involved in engineering, • the study of related questions about moral conduct, character, ideals, and relationships of people and organizations involved in technological development. General Terms
• Ethics – critical reflection on what one does and why one does it. • Morality – social conventions about right and wrong c on du c t . • Descriptive ethics (non‐normative) – factual investigation of moral behavior and beliefs, i.e., the study not of what people ought to do but how they reason and how they act. General Terms
• Normative ethics – (general) Which “action guides” are worthy of moral acceptance and for what reasons? Action guides include theories, principles, rules, and maxims. • Normative ethics – (applied) Professional codes of ethics that specify role norms or obligations that professions attempt to enforce. • Tacit ethic – unsaid, unspoken rule of practice. Ethics Nomenclature
• Meta‐ethics – theories about ethics. • Normative ethics – recommendations of standards and guidelines for morally right or good behavior; • engineering ethics (and professional ethics, in general) are normative in nature. • Ethical relativism – ethics relative to specific culture or society. • Ethical absolutism – same ethical standards apply to all societies and cultures. Training in Preventive Ethics • • • • • Stimulating the moral imagination Recognizing ethical issues Developing analytical skills Eliciting a sense of responsibility Tolerating disagreement and ambiguity Questions
• Should we judge what is ethical by a relative or absolute standard? Why or why not? • But which (whose) “moral standard” do we use to judge these things?
• Is the Engineering Code of Ethics relativistic or absolute? Organizing Principles to Resolving Ethical Issues
• Utilitarian thinking – a standard that promotes those individual actions or rules that produce the greatest total amount of utility to those affected. • A code that enjoins engineers to promote the safety, health, and welfare of the public. • What is utility, though? Happiness? • Preference utilitarianism – promote those conditions that allow each individual to pursue happiness as he or she conceives it. • Two conditions necessary for this: freedom and well‐being. • Practically, for engineers, this advocates cost/benefit analyses. Problems with Utilitarianism
• Difficult to quantify benefits for ALL those affected. • “Greatest good” difficult to apply to an all‐inclusive population. • Someone gets “shafted” – approach justifies perpetrating injustice on individuals, i.e., someone gets left out. • Three approaches: • Cost/benefit – quantifiable approach. Maximize positive utilities (benefits) against negative utilities (costs). • Act utilitarian – “will the course of action produce more good than any alternative course of action that I could take”? • Rule utilitarian – “would utility be maximized if everyone did the same thing in the same circumstances”? Adoption of commonly accepted rules. The Ethics of Respect for Persons
• Those actions or rules are right that, if followed, would accord equal respect to each person as a moral agent. • One well‐known Respect for Persons Approach known • The Golden Rule – “universalizability”: • “Treat others a you would like them to treat you” (Christian). • “Hurt not others with that which pains you”, (Buddhist) • “What is hateful to yourself do not do to your fellow man”, (Judaism) • “No man is a true believe unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself”, (Islam)
• Two others not discussed: • The self‐defeating criterion • Rights Impediments to Responsibility
• • • • • • • • Self‐interest. Fear. Self‐deception. Ignorance. Egocentric tendencies. Microscopic vision. Uncritical acceptance of authority. Groupthink. 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 Clearly Wrong Engineering Practices
• • • • Lying Deliberate deception Withholding information Failing to adequately promote the dissemination of information • Failure to seek out the truth • Revealing confidential or proprietary information • Allowing one’s judgment to be corrupted. Code of Ethics of Engineers Fundamental Canons
1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties, 2. Perform services only in areas of their competence, 3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner, 4. Act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, 5. Avoid deceptive acts in the solicitation of professional employment. National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics of Engineers Professional Obligations
• • • • Engineers shall be guided in all their professional relations by the highest standards of integrity, Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest, Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice which is likely to discredit the profession or deceive the public, Engineers shall not disclose confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer without his/her consent, Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests, Engineers shall uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for those engaged in engineering work, Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods. • • • Code of Ethics of Engineers Professional Obligations
• • Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of other engineers, nor untruthfully criticize other engineers’ work. Engineers shall accept responsibility for their professional activities; provided, however, that Engineers may seek indemnification for professional services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the Engineer’s interests cannot otherwise be protected. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others. Engineers shall cooperate in extending the effectiveness of the profession by interchanging information and experience with other engineers and students, and will endeavor to provide the opportunity for the professional development and advancement of engineers under their supervision. • • Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Case Background
• Morton Thiokol developer of Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters (SRB’s) • Roger M. Boisjoly senior engineer for SRB and SRB joint design. • Inspection of previous flights (STS‐51C) indicated hot gas blow‐by in primary seals in two field joints. • Seal leaks could weaken joint and cause catastrophic failure of SRB and loss of Shuttle and its crew. • Seal leaks attributed to cold weather effect on O‐ring resiliency. O‐ rings lost resiliency below about 50° F. Case Background
• If O‐rings were cold, they would not flex. rings • During hot gas blow‐by, seals (O‐rings) would erode (be by, “eaten” away). • Earlier launch (STS‐51B) also indicated some blow‐by and seal erosion. • Earlier seal failures prompted Thiokol to conduct seal tests on resiliency • First indication of failure mode. • Test results kept secret from NASA until “Flight Readiness Review” immediately preceding decision to launch STS‐51L (Challenger). Solid Rocket Booster Design Solid Rocket Booster Design SRB Joint Design Events Leading to Flight Readiness Review
• Following seal test results, a memo was circulated to technical and management personnel at Thiokol outlining problem. • Memo indicated potential for catastrophic failure of SRB joints, loss of shuttle vehicle, and loss of crew. • NASA asked Thiokol to present a summary of all booster seal problems. (NASA later denies this). • A task team was formed to solve the problem. Events Leading to Flight Readiness Review
• Task team denied adequate resources by Thiokol management – manpower and materiel. • NASA and Thiokol significantly pressured to keep launch schedule. • Thiokol or NASA management never acknowledged Boisjoly’s status reports. Flight Readiness Review
• Telcon between Thiokol, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Kennedy Space Center to discuss whether to launch STS‐51L next day. • Temperature predicted at launch: 18°F. • Seal erosion problems and concerns discussed. • Task force problems presented to NASA – Thiokol management NOT happy with Boisjoly. Flight Readiness Review
• NASA asked Thiokol middle management for launch decision. Thiokol does not recommend launch. • NASA clearly disappointed. • Thiokol requests private “caucus”. • During caucus, Thiokol General Manager pushes for middle management to launch – he apparently does not want to disappoint his client, NASA. Flight Readiness Review
• Engineers NOT encouraged to talk during Thiokol management caucus. • Thiokol management felt that all facts were on table. • Thiokol recommends launch to NASA. • According to Boisjoly, the launch decision resulted from “intense customer intimidation”. Hot Gas Leak from SRB (prior to explosion) Post Disaster
• Seven astronauts, including one teacher, lost their lives in the explosion. • Cost of disaster is in the billions; • $1.7 billion to replace Challenger with Endeavor • $450 million launch costs • Payload hardware and development costs • Congressional hearings • Process changes and oversight Post Disaster • Space shuttle program put on hold for several years of investigation and hardware redesign. • During Roger’s Commission proceedings, Thiokol and NASA management begin to cover up missteps. • Cover up exposed. Post Disaster
• Boisjoly leaves Thiokol following efforts of management to “punish” him. Some fellow employees hold grudge against Boisjoly’s testimony to Congress. • Thiokol or NASA never really held accountable for disaster. • $10 million fine to Thiokol reportedly not paid. • Chance of another catastrophic Shuttle disaster is 1 in 131 flights – even after redesign! ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/06/2011 for the course SES 100 taught by Professor Saripalli during the Spring '09 term at ASU.
- Spring '09