11+Ethics

11+Ethics - SOSC111 Science, Technology & Society...

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SOSC111 Science, Technology & Society Lecture 11 Ethics – Avoiding Failure
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Ethics Why act ethically? Perhaps because you believe there are normative standards And you are afraid of punishment… Perhaps because you believe it is part of a social obligation Perhaps because you believe it will further your own interest utilitarianism (ethical-egoist)
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Ethics and Culture Different societies have different values – what is right and what is wrong is generally not consistent across cultures Though there are some narrow areas of commonality: few people can accept murder and incest as ethical But is a murder carried out by a soldier ethical? As mentioned in the previous class, this presents interesting problems for the globalization of technology (which is NOT culturally neutral).
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Ethics in Science and Medicine Like any other human activity, science, technology, and medicine may be analyzed for ethical/unethical behavior The standards by which we judge these things ethical will depend on the culture in which they are formulated But there a some general concepts that can usually be applied everywhere
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Ethical Science Issues of content What areas are inappropriate subjects of study? How long can a person survive in freezing water? Standards maintained by society at large (often legally) and sometimes by scientists Issues of practice (how scientists conduct themselves). e.g. Professional honesty Standards maintained primarily by community of scientists, sometimes by law.
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Ethical Medicine Issues of content Some areas of study or test are unethical For example, cloning of human beings for experiment is considered unethical Standards are usually maintained through the law. Issues of practice (how doctors conduct themselves). What types of behavior are inappropriate (discussing car purchase on your phone while operating)? Respect for patients rights Standards maintained jointly by community of doctors and through legal measures such as licensing
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Ethical Engineering Some ethical issues in engineering are related to content : A safe construction design A computer virus The posting of a computer virus on the web (knowing that someone will probably use it…) Ethical engineering questions are mostly related to practice , such as the behaviour of engineers Corruption: It is unethical for an engineer to accept personal benefits for ignoring safety. ..
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Engineers’ authority Engineers who decide to include safety features may ultimately be over-ruled by managers. In essence, many engineers do not have ethical or moral autonomy – employees are expected to follow company directions (not a democracy!) There is thus a condition of ambiguity – in which we are not certain that the organizational structure will protect the public interest.
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Few incentives to act ethically If an employee or engineer believes the company is making or selling something that
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11+Ethics - SOSC111 Science, Technology & Society...

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