Ethics - Engineering Ethics A Short Treatise W. Vincent...

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1 Engineering Ethics A Short Treatise W. Vincent Wilding As we interact with the world around us we are constantly faced with decisions that require us to draw on our inner system of beliefs and values. These values are often referred to as our morals or ethics. In the professional world, including both the pursuit of college degrees and our working careers, we will face decisions and dilemmas that will challenge our sense of right and wrong and demand expert problem-solving abilities. Often these decisions have potentially far reaching consequences, and often do not have a clear ‘right’ answer. There may be several good answers, or there may be no good answer - or at least no answer that satisfies all of our values. Ethical dilemmas, roughly defined, are situations which include apparent or real conflicts between moral imperatives, such that to obey one imperative would require transgressing another. Therefore, ethical dilemmas are generally not ‘true or false’ questions, nor are they simple ‘multiple choice’ questions. Rather they are open-ended design problems that require some real engineering. This treatise provides foundational and framework material for understanding and evaluating ethical dilemmas, and provides tools for the effective resolution of these dilemmas. We will begin with a context-developing discussion of professional ethics and a brief mention of a few common terms pertinent to this study. A Gospel-based foundation for our decisions will then be presented. Next, a variety of ethics theories will be discussed in order to improve our perspective and help develop the reasoning process needed in dilemma resolution. Finally, a strategy for efficient and effective dilemma resolution will be developed. As we proceed through this material, we will consider a number of case studies that will illustrate the types of ethical dilemmas that commonly beset us and help us practice good principles so that when our own dilemmas come - and come they will - we will be prepared. Professional Ethics The noun moral generally relates to our sense of right and wrong, and our ‘morals’ are the collection of our principles of right and wrong which guide our decisions and actions and form the basis for our judgments about the decisions and actions of others. Our morals are intrinsically tied to our religious beliefs, and also to the experiences we have had in life. There are many issues that are debated on the national and international stage that are generally categorized as moral issues, but about which we consider the debate closed since our Father in Heaven has given direction and commandment in these matters. Abortion, pre-marital sexual relations, same-sex marriages, etc. are examples of such
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2 issues. Even though, for us, these issues are closed, we will likely work with individuals who have very different opinions and attitudes about these issues from our own. Interactions with individuals with these different attitudes (and lifestyles) can
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This note was uploaded on 03/06/2012 for the course CHEM 311 taught by Professor Vincentwilding during the Fall '11 term at BYU.

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Ethics - Engineering Ethics A Short Treatise W. Vincent...

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