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Dr. Montasser Tahat Department of Industrial Engineering Umm Al-Qura University

The Subject Matter of Ethics: Moral Dilemmas

moral dilemma may be defined as a conflict a person experiences between two or more moral obligations in a particular circumstance. Joe Herkert

List of Typical Engineering Ethics Issues Involving Conflicts of Obligation

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10)

conflict of interest public safety and welfare integrity of data & representation of it whistle-blowing choice of a job accountability to clients and customers plagiarism trade secrets & industrial espionage gift giving & bribes fair treatment

To these as well as other highprofile ethics cases we apply:

De-ontology Utilitarianism Virtue Etc.


IEEE Code of Ethics


2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

7. 8. 9. 10.

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: to accept responsibility in making engineering decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment; to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and to disclose them to affected parties when they do exist; to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data; to reject bribery in all its forms; to improve the understanding of technology, its appropriate application, and potential consequences; 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; to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others; to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin; to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action; to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development and to support them in following this code of ethics.
Approved by the IEEE Board of Directors August 1990



First code of professional ethics

(medical ethics) (Thomas Percival)
1852 ASCE (Civil Engineering)


ASME (Mechanical Engineering)

AIEE (Electrical Engineering)

All these Professional Engineering Societies had CODES OF ETHICS

Engineering is

1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

an art a science design a profession a business

Engineering is the practice of making good on the promise of technology.

the project, the endeavor, the enterprise, the venture

Contexts of the engineering project:

Ethical Assessment of the Engineering Project must ultimately take place within the Human Lifeworld.

The Human Lifeworld

Wherein we pursue GOALS, enact ROLES, and take up with THINGS of all sorts Wherein we talk to each other rather than about each other. Characterized by a human communication called


which is IDEALLY: Mutual / Interdependent / Genuine / Open / Honest / Non-Coercive

The Micro-view of the Engineering Project

The Engineered The Engineer Engineering

person / process / product

The Engineer Engineers the Engineered.

Three Types of Ethics

VIRTUE ETHICS Care/objectivity/honesty CONCEPTUAL ETHICS Social Justice/Environmental Sustainability/Health & Safety MATERIAL ETHICS Engagement/Enlivenment/Resonance

VE ---- Stems from being-toward/being-with/being-for
CE ---- Stems from health, safety, welfare phrase in CODES of ethics ME ---- Stems from interactions of product/enduser/world


Within the Conversation of the Lifeworld the values of resonance / engagement / enlivenment are discussed. For example, can such and such a product be engaging to the end-user? If so, how so? If not, why not?


VIRTUE ETHICS corporate level CONCEPTUAL ETHICS professional level

MATERIAL ETHICS social level

What would be the major consequence of complementing theoretical and practical ethics with real ethics? It would be the realization that we make our crucial decisions not as individuals, as consumers, taxpayers, and voters who navigate their course in preestablished and rigid channels, but as citizens, and not just citizens who pass on matters of civil rights and social welfare, but as citizens who take responsibility for the large design of our culture and either make it hospitable to commanding reality or continue to thicken its suffocating overlay of disposable reality. --Albert Borgmann

Developed for ASCE

by the

National Institute for Engineering Ethics

Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism College of Engineering, Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas 79409-1023
September 2001

Presented by
Insert Presenters name Titleetc

Ethics ....
Lies at the Core of the Civil Engineering Profession




and many other Civil Engineering specialties
Idea for graphic based on Professional Responsibility: The Role of the Engineer, Jnl. of Science and Engineering Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1997
by Drs. Steve Nichols and Bill Weldon, UT/Austin

What is a Licensed Engineer?

safety and welfare of the citizens of that state.
Engineering Practice Act -- to protect the health, Having an engineering license means more than just meeting a States minimum requirements. It means you have accepted both the technical and the ethical obligations of the engineering profession. (Ref: ASCE Policy Statement # 433)

Licensing: the product of collaboration between Industry, Government & Education

Professional Associations

Program Accreditation

State Licensing Boards



ABET - Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology NCEES - National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

What is a Licensed Engineer?

The professional engineer license grants you the opportunity to perform engineering services for the public, take responsibility for your designs, reports, professional opinions, plans, etc., and have the privilege of applying your State-authorized engineering seal to your engineering work.

Engineering Licensing Jurisdictions - United States

All 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Marianas Islands, Marshall Islands and Virgin Islands 400,000 Licensed Engineers (U.S. Engineering Population 2,000,000)
Wyoming Enacted First Licensing Law in 1907 Montana Last State to Enact Licensing (1947)
Source: NSPE Grows as State Licensure Laws Spread, Engineering Times, Vol. 16, No. 2, February, 1994.

Typical Licensure Requirements for Civil Engineering Students

Degree from ABET-accredited program (BS, MS) NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam Engineer-in-Training Internship (4 yrs, 3 yrs) Application for Licensure

Character References Experience Record & etc.

NCEES Principles and Practices of Engineering (PE) Exam Licensure!

Licensing Eligibility Based on Educational and Employment Experience

Educational Experience
Eng. Ph.D. Eng. M.S. Eng. Bachelors Other College Degrees Engineer-In-Training Eligible to Apply for License Time

Employment Experience
Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (Sometime Waivable) Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (Sometime Waivable)

Six to Eight Years is the Nominal Minimum Experience Requirement

Idealized Engineering Licensure Model

ABET Accredited Engineering Bachelor of Science Degree [or substantially equivalent engineering degree] Yes Mandatory Continuing Professional

Licensed Professional Engineer



No Inactive

FE Exam

Engineer-in Training

4 Years of Acceptable Experience


PE Exam

Note: The number of years of acceptable experience depend on the academic career and highest earned degree.

Civil Engineering Students are Encouraged!

Civil Engineering students are encouraged to carefully prepare for the national Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam, which may be taken during the senior year

Why Should I Become Licensed?

Technical Responsibility:
Your education and experience will prepare you for technical engineering work. Your license legally allows you to take personal responsibility for the engineering work that you may perform for public and private clients.

Why Should I Become Licensed?

Public Recognition:
As a licensed engineer, you achieve an enhanced status in the eyes of the public, which equates you with professionals licensed in other fields such as physicians, attorneys, accountants, etc.

Why Should I Become Licensed?

Private Practice:
If you think you may now, or someday, want to pursue a career as a consulting engineer, or own your own engineering firm, or be in responsible charge of engineering work for the public, you must be licensed.

Why Should I Become Licensed?

Public Practice:
Many federal, state, and municipal agencies require that certain responsible engineering positions, particularly those considered higher level, be filled only by licensed engineers. (Ref: ASCE Policy Statement #385)

Why Should I Become Licensed?

Changing Workplace:
Todays workplace is rapidly changing: restructuring, downsizing, privatization, and outsourcing (where firms terminate employees and then hire them back as consultants) are common. You should be prepared to face a possible transition into a consulting or contract relationship with a former employer in the event of corporate outsourcing. Such a relationship requires an engineering license.

Why Should I Become Licensed?

Ethical Responsibility:
Licensure also aids you and the profession in the important area of ethics. While technical societies such ASCE and others have codes of ethics for guidance, none have legal standing in the practice of engineering.

Why Should I Become Licensed?

On the other hand, state licensing boards have standards of ethical conduct that are legally binding. The recognition and enforcement of these standards gives greater definition to our profession, and significantly enhances the image of licensed civil engineers.

Technical and Ethical Responsibilities of Licensed Engineers?

Most of a civil engineers education focuses on technical matters, that is, how to do things right, and most of the engineers professional practice is devoted to applying this technical knowledge in service to the needs of society. However, another important element of both education and practice involves ethics, or how to do the right thing.

Technical and Ethical Responsibilities of Licensed Engineers?

Engineering ethics is a vital part of the engineering profession. The ethical issues are not always easy to answer. Choosing between good and bad appears easy until unseen variables are introduced such as time constraints, family, promotion opportunities, job security, peer pressure, supervisor pressure, and professional reputation.

Technical and Ethical Responsibilities of Licensed Engineers?

Also, choosing between competing goods often confronts the civil engineer.

-- Critical Skills -- beyond technical skills that CE Students Need

To achieve skills to resolve ethical issues, here are some traits we should develop:

Students Need to Develop

... A clear understanding of professional ethics

Students Need to Develop

Communication Skills
A capability and willingness to communicate ethical issues.

Students Need to Develop

The Ability
to recognize ethical issues.

Students Need to Develop

An Appreciation
for the frequency at which ethical issues occur.

Students Need to Develop

An Awareness
that guidance on ethical dilemmas is available from ASCE and elsewhere.

Students Need to Develop

Comprehension ...
Knowing Whats Right

Students Need to Develop

A Desire ...and the

...to Do Whats Right

Students Need to Develop

The Ability
to resolve ethical issues by using traditional engineering methods of inquiry, namely:

Listing our options

Testing our options

Making a decision, and

Most importantly, Acting !

Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues
Source: PowerPoint slides created by Sherry Clark
Copyright 2003 Prentice Hall

A Gift of Fire, 2ed

Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities


A Gift of Fire
Professional Ethics and Responsibilities
Ethics Ethical Guidelines for Computer Professionals Cases

A Gift of Fire, 2ed

Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities


Professional Ethics
Medical, Legal, Accounting, Computer, and more.

Q: What are the special responsibilities of these professionals?

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 55

Computer Ethics
Special Responsibilities Facing Computer Professionals and Users
Maintaining relationships with and responsibilities toward customers, clients, coworkers, employees, and employers. Making critical decisions that have significant consequences for many people. Determining how to manage, select, or use computers in a professional setting.

Q: Describe an ethical scenario for one of the categories, above.

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 56

Do the Right Thing
Behaving Ethically Includes:
Being honest. Keeping promises. Doing your job well. Not stealing.

Q: What other behaviors are usually considered doing the right thing?
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 57

Ethical Views
Emphasizes duty and absolute rules. Rules should apply to everyone. Use logic or reason to determine what is good. Treat people as an ends (not a means).

Q: Describe rules that follow deontological decision-making that apply to

school or work.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 58

Ethical Views (contd)
Includes Utilitarianism Strive to increase utility (that which satisfies a persons needs and values) for the most people (the greater good). Consider the consequences for all affected people.

Q: Describe rules that follow consequentialist decision-making that apply

to school or work.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 59

Ethical Views (contd)
Consequentialist (contd)
Rule-Utilitarianism: Choose rules, or guidelines for behavior, that generally increase utility. Act-Utilitarianism: Analyze each action to determine if it increases utility.

Q: What are some problems with act-utilitarianism?

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 60

Ethical Views (contd)
Natural Rights
Derived from the nature of humanity Focus is on the process by which people interact. Respect the fundamental rights of others, including life, liberty, and property.

Q: Describe an ethical scenario about use of a computer system and tell what
rights the people involved have.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 61

Ethical Views (contd)
Reaching the Right Decision
There is no formula to solve ethical problems. The computer professional must consider trade-offs. Ethical theories help to identify important principles or guidelines.

Q: What trade-offs might a computer professional need to consider?

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 62

Ethical Views (contd)
Some Important Distinctions
Right, Wrong, and Okay: acts may be ethically obligatory, ethically prohibited, or ethically acceptable. Negative rights (liberties): the right to act without coercive interference. Positive rights (claim-rights): imposing an obligation on some people to provide certain things. Causing harm: some acts may cause harm to others but are not necessarily unethical.

Q: Describe an ethical scenario involving a computer professional that

illustrates one of the items above.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 63

Ethical Views (contd)
Some Important Distinctions (contd)
Goals vs. actions: the actions we take to achieve our goals should be consistent with our ethical constraints. Personal preference vs. ethics: some issues we disapprove of because of our dislikes, rather than on ethical grounds. Law vs. ethics: some acts are ethical, but illegal; other acts are legal, but unethical.

Q: Describe an ethical scenario involving a computer professional that

illustrates one of the items above.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 64

Ethical Guidelines for Computer Professionals

Special Aspects of Professional Ethics
Computer Professionals:
Are experts in their field, Know customers rely on their knowledge, expertise, and honesty, Understand their products (and related risks) affect many people, Follow good professional standards and practices, Maintain an expected level of competence and are up-to-date on current knowledge and technology, and Educate the non-computer professional.

Q: Recall

a computer professional who demonstrated some of these characteristics.

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 65

Ethical Guidelines for Computer Professionals

Professional Codes
Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice

ACM Code of Ethics

Ethical Behaviors Expected of the Computer Professional:

Honest and fair; respects confidentiality; maintains professional competence; understands relevant laws; respects and protection of personal privacy; avoids harming others; and respects property rights.

Q: How does a software engineer learn to be ethical?

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 66

Ethical Guidelines for Computer Professionals

Additional Guidelines for the Computer Professional
Understand Success
Understand what success meansdevelopers (especially) and users of computer systems must see beyond simply writing code to complete a task.

Design for Real Users

To provide useful systems, real users must be included in the design stage.

Q: Give an example of a system for which consultation with real users in the design stage would be important.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 67

Ethical Guidelines for Computer Professionals

Additional Guidelines for the Computer Professional (contd)
Thorough Planning and Scheduling
Pay attention to detailsdo a thorough and careful job when planning and scheduling a project and when writing bids.

Test With Real Users

To provide safe systems, real users must be included in the testing stage.

Q: Give an example of a system that has a straightforward user interface. A confusing interface. Would testing with real users improve the confusing one?
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 68

Ethical Guidelines for Computer Professionals

Additional Guidelines for the Computer Professional (contd)
Evaluate Re-use of Software
Dont assume existing software is safe and re-usable.

Be open and honest about capabilities, safety, and limitations of software.

Require a convincing case for safety.

Q: Describe a software program or computer system for which you think

these guidelines were not followed.
A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 69

Analyzing a Professional Ethical Scenario
Brainstorming phase
List risks, issues, problems, consequences. List all the stakeholders. List possible actions.

Q: What is the purpose of this stage?

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 70

Analyzing Professional Responsibilities (contd)
Analysis phase
Identify the responsibilities of the decision-maker. Identify the rights of stakeholders. Consider the impact of the action options on the stakeholders. Find sections in codes of ethics that apply. Categorize each potential action or response as ethically obligatory, ethically prohibited, or ethically acceptable. Consider the ethical merits of each option and select one.

Q: What is the value of this stage?

A Gift of Fire, 2ed Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities 71

Applying the Brainstorming and Analysis Phases
Refer to any of the cases in the text or the general exercises following each chapter or current scenarios in the news.

A Gift of Fire, 2ed

Chapter 10: Professional Ethics and Responsibilities


3-ASME Ethics Code


1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties. 2. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence; they shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others. 3. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers and shall provide opportunities for the professional and ethical development of those engineers under their supervision.

ASME Ethics Code

4. Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. 5. Engineers shall respect the proprietary information and intellectual property rights of others, including charitable organizations and professional societies in the engineering field. 6. Engineers shall associate only with reputable persons or organizations. 7. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner and shall avoid any conduct which brings discredit upon the profession.

8. Engineers shall consider environmental impact and sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties. 9. Engineers shall not seek ethical sanction against another engineer unless there is a good reason to do so under the relevant codes, policies and procedures governing that engineers ethical conduct. 10. Engineers who are members of the Society shall endeavor to abide by the Constitution, ByLaws and Policies of the Society, and they shall disclose knowledge of any matter involving another members alleged violation of this Code of Ethics or the Societys Conflicts of Interest Policy in a prompt, Complete and truthful manner to the chair of the Committee on Ethical Standards and Review.

If the Ethics Rope Breaks,

We all lose !

4- Questions & Discussion

Distribute the ASCE Brochure.

It is suggested that students read Saras Story in the ASCE Brochure, and consider the ways the ASCE Code of Ethics can provide helpful guidance when confronting ethical issues.

A Case Study in Engineering Ethics

We ask you to consider Saras situation from 3 viewpoints:

1. A personal viewpoint -- consider that you are the engineer facing the ethical issue.
2. An impersonal viewpoint -- assume you are aware of the situation, but not directly involved.

3. A responsible viewpoint -- assume that you are directly responsible for future decisions.

1. Am I solving this issue in such a way that will cause people to trust me? 2. Am I keeping my promise -- explicit? implicit? 3. What is the first step that I must take?

4. What do the other people mean by unfair?

Sara by the Lake

Sara has been reported to her States Engineers Board for a possible ethics violation.
She reflects on how she got to this point.

Sara the early years

Graduated from an ABET-accredited program

Took the FE Exam Worked under the supervision of a licensed engineer for almost 4 years Just before she took the PE Exam...

Sara and The Apartment Complex

Saras firm was retained to investigate the structural integrity of an apartment complex. STRICT confidentiality required. Noticed no structural problems BUT, she did observe some apparent electrical deficiencies

To Report, or NOT to Report...

Sara knew these electrical deficiencies might pose a hazard to the occupants She knew the client didnt want to hear bad news

To Report, or NOT to Report...

She felt the strain of the strict confidentiality requirement She did not want to damage the client relationship...

The Decision...
She verbally informed the client about the problem She made an oblique reference to the problem in her report

Those Nagging Doubts...

Later Sara learned the client did not disclose any of her concerns about the electrical deficiencies She struggled with whether she should have been more persistent in making her concerns known. She eventually put it out of her mind.

Questions for Discussion


were the main issues Sara was wrestling with in this situation?
you think Sara had a right or an obligation to report the deficiency to the proper authorities? might Sara have spoken with about the dilemma?


Questions for Discussion


should be responsible for what happened: Sara, or Saras employer, or the client, or someone else? does this situation conflict with Saras obligation to be faithful to her client? it wise practice to ignore gut feelings that arise?



Time Passes..

Involvement with Professional & Technical Societies

Sara is encouraged to become active in professional and technical societies

But her new supervisor opposes her participation and requires that Sara take vacation to attend meetings.

Sara is very frustrated about this.

When Opportunity Knocks...

When attending a meeting with the CEO on another matter Sara inquires about company policy on the matter of professional society participation. The CEO reaffirms the company policy to be active in professional societies.


Sara informs her supervisor of the CEOs support and resumes her participation. Her relationship with her supervisor is strained.

Questions for Discussion


might Sara have done differently to seek a remedy and yet preserve her relationship with her supervisor? could Sara have found guidance in the ASCE Code of Ethics, appropriate to this situation?


Vendor Bender: The Christmas Ham

As Christmas approached the following year, Sara discovered a gift bag on her desk. Inside the gift bag was an expensive honey-glazed spiral cut ham.

Why Bother?
This concerned Sara as she felt it might cast doubt on the integrity of their business relationship. Several others received gifts from the vendor as well.

The Decision

After sleeping on it, Sara sent a polite note to the vendor returning the ham.

Questions for Discussion


she really obligated to return the ham?


was this taking ethics too far?

the other hand, could she be obligated to pursue the matter further than just returning the gift she had received?

Sara for City Council!

Sara, now a highly successful principal in a respected engineering firm, is urged to run for public office. She agrees to run.
A draft political advertisement is prepared that includes her photograph, her engineering seal, and the following text:

Whats in an Ad?
Vote for Sara! We need an engineer on the City Council. That is simple common sense, isnt it? Sara is an experienced licensed engineer with years of rich accomplishments, who disdains delays and takes action now!

Questions for Discussion


Saras engineering seal be included in the advertisement? Sara ask someone in ASCE his or her opinion before deciding?


The Apartment Complex, Again...

Saras investigation of the apartment complex so many years ago resurfaced.

The Apartment Complex, Again...

Sara learned that the apartment complex caught on fire, and people had been seriously injured. During the investigation, Saras report was reviewed, and somehow the cause of the fire was traced to the electrical deficiencies.

Thinking it Over

Sara pondered her situation.

Legally, she felt she might claim some immunity since she was not a licensed engineer at the time of her work

Professionally, she keenly felt she had let the public down.

Input from the ASCE Code of Ethics

Having carefully studied the ASCE Code of Ethics, Sara now realized that occasionally some elements of the code may be in conflict with other elements.

Input from the ASCE Code of Ethics

In her case, this was Canon 1 (her obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public) versus Canon 4 (her obligation to her client).

Questions for Discussion


do you think that Codes of Ethics conflict within themselves? are some ways to recognize a conflict of interest? some options whereby Sara might have resolved this basic conflict.

What List

Sara Before the BOARD

The meeting with the Licensing Board began early the following morning. The State Licensing Board only enforces their own Rules of Conduct and Ethics, but they noted that their rules are very similar to the ASCE Code of Ethics.

The BOARD Finds...


is important for Sara, or any licensed engineer, to realize the engineers paramount responsibility is for the safety of the public. occupants of the apartment complex were not aware of the electrical deficiencies. not an electrical engineer, Sara had some knowledge of city building codes and the ability to foresee the potential dangers.



The BOARD Finds continued

Sara had informed her client of the possible electrical deficiencies, but she failed to mention possible consequences of ignoring her concerns. Sara could have referred to the ASCE Code of Ethics before making a decision.

From the ASCE Code of Ethics


1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.

On the way home...

In the taxi back to the airport, Sara thumbed through her newspaper She saw an editorial about her campaign which claimed that, as a result of the allegations against her, she was no longer fit for public office.

Questions for Discussion

How should Sara respond to such claims?

The American Society of Civil Engineers wishes you a long and prosperous engineering career!

Gilbane Gold is an excellent engineering

ethics video available from NIEE at www.niee.org.

(NIEE recently submitted a proposal to NSF requesting funding for a sequel for Gilbane Gold.)


want to acknowledge (SPEAKER PROVIDES INFO HERE)

Questions & Discussion