An exploration of the ethics of practical engineering through analyses of eighteen rich case studies
The Ethical Engineer explores ethical issues that arise in engineering practice, from technology transfer to privacy protection to whistle-blowing. Presenting key ethics concepts and real-life examples of engineering work, Robert McGinn illuminates the ethical dimension of engineering practice and helps students and professionals determine engineers’ context-specific ethical responsibilities.
McGinn highlights the “ethics gap” in contemporary engineering—the disconnect between the meager exposure to ethical issues in engineering education and the ethical challenges frequently faced by engineers. He elaborates four “fundamental ethical responsibilities of engineers” (FEREs) and uses them to shed light on the ethical dimensions of diverse case studies, including ones from emerging engineering fields. The cases range from the Union Carbide pesticide plant disaster in India to the Google Street View project. After examining the extent to which the actions of engineers in the cases align with the FEREs, McGinn recapitulates key ideas used in analyzing the cases and spells out the main lessons they suggest. He identifies technical, social, and personal factors that induce or press engineers to engage in misconduct and discusses organizational, legal, and individual resources available to those interested in ethically responsible engineering practice.
Combining probing analysis and nuanced ethical evaluation of engineering conduct in its social and technical contexts, The Ethical Engineer will be invaluable to engineering students and professionals.
- Meets the need for engineering-related ethics study
- Elaborates four fundamental ethical responsibilities of engineers
- Discusses eighteen case studies of ethical issues in ten engineering fields
- Identifies resources and options for ethically responsible engineering practice
- Provides discussion questions for each case
Robert McGinn is professor of management science and engineering and of science, technology, and society at Stanford University. He is the author of Science, Technology, and Society (Prentice Hall).
"McGinn has written a highly accessible and very useful guide for courses on engineering ethics. Students will acquire a sense of the issues they should be concerned with as well as a feel for the challenges they will face as engineers. There is no other book quite like this one, and it will be a boon to engineering education everywhere."--Daniel Doneson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"This tremendously valuable book does a good job of distilling contemporary issues in engineering ethics and of making the case that ethics must be included in an engineer's education. The book effectively incorporates theory, examples, and resources and demonstrates that engineering ethics is continuously evolving."--Raluca Scarlat, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"In the past, I have struggled to find a book that contains engineering ethics cases with adequate ethical review and analysis. The Ethical Engineer has them and I would recommend it for classroom use."--Dianne Quigley, Brown University