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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: May 2021

1 - Ethics and Engineering


This chapter distinguishes between two approaches to ethics and engineering, namely "ethics and the engineer" and "ethics and the practice of engineering." The former relates to issues such as the responsibility of an individual engineer in general and within organizations, as spelled out in codes of conduct (such as professional engineering codes, company codes, and other important international codes). The ethics-up-front approach is presented in relation to the latter approach, as proactive thinking about ethics in the practice of engineering. Engineers employ and engage in a variety of activities including the assessment and evaluation of risks, costs, and benefits, and the design and development of artifacts and systems, for instance energy systems. At every turn in those activities, values are expressed either explicitly or implicitly, and choices have ethical ramifications, whether recognized or not. The chapter helps engineers to better identify the ethical problems in hand so as to provide tools and frameworks to proactively address these problems.

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