Responsible engineering: The importance of character and imagination
- Professor Michael S. Pritchard
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Engineering Ethics literature tends to emphasize wrongdoing, its avoidance, or its prevention. It also tends to focus on identifiable events, especially those that involve unfortunate, sometimes disastrous consequences. This paper shifts attention to the positive in engineering practice; and, as a result, the need for addressing questions of character and imagination becomes apparent.
- William F. May (1988) Professional Virtue and Self-Regulation, in: Callahan, Joan (ed.) Ethical Issues in Professional Life, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA, p. 408.
- Waterson, Bill (1990) Calvin and Hobbes.
- For a discussion of some of the results of this project, see Michael S. Pritchard (1988) Professional Responsibility: Focusing on the Exemplary, Science and Engineering Ethics 4 (2): 215–233. This was supported by National Science Foundation Grant #SBR-930257.
- My account is based on Joseph Morgenstern’s excellent, “The Fifty-Nine Story Crisis,” The New Yorker, May 29, 1995.
- Ibid., p. 48.
- Waterson, Bill (Dec. 23, 1990) Calvin and Hobbes.
- Martin, M. (2000) Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA, p. 173.
- Ibid. Social psychologist Irving Janis’s important work on group dynamies seems to focus primarily on social explanations of wrongdoing. However, his more positive account of how groups can resist the shortcomings of “groupthink” seems to presuppose that certain qualities of character on the part of individual members of groups can make a crucial difference (e.g., the commitment to developing and sustaining independent, critical judgment even in the face of pressure to go along with others, and the courage to speak up in opposition to apparent consensus). See Janis, Irving (1982) Groupthink, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin, Boston, USA.
- For a discussion of the exercise of imagination in addressing Z-Corp’s problems, see Michael Pritchard and Mark Holtzapple’s (1997) Responsible Engineering: Gilbane Gold Revisited, Science and Engineering Ethics 3 (2): 217–230. CrossRef
- Gilbane Gold (1989), National Society for Professional Engineers, 1420 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
- For 3M’s own account of its Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) program, see its website at http://www.mmm.com/profile/envt/3p.html.
- ABET is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. For the precise wording of ABET 2000 requirements, see: http://www.abet.org/EAC/each2000.html.
- Responsible engineering: The importance of character and imagination
Science and Engineering Ethics
Volume 7, Issue 3 , pp 391-402
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- public safety
- responsible engineering
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, Western Michigan University, 49008, Kalamazoo, MI, USA