Original Paper

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 149-169

First online:

Understanding Engineering Professionalism: A Reflection on the Rights of Engineers

  • James A. StiebAffiliated withDepartment of English and Philosophy, Drexel UniversityCollege of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University Email author 

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Engineering societies such as the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and associated entities have defined engineering and professionalism in such a way as to require the benefit of humanity (NSPE 2009a, Engineering Education Resource Document. NSPE Position Statements. Governmental Relations). This requirement has been an unnecessary and unfortunate “add-on.” The trend of the profession to favor the idea of requiring the benefit of humanity for professionalism violates an engineer’s rights. It applies political pressure that dissuades from inquiry, approaches to new knowledge and technologies, and the presentation, publication, and use of designs and research findings. Moreover, a more politically neutral definition of engineering and/or professionalism devoid of required service or benefit to mankind does not violate adherence to strong ethical standards.


Altruism Codes of ethics NSPE Professionalism Rights