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Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 327–337 | Cite as

Professional responsibility: The role of the engineer in society

  • Steven P. Nichols
Article

Abstract

We argue that the practice of engineering does not exist outside the domain of societal interests. That is, the practice of engineering has an inherent (and unavoidable) impact on society. Engineering is based upon that relationship with society (inter alia).

An engineer’s conduct (as captured in professional codes of conduct) toward other engineers, toward employers, toward clients, and toward the public is an essential part of the life of a professional engineer, yet the education process and professional societies pay inadequate attention to the area. If one adopts Skooglund’s definition of professional ethicsI (how we agree to relate to one another), then the codes of professional conduct lay out a road map for professional relationships. As professionals, engineers need to internalize their codes and to realize that they have a personal stake in the application of codes as well as the process of developing the codes. Yet, most engineers view professional codes as static statements developed by “others” with little (or no) input from the individual engineer. Complicating the problem, questions of professionalism (such as ethics) are frequently viewed as topics outside the normal realm of engineering analysis and design. In reality, professional responsibility is an integral part of the engineering process.

Keywords

professional responsibility engineering ethics engineering responsibility 

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Copyright information

© Opragen Publications 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven P. Nichols
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Electromechanics, ETC 5,160University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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