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Evil intent and design responsibility


Mass casualty attacks in recent years have demonstrated the need to include “evil intent” as a design consideration. Three recent actual or potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attacks did not involve nuclear bombs or other devices designed as weapons, but rather benign objects used with evil intent. Just as unplanned events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and user misuse have been codified into design requirements based on the likelihood and potential impact of the event, “evil intent” has to become part of the design process for buildings, vehicles, equipment, and other items. The endstate should be reasonable additions to existing codes and standards such that it is clear what is and is not designed for. In the absence of specific design guidance, professionals with appropriate expertise can assess potential for “evil intent” and provide recommendations to design out or warn against this potential harm to public safety, particularly when codified requirements are not present.

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Correspondence to Bart Kemper.

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Author Note: Bart Kemper, PE, is the principal engineer for Kemper Imageering, Inc. A significant portion of his work has been involved in industrial equipment design, product design, and the design and analysis of different security devices as well as performing simulations, computer modelling, reliability studies, blast analyses, and FMEA analyses on commercial equipment, including marine, offshore, and industrial facilities. He is also a US Army Reserve captain in the Corps of Engineers and was mobilized and deployed overseas in February 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the 412th Engineer Command, headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi. A significant portion of his duties involved reviewing intelligence, analyzing potential courses of action, and evaluating risks with regard to Iraqi and Coalition activities in the northern Iraqi oilfields as well as base camp design and infrastructure engineering. This paper is unclassified and has been cleared for publication.

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Kemper, B. Evil intent and design responsibility. SCI ENG ETHICS 10, 303–309 (2004).

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  • weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
  • explosion
  • public safety
  • disaster
  • attack
  • design responsibility