Beyond Inevitability: Emphasizing the Role of Intention and Ethical Responsibility in Engineering Design

  • Kathryn A. Neeley
  • Heinz C. Luegenbiehl

Much of how humans think about their world and their actions in relation to it is governed by the manner of their speaking. In this paper the authors argue that this has an especially significant impact on the work of engineers and their perception of ethical responsibility. A discourse framework governing the actions of engineers which focuses on the idea of technological development tends to lead toward perceptions of technological inevitability, whereas one focusing on the terminology of engineering design enhances perceptions of choice and, consequently, of individual responsibility. Perceptions of responsibility resulting from design focused discourse thus are not limited to narrow safety and production considerations, but include holistic considerations such as aesthetic and environmental factors, as well as considerations of societal implications of design choices. The authors propose that increased focus on design discourse, in both professional and public settings, will enhance a broader sense of ethical responsibility among engineers.


Technological Development Ethical Responsibility Engineering Ethic Ethical Reflection Societal Implication 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn A. Neeley
    • 1
  • Heinz C. Luegenbiehl
    • 2
  1. 1.University of VirginiaUSA
  2. 2.Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyUSA

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