Skip to main content

Part of the book series: Philosophy of Engineering and Technology ((POET,volume 21))

  • 1398 Accesses

Abstract

Why should engineers behave ethically? Often, this question is answered by qualifying engineering as a “profession”, and professional organizations have codes of ethics that members should comply with. In many countries however, engineering is organized differently. The present chapter explores conceptions of “professionalism”, inspired by evolutions in different occupational areas. A second part questions the idea that professionalism encompasses ethical responsibilities “beyond ordinary morality”. The thesis will be defended that, although there may be specific rules for “professionals”, the philosophical foundation of professional ethics yet rests on ordinary morality.

It definitely was professional, and it was definitely smart, if you can call it that, but it was very conservative, very risk-averse, very aware of what mattered.

(Lance Armstrong, Interview with Oprah Winfrey, January 2013)

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

References

  • Armstrong, L. (2013). Interview with Oprah Winfrey. Transcript on http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/21065539

  • Boucher, F. (2007). Le problème de la moralité de rôle en éthique professionnelle. http://www.intranet.idea.ulaval.ca/Documents/FB-role%20EP.rtf. Consulted 18 Aug 2012.

  • Briggle, A., & Mitcham, C. (2012). Ethics and science. An introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Burns, E. (2007). Developing a post-professional perspective for studying contemporary professions and organisations. Proceedings conference on critical management studies,University of Manchester, July 2007. http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/ejrot/cmsconference/2007/proceedings/newperspectives/burns.pdf

  • Colby, A., & Sullivan, W. M. (2008). Formation of professionalism and purpose: Perspectives from the preparation for the professions program. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 5(2), 404–427.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dannoritzer, C. (2010). The light bulb conspiracy. Documentary available at: http://dotsub.com/view/aed3b8b2-1889-4df5-ae63-ad85f5572f27

  • Davis, M. (2015). Chapter 4: Engineering as profession: Some methodological problems in its study. In S. H. Christensen, C. Didier, A. Jamison, M. Meganck, C. Mitcham, & B. Newberry (Eds.), Engineering identities, epistemologies and values. Engineering education and practice in context. Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Didier, C. (2015). Engineering ethics: European perspectives. In J. Britt Holbrook and Carl Mitcham (Eds.), Ethics, science, technology, and engineering: A global resource (Vol. 2, pp. 87–90). Farmington Hills: Macmillan Reference USA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Driessens, K., & Geldof, D. (2008). Normatieve professionaliteit in het sociaal werk. Alert, 34(2), 66–75.

    Google Scholar 

  • Erde, E. L. (2008). Professionalism’s facets: Ambiguity, ambivalence, and nostalgia. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 33, 6–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Evetts, J. (2003). The sociological analysis of professionalism: Occupational change in the modern world. International Sociology, 18(2), 395–415.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwood, E. (1957). Attributes of a profession. Social Work, July 1957, 45–55. Reprinted in: Johnson, D. G. (1991). Ethical issues in engineering (pp. 67–77). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Herbert, I., Lambert, S., & Rothwell, A. (2012). Professionalism in the 21st century: Symbol or substance? Financial management, April, 54–55

    Google Scholar 

  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Code of ethics. http://www.ieee.org/about/ethics.html. Accessed Mar 2015.

  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Mission and vision statement. http://www.ieee.org/about/vision_mission.html. Accessed Mar 2015.

  • Jamison, A., Christensen, S. H., & Botin, L. (2011). A hybrid imagination. Science and technology in cultural perspective (Synthesis lectures on engineers, technology, and society, Vol. 12). San Rafael: Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kunneman, H. (2007). Sociaal werk als laboratorium voor normatieve professionalisering. Ethische Perspectieven, 17(2), 92–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levinas, E. (1982). Éthique et infini. Paris: Fayard.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mitcham, C. (2009). A philosophical inadequacy of engineering. The Monist, 92(3), 339–356.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Noordegraaf, M. (2007). From “pure” to “hybrid” professionalism. Present-day professionalism in ambiguous public domains. Administration and Society, 39(6), 761–785.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rescher, N. (1987). Forbidden knowledge: Moral limits of scientific research, as quoted in: Oger, E. Hoeveel waardevrijheid? In: P. Reynaert (Ed.). Wetenschap en Waardevrijheid (p. 35). Leuven: Garant, 1993.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, A., & Athanassoulis, N. (2010). The social nature of engineering and its implications for risk taking. Science and Engineering Ethics, 16, 147–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sammons, J. L. (1993). Rebellious ethics and Albert Speer. (Reprinted as: Albert Speer: ethics, architecture and technology). In: E. Katz (2006). Death by design: Science, technology and engineering in Nazi Germany (pp. 179–200). New York: Pearson Education.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schön, D. (2001). The crisis of professional knowledge and the pursuit of an epistemology of practice. In: J. Raven, & J. Stephenson (Eds.). Competence in the learning society (pp. 185–207). New York: Peter Lang Publishing. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/

  • Stapel, M. (2013). Beroepsethos versus patiëntenautonomie binnen de plastisch-esthetische chirurgie. Filosofie en Praktijk, 34(2), 25–40.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tredgold, T. (1828). Description of a civil engineer. Minutes of the Proceedings of the institution of civil engineers, Vol. 2 (1827–1835), January 4, pp. 20–23, as quoted in Briggle & Mitcham (2012), p. 294.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wendel, B. (2005). Professionalism as interpretation. Northwestern University Law Review, 99, 1167–1233.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilensky, H. L. (1964). The professionalization of everyone? American Journal of Sociology, 70, 137–158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

I express my gratitude to Christelle Didier, for her critical and constructive comments on a first draft for this chapter, and to Dr. Erik Van Achter, for his linguistic polishing of the text.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martin Meganck .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Meganck, M. (2015). On the Normativity of Professionalism. In: Christensen, S., Didier, C., Jamison, A., Meganck, M., Mitcham, C., Newberry, B. (eds) Engineering Identities, Epistemologies and Values. Philosophy of Engineering and Technology, vol 21. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16172-3_12

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics