New Trends in Engineering Ethics – A Japanese Perspective
Engineering ethics education is widespread in Japan and is offered by many engineering academic and professional societies. Two elements, namely, the use of an analogy between ethical and design problems and the use of specific methods for ethical decision-making, like a seven-step guide, are the characteristics of current Japanese engineering ethics education. This form of ethics education helps students view ethical problems in a familiar light and elicits realistic solutions from them. However, this method lacks the normative sources to evaluate the moral design of problems, and sometimes fails to motivate students to learn engineering or/and engineering ethics by emphasizing on the negative aspects of engineering. To compensate for this lack, scholars expressed the need for introducing “aspirational ethics” in addition to the existing “preventive ethics.” Apparently, virtue ethics and positive psychology provide fruitful insights in realizing this aim. However, one needs to be wary of being too optimistic or too pessimistic. The author believes that the philosophy of technology can provide a new framework for engineering ethics. Especially, mediation theory by Peter-Paul Verbeek proposes a third way that is neither too pessimistic nor too optimistic by claiming that we need to “accompany” technological development, not aiming to merely reject or accept a new technology; the theory also provides a perspective of normative sources to evaluate moral design. Future engineering ethics would do well to incorporate this philosophy of technology further.
KeywordsEngineering ethics Aspirational ethics Philosophy of technology Postphenomenology Technological mediation
This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP 16 K02143 and JP16K00976.
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