Engineering Ethics and Political Imagination
Recent attempts by American colleges and universities to teach ethics for scientists and engineers deserve strong praise. They represent a shift away from the idea that questions about ethics and morality are best left to humanists or to elder statesmen of science, a recognition that such matters ought to be an important part of education in the technical professions. One can hope that through these efforts a new generation of men and women will obtain a firm grounding in the ethical aspects of their vocations early enough to make a difference.
KeywordsEngineering Education Engineer Ethic Engineering Ethic Political Imagination Technical Professional
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- 1.See, for example, Stephen H. Unger, Controlling Technology: Ethics and the Responsible Engineer (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982 ).Google Scholar
- 2.For a defense of this method see C. Roland Christenenet al., Teaching and the Case Method (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1987).Google Scholar
- 3.David F. Noble, America by Design: Science, Technology and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism (New York: Knopf, 1977 ).Google Scholar
- 4.Max Weber explores a similar issue in “Science as a Vocation,” in H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds., From Max Weber (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946).Google Scholar
- 5.Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine: The Pentagon of Power (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), chapter 9.Google Scholar
- 6.I discuss this topic in “Techne and Politeia,” in The Whale and the Reactor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), chapter 3.Google Scholar
- 7.An early but overly optimistic attempt to portray computer scientists in this light can be found in Robert Boguslaw, The New Utopians: A Study of Systems Design and Social Change (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965 ).Google Scholar
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- 9.An exception is John Tirman, ed., Empty Promise: The Growing Case against Star Wars (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986).Google Scholar
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- 12.See Martin Kenneth Starr, ed., Global Competitiveness: Getting the U.S. Back on Track (New York: Norton, 1988).Google Scholar
- 13.Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962 ).Google Scholar