This compact and systematically organized text opens with an introduction to Human Values and discusses, with great skill and expertise, the various approaches to the study of ethical behaviour, ethical theories, the moral dilemmas the professionals are faced with, value-based ethics and the engineers’ responsibility for safety and risk, collegiality and loyalty. Besides, the responsibilities of engineers in organizational setting, and global issues such as environmental ethics, computer ethics, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are detailed and delineated.
The case studies lend a practical orientation to the book, and the Review Questions sharpen the analytical skills of the students. This is a must have book for students of engineering and management. Besides, professional engineers and managers well find a wealth of information in this timely study.
S. NATARAJAN, Ph.D., has been professor and Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Anna University, Chennai. He has 34 years of teaching experience in such areas as operations research and metal forming. He has published/presented over 30 articles/papers in national and international journals and conferences. His areas of interest include metal forming, modelling of forming technology, and professional ethics. He has authored a book on Fundamentals of Packaging Technology published by PHI Learning.
V.S. SETHILKUMAR, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Anna University, Chennai. His areas of interest include superplastic metal forming, metal forming, metal forming, and professional ethics.
Engineering Ethics, as a subject of study, owes not only to the lack of ethics that led to the engineering disasters that have been recorded over a period of time but also to the day-to-day ethical behaviour that ought to be followed by engineering professionals. In the case of disasters, several factors were responsible overconfidence (Titanic disaster), impatience (space shuttle Challenger explosion), negligence and poor maintenance (Bhopal Gas Tragedy). Most of the disasters could have been prevented if the necessary code of ethics was observed. In order to cut down on the number of errors, both human and mechanical, many codes of ethics were established. The main purpose of these ethical codes is to ensure public safety.
Ethics presupposes understanding of human nature and values. Values provide each one of us with a unique, personal, and moral template that we use to assess the intentions and actions of others and ourselves and the importance of the likely outcome of these various actions and reactions. By values, we mean an in-built mechanism which distinguishes the right from the wrong. Right or wrong should be interpreted only in the context of the social environment in which a person lives. There is a growing concern about deteriorating values because deviation from accepted values threatens the stability of society. Excessive technological growth has created an environment in which life has become physically and mentally unhealthy. The quality of work-like in any organization is greatly influenced by the ethical and moral values prevalent in that organization. The ethical quality of managerial decision-making can be improved through a full understanding and internalization of the doctrine of karma. All decisions depend critically on the purity of mind of the decision-maker.
There are five system values and many sub-values, or virtues that come from these. They contain all that makes a human being noble, caring, and kind. The Five Universal Values from which the other values and virtues stem are Right Conduct (using the tool of the body), Peace (using the tool of the mind0, Truth (using the power of discrimination and intellect), Love (using the power of energy), and Non-Violence (awakening to the Spirit within). Indian ethos asserts that the spirit must lead matter and not vice versa. Since all minds and all lives are interconnected, a respectful attitude of honesty, help, care and encouragement are not only the best policy but the only policy in management. These ideas are explained in detail in Chapter 0.
The material for the book is taken from different sources like scriptural writings, the contemporary writings on professional ethics, and the Internet. Whatever presented is only ‘received knowledge’. The objectives of the book are to introduce the readers to the ethical concepts that are relevant to resolving moral issues in engineering, to impart reasoning and analytical skills needed o apply ethical concepts to engineering decisions, to identify the moral issues involved in both management and engineering areas, and to provide an understanding of the interface between social, technological and natural environments.
Chapter 1 presents the fundamentals of ethics, starting from the Indian ethos and goes on to explain the various concepts of engineering ethics. Deontological, consequentialist, and virtue approaches to the study of ethical behaviour are explained. Engineering as a profession is discussed by comparison with Medicine and Law. The pros and cons of social involvement of business are explained. The code of ethics are also discussed. Types of moral dilemmas, various models of moral development and value-based ethics are dealt with. Engineering as social experimentation is discussed in Chapter 3. The engineers’ responsibility for safety and risk is explained in Chapter 4. Collegiality and loyalty are discussed in Chapter 5. Also discussed are the rights and responsibilities of engineers in an organizational setting. Global issues like environmental ethics, weapons development, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPSs) are detailed in Chapter 6. The final chapter deals with ethical audit.
Review questions and four case studies are provided to sharpen the analytical skills of the students.
Teaching a course on Professional Ethics is difficult for two reasons. First, understanding the subject matter is difficult as it is somewhat amorphous. The teacher should have a good grasp of the principles of general ethics before branching out into engineering ethics. Secondly, the teacher should have good vocabulary and presentation skills, Hence, fluency in oral presentation and the ability to impart reasoning and analytical skills needed to apply ethical concepts to engineering decisions are emphasized.
Writing a book is often a tedious job. It requires lot of reading, writing, typing and editing. We acknowledge with thanks the excellent support given by Mrs. Prabha in typing the manuscript and Mr. S. Muthukrishnan for his help in page layout and in improving the general getup.
I thank prentice-Hall of India for bringing out a sleek edition of the book.
Any constructive comments for improving the contents will be greatly appreciated.
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