Advertisement

Engineering Research and Ethics

  • Michael DavisEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Engineering research takes place in at least four domains: the laboratory, the pilot, digital models, and “the field.” In the laboratory, engineering research most resembles research in physics, chemistry, or biology. Issues concerning accuracy, truthfulness, crediting, and the like are much the same in engineering as in the sciences. The chief distinctive ethical issue in engineering research in the lab is that the research should seek to improve the material condition of humanity, not just seek knowledge for its own sake. There is no “pure engineering.” Much the same is true of research using digital models. In research done with “pilot projects,” however, the ethical issues most resemble those of medicine when testing drugs for safety or effectiveness. So, for example, should a pilot project begin to threaten the public welfare, it would have to be ended even though an important opportunity to learn would be lost. In the field, the ethical issues in engineering research most resemble those in public health. For example, engineers should keep good records of complaints about their products; have procedures for quickly identifying threats to the public health, safety, or welfare; and have procedures in place for responding appropriately. Research in engineering is continuous with the practice of engineering.

Keywords

Human welfare Laboratory Pilot Models Field Ethics 

References

  1. Biomedical Engineering Society, Code of Ethics (2004) http://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes/node/3243. Accessed 16 May 2018
  2. Davis M (1990) The new world of research ethics: a preliminary map. Int J Appl Philos 5(Spring):1–10Google Scholar
  3. Davis M (1991) Thinking like an Engineer: The place of a code of ethics in the practice of a profession. Philos Public Aff 20(Spring):150–167Google Scholar
  4. Davis M (2012) Three nuclear disasters and a hurricane: some reflections on engineering ethics. J Applied Ethics and Philos 4:1–10Google Scholar
  5. Harris et al (2018) Engineering ethics: concepts and cases, 6th edn, Wadsworth. Independence, KYGoogle Scholar
  6. Martin MW, Schinzinger R (1983) Ethics in Engineering. McGraw-Hill, New York. pp 55–62Google Scholar
  7. McGinn R (2018) The ethical engineer: contemporary concepts and cases. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  8. Perrow C (1984) Normal sccidents: living with high-risk technologies. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Read R, O’Riordan T (2017) The Precautionary Principle Under Fire. Environ Sci Policy Sustain Dev. http://www.environmentmagazine.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/2017/September-October%202017/precautionary-principle-full.html. Accessed 19 May 2018
  10. Stark L (2012) Behind closed doors. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  11. Starrett SK, Lara AL (2017) Engineering ethics: real world case studies. ASCE Press. Reston, VAGoogle Scholar
  12. Sunderland ME, Nayak RU (2015) Reengineering Biomedical Translational Research with Engineering Ethics. Sci Eng Ethics 21:1019–1031CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Yahaghi J, Sorooshian S (2018) The role of engineering ethics on concrete fire safety. Sci Eng Ethics 24:819–820CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humanities DepartmentIllinois Institute of TechnologyChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations