Moral Vision & the Landscape of Engineering Professionalism

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Since the conception of engineering the ethical codes that govern the profession have been ever changing. In the beginning, ethical codes for engineers emphasized loyalty to the employer regardless of any legal or moral infraction. By the mid 1900’s these codes had been revised to include a new objective: protecting public safety, health and welfare. Even with this new objective there were many engineering fiascos that showed a new necessity for a reevaluation of engineering ethics. By the early 2000’s ethics had become a mandatory part of education for engineers with the primary objective of protecting public safety, health and welfare above all else. In her essay “Moral Vision and the Landscape of Engineering Professionalism” Elizabeth D. Gee expresses the need for further change in ethics education both in the workplace and in educational institutions for the betterment of engineering as a profession. As an introduction Gee notes that engineering, as well as many other professions, often follows the saying that “it is not one thing after another; it is the same thing over and over;” this is to say that as engineers in the field, repetitive activity causes a jaded pattern of response that the author calls “ethical autopilot.” Gee asserts that to avoid this cynicism caused by lack of choice engineers must be free to act on their own ideas and values. However, in order for engineers to be truly “morally alert” (Gee) in this sense, certain hindrances must be removed. Due to the environment in which engineers operate, existing as a morally autonomous engineer is difficult, but not impossible if thoughts of profit do not cloud the engineer’s judgment. Gee also discusses the idea of professional codes of ethics, pointing out that ... ... middle of paper ... ...ularly history, allow the reader to use the power of hindsight to take different points of view in historical situations. This historical reference frame is important in thinking to the future to prevent history from repeating itself. In “Moral Vision and the Landscape of Engineering Professionalism” Gee presents a very clever method of maintaining ethics in engineering by utilizing both codes of ethics and her concept of moral vision to prevent cynicism in the workplace and keep high ethical standards in the field of engineering. I feel that this method would be very effective if implemented, as Gee suggests, in both the educational and workplace settings by increasing general awareness of the necessity of ethics in engineering. Works Cited Gee, Elizabeth D. “Moral vision and the Landscape of Engineering Professionalism.” NSPE. NSPE, n.d. Web. 3 February. 2010.

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