For them the issue is to maximize the gains and minimize the losses, stemming from technology. For example, they focus upon the principal practitioners of technology, the engineers, and wish to examine the moral nature of the decisions made by these practitioners. In the United States, much of the moral concern of the nation has been with how to avoid damage to the welfare of minorities who may, otherwise, lose out in an elective process that depends upon majority rule. Most ethical systems seek to reduce the distress level in a society.
In primitive societies, the notions of duty arise in response to the desire to avoid causing suffering or inconvenience to other members of the community. Ultimately, these duties are crystallized in taboos and are observed automatically. Thus, are ethical codes of behavior born? And so, it is with us today. Ethics constitute the basic codes of civilized behavior, without which our environment, as we know it, would be impossible. Such rules embody the basic constraints each of us agrees to practice in relationships with others. We consent to these constraints in the knowledge that, in so doing, we make the existence of all, including ourselves, more agreeable.
Ethical codes can b...
... middle of paper ...
...en. Some have insisted that engineers aim for no less than 100% safety, or that society should allow no new technological undertakings unless it can be guaranteed that there will be no undesirable side effects. Neither of these conditions is achievable, of course.
Life cannot be made 100 percent safe, nor can any human being guarantee the future. We are always going to be faced with the presence of a certain amount of risk, although engineers, with their special technical knowledge of materials and the like, are in a better position to reduce risks than almost any other group. Furthermore, an engineer who is constantly thinking about matters such as safety and pollution is much more likely to produce designs that excelled the categories that one who does not think about them. The preceding material on Engineering Ethics has been developed as it is practiced in U.S.A.
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