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Ethics: Five ethical dilemmas: Compare your own responses with those of your colleagues who responded to Spectrum's survey

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1 Author(s)

John, an engineer at a components house, is working on a NASA contract and designs a component critical to a life-support system. It surpasses NASA's specifications and tests, and John is informed that he will receive a substantial bonus at a company dinner later in the year to reward him for his contribution. He is aware that there are conditions that will cause his component to fail, but it appears from NASA's original specifications that such conditions will never arise. Later, John discovers that the conditions will indeed occur in the missions planned by NASA. He immediately calls his superior, who stops production of the component and informs NASA. Loss of pride and money for the company and John ensue. He doesn't get a bonus. But, clearly, it was the only ethical thing to do; acting otherwise would have caused a man's death.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 6 )