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The engineer shall hold paramount the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Unless, of course…

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2 Author(s)
Aarne Vesilind, P. ; Dept. of Civil & Environ. Eng., Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA, USA ; Rooke, R.L.

Engineering codes of ethics commonly state in the first canon that the engineer shall hold paramount the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Although this is an unequivocal statement, engineers at times choose not to do so. In this paper I discuss five circumstances in which the engineer might choose not to hold the health, safety, and welfare of the public paramount: (1) if the engineers believes that the requirement is internally inconsistent, (2) if the engineer's religious convictions prevent adherence to the requirement, (3) if the engineer believes that the public does not know what is best for it, (4) if the engineer is forced to do otherwise, and (5) if the engineer believes that damage to the environment outweighs short term public interest. I discuss the moral implications of each reason, and finally suggest a modification of the first canon that, although unlikely to be adopted, frames my view of the responsibilities of engineers

Published in:

Technology and Society, 2001. Proceedings. International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

2001