Vestal virgins and engineering ethics

Ethics and the Environment 7 (1):92-101 (2002)
: Professional engineers are bound by their code of ethics to place paramount the health, safety, and welfare of the public. If the "public" includes future people, then the engineer is also morally responsible for not destroying the supporting environment that will make future generations possible. In this essay I suggest that the present engineering codes of ethics are inadequate in addressing the problem of maintaining environmental quality. Engineers can, while staying well within the bounds of the present codes of ethics, destroy or modify the environments that support the global ecosystem and in such manner kill future humans on a grand scale. The moral responsibilities of engineers must therefore include the commitment to provide a high quality and sustainable environment for future generations and this requires that the engineering codes of ethics be modified to encourage engineers to make decisions that promote environmental stability and sustainability
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