Both of us have been involved with helping professions, especially new scientific or technological professions, develop ethics programs—for undergraduates, graduates, and practitioners. By “ethics program”, we mean any strategy for teaching ethics, including developing materials. Our purpose here is to generalize from that experience to identify the chief elements needed to get an ethics program started in a new profession. We are focusing on new professions for two reasons. First, all the older professions, both in the US and in most (...) other countries, now have ethics programs of some sort. They do not need our advice to get started. Second, new professions face special problems just because they are new—everything from deciding who belongs to the profession to formalizing ethical standards so that they can be taught. Our purpose in this paper is to generalize from our experience and to identify some of the fundamentals for getting an ethics program started in a new profession. We present our recommendations in the form of response to 6 questions anyone designing an ethics program for a new profession should ask. We realize that our brief discussion does not provide a complete treatment of the subject. Our purpose has been to point in the right direction those considering an ethics program for new profession. (shrink)
There are many ways to avoid responsibility, for example, explaining what happens as the work of the gods, fate, society, or the system. For engineers, “technology” or “the organization” will serve this purpose quite well. We may distinguish at least nine (related) senses of “responsibility”, the most important of which are: (a) responsibility-as-causation (the storm is responsible for flooding), (b) responsibility-as-liability (he is the person responsible and will have to pay), (c) responsibility-as-competency (he’s a responsible person, that is, he’s rational), (...) (d) responsibility-as-office (he’s the responsible person, that is, the person in charge), and (e) a responsibility-as-domain-of-tasks (these are her responsibilities, that is, the things she is supposed to do). For all but the causal sense of responsibility, responsibility may be taken (in a relatively straightforward sense)—and generally is. Why then would anyone want to claim that certain technologies make it impossible to attribute responsibility to engineers (or anyone else)? In this paper, I identify seven arguments for that claim and explain why each is fallacious. The most important are: (1) the argument from “many hands”, (2) the argument from individual ignorance, and (3) the argument from blind forces. Each of these arguments makes the same fundamental mistake, the assumption that a certain factual situation, being fixed, settles responsibility, that is, that individuals, either individually or by some group decision, cannot take responsibility. I conclude by pointing out the sort of decisions (and consequences) engineers have explicitly taken responsibility for and why taking responsibility for them is rational, all things considered. There is no technological bar to such responsibility. (shrink)
Judgment is central to engineering, medicine, the sciences and many other practical activities. For example, one who otherwise knows what engineers know but lacks engineering judgment may be an expert of sorts, a handy resource much like a reference book or database, but cannot be a competent engineer. Though often overlooked or at least passed over in silence, the central place of judgment in engineering, the sciences, and the like should be obvious once pointed out. It is important here because (...) it helps to explain where ethics fits into these disciplines. There is no good engineering, no good science, and so on without good judgment and no good judgment in these disciplines without ethics. Doing even a minimally decent job of teaching one of these disciplines necessarily includes teaching its ethics; teaching the ethics is teaching the discipline (or at least a large part of it). (shrink)
Locke's Two Treatises of Government is (primarily) a work of practical (or applied) ethics rather than (as commonly supposed) political philosophy or (as some recent historians have argued) political propaganda. The problem is the oath of allegiance to James II. So interpreting it makes political obligation resemble the special moral obligations of profession rather than the general obligations of morality. Political obligation is the formal moral obligation to law that comes from voluntary participation in law-making (directly or through representatives one (...) helps to choose), a form of express consent. Ordinary moral obligations to law, those arising from considerations of justice, are, in contrast, much the same for ordinary residents as for foreign visitors. This is the domain of tacit consent. The right to organise a political society, including the right to exclude, derives from the natural right of free association. (shrink)
Under a grant from the National Science Foundation, the authors (and others) undertook to integrate ethics into graduate engineering classes at three universities—and to assess success in a way allowing comparison across classes (and institutions). This paper describes the attempt to carry out that assessment. Standard methods of assessment turned out to demand too much class time. Under pressure from instructors, the authors developed an alternative method that is both specific in content to individual classes and allows comparison across classes. (...) Results are statistically significant for ethical sensitivity and knowledge. They show measurable improvement in a single semester. (shrink)
The starting point of this paper is Sellars’s rejection of foundationalist empiricism as found in his discussion of the Myth of the Given. Sellars attacks the Myth from two main angles, corresponding to the two elements of empiricism: the idea that our beliefs are justified by the world, and the idea that our concepts are derived from experience. In correctly attacking the second, Sellars is also, incorrectly, led to attack the first. Thus, Sellars rejects the commonsensical idea that at least (...) some of our ideas can be justified by appeal to the empirical world. My purpose is to examine why Sellars is led to this point, and how the same assumptions that lead him there also operate in his followers, such as Brandom, Rorty and McDowell. I then show how a rejection of these assumptions gives us a way around this problem that does not fall back into foundationalism. (shrink)
The soul of Achilles -- Aristotle -- The doubleness of soul -- Out of itself for the sake of itself -- Nutritive soul -- Sensing soul: vision -- Thinking soul. Sensation and imagination ; Passive and active mind ; Imagination and thought -- The soul as self and self-aware -- "The father of the Logos" -- "For the friend is another self" -- Herodotus: the rest and motion of soul -- Rest in motion: Herodotus's Egypt -- Motion at rest: Herodotus's (...) Scythians -- Euripides: soul as same and other -- The fake that launched a thousand ships: the duplicity of identity in the Helen -- Euripides among the Athenians: the double vision of soul in Iphigeneia among the Taurians -- Plato -- The soul of the law: Gyges in Herodotus and in Plato -- The subject of justice: on Plato's Cleitophon -- The object of tyranny: Plato's Hipparchus -- Plato's Phaedrus: Er's and the structure of soul -- The grammar of soul: the middle voice in Plato's Euthyphro -- The soul of Socrates. (shrink)
Philosophical counselors are now debating whether they should be licensed in the way psychiatrists, psychologists, and other similar helping professions are. The side favoring licensing claim it is a step on the way to making philosophical counseling “a profession.” In this paper I explain why licensing has nothing to do with making a profession of philosophical counseling—and what does. In particular, I offer a definition of profession, explain its application to philosophical counseling, and defend it against competitors (especially various sociological (...) definitions). I also explain the importance of licensing, registration, and certification—and its disadvantages for philosophical counseling. (shrink)
Those who commit crime on a grand scale, numbering their victims in the thousands, seem to pose a special problem both for consequentialist and for non-consequentialist theories of punishment, a problem the International Criminal Court makes practical. This paper argues that at least one non-consequentialist theory of punishment, the fairness theory, can provide a justification of punishment for great crimes. It does so by dividing the question into two parts, the one of proportion which it answers directly, and the other (...) of ‘anchoring points’ which it assigns to a broader theory of enforcement (which may have a non-consequentialist or consequentialist version). (shrink)
Though this paper is mostly about a sense of “profession” common in much of the West, it explains how the term might apply in any country (especially how the profession of engineering differs from the function, discipline, and occupation of engineering). To do that, I have to explain the connection between “profession” (in my preferred sense) and another hard-to-translate term, “code of ethics” (in the sense it has in the expression “code of engineering ethics”). To understand engineering (or any other (...) occupation) as a profession is to adopt a certain conception of it, one neither old nor (yet) universal. With that conception in hand, it should be possible for social science to answer the question posed in the title. (shrink)
This paper describes developments in punishment theory since the middle of the twentieth century. After the mid–1960s, what Stanley I. Benn called “preventive theories of punishment”—whether strictly utilitarian or more loosely consequentialist like his—entered a long and steep decline, beginning with the virtual disappearance of reform theory in the 1970s. Crowding out preventive theories were various alternatives generally (but, as I shall argue, misleadingly) categorized as “retributive”. These alternatives include both old theories (such as the education theory) resurrected after many (...) decades in philosophy’s graveyard and some new ones (such as the fairness theory). Only in the last decade or so have new vares o “consequentialism” appeared to dilute a debate among philosophers that had become almost entirely about “retributivism”. I shall describe this trend in more detail. The description will be less an update of my 1990 survey than a rethinking of it. The conclusion I draw from this rethinking is that we need to drop the utilitarian–retributivist (and nonconsequentialist–nonconsequentialist) distinction in favor of one sorting punishment theories according to whether they rely in part on empirical considerations (externalist theories) or instead rely (almost) entirely on conceptual relations (internalist theories). (shrink)
What are the conceptual connections between torture and profession? Exploring this question requires exploring at least two others. Before we can work out the conceptual connections between profession and torture, we must have a suitable conception of both profession and torture. We seem to have several conceptions of each. So, I first identify several alternative conceptions of profession, explaining why one should be preferred over the others. Next, I do the same for torture; and then, I argue that, given the (...) preferred conception of torture and the preferred conception of profession, there can be no profession of torturers. In the final section, I argue that deliberately torturing or aiding in torture is always unprofessional. The fact that some conceptions of profession do not yield this conclusion tells us more about the inadequacy of those conceptions than about professions. (shrink)
Most professional societies, scientific associations, and the like that undertake to write a code of ethics do so using other codes as models but without much (practical) guidance about how to do the work. The existing literature on codes is much more concerned with content than procedure. This paper adds to guidance already in the literature what I learned from participating in the writing of an important code of ethics. The guidance is given in the form of “rules” each of (...) which is explained and (insofar as possible) justified. The emphasis is on procedure. (shrink)
This article evaluates a family of criticism of how engineering ethics is now generally taught. The short version of the criticism might be put this way: Teachers of engineering ethics devote too much time to individual decisions and not enough time to social context. There are at least six version of this criticism, each corresponding to a specific subject omitted. Teachers of engineering ethics do not (it is said) teach enough about: 1) the culture of organizations; 2) the organization of (...) organizations; 3) the legal environment of organizations; 4) the role of professions in organizations; 5) the role of organizations in professions; or 6) the political environment of organizations. My conclusion is that, while all six are worthy subjects, there is neither much reason to believe that any of them are now absent from courses in engineering ethics nor an obvious way to decide whether they (individually or in combination) are (or are not) now being given their due. What we have here is a dispute about how much is enough. Such disputes are not to be settled without agreement concerning how we are to tell we have enough of this or that. Right now we seem to lack that agreement—and not to have much reason to expect it any time soon. (shrink)
Perhaps the most common reason science and engineering faculty give for not including “ethics” (that is, research ethics, engineering ethics, or some discussion of professional responsibility) in their technical classes is that “there is no room”. This article 1) describes a technique (“micro-insertion”) that introduces ethics (and related topics) into technical courses in small enough units not to push out technical material, 2) explains where this technique might fit into the larger undertaking of integrating ethics into the technical (scientific or (...) engineering) curriculum, and 3) concludes with some quantified evidence (collected over more than a decade) suggesting success. Integrating ethics into science and engineering courses is largely a matter of providing context for what is already being taught, context that also makes the material already being taught seem “more relevant”. (shrink)
Freedom and responsibility -- The two freedoms of speech in Plato -- Speech codes and the life of learning -- Liberal education and life -- First things first : history and the liberal arts -- Philosophy in the comics -- The one book course : an internship in the ivory tower -- Why I read such good books : Aeschylus, Sophocles, the moral majority, and secular humanism -- Plato and Nietzsche on death : an introduction to the Phaedo -- The (...) empire of poetry : on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus -- Agreeing to agree : on beginning Rousseau's social contract -- Unraveling Ravelstein : Saul Bellow's comic tragedy -- The philosophy of Leo Strauss : an introduction -- On opening The closing of the American mind -- Richard Kennington : the true and the good -- Seth Benardete : the life of wonder -- A life of learning. (shrink)
Since Henry Shue’s classic 1978 paper on torture, the “ticking-bomb case” has seemed to demonstrate that torture is morally justified in some moral emergencies (even if not as an institution). After presenting an analysis of torture as such and an explanation of why it, and anything much like it, is morally wrong, I argue that the ticking-bomb case demonstrates nothing at all—for at least three reasons. First, it is an appeal to intuition. The intuition is not as widely shared as (...) necessary to constitute the required demonstration. Second, the intuition is not as reliable as necessary for such a demonstration. We lack the experience that would vouch for it. And, third, Shue’s own discussion suggests that what we are intuiting (if we share Shue’s intuition) is an excuse rather than a justification. (shrink)
Barger and Barney (2004/this issue) offered a number of reasons for the public, the news media, and journalism to develop special, mutually supportive standards of conduct. However, they imbedded these reasonable suggestions in an argument that claims far more than can be delivered. In explaining what is wrong with their argument, I place journalistic ethics within a general theory of professional ethics.
The three sorts of soul in Aristotle’s On Soul (nutritive, animal, and cognitive) may be understood as one insofar as each must go out of itself in order to confirm itself as itself. This feature of soul, without which there would be no distinction between inside and outside at all, proves to be the underlying theme of the Nicomachean Ethics. It is at the core of both moral virtue and intellectual virtue and points as well to the principle of their (...) union. Rationality, whether in the form of morality or of thought, is necessarily incomplete rationality, for its perfection could become manifest only in a completed structure in which neither choice nor longing to know would have any place and in which rationality would be indistinguishable from mechanical structure. It is thus not accidental that although the moral argument of the Nicomachean Ethics seems to require that the human soul be double—with a rational part that governs and an animal part that is capable of being governed by this rational part—strictly speaking the rational part, which Aristotle likens to a father, is never really present in the argument. Its absence points to the character of reason as necessarily hidden and only showing itself as a striving for rationality. Further, it is a sign of the impossibility of ever achieving an adequate structural account of the soul. (shrink)
The first code of professional ethics must: (1)be a code of ethics; (2) apply to members of a profession; (3) apply to allmembers of that profession; and (4) apply only to members of that profession. The value of these criteria depends on how we define “code”, “ethics”, and “profession”, terms the literature on professions has defined in many ways. This paper applies one set of definitions of “code”, “ethics”, and “profession” to a part of what we now know of the (...) history of professions, there by illustrating how the choice of definition can alter substantially both our answer to the question of which came first and (more importantly) our understanding of professional codes (and the professions that adopt them). Because most who write on codes of professional ethics seem to take for granted that physicians produced the first professional code, whether the Hippocratic Oath, Percival’s Medical Ethics, the 1847 Code of Ethicsof the American Medical Association (AMA), or some other document, I focus my discussion on these codes. (shrink)
What makes a subject philosophically interesting is hard-to-resolve confusion about fundamental concepts. Engineering ethics suffers from at least three such fundamental confusions. First, there is confusion about what the “ethics” in engineering ethics is (ordinary morality, philosophical ethics, special standards, or something else?) Second, there is confusion about what the profession of engineering is (a function, discipline, occupation, kind of organization, or something else?) Third, there is confusion about what the discipline of engineering is. These fundamental confusions in engineering ethics (...) connect with philosophically interesting work in moral theory, political philosophy, and philosophy of science. Work in these areas may help with the philosophical problems of engineering ethics. But, equally important, work in engineering ethics may help with the philosophical problems in these others fields. (shrink)
This paper argues that research for engineering ethics should routinely involve philosophers, social scientists, and engineers, and should focus for now on certain basic questions such as: Who is an engineer? What is engineering? What do engineers do? How do they make decisions? And how much control do they actually have over what they do?
Conflicts of interest pose special problems for the professions. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can undermine essential trust between professional and public. This volume is a comprehensive and accessible guide to the ramifications and problems associated with important issue. It contains fifteen new essays by noted scholars and covers topics in law, medicine, journalism, engineering, financial services, and others.
Barton’s view in Getting Even: Revenge as a Form of Justice (Open Court Chicago, 19991 is that revenge -- in the form of victim participation in trial. sentencing, and punishment -- should have a large place in criminal justice. I argue that what he suggests in the way of reform has no essential relation with criminal justice.
Ethics and the University brings together the practice of ethics in the university (academic ethics) and the teaching of practical or applied ethics in the university. The book offers an explanation of practical ethics' recent emergence as a university subject, discusses research ethics, and explores the teaching of practical ethics, including sexual ethics. Michael Davis situates the subject of ethics within the university into a wider social and historical context that will be helpful in sorting out the complex issues.
The paper presents a definition of profession that I have developed over two decades: A profession is a number of individuals in the same occupation voluntarily organized to earn a living by openly serving a certain moral ideal in a morally permissible way beyond what law, market, and morality would otherwise require. The paper then briefly explains how this definition improves on more conventional ones, especially on those developed using the method of sociology or conceptual analysis. Finally, the paper defends (...) the definition against one important objection, an objection many professionals, even upon reflection, seem inclined to make. The objection is that higher education, though omitted from my definition, is necessary for an occupation to be a profession. The paper argues that, on the contrary, carpenters or plumbers, porters or common laborers, could form a profession lin the full sensei without much change in the preparation of would-be members of their respective occupations. (shrink)
Many outside science and engineering, especially social scientists and “rhetoricians”, claim that rhetoric, “the art of persuasion”, is an important part of technical communication. This claim is either trivial or false. If “persuasion” simply means “effective communication”, then, of course, rhetoric is an important part of technical communication. But, if “persuasion” has anything like its traditional meaning (a specific art of winning conviction), rhetoric is not an important part of technical communication; indeed, its use in technical communication would be unethical. (...) [By] an advocate is meant one whose business it is to smooth over real difficulties, and to persuade where he cannot convince. (shrink)
Oxford inaugurated its new series in practical ethics by reprinting Sidgwick’s century-old Practical Ethics, edited and introduced by Sissela Bok. While this reissue is, in many respects, both appropriate and welcome, it is, in one respect, quite inappropriate. Even a short examination of Sidgwick’s little book shows that Sidgwick did not understand practical ethics as we do: a) because he radically overestimated the importance of a common theoretical starting point; and b) because he radically underestimated the importance of detailed study (...) of particular cases as a replacement for a common theoretical starting point. Philosophers only began to revise their estimates on these matters during the 1960s. When they did, it was not theory that drove them to it but extended experience with medical ethics, an experience no philosopher before then had had. We who do practical ethics are, I think, inclined to overlook the formative power of that experience. Sidgwick’s Practical Ethics seems a good antidote for that. (shrink)
Michael Davis, a leading figure in the study of professional ethics, offers here both a compelling exploration of engineering ethics and a philosophical analysis of engineering as a profession. After putting engineering in historical perspective, Davis turns to the Challenger space shuttle disaster to consider the complex relationship between engineering ideals and contemporary engineering practice. Here, Davis examines how social organization and technical requirements define how engineers should (and presumably do) think. Later chapters test his analysis of engineering judgement and (...) autonomy empirically, engaging a range of social science research including a study of how engineers and managers work together in ten different companies. (shrink)
This article is concerned with ways better communication between engineers and their managers might help prevent engineers being faced with some of the ethical problems that make up the typical course in engineering ethics. Beginning with observations concerning the Challenger disaster, the article moves on to report results of empirical research on the way technical communication breaks down, or doesn’t break down, between engineers and managers. The article concludes with nine recommendations for organizational change to help prevent communications breakdown.
This article examines three common arguments for the claim that engineering is not a profession: 1) that engineering lacks an ideal internal to its practice; 2) that engineering’s ideal, whether internal or not, is merely technical; and 3) that engineering lacks the social arrangements characteristic of a true profession. All three arguments are shown to rely on one or another definition of profession, each of which is inadequate. An alternative to these definition is offered. It has at least two advantages. (...) On the one hand, it emphasizes the importance of professional community, the role of occupation in defining profession, the centrality of a moral ideal, and the necessity for morally binding standards (beyond ordinary morality). On the other hand, the alternative definition is in part independent both of moral theory and sociology. This article concludes by considering what light the alternative definition can throw on the professional status of engineers serving the Nazis. (shrink)
Several types of amygdala-dependent learning can be blocked by local infusion of NMDA antagonists into the amygdala. This blockade shows anatomical, pharmacological, temporal, and behavioral specificity, providing a pattern of data more consistent with a role for NMDA receptors in learning than in arousal or attention, and supporting the contention that an “LTP-like” process is a neural substrate for memory formation.
Employed professionals (e.g., accountants or engineers)-and those who study them-sometimes claim that their status as employeesdenies them the “autonomy” necessary to be “true professionals.” Is this a conceptual claim or an empirical claim? How might it be proved or disproved? This paper draws on recent work on autonomy to try to answer these questions. In the course of doing that, it identifies three literatures concerned with autonomy and suggests an approach bringing them together in a way likely to be useful (...) both to philosophers interested in the concept and to social scientists interested in studying autonomy in the workplace. (shrink)
This article attempts to distinguish between science and technology, on the one hand, and engineering, on the other, offering a brief introduction to engineering values and engineering ethics. The method is (roughly) a philosophical examination of history. Engineering turns out to be a relatively recent enterprise, barely three hundred years old, to have distinctive commitments both technical and moral, and to have changed a good deal both technically and morally during that period. What motivates the paper is the belief that (...) a too-easy equation of engineering with technology tends to obscure the special contribution of engineers to technology and to their own professional standards and so, to obscure as well both the origin and content of engineering ethics. (shrink)
In March 1993, in preparation for the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights, representatives from the states of Asia gathered in Bangkok to formulate their position on this emotive issue. The result of their discussions was the Bangkok declaration. They accepted the concept of universal standards in human rights, but declared that these standards could not overridet he unique Asian regional and cultural differences, the requirements of economic development, nor the privileges of sovereignty. : The difficult and powerful dichotomies (...) raised in Bangkok, and their particular relevance to China, are explored in the ten essays contained in this book. The underlying political, cultural, philosophical, legal and economic issues which cut across the human rights spectrum are also considered. The writiers themselves are Chinese and Hong Kong scholars, or leading political figures who are involved in the current human rights debate. The ultimate goal of the book is not to resolve the issues raised in Bangkok, but to expose some contours of discussion in a way that is fresh and accessible. (shrink)