Abstract
Diane Vaughan’s analysis of the causes of the Challenger accident suggests ways to apply science and technology studies to the teaching of engineering ethics. By sensitizing future engineers to the ongoing construction of risk during mundane engineering practice, we can better prepare them to address issues of public health, safety, and welfare before they require heroic intervention. Understanding the importance of precedents, incremental change, and fallible engineering judgment in engineering design may help them anticipate potential threats to public safety arising from routine aspects of workplace culture. We suggest modifications of both detailed case studies on engineering disasters and hypothetical, ethical dilemmas employed in engineering ethics classes. Investigating the sociotechnical aspects of engineering practice can improve the initial recognition of ethical problems in real-world settings and provide an understanding of the role of workplace organization and culture in facilitating or impeding remedial action.
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DOI 10.1177/016224390002500203
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