Books  |    |  January 1, 2015

Hold Paramount: The Engineer’s Responsibility to Society, 3rd Edition

Book by P. Aarne Vesilind and Alastair S. Gunn.
Published by Cengage Learning.
224 pages.

This practical and essential text, co-authored by an engineer and an ethicist, covers ethical dilemmas that any engineer might encounter on the job, emphasizing the responsibility of a practicing engineer to act in an ethical manner. To illustrate the complexities involved, the authors present characters who encounter situations that test the engineering code of ethics. The dialogue between the characters highlights different perspectives of each dilemma. As they proceed through the book, students see how the code of ethics can help in decision making, as well as the implications of various decisions. The philosophical theory that supports the ethical situations encountered is presented as boxed material following each section.

  • Co-written by an ethicist and a practicing engineer, the book provides a practical and philosophically sound perspective on engineering ethics.
  • The book is organized by sections of the engineering code of ethics, covering all categories of ethical conflicts.
  • Readers learn to use the engineering code of ethics as a useful tool when making certain types of decisions.
  • Material on how the engineering code of ethics developed and how it has evolved provide a historical perspective.
  • The book demonstrates how certain situations, while adhering to legal requirements, still present ethical dilemmas.
  • Includes coverage of cultural issues and their impact on the engineering field and society at large.
  • End-of-chapter questions challenge students to think about ethics and how they would address ethically-charged situations.

Table of Contents

  1. DOING THE RIGHT THING.
    Deception. Keeping Promises. Doing the Right Thing. Theft of Music. Obligations to Strangers. Moral Rules.
  2. THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION.
    On Being a Professional. Technical Expertise and Ethical Obligations. Organization of Professional Engineering. Can We Afford To Be Ethical? Engineering Codes of Ethics. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code of Ethics. Can a Person Stop Being an Engineer? Ethically Right for Me? Ethics as Decision-Making Models.
  3. ENHANCE HUMAN WELFARE.
    Moral Responsibilities of Engineers. Weapons Research. Just-War Theory. Engineering and Terrorism. Engineers as Intelligent Robots. What Is Integrity?
  4. HOLD PARAMOUNT.
    Why Can’t Ethicists be as Efficient as Engineers? Medical Ethics. Legal Ethics. Legal and Moral Responsibility. Engineers Working Together. A Technical Challenge. Engineering Qualifications. Factors of Safety. Engineering Triumphs. Engineering Failures. Engineers as Managers. Acceptable Risk. Decision Making: Technical and Ethical Aspects. Consulting with Colleagues.
  5. SAFETY OF THE PUBLIC.
    Ethical and Legal Obligations. The Moral Status of Animals. Ethical Dilemmas. Calculating the Value of Life. Fix Up Your Organization Ethically. Whistleblowing I. Whistleblowing II. Whistleblowing III. Disaster in Kansas City. Options. Peace Engineering. Whistleblowing in Our Age of Terrorism and Surveillance. Ethically Right For Me? II. Trusting the Experts. Deception II. Confidentiality. Loyalty to the Firm.
  6. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
    Networking. Academia. Famous Engineers in History.
  7. SOLICIT OR ACCEPT GRATUITIES.
    Deception III. Corporate Gift Policies. Climate Change. Distant People. Future People.
  8. SELF-LAUDATORY LANGUAGE.
    Advertising.
  9. CONTRIBUTIONS IN ORDER TO SECURE WORK.
    Competitive Bidding. Bribery and the Law. When in Rome. Ethical Dilemmas II. Human Rights II.
  10. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF OTHERS.
    The Existential Pleasures of Engineering. Jokes about Engineers. Vegetarianism. Empathy. Reverence for Life. The Ethics of Asking and the Ethics of Giving. Maintaining the Quality of Engineering Education. Affirmative Action.
  11. OVERSEAS WORK.
    Environmental Racism. Human Rights III. Politicians and their Reputations.
  12. UPHOLD THE HONOR AND DIGNITY.
    Manners. Workplace Harassment.
  13. FAITHFUL AGENTS.
    Conflicts of Interest I. Who Owns Your Mind?
  14. AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
    Safety. Professional Registration. Conflict of Interest II. Why Be a Good Engineer?
  15. OBJECTIVE AND TRUTHFUL MANNER.
    Professional Respect. Engineers and the Media.

About the Authors

  • P. Aarne Vesilind, Bucknell University, received his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina. He joined the faculty of Duke University in 1970 where he served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In 1999, he was appointed to the R. L. Rooke Chair of the Historical and Societal Context of Engineering at Bucknell University. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 2006.
  • Alastair S. Gunn, University of Waikato, was a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.